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Surviving the Winter: Keeping Families Safe and Warm in Nepal

Kamal is a Nepalese mother who lives in a mountainous area heavily devastated by the April and May earthquakes.

“I had nothing to keep my daughter warm while she was sleeping,” she said. “My small child is suffering from a cold and a fever and was coughing all night. This is the result of our devastation. The earthquake has left us homeless, foodless, and without clothes.”

Kamala belongs to a small family of three. She makes a living working on the farmlands near her home. In some ways, she considers herself lucky to belong to a small family: there are fewer mouths to feed.

“I have been worrying about my child’s health and how to keep her warm at night,” she said. “Without a suitable income, I have not been able to think about a warm bed.”

Kamala is one of hundreds of families who recently received bed mattresses and warm clothes from Plan International to prepare for the harsh winter season. Living in high-altitude areas, Kamala’s family will be forced to endure freezing temperatures while living in temporary shelters made up of tarpaulin and iron sheets.

“The mattress support is helping us to fight against the winter season,” she said.  “Receiving a mattress from Plan will allow my family to stay warm as we share this mattress. It also keeps us safe.”

“Even a mattress supports my son’s education. In the morning and evening, he is now more inclined to do his homework in his warm bed. He sleeps all night and is more rested at school. Before, the cold winter affected our family very badly

Nepal

Plan has distributed blankets, rope, and plastic sheeting to households in Nepal.

“The materials will protect my lovely baby from the cold climate,” said Sunita, another young mother from the area.

In certain communities, Plan has been the first organization to deliver winter materials to families.

Toting a 1-year-old baby on her back, Sunita patiently waited for household materials that will support her family of six.

“After the earthquake, there was no material or equipment to resettle,” she said. “My family and I have been living together in a plastic tent – we lost everything. This is the first time I am receiving any sort of support since the earthquake.”

In recent weeks, Plan has supported more than 1,000 families to stay warm and prepare for the winter season through the delivery of sleeping mats and blankets.

Plan aims to support more than 16,000 families (nearly 80,000 individuals) living in high altitudes to prepare for the winter through the distribution of materials such as winter clothing, fuel-efficient cooking stoves, solar lamps, and shelter insulation material.

In many areas, temperatures will reach below freezing, dropping to as low as 14 degrees, with cold weather lasting until March. These are families living in isolated, mountainous areas – often cut off from humanitarian support.

“These winter items will keep children healthy and help ensure that they are able to continue their studies,” said Chandra Kayastha, manager for Plan International Nepal. “Often, children are absent from school during the winter due to their poor health. The sleeping mats and household items will keep children warm and rested, enabling them to remain healthy and attend school.”

In addition to household items, Plan is working to deliver insulation materials to temporary schools, allowing thousands of children to learn in a comfortable environment even during winter.

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