Aarti was admitted in cbm partner 'Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre for Disabled Children' (HRDC) when the earthquake occurred on April 25, 2015. Her grandmother Dalatya carried her and ran out of the medical ward into the open area. Since then Aarti has been quiet and crying most of the time. Earlier, she was an active and cheerful child.
3 year old Aarti was born in 2011, in a remote village in Dhanusa district in southern Nepal. Her parents (Bishnu and Chandra) are small farmers; they own a small piece of land where they grow rice, mustard and some seasonal vegetables. Occasionally they also do daily labour. They have no other source of income. Arti has spina bifida and also syndactyly on one hand.
Arti's grandmother Dalatya brought Aarti to cbm partner ‘Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre for Disabled Children’ (HRDC) in March 2015 for treatment, and she was referred to a private hospital ‘BNB’ in Kathmandu (treated under full charity). After surgery, the three-year-old was brought to HRDC again for post-operative care.
On April 25, 2015, little Aarti was in her bed in the medical ward at HRDC when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, with the epicentre 81 km northwest of Kathmandu. Fortunately, her grandmother Dalatya was sitting by her side and managed to carry Aarti and run out of the ward into an open area. The tremors could be felt for up to two minutes, followed by aftershocks as high as magnitude 6 on the Richter Scale. By 8 pm local time more than 800 people were known to have died, with more than 2000 casualties.
Below is an excerpt from an interview with Dalatya, Aarti’s grandmother.
Could you describe the situation when the earthquake hit Nepal last Saturday?
I was sitting by her (Aarti’s) side when we could feel the floor was shaking. Soon there was huge noise and chaos in the medical ward… everyone was carrying their child and running towards the door. I too carried Aarti and ran out into the open area right outside the medical ward. But even then the shaking didn’t stop. It continued shaking for more than two minutes. I can’t describe in words how scared I was. Fortunately nothing happened to us and other patients. But Aarti was severely affected. She seems to have has forgotten to smile.
Did the child suffer any injury? How has the earthquake affected her?
No… But when we were running out, there was continuous crying and screaming in the hospital for almost one hour. Aarti was crying, too. I don’t know what happened to her, but she doesn’t smile anymore. Earlier, she would do a ‘Namaste’ to everyone… She was such a playful child.
What do you think can be done to support the child, to help get rid of her fears?
I don’t know what we can do. After suggestions from the doctors and nurses, I take her to the playroom for some hours in a day but she doesn’t like to play anything. Earlier, she used to talk to fellow patients and make gestures. Now she doesn’t even do that. I think we need to take her out of the hospital… I’m very worried about her...