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Seisme de 2015 - Maison d'origine détruite

Earthquakes of 2015

For the past two or three years, people had been talking about another earthquake in Nepal. Everyone here knows that it happens every eighty years or so. The last one was on January 15, 1934. It was one of the strongest earthquakes in the world to date – magnitude 8.

The Celebration

Excerpt from the book « Ramchandra, l’Enfant des Himalayas »

On April 24, 2015, we celebrated the twenty-two years of Sri Aurobindo Yoga Mandir.
Friends, families and visitors came from the neighbourhood and the city.
The children had prepared small dance and yoga performances.
All ages participated. There were also speeches. Many good things to eat had been cooked. It was a celebration for the whole ashram.
A great sacred moment!
For us in Nepal, this is the first month of the year in our calendar: April 24, 2015 was the tenth day of the year 2072.
All over Nepal, school starts between April 15 and 17. This is the new school year, after twenty days of holidays.
At the ashram, there is a little over a month’s holiday because, because of the big feast day on the 24th, all the children stay on holiday and the new school year starts for them around April 30th.
No one could imagine what would happen the next day.

A very special morning

Excerpt from the book « Ramchandra, l’Enfant des Himalayas »

On the morning of the 25th, there was a lot of wind, it wasn’t at all like usual. The morning was particularly dark, very cloudy and cold. It was a strange weather for the season.
Two very large trucks had come to deliver hay for the cows’ feed, a lot of hay. It was a Saturday. In Nepal, it is the rest day of the week. All the schools are closed. On that day, at the ashram, in the morning, we all do karma yoga together, before lunch around eleven o’clock.
Except for four or five girls who were cooking, and for those who were doing the organic markets in Kathmandu, the karma yoga on that particular Saturday was to unload the hay. The children would put it in bags and some would carry it to the barn, others to the ground floor of the school.
The trucks had arrived quite early. The work started at about 7:30 a.m. The whole ashram family was there, except for a few little ones who were playing.
By eleven o’clock we were almost finished. There were a few bags left. We were getting ready to eat. Many of the children were tired and all were hungry. And then a third truck arrived! It was amazing, because we hadn’t ordered it. It had been requested by another person who, I don’t know why, had not wanted it. As the driver, who knew us, had his load on his hands, he decided to come to the ashram to see if we wanted the hay.
Most of the children were unhappy: they thought they would be able to stop. I wanted to unload the truck, but they didn’t want to. I felt inside me that it was important to do it in a hurry, not to wait, especially since we were already dusty. There was no need to go and wash and get dirty again after eating. In addition, the driver had to go to a wedding the next day and he asked me to unload it as soon as possible.
I followed what I felt and decided that we would unload the truck before eating.

We had started unloading. We were halfway through. Everyone was in action. All of a sudden, it looked like all the birds had flown away and were all squeaking together. At the same time, all the dogs around started barking. It was a real cacophony! But none of us paid any attention to it. Maybe because of the concentration to work fast and the disappointment of the third truck to unload, when everyone thought they were finished? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.
And then the earthquake happened!

The Miracle

Excerpt from the book « Ramchandra, l’Enfant des Himalayas »

I knew right away what was going on.
I shouted:
– EVERYBODY GET OUT!
I wanted to run, but it was jumping so much, I was standing still.
I was worried about the children.
I wanted them all to come out.
But the sound underground was so loud that no one could hear me.
There was a lot of panic. Many children started crying. The older ones cried out too:
– Don’t go towards the buildings!
Everybody ran to the fields next to Samadhi.
I was looking at the buildings. They were moving like flags. I immediately thought of all the people inside. I prayed that no one would get hurt. I didn’t know if there were still people inside.
There, the bricks of the big building began to fall. Luckily, my mother and the girls in the kitchen were able to run out quickly as soon as it started to move, but I didn’t know that. It was really lucky. They were already a long way from the building when the walls collapsed to the ground four floors down.
The first tremor seemed to last an eternity.
When it stopped, there was an IMMENSE of calm.

And then we saw the dust rising.
The whole valley was covered with a huge cloud of dust.
There was no electricity, no phones!
I had seen the barn move so much during the earthquake that I thought the cows were all dead. They were inside, tied up. From the foundation of the barn building, a huge white dust came out.

 

We checked on everyone right away to see if they were all right.
Then the first thing I did, as soon as it stopped, was go to the barn. Seemingly, it was okay. But in the next two days, two cows died and three had abortions. The attic for the cows’ food was totally destroyed… the feed troughs as well.
Luckily, no one was hurt. We were all very shocked, but all safe and sound.

Tremblements de terre de 2015 - Murs de brique détruits

4th and 5th floors of the main building – Brick walls destroyed

The third truck saved the lives of many children! Without it, they all would have gone to the dining hall in the big building. As the weather was quite good, they would have settled in front of the entrance next to the kitchen to eat, especially the older ones, as they often do. And that’s where all the bricks fell from the walls of the fourth and fifth floors.

Séisme de 2015 - Une maison de Katmandou détruite

A house in Kathmandu destroyed

Material Consequences

In Nepal, more than twenty-five thousand buildings and over three hundred thousand houses have been destroyed or damaged.

In the ashrams, the toll, far from being so dramatic, was nevertheless quite heavy.

 

Ashram of Kathmandu

The old house was half destroyed.
It has since been rebuilt. But it is still dangerous and children are not allowed to go there. It is planned that it will be destroyed for good.

But an idea is going around that invites to turn it into a SAYM museum. Then, it will perhaps survive and be partly rebuilt and consolidated. Time will tell.

La maison d'origine du SAYM à moitié détruite

The original house half destroyed

The building where the stable was located was so shaken in its foundations that it was forbidden to anyone by the authorities.
Special and very expensive work had to be done to repair and consolidate the foundations.
Today it is dedicated to the Ayurvedic hospital.
So, as a matter of urgency, the day after the earthquake, a new barn had to be built to shelter the cows.

The entire water system had to be rebuilt in the following days as well. This was very important for both humans and cows. All the solar systems for heating water were also destroyed.

Finally, the brick walls of the 4th and 5th floors of the main building were destroyed and had to be rebuilt.

 

Ashram of Teraï

The meditation temple has suffered many cracks. It has remained as it is.

Ashram of Gulmi

The roof of the newly built stone house was destroyed. Since then, wooden pillars have been placed in the middle of each room to support the new roof.

Construction en urgence d'une nouvelle étable

Emergency construction of the new barn

Consequences on Daily Life

The main consequence of these events was the grouping of the children in the available rooms. Thus, for more than two years, they sometimes found themselves up to 15 in a room where we usually welcome 3 visitors!

The youngest slept in a single bed with 4 children, 2 by 2, head to toe!

5 years after these events, they are still 6 or 7 in some rooms!
But the construction of the new guest-house will free up about ten rooms which will be able to be occupied. At the same time, the fitting out of the rooms on the 5th floor of the main building is being completed.
Several young women from the ashram will finally be able to benefit from a space more appropriate to their age.

Abris temporaires des garçons de l'ashram

Construction of temporary shelters for ashram boys

The Financial Consequences

In addition to the destruction, which generated a repair and reconstruction cost of more than 200,000 euros, financed solely by donations and support from friends around the world, traditional farm revenues have collapsed.
All the more so as Nepal had to face the economic blockade of India for more than seven months after these events: no more petrol, no more cement, etc. Prices were multiplied by five!

The economy of Sri Aurobindo Yoga Mandir had to be rethought.
Thus, the Trek Agency was born!
Event tours were intensified… and the Integral Yoga Retreats were born.

Sri Aurobindo Yoga Mandir received no help from the Nepalese state.
It was finally the Embassy of India in Nepal that financed the construction of the new school through the Nepalese government. This did not make things any easier. Thus, the 4th and last floor of the building, a large amphitheatre, is still awaiting construction.

Nouvelle école de l'ashram Yoga Mandir

New School of Ashram Yoga Mandir

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© Abel Millot — © Les Enfants de Ram — © Sri Aurobindo Yoga Mandir — © Auronepal Travel & Trek — Janvier 2020