In the days following the earthquake, despite the snow and freezing temperature, families were forced to sleep outside, scared to go indoors because of the damage to buildings and the threat of aftershocks. After the earthquakes many families had no choice but to sleep out in the open. The earthquakes not only destroyed their homes and their schools, but left millions of children scared and in danger. They needed shelter; food, water and medical supplies, and also support to deal with the traumatic events they had experienced, and the chance to get back to school as soon as possible.
My wife was at our home, preparing lunch with our boys. When I saw the houses collapsing in the village, I ran as fast as I could through the debris, and back to my family. As I ran, the ground was shaking and I kept falling down. For those five minutes between the earthquake and reaching home, I still had hope. That hope was taken away when I pulled the bodies of my two sons from the rubble.
Women continue to be among the most affected by the worst natural disaster to hit Nepal in 81 years. Women have lost their homes, families and livelihoods, and have received little support from the Nepali government. Intersecting inequalities meant that women faced additional barriers and were less able to access the emergency relief provided. Single women in particular are still struggling to access the support they need, fighting barriers and social stigma in order to gain equal rights.
So what does dignity look like to female earthquake survivors? It means being able to maintain personal hygiene through sanitary pads, clean clothes, soap, toothpaste, flashlights and other essentials provided to women and girls via UNFPA's trademark Dignity Kits, about 560,000 thousand of which were distributed in the first few months following the quake...
Agencies need to focus on the ongoing recovery work as well as delivering assistance in the testing conditions ahead of winter. There are huge challenges not only for the people of Nepal - who are making every effort to bounce back - but also for the humanitarian organisations who are striving to deliver against strict timelines and enormous physical and climatic difficulties.
A World Bank report published last week found that in the past 25 years, over a hundred countries have enacted laws on domestic violence though many have not. The authors attribute much of this progress to international instruments and agreements. In reality, it is the work of local women's rights organisations that makes the most difference and that's why they need our support.
We all remember the harrowing images in our newspapers and on our TV screens of people who had lost their homes, their livelihoods and their loved ones. It is thanks to charities like ActionAid, who were already on the ground and able to respond immediately, that hundreds of thousands of people received life-saving supplies and assistance. But now the cameras have gone so much more still needs to be done particularly as there is a new threat to the country - monsoon season.
Three months may have passed since the first earthquake hit, but it's important that we don't forget the many people who are still in urgent need. It will take years for Nepal to recover completely, and the scars brought about by the earthquake run deep. But with the help of organisations like CAFOD and Caritas Nepal, as well as hundreds of other charities and the Nepali government, there is no reason why this beautiful, hopeful and proud country cannot be rebuilt.
The brave women I met were in a dire situation. They needed to salvage as much brick, rubble and corrugated sheeting as possible in order to rebuild their homes - and to search for their valuable possessions before the monsoon rain washed them away. This salvaging and rebuilding all takes time and energy that they don't have. They are living a hand-to-mouth existence; if they don't work the land they have no money and no food - and they also have to cook, tend the animals, clean clothes and care for the children.