In spite of all evidence that life is discontinuous, a valley of rifts, and that random chance plays a great part in our fates, we go on believing in the continuity of things, in causation and meaning. But we live on a broken mirror, and fresh cracks appear in its surface every day.
Where is this Nepal in the media? Where is the showcase of the desire to live? Why have we, as disseminators of information, abandoned all hope in favour of tragedy? These two projects offer us contrasting views of the current situation.
On April 25th, 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal: over 8,000 people dead, approximately 18,000 injured, hundreds of thousands of homes and several UNESCO World Heritage sites destroyed.
Probal Rashid’s work gives us a documentary look at the situation in the country today. He particularly focused on the dangers of the current living situation of many in Nepal:
“Subsequent aftershocks, including a 7.3 magnitude tremor on May 12th, have continued to rattle the country and have exacerbated damage to buildings and temples. There have been more deaths and injuries, as well as rampant trauma amongst the population.
With the monsoon season set to begin in mid-June, concerns abound regarding the living situation of the approximately 2.8 million people made homeless by the earthquake. Presently living under makeshift camps, they depend on aid to survive. Nepal is home to significant and pre-existing problems—poverty, malnutrition, lack of access to potable water, gender-based discrimination, trafficking, and others—the impact of the earthquake will be felt for years to come, as the country tries to rebuild and move past this disaster.”
In a wholly separate project, Nirvair Singh collaborated with Ambarin Afsar to describe his view of the aftermath. Singh’s photos tried to offer a view of the current situation but also cast an eye towards the future:
“The Nepal that I have experienced through these photos is a Nepal picking itself up, holding all the hands that it can hold…but aid being centered only in the capital and its surrounding areas, leaving people in places like remote Mustang to deal with the land by themselves…Nepal has suffered over a 100 earthquakes since the big one that day. The people live in perennial fear of the roof falling on their heads.
What does Nepal need right now? More images and reports of death and suffering? More statistics, more funds being poured in by each nation competing to be the highest bidder? Or perhaps, it is time to give them the dignity they deserve....We can lend a hand when they build their homes, when we build our homes. We can listen to them sing and weep and laugh, we can cook and feed and be fed. We can show the world the true nature of their various realities and struggles and how they come to terms with them.
Whether we choose to see the awe-inspiring potential that the Nepali people are harnessing, like the peaks of the Himalayan range arching towards the light, shaped by hundreds and thousands of such quakes, or whether we choose to render it invisible by the narrowness of our hearts and minds—the choice is ours. Theirs was made for them by the earth.”
Editors’ Note: There are many, many worthy relief efforts going on to help Nepal in the aftermath of these earthquakes. Here is one that we found particularly inspiring: Artists for Nepal.