Bhuj Earthquake

While the rest of India was celebrating India’s Republic Day on 26 January 2001, Bhuj in Gujarat woke up to the deadliest earthquake in India’s recorded history. With nearly 20,000 dead and over 155,000 injured, this was one of the worst natural disaster India had seen. 600,000 people were left homeless, with 348,000 houses destroyed and an additional 844,000 damaged. The Indian State Department estimates that the earthquake affected, directly or indirectly, 15.9 million people, which is nearly 50% of the population of Gujarat. More than 20,000 cattle were reported killed. Direct economic losses were over INR 65 billion (USD 1.3 billion), although more recent estimates show that losses may exceed INR 250 billion (USD 5 billion).

Maliya village in Rajkot District was chosen for HOPE worldwide’s relief work. Because of its remote location, negligible relief had reached the village. Some families were consuming stale food as there was very little and food. There were 12,000 people (around 2000 families). They had lost 250 people, mostly women and children, to the earthquake and all their houses were destroyed. They stayed out at night in the cold weather with temperatures below 45F. Most of the villagers were laborers and seasonal prawn cultivators. After the quake, earnings fell from INR 40 (USD 0.8) to INR 15(USD 0.3) a day.

HOPE workers reached Maliya with relief packets (containing raw dal, rice, biscuit packets, salt, water pouches, candles and matchboxes). There were rumors that food packets were being snatched from people who had earlier visited the village. Hence with the help of the village headman, the volunteers visited 250 families house to house and distributed these relief packets.

People were also suffering from respiratory ailments as a result of being exposed to the elements. HOPE focused on providing shelter to the inhabitants who were living in the open space next to their shattered houses. The HOPE workers reached Maliya with material (Bamboos, Tarpaulin etc) and constructed 2 community halls for the villagers so that they could be provided shelter from the cold wind that prevailed in the night.

The HOPE team reached Maliya with professional tent makers and constructed 70 houses with plastic sheets (to accommodate 70 families of 4-6 members each). These were constructed in the Village community Land. The Community Chairman helped in providing the basic amenities like electricity, water and toilets.

After the earthquake, HOPE worldwide started a computer school in June 2001. From June 2001 till December 2002, 400 students were educated. One hundred of these students were handicapped with special needs. Talib, one of our students, after completing his computer course got a job with a starting pay of INR 10000 (USD $225) per month. He was so grateful that he helped start another computer training school in Bhuj.

In addition to providing initial relief to the earthquake victims in Gujarat, HOPE worldwide created a community service centre to help in the rebuilding process.
At this centre, the victims were able to receive medical, educational and other assistance at one facility.

HOPE worldwide also started a daycare centre for the children. Initially, the daycare centre was run in tents and 200 kids were given education with the help of 3 teachers.
Later, the daycare centre was moved to a rented room and a proper school was started. Mid-day meals are provided to the 200 students. The HOPE worldwide school now provides education in a building. HOPE workers went door-to-door telling parents about the new school. As of October, 2008 close to 300 students attend the school. The school is now recognized by the Government of Gujarat. It started with kindergarten in 2001, and a new higher standard is added every year.







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