By Annie Bergman and Erin Snow, World Ark contributors

On April 25, Nepal suffered its largest earthquake in 80 years. The magnitude-7.8 temblor crippled the country’s alreadyprecarious infrastructure, knocking out communication networks and toppling buildings that scattered debris across roads and villages for hundreds of miles from the epicenter in Gorkha.

Earthquake victims rushed to make temporary repairs.
Earthquake victims rushed to make temporary repairs. Photo by Heifer Nepal staff.

Just 16 days later, the central Asian nation was rocked again, this time by a 7.3-magnitude quake. The damage spared little, including the homes and livelihoods of thousands of Heifer project participants in 17 districts. At least 7,500 project participants’ homes collapsed, and another 4,000 Heifer families’ homes were damaged. Families lost at least 1,500 animals, probably more.

Heifer staff worked closely with government agencies to get disaster relief supplies out of Kathmandu and into our communities in need. They delivered temporary housing materials including tents, tarps, foam mattress rolls and ropes so families could craft shelters to last through the summer monsoon season.

The women captured in the photos below, taken before the earthquakes, are the face of our work in Nepal. Many like them, even some pictured here, were affected by the disaster. And though full project work in the earthquake-affected areas isn’t expected to resume for some time, project participants are pulling together to care for one another and their communities. The earthquake damaged much, but not the spirit of our project participants. In the middle of chaos, hope remains.

Photos: A Steadying Hand in Nepal

Heifer’s approach is an especially good fit in Nepal, where two-thirds of the population makes a living through subsistence agriculture.