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'Please tell the world we are here'

Red Cross teams reach Dolakha district, where cities have been reduced to rubble by two successive earthquakes.

We drive for hours through steep and narrow mountain roads, carefully avoiding car-sized boulders thrown down by landslides. Eventually a mass of soil and rocks blocks the road entirely; we leave the cars and advance on foot.

The towns are ghost towns now; the deserted streets covered in rubble and debris. The totality of devastation is paralysing. Most houses are completely destroyed, and the ones still standing are all badly cracked, poised to collapse at any minute.

People are desperately rummaging in the ruins of their homes.

One of them is Nir Maya Tamang, aged 60. The first earthquake on 25 April shook her home, but second on 12 May collapsed it entirely, together with her goat pens.

"It is not only humans who now need shelter, it's also animals. The monsoon season is coming. Where will we stay when it rains and rains and rains?"

Schools are also in ruins, and children are in desperate need of psychological support as well as the everyday essentials of shelter, food, water and sanitation.

In one town, 13-year-old Radhika approaches the Red Cross team to tell us she recognises the emblem.

"We have learned about the Red Cross at school," she says.

Radhika's house also collapsed during the second earthquake. She was swimming in a nearby river with her siblings when the water started vibrating. They rushed to the shore and ran towards their house only to find it already in ruins.

"I wish we had enough money to go to Kathmandu or somewhere else safe, but because we have noting, we have to stay here and live in a temporary shelter. Everyday I'm afraid there will be another earthquake."

Radhika has big plans for the future, even though at the moment they seem almost impossible. "I want to study hard and become a social worker in order to help others, but first I need help myself.

"Please tell the world that we are here and need help."

Red Cross is helping with emergency shelter, water, sanitation and health care »

Original story and photos by Mirva Helenius, Finnish Red Cross. * Some names and details have been changed to protect privacy.