Recovering from the Nepal Earthquake — One Step at a Time

A shopkeeper whose leg was crushed recounts her journey in learning to walk again

Doctors took skin from Laxmi’s right arm to graft onto her foot and ankle. / USAID

**As told by Laxmi Kayastha to USAID. Laxmi Kayastha is a 36-year-old shopkeeper and mother of two, who received help from USAID partner Handicap International following the 2015 Nepal earthquake.

Two years ago around noontime, I was inside my house like any other day. Then, the whole place began to shake and crumble around me. I found out later that a magnitude 7.8 earthquake had struck central Nepal, rocking the Dolakha District where I live.

When I was found and pulled from my house, my right leg was in a lot of pain. It had been crushed. I was taken to Charikot, the capital of the Dolakha District, but they could not help me, so I was sent to Kathmandu for treatment. The doctors said they needed to operate right away to try to save my leg.

They saved my leg. After staying in the hospital for three months, I was able to go home, but even with crutches, I could not walk well. I could not do anything that I did before. I couldn’t take care of the house or my two children. I couldn’t help run the shop where my husband and I sell food and basic home supplies.

Laxmi’s shop is on the right, and her new home is being built on the left. Before she started therapy with Handicap International, even walking this short distance and standing to help customers were too much for her. / USAID

Then my injury became infected and swollen, making it even harder to move around. I was in a lot of pain. Luckily, my husband was able to take care of me, and my children were old enough to help out, but I was frustrated with how much my life had changed because of the earthquake.

Handicap International contacted me and helped me receive treatment for the infection. They also arranged for me to start physical therapy sessions at a clinic in Charikot.

At the Charikot clinic, Laxmi does exercises as part of her therapy to strengthen her leg and foot. / Handicap International

Now I can walk around without crutches, unless it’s a long distance. I’ve started to cook again, and I can even look after our shop.

I still go to therapy once a week, where I do stretches and exercises to strengthen my foot. I also do them at home. Eventually, I hope to be able to walk long distances without my crutches. I plan to continue the therapy as long as I need it. I’m also looking forward to being able to take care of my new home when it’s finished.

Members of Handicap International and World Health Organization stand with Laxmi outside her new home. / USAID

If the physiotherapist at Handicap International hadn’t found me, I would not have known about any of these services. It is thanks to them, and USAID, that I am back to feeling like I can do something with my life.

I have a renewed spirit, and for that, I am grateful.

On April 25, 2015, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck central Nepal, affecting 39 of Nepal’s 75 districts. Just hours after the earthquake, USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to coordinate the U.S. Government’s response efforts, carry out disaster assessments, and conduct search and rescue missions. Working with Handicap International, Laxmi is just one of the many people USAID was able to help.

Handicap International responded immediately after the earthquake, conducting rehabilitation and psychosocial support sessions for more than 22,000 earthquake survivors; distributing more than 4,000 braces, slings, splints and mobility aids; and providing critical relief items — including hygiene kits, cooking supplies and emergency shelter materials — to more than 11,200 people.