Rebuilding Hope by Robic Upadhayay

REBUILDING HOPE: Patan Durbar Square may be deserted during the pandemic, but the reconstruction of the Bhimsen Temple hasn’t stopped. Damaged by the 2015 earthquake, the work is in full swing with 23 labourers, including eight women who work inside the fenced premises.

Menuka Maharjan, 42, is assisting some of the masons and carpenters. Originally from Ramechhap, she lives with her husband and children in a rented room in Sankhamul, Kathmandu. While the indoor spaces are sanitized, and the labourers wash hands and keep distance while working, Maharjan is worried about the virus. “It is the walk back that scares me the most–what if I catch the virus then?” says Maharjan. She is the sole bread-winner since her husband lost his job due to the pandemic. “We have already used up all our savings, difficult times are ahead for us”, Menuka says, “We are taking it one day at a time.”

Maharjan is proud to work at the temple, restoring it to its former glory. She wants to continue to work in the construction field and more away from just being an assistant. “I want to learn masonry and carpentry–they pay more, and these are skills I want to have,” says Maharjan, “It is not just the men who can do this, we can do it too, we just have to get the opportunity.”

Photos and Text: Robic Upadhyay @aerawbic

Edit: Mallika Aryal @mikaness

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