Year Ender 2016: Heroes in life as on TVAs the government continued to fumble on the earthquake reconstruction this year, Dhurmus-Suntali showed the nation what results selfless, concerted efforts can bring
October 28 was a very special day for acting duo Sitaram Kattel and Kunjana Ghimire, better known as Dhurmus and Suntali for their famous characters loved by many on television. It was on this day that their dream—for which they had put their own house on stake—had come true.
Giranchaur, in Sindhupalchowk, was one of the worst hit areas by the 2015 earthquakes, and the locals had been compelled to live under makeshift shelters for a long time. In a bid to help them, the Dhurmus-Suntali duo envisioned an integrated model settlement. The settlement that consisted of 65 quake-resistant houses, five children-friendly parks, and a playground, was eventually handed over to the locals on October 28.
The project, dubbed Giranchour Integrated Model Settlement, Reconstruction and Tourism Promotion Campaign, was taken over by the Dhurmus-Suntali Foundation with the slogan “Rastra punarnirmaan ma jutaun” (Let’s come together for the reconstruction of our nation).
The project was carried out by a close co-ordination of Melamchi municipality, National Reconstruction Authority, and Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (Bhawan Wibhaag).
The actors immersed themselves in the reconstruction efforts of the earthquake stricken areas right after the earthquake shook the country in 2015, following their need to help those that were helpless. After visiting quake-hit districts and distributing relief materials in many places, the first project the couple undertook was an integrated settlement project in Pachkhaal, Kavre. With the expense of Rs 6,737,000, a total of 20 houses were built with their efforts. The integrated settlement currently is home to the marginalised Pahari community.
But they did not stop there; the couple had something bigger to accomplish—they immediately got involved in the construction of a model settlement in Giranchour.
“We saw its potential to become a tourism hotspot,” says Kattel.
“The political leaders come here to give speeches and false hopes of converting the country into Switzerland,” adds Kattel, “but the vision and ideas to make that happen is with us, the people”.
“The earthquakes have left us with challenges that if tackled thoughtfully can be leveraged as opportunities to rebuild the country on our own,” says Kunjana Ghimire.
They began the project without much bank balance of their own, but they counted on what little they had—Rs. 174,000. Without much financial resources, the couple initiated the process to sell their home; but once their project gained traction and the trust of the people, they managed to collect the necessary funds without having to lose their own home. It was a result of a hard but successful campaign on social media and the help of Nepalis residing in and outside the country, where more than 5,000 individuals and organisations made contributions to bring their efforts to fruition.
Today, the Giranchour Settlement stands as an exemplary set of houses that is home to those who were severely affected by the earthquake, and has quake-resistant, environment-friendly, and children-friendly structures.
The duo is currently involved in many other social projects as well.