Photos Highlight Nepal's Resilience After the 2015 Earthquake

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Photos Highlight Nepal's Resilience After the 2015 Earthquake Omar Havana/Getty

The moment his world began to tremble, photojournalist Omar Havana awoke, groggy and in disbelief. He and his fiancée climbed out of bed, sat on the floor of their home in Kathmandu, Nepal, and waited. It was only after they saw cracks appear in the walls that they raced down the stairs of their 12-story building. "All the neighbors were running behind us. We saw the corridors, everything falling down," Havana tells Newsweek. "When people later told me the shaking had lasted less than one minute, I didn't believe it—I thought it had been 15 or 20 [minutes]. But in that moment, your mind just tells you to run."

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that shook Nepal on April 25, 2015, was the country's worst in more than 80 years, killing more than 9,000 and injuring more than 22,000. Havana had lived in Nepal for about a year when the quake struck. He has since returned home to Spain, but remains committed to documenting Nepal's recovery.

"Just three weeks after the earthquake, Nepal disappeared from the world's attention," Havana said. "I want to show real life, not just the drama and the devastation."

[RELATED: One Year After a Devastating Earthquake, Nepal Is Still in Ruins]

Hundreds of aftershocks continued to ripple the nation on a near-daily basis after the initial quake. Almost 3 million people have become homeless, and many parts of the country still lie in ruins. Instead of photographing devastation for its own sake, Havana chose to focus on how Nepalis took to rebuilding their lives and their land.

While photographing a woman who is standing by a procession of bodies wrapped in blankets, Havana recalls her desperate cries. It was the day after the initial quake, and she was uncovering each body, searching for her mother. "When she found her, she was screaming, 'Mama, Mama!'" he said. "It was probably one of the worst moments of my life—her pain was like a knife in my heart."

Through his lens, Havana watched Nepalis trying to rebuild from the few things left to scavenge. People tore down what remained of ruined homes with ropes so they could start building anew. As the prices of construction materials soared, they combed the rubble, salvaging whatever bricks and pieces of wood they could find. Meanwhile, local and international organizations poured their efforts and funds into relief, rehabilitation and education.

Yet, to this day, Nepalis say they have not seen a penny of the $4 billion donated to restoring the country. A year later, government-provided temporary shelters dot the landscape and people survive on meager government handouts, but access to drinking water, food and health care remains scant, according to local aid groups.

Havana hopes to curate his work in a book called Endurance and do Nepalis' story justice. He is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $27,000 needed to make the book, with the goal of using excess funds to distribute copies to local families. "Endurance belongs to Nepal," Havana said. "I want the story of the Nepali people's response to the earthquake to be remembered."

Havana's work on the Nepal disaster has been among the most widely disseminated in Western media, but he maintains that four local photojournalists who were also documenting the quake—Prasiit Sthapit, Niri Shrestha, Navesh Chitrakar and Narendra Shrestha—deserve far more credit than what he, as a foreigner, has received.

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Emergency rescue workers and bystanders find a survivor in the debris of Dharara tower after it collapsed on April 25, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that shook the country that day was its worst in more than 80 years, killing more than 9,000 and injuring more than 22,000. Omar Havana/Getty
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Rescue workers and volunteers carry a victim on a stretcher after temples in Basantapur Durbar Square collapsed. Minutes after the initial quake, teams of volunteers and response units were already working, trying to find survivors buried in the debris.Omar Havana/Getty
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A man walks between hundreds of tents set up in Chuchepati displacement camp on the outskirts of Kathmandu on September 24, 2015. Months after the earthquake struck, hundreds of thousands of people were still living in temporary shelters waiting for their homes to be rebuilt. To this day, Nepal's government has not released the $4 billion in funds donated to help those who lost everything. More than 7,000 people live in the Chuchepati camp, according to the Chuchepati Committee.Omar Havana
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A woman fetches water from a tap inside a partially collapsed house in the city center of Bhaktapur on June 22, 2015. Water sources were heavily damaged after the earthquake and residents risked their lives to fetch what water they could in buildings where it was still available.Omar Havana
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A Buddha statue is surrounded by debris from a collapsed temple in Bhaktapur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on April 26, 2015. Many historic sites in Nepal have been heavily damaged, and, according to UNESCO, it could take up to 10 years to rebuild them.Omar Havana
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On July 4, 2015, in Bhaktapur, a group of men pull on a rope attached to a roof to demolish a damaged home. As the government stood by, ordinary people around the country worked together to clean up the debris and to bring down houses that were damaged during the earthquake so they could start the rebuilding themselves. According to the United Nations, more than half a million houses were destroyed or damaged during the earthquake.Omar Havana
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A mother saves books for the education of her daughter from their collapsed home on July 4, 2015 in Bhaktapur. According to UNICEF, 1.7 million children were affected by the earthquake. Humanitarian organizations are running programs to address the psychological impact by creating routines in the children's lives designed to contribute to their return to normality.Omar Havana
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On July 20, 2015, a picture of Parbati Prajapati hangs on the walls of the family home in Bhaktapur, where her son, Pawn, is recovering from injuries to both legs. Parbati was in her home when the earthquake struck; she hugged her son while the walls collapsed on top of them. Several hours later, rescuers found Pawn alive in the debris. Parbati was dead with her arms still around him.Omar Havana