After getting noticed for his telling images of the Kashmir floods, photojournalist Ahmer Khan has now been hired by the World Health Organization to assist in relief operations in Nepal. Anju Maskeri talks to him about the ground situation nearly one month after the calamity
It's been nearly one month since the devastating Nepal earthquake, but photojournalist Ahmer Khan still shudders while recalling those panic-stricken seconds in Bhaktapur, when the second earthquake struck Nepal.
22-year-old Kashmiri photojournalist Ahmer Khan
"I was travelling in a car when the second earthquake hit and our car shook. People were running helter skelter, while houses and structures were collapsing like packs of cards. The place was filled with dust. It was terrifying," he remembers.
Khan was one of the many journalists from India who went to Nepal to help with relief operations after the catastrophic quake.
Nepalese children eat their food at a makeshift tent set up at a golf course in Gaushala, Kathmandu
"I was in Nepal for an assignment for VICE News and that's when I got connected to the World Health Organization (WHO). They had seen and liked my pictures of the Kashmir floods, and they felt I could cover an emergency of that magnitude," he says.
Khan works for the communications wing of the WHO Response Team and is currently documenting ongoing relief operations in Nepal.
A view of the camp. Pics Courtesy/Ahmer Khan
"I photograph, shoot videos and finalise pictures for WHO's social media presence, brochures, posters, bulletins, the organisation's headquaterters' website, the South-East Asia website and regional country website," he adds.
Talking about the challenges he faced in Nepal, Khan says, "The first few days, there was neither food nor water.
Bystanders watch as a building collapses in Kathmandu city
It was really hard to travel to certain districts of Nepal and even today it's not possible to do so by road. We can do so only via helicopter."
He recalls the heart-rending incident where a baby was born in Sindhupalchowk under a tent and survived, while the mother died soon after. The scene outside the hospital was as saddening.
A man walks past the rubble in Gorkha district, Kathmandu
"Patients who were outside the hospital and on drips and in terrible condition refused to go inside the hospital because they were so scared," he recalls.
Khan is all praise for the doctors who continued to work under extremely challenging circumstances. "A C-section was underway at a maternity hospital when the massive earthquake occured.
A woman gives her child a bath at a relief camp in Tundikhel, Kathmandu
The doctors continued to work and delivered a healthy baby. The doctors and everyone around the baby cried out of joy," he recalls.
Khan says scenes at the makeshift relief camps continue to remain painful. "People have lost everything and families have been torn apart. They have no homes to go back to.
A man tries to clear the debris at Sindhupal-chowk District in Nepal
It is saddening to see women and children bathe in public with cold water. But their sense of resilience is extraordinary as they smile despite their sorrow," he says.
This picture by Ahmer Khan went viral during the Kashmir floods. Pic/Al Jazeera (with permission from the photographer)
A kid at the Tundikhel relief camp in Kathmandu