As the clock ticked 11:56 on the morning of April 25, Hira Bharati believed the world was coming to an end.
She was attending a government-run training program on agriculture in Chautara, the headquarters of Sindhupalchowk district in northeastern Nepal, when the ground shook intensely. She first heard screams and then saw houses collapse in a cloud of dust. The entire town—perched on a hilltop, dotted with concrete and mud houses—was in ruins within a minute.
Four hours away, in the village of Kunchowk, Bharati’s house too had crumbled, killing her husband’s grandfather. Their animal shed also collapsed, killing eight of their goats. The devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal this spring killed nearly 9,000 people, injured more than 22,000 others and left nearly 3 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.