Papua New Guinea is standing after the terrible earthquake of February 2018 – But homeless are still struggling to survive

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The last couple of years had been tough enough for Yapanu Daniel, a widow and mother of four. Having lost her husband in 2015, she had been working tirelessly to put food on the table for her four young ones. But what befell her small family on 26 February 2018, the day a devastating earthquake struck Papua New Guinea, left them homeless and struggling for survival.

Belonging to what was once Yakara village in Toiwaro ward one, Poroma LLG of Nipa-Kutubu district, Southern Highlands province, Yapanu now lives at Urila care centre with her four children – Dalin, Melenge, Doli and Undip.

Still traumatized, yet collected, Yapanu recalled what the 7.5 magnitude quake felt like. “As the earth roared beneath our feet, rocks came crashing down on the homes. It sounded like a bomb explosion and destroyed everything around us in a matter of seconds.”

Confused and scared, she jumped up from the bed and instinctively reached out for her children. “Our house was swaying… it had been struck by boulders and everything was crumbling under their weight. Suddenly, the roof caved in on me. I somehow forced my right hand through the rubble and helplessly lay there, waving for help,” Yapanu pieced that painful memory together.

What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. From amidst the wreckage, her young daughter saw her mother’s hands through the debris and extending her little hand, trying to reach out to her mother. Buried under the ruins, Yapanu could barely breathe, let alone shout or move as land continued to slide down the surrounding mountains. “But then I heard my daughter cry and call out my name. I managed to grab some dry kunai grass nearby so that the rustle could alert her. She eventually noticed me and shouted even louder to call for help,” the young mother narrated.

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