Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Devastation in Nepal. How can we help?!

Here I am again, on a plane, heading to St. Louis, Missouri. As much as I am looking forward to visiting family there, a part of me wishes I was back on a plane heading to Nepal. But I know that not being trained in disaster relief, that would not be very helpful right now and funds sent over will provide the most help. It’s been over a week since I returned from Nepal and now close to 48 hours since it was rocked by the largest earthquake they have had in 80 years. Hardest hit were areas in and around the Kathmandu Valley. I can’t believe that some of the ancient temples that I visited in the last month are gone. I can’t believe that friends whose homes I had visited are now living out in the open, exposed to early rains and cold. How can this be? How can this be happening!? But it does and when it does, many people are affected. In a country like Nepal, which thrives on tourism from people who come from the most affluent and developed countries, basic services are oftentimes lacking. And it’s only been in the last decade, after the end of the Maoist insurgency, that development resumed - roads were built, telecommunications expanded, and with that the building boom occurred. Many were leaving their rural homes to find a better life for themselves and their families in the city. Some sold their lands and built homes in the city. Others came without much to live in shanty towns or to rent a room from those more fortunate than themselves. But most came to the city to find a better life. Since my visit in 2006, Kathmandu had grown and my worst fears about the city and it’s people came true on Saturday.

So what can we do to help? This is always the question that comes to mind for many of us when disaster strikes. Being so far away, we feel so powerless to help and can only assist with our pocket books, if we have the means. Fortunately for Nepal, there are many Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) already situated there who have already mobilized and many disaster-relief teams heading over there. However, that doesn’t mean everyone who needs the help has been getting the help. I’m hearing from friends, that their rural communities near the epicenter have been flattened. Communities to the east and north of Kathmandu, also decimated. It’s unknown if aid is getting out there yet, so some folks are resorting to local, grass roots efforts.

It doesn’t matter which route you take to help. Assistance will be needed immediately, but also long-term. Do a little homework when choosing a large organization and if giving to a specific individual or grass roots campaign, be sure you know who you’re working with. At TRIFC, we are keeping in touch with our contacts in Nepal and will eventually need to help with long-term assistance, however, we are directing our friends to help with direct relief efforts by those trained to respond to these kinds of disasters. Here are some links:

Message from Charity Navigator: http://blog.charitynavigator.org/2015/04/tips-for-donating-to-nepal-earthquake.html

New York Times article on how to help:

Link to Global Giving - Organization which will be supporting other relief organizations with funds.

Link to Bo M Karlsson Foundation - local Washington-based scholarship organization who will be providing supplies via a local advisor.

Link to Empact Northwest - local Washington-based disaster team heading to Nepal

 As many of you know, Nepal occupies a special part of my heart. From my first visit there in 2001 to today. I can’t tell you exactly why that is but one thing I know for sure, our friends, their families and communities need our help and our prayers (from whatever spiritual background you come from). Please keep them all in your hearts and help if you are able. Namaste.

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