Editor’s note: An enormous thank you to the hundreds of Meridian readers who have already stepped forward and contributed so generously to the earthquake relief efforts in Nepal. MERIDIAN CARES for Nepal is a joint partner with CHOICE Humanitarian in raising funds to send relief. Click here to donate.
My heart has been rent with sorrow in the past two weeks as I have contemplated the plight of our brothers and sisters in Nepal. We spent time with so many people there; these are not abstractions to me, but real people with real faces and real homes that were destroyed in the April 25th earthquake. I have learned some very basic things that I wanted to share with you about a natural disaster such as this earthquake.
1. Emergency relief, especially in the Third World, is absolutely necessary.
There are time-proven methods of human development in the Third World. There are ways that truly bless and lift people out of poverty. Human development is an art and a science. It’s all very tricky, but when a natural disaster strikes in the Third World, such as happened in Nepal on April 25, you have to get emergency relief to the people as fast as you can. Thousands of families are truly suffering, even as we speak, because they are sleeping out in the cold without shelter after this earthquake. The official death toll is now 8,413, but the suffering index cannot be calculated. Again, emergency relief is essential.
2. Shelter, after an earthquake, is nearly the number one need—and tents are the most economical temporary solution.
There are a number of things that are great about tents: They are very economical. They are easily obtained in India and China and can be trucked right to the places of greatest needs. If you are in a tent during an aftershock (and we felt many of these after the Haiti earthquake in January 2010), you are safe. If the tent is knocked over, you just put it up again. You can’t be crushed by rip-stop nylon. A tent provides shelter from rain, sun, insects and cold. We need at least 4,000 tents immediately (preferably 8,000) to be purchased for Nepal. The monsoon rains are coming in less than four weeks and we need these tents now.
3. Blankets are so extremely needed after an earthquake and are extremely versatile.
Blankets can become a rare commodity after an earthquake when thousands of homes have been reduced to rubble. Blankets are essential for warmth. Blankets are doubled as stretchers to carry the wounded. Blankets are used to help during delivery of babies (yes, babies keep coming, even in the midst of a natural disaster). Blankets can double as makeshift shelters. Blankets protect from the sun. Blankets help the wounded from going into shock. Blankets bring security. We need 10,000 of them immediately in Nepal. We are buying them in India and China for between $4 and $8 (US Dollars), but mostly from the military for $10. Will you help us obtain these 10,000 blankets? We are still short the funds that we need.
4. Water purifiers are critical to prevent the outbreak of disease.
A great challenge after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 was getting clean drinking water to all the people. I remember when the trucks would pull up with thousands of water bottles into a crowd of refugees, hundreds of people would swarm around the truck hoping to get at least one bottle. It was heart-rending to watch. One of things we are buying in India and China is water purifiers that are practical for the people in Nepal. We need so many of these.
5. Medical supplies are essential after an earthquake.
Untold thousands of Nepalese were injured during the quake. Many of those injuries remain untreated to this day because the people in the rural areas where we have been working with CHOICE Humanitarian have no medical supplies.
The most basic essentials are needed, such as bandages, slings, wraps, tape, scissors, antiseptics, anti-biotics, etc. All these things are so important to give relief to the thousands who are suffering. Can you imagine having an untreated infection in an injured finger or toe that just continues to get worse until the infection takes over, the digit become gangrenous, and then it has to be removed? Will you help us provide medical supplies (we are buying them mainly in India and trucking them in to the most remote areas of Nepal)?
6. People are doing their best in these natural disasters, both the refugees and the aid workers.
We have spent so much time in the Third World and we often hear comments from people in the West, like “those people wouldn’t be in such dire need if they were smarter.” Seriously, we get this all the time. We hear things like, “A lot of the problems in the Third World could be solved if those people just worked harder.” I’m here to tell you that the people in Nepal (and numerous other nations) are doing their best and trying their hardest. Poverty is just a lack of opportunity, not a lack of intelligence or even a lack of resources.
7. These natural disasters are our opportunity to serve the least of these.
We who live in the West or in the developed nations are so blessed. It’s as if we won the lottery in heaven even before we came to earth. And truly, unto whom much is given, much is expected. When hundreds of thousands of people are suffering, shouldn’t we lift our hands to help them?
Bishnu Adhikari, the Meet-the-Mormons Humanitarian is working as hard as he can with his CHOICE Humanitarian staff in Nepal to bring relief to his people—but he needs aid from us right now. Generous Meridian readers have already contributed nearly $50,000 at this writing (2:00 AM on Friday, May 8, 2015), but that goal is small compared to the needs.
Thank you all so much for your generosity and your humanity.