Editors’ note: This article is up-to-the-minute and very specific as to the needs of the people in Nepal. If you have been looking for a way to satisfy the gnawing need you have to help, you may CLICK HERE and get right to giving your donation now. To find out more, read on.
As the days fade and more distance is placed between the 7.8 earthquake that shook Nepal and our daily lives, it’s all too easy to forget the devastation that left countless people without homes, food, water, and other basic needs. For Meet the Mormons Humanitarian, Bishnu Adakari, nothing has faded, rather it’s getting more intense as we are just learning of the impact in the remote areas.
Though Bishnu has not been able to access his home consistently as aftershocks still shake the city, he continues to work tirelessly to help his community in this time of need. “Nepal is my homeland and my brothers and sisters here are in need and I want to be part of the effort to rebuild my country quickly,” said Bishnu.
Dr. James Mayfield Just Returned from Nepal
We spoke with CHOICE Humanitarian Co-Founder Dr. James B. Mayfield (who just returned from Nepal ten days before the quake) about the immediate needs for the people of Nepal. These are people Meridian readers are already familiar with through a photo essay called The Beautiful Faces of the Extreme Poor. The faces you see in that essay are the very people who were hit by the earthquake—not some abstract group, but the very individuals we were working with in Nepal.
Dr. Mayfield said, “In my 50 years of development work I have never seen such destruction. 75 rural districts and 30 of them are considered disaster areas. Five rural districts are where we are going to be focusing on in the next three months. One village in three has had extensive damage with homes destroyed. Some villages have been absolutely washed away with landslides.”
Dr. Mayfield continued, “We have a window of opportunity between now and the end of May before the monsoon rains come. Once they come—June, July and August—with 1/3 of families without any housing at all. This is a cold season coming up. We are just praying we will have enough support to see that every family has some protection from the monsoon season.”
What can we do right now as Meridian readers? We asked Jim about the very immediate needs. They need 4,000 tents ($50/each) and 10,000 blankets ($10/each). They need water filters and medical supplies. These are things we can all help with. MERIDIAN CARES for Nepal is partnering with CHOICE Humanitarian (as we have many times in the past) to bring immediate relief. It is not helpful to gather items here in the Western world and then send them over.
Our people are purchasing from local sources in India where your dollar goes much further than here and can be delivered much quicker. We personally have already donated enough for 4 tents and 10 blankets (that’s $300). Who will join us and match that donation? Or please do whatever you can, but do it now. Meridian readers alone could supply the tents and blankets needed for one of the hardest hit areas. Our window to offer real help is very small. All donations go directly to these supplies. Administration costs have already been covered. What you give goes directly to helping a person afflicted by Nepal’s earthquake.
CHOICE Has Been in Nepal for Many Years
As a reminder, our partner, CHOICE Humanitarian, has been working in remote villages in Nepal for over 15 years. The work is focused on rural areas helping people who live on less than $1.25 a day create their own path out of poverty. They work in 1,000 villages with over 100,000 people on a program called Nepal LIFE that is helping Nepal to become the first developing country in the world to end extreme poverty. “It’s fortunate that our mission is to organize and mobilize local leaders to facilitate leadership and capacity building,” said CEO, and our dear friend, Leah Barker. “That will allow villagers to quickly create a new plan of recovery and makes us uniquely qualified to assess the situation and develop critical pathways with disaster recovery organizations, ” said Leah.
Bishnu, an engineer by trade, has been CHOICE’s In-Country Director in Nepal since 1999. He manages a competent staff of native professionals who are committed to help during this crisis to create a sustainable plan with long-range vision and planning.
Those Who are Often Forgotten
Rural areas most often get completely overlooked in times of crisis due to the lack of capacity, but that is where Bishnu and his team are focused – in Lamjung where the epicenter of the earthquake hit. Bishnu is a part of a concerted effort and is working with the local government, Red Cross, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help manage this crisis.
Due to the remoteness of these villages, assessments are just coming in on how bad the damage is there. In the Lamjung region, 3,245 homes were completely damaged, rendered not occupable, and 10,000 homes were partially damaged. That number is significant for an area that only had 42,000 households to begin with.
Regrettably, several of the CHOICE staff also had their homes affected. Four of their homes were completely destroyed, and ten homes sustained significant damage. However, this has only fueled their passion for helping to rebuild their beloved country. Unfortunately many schools were also completely damaged. It is unclear right now where these children will go in the coming months.
One thing is for certain, many of these families need tents for shelter in the coming months and we have to get those tents to them now. As roads open, it is suspected that news of further damage will be heard. The travel distance from Katmandu to the Lamjung district used to be a brutal six hours—now, after this destructive earthquake, average travel time is 36 hours.
The Coming Monsoons
The overarching concern for both urban and rural areas is the upcoming monsoon season that will bring landslides and mudslides with the heavy rain. And for the thousands that do not have homes, the conditions in the camps are not set up to address the dampness, hygiene, medical necessities, or food and water for the residents. With that in mind, concern shifts to a possible outbreak of cholera. The current and critical needs are for tarps, blankets, food, hygiene items and medical supplies.
Every Dollar Well Placed
CHOICE Humanitarian is working to make sure every dollar is well placed to help the Nepali people rebuild quickly and effectively. International relief efforts are complicated and only groups or people with strong connections to Nepal can get the funds there and disperse them in ways that will help the local people now and in the future. The most expedient way to help is by making a financial donation. This allows organizations located in Nepal to immediately source supplies from neighboring India and China and into the hands of those in need now. The inclination seems to be to gather supplies here at home. However, “we have learned that this is usually more expensive, takes longer, and creates tremendous logistical barriers on the ground,” said Bishnu.
“The people of Nepal are amazing. They have that resilient spirit that tells me in spite of the challenges they face, there will be better days,” said CHOICE CO-Founder, Dr. James Mayfield.
If you would like to contribute to the efforts of Bishnu and his team to rebuild Nepal, please click here now.