Nepal, 2015: Fundraising and Volunteer Activity Report
January, 2016 | Theresa Rourk
On April 25th, 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the small, Himalayan country of Nepal. Over the course of the following days and months, the Nepali people would experience over 400 major aftershocks – one of them a devastating 7.3 magnitude that destroyed many buildings throughout the region that had survived the first “Big Quake.”
In some of the hardest-hit areas of Sindhupalchowk and Ghorkha, virtually 100% of homes, schools, and other structures were destroyed. Over 8 months on, families all over the country are still living in make-shift shelters made of tarps and corrugated metal, and many families are now freezing through the harsh Himalayan winter.
However, along with great loss and hardship has come a huge outpouring of support. Friends and family have sent collections from around the globe, much of it going to aid grassroots organizations working on the ground. And as much of the world refocuses on their immediate lives and other inevitable tragedies, the people of Nepal continue to their efforts to support each other, rebound the economy, and focus on how to move forward.
Members of our team collected together in the week following the first earthquake to provide support across the region. While some traveled to far-flung areas to bring supplies, many took to the streets of Kathmandu to help clear roadways of rubble and accumulating waste. Others volunteered at a coordination center near the GrowByData office, and many collected clothing, non-perishables, and sanitation items from the least affected, most fortunate in order to donate immediately. GrowByData team members also took up an internal collection to help support the efforts of the company.
GrowByData team members helping clean the neighborhood
With a combination of funds raised from international donors, and our internal GrowByData team, we were able to provide six members of our “friends and family” with enough supplies to last a family of four for 2-3 months, including rice, lentils, salt, sugar, soya, cooking oil, biscuits and other non-perishables, re-hydration salts, hygiene products, sanitary pads, tarps, and more. We provided additional tarps to other members of our team, bedding supplies, and further supplies of rice and lentils for others. This was all accomplished for less than NRS 80,000 (approx. $800).
Supplies being readied for distribution
As days passed, it became clear that support was not reaching many desperate areas. The village of Champpi, on the southern outskirts of the city, had not received any help, despite being only an hour away from the capital. Members of the GBD team traveled to the area, partly over washed-out dirt roads, to assess the community need, and for the next two days collected enough supplies to support all 55 families in Champpi until official emergency aid could reach them. Thirteen members of the GBD team, along with a volunteer physician and community coordinator, traveled back to the village and spent half a day with the families. Through a municipal worker, we were able to directly distribute the Supply Buckets by-hand to a member of each family, ensuring that everyone received assistance.This was accomplished for nearly NRS. 100,000
GrowByData team members in Champpi
Our attending physician, Prajwal Dhungel, was able to treat every single person in the village that wanted to be seen. They were fortunate, in that no one had died in the earthquakes, despite a reported 95% destruction rate of homes and out-buildings. However, some had suffered injuries, and many in the village communicated that it was the first time in years – for some, the first time ever – that they had been seen by a physician.
Physician Prajwal Dhungel treating villagers in Champpi
GrowByData also supported a number of one-off efforts of Khushi Nepal, our community partner non-profit. However, as the efforts in Nepal began to transition from Emergency Response, to Recovery, GrowByData has taken steps to ensure that our efforts support mid- to long-term rebuilding and support efforts for Khushi and our other community partners.
Khushi Nepal, founded and operated by our community coordinator Santosh Poudel, began as an organization working with street children in Kathmandu. However, it has evolved into a partnership with other community organizers, non-profits, schools, and international agencies. After the earthquakes, the population of street children increased exponentially – many families had only a tenuous hold on stability before, but the massive loss of homes sent many children out into the street to beg, steal, or remain otherwise unsupported. Through Khushi Nepal, GrowByData has committed to supporting two major projects – a rooftop water collection system for a school being constructed, and a program to provide street children access to educational opportunities.
Khushi Program 1. Rooftop Water Collection System Project Total Cost: NRS 100,000 (Approx. $1000)
“Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation.”
Khushi Nepal has been building two schools at Sindupalchowk, north of Kathmandu near the border with China, that would benefit 300-500 children. These schools have had to be relocated and rebuilt after the earthquakes – starting over almost entirely. For one of these schools, GrowByData has committed to supporting a rooftop water collection system for toilets, washing, cleaning, and other sanitation purposes. This project will not only benefit the children and community, but stands as a pilot for us – our goal is to successfully complete this project, and also determine how we can minimize costs, and support future installations of water collection systems.
The total cost for this project, approximately $1000, provides the following – the rain collection unit, all brackets, PVC piping and fittings, wages for workers from the affected community, transportation for supplies and volunteers to the area, and food and miscellaneous costs for workers and volunteers in the area. It will bring clean water to over 300 children and 15 staff members for the first Sindupalchowk school.
Khushi Program 2. Empowering Street Children
Project Total Cost: Initially NRS. 100,000 (Approx. $1000)
Children on the streets of Kathmandu (Photo Credit: Santosh Poudel)
Reports vary, but it is generally agreed that before the earthquakes, there were between 1200 and 1500 children on the street of Kathmandu, and over 5000 nationwide. Activists in some areas have reported that the number has doubled, and tracking these children has become extraordinarily difficult as the topography has the city has been changed and damaged. Educational and personal development opportunities are the only way to bring them back into society – however, many have been so traumatized that they are unable to participate in the traditional classroom environment. Khushi Nepal’s goal is to fold more non-traditional, informal educational and emotional support into their wider educational programs, which already support some street children in partner schools and organizations.
The total initial cost for this program, approximately $1000, provides the following for 65 to 75 children – school fees, medical treatment, clothing, sports materials, stationery, referrals to partner organizations and followup visits on the street, organized activities, and food and miscellaneous costs for the street children and volunteers. As an ongoing program, based on the success of the initial disbursement, GrowByData will be following monthly reports from Khushi Nepal, and looking at ways to provide longer-term funding solutions.
Rashmi Kafle runs a unique school on the far outskirts of Kathmandu, among the terraced hills and brick factories. Up to April 25th, 2015, Sattya Uddhyan School had the highest success rate in Kathmandu for instructing and retaining at-risk youth. Post-earthquakes, the building where Rashmi and her staff has taught and housed up to 40 students at a time has been irreparably damaged – meanwhile, there are a greater number of at-risk children that require care and education. There are two major ways that GrowByData is helping to support the Sattya Uddhyan rebuilding process – child sponsorship, and support for rebuilding efforts.
Sattya Uddhyan Program 1. Child Sponsorship
Project Total Cost: Initially NRS 150,000 (Approx. $1500)
The 40 students that lived at and attended the Sattya Uddhyan before the earthquakes came from difficult, varied backgrounds. Rashmi and her staff provided simple uniforms, as many had no other access to adequate clothing. They also provided learning materials, food, sanitary living conditions and quality care from excellent volunteers and paid teachers. Following the earthquakes, Sattya Uddhyan is currently only able to care for 25 students as it rebuilds.
To help Sattya Uddhyan expand their services again and rebuild, GrowByData is operating a pilot sponsorship program for the current 25 students. For approximately $60, GrowByData can provide clothing, shoes, textbooks, and other educational material for one student for an entire year. Pending an assessment of the success of the trial, GrowByData aims to expand the sponsorship program to include new students joining Sattya Uddhyan in the future, and potentially to other schools in the Kathmandu area.
Sattya Uddhyan Project 2. Rebuilding
Project Total Cost: Initially NRS 220,000 (Approx. $2200)
Sattya Uddhyan is in the process of clearing land adjacent to their current property that they have managed to secure, have constructed some temporary shelters, and are beginning to construct classrooms. Plans are also in place for new buildings for dormitories, a kitchen, proper sanitation systems, and even a small library. GrowByData has pledged approximately $2200 to be used for the building materials and expenses, and is working to encourage other local businesses to provide funding for additional educational materials and more modern learning technology.
Sattya Uddhyan land being readied for construction
OTHER SUPPORT AND INITIATIVES
Agua International Water Relief
Project Total Donation: $300
A recently emerging non-profit, Agua International is on a year-long mission around the world to build easily constructed water purification systems, using all local materials, and to instruct communities on how to build and maintain them.
AI’s first stop post-earthquakes was Nepal. President Greg K. Gallup led a month of training sessions, and one on-site construction of a water purification system for a school in the Sindupalchowk region. GrowByData was able to not only support our community coordinator Santosh in training, a skill that can be transferred to other communities with which GrowByData and Khushi work, but was also able to sponsor the construction of the on-site system.
Community Development Initiatives
GrowByData continues to support and is in the process of developing a number of other local projects and initiatives to support individuals and groups in our community to help recover and thrive. Some activities already completed or in planning:
- Clothing Drives
- Home Rebuilding
- Community Gardens
- Computer Skills Tutorials for Khushi Children
- Additional School Sponsorship
- Mobile Medical Unit (for street children and rural communities)
Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/kathmandu-nepal-birds-pigeons-96564/