Nepal Villagers' Earthquake Fund
$195,957 of $208,000 goal
This GoFundMe was created by Joanna Donovan in Madison, WI. I resided in Kathmandu, Nepal for many years and currently own and operate a fairtrade business highlighting the amazing silversmiths of the Kathmandu Valley. Within hours of the earthquake the desire to be in Nepal helping was overwhelming for me and many people outside of Nepal who call Nepal home or at the very least, a second home. Many of us here is the US with close ties to Nepal searched for on-the-ground relief efforts with no over head to send our financial assistance. On April 27th, Keith sent out a request via Facebooks to family, friends and others for funds to assist Shakuna's relief work. As Keith is very well respected, his fb message was shared widely. Keith requested that donation to be sent to his wife's non-governmental social welfare organization's bank account. Unfortunately, bank to bank transfers to Nepal can cost up to $70. This GoFundMe is an effort to consolidate all of our donations to minimize (or possible eliminate) bank fees and to hopefully reach others outside of Keith and Shakuna's personal circle to assist in their on the ground immediate efforts.
Thank you to gofundme for donating their well deserved 5% fee from all gofundme campaigns collecting funds for Nepal earthquake relief efforts. I am requesting that wepay also donate all fees collected to earthquake relief efforts.
I was asked my Amherst College class to speak at our recent 40th reunion about the work that our family has done with all of your support to help selected communities affected by the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal. Naturally, I was deeply honored & humbled by this request. After all, many Amherst classmates, as well as all of you, contributed to our work. None of what we achieved could have been accomplished without each of your generosity and thoughtfulness.
I was asked, as well, to explain how I came to spend 33 years in Nepal after my Amherst education, as well as provide an overview to my working life there. You'll learn of my friendship with my college roommate, Scott Leiper, who spent his working life in Cambodia, after our three years of travel together. You'll have a quick overview of modern Nepali history with some Nepali language tips.
At the end, after describing our Nepal Villagers' Earthquake Fund activities, I provide some perspective on the larger socio-political issues that still trouble Nepal over one year after the 2015 earthquake, as well as the tectonic realities of the Himalaya.
Again, thank-you for your kindness and support to the people of Nepal over the past year.
warm regards, Keith
April 25th and May11th 2016 were days of deep reflection for us Nepalese and those who have been engaged in the on-going suffering of the Nepalese people. Our collective reflection of the destruction, suffering even self-generating kindness has been part of the human mandala for all of us through history.
Watching the full moon above with the foreboding dusty clouds haunts us with the chilling experience of last year's devastating earthquakes which humbled the nation to the ground. Those of us who fortunate to survive, quickly picked ourselves up and spontaneously became part of the civil society relief team in order to wholeheartedly reach out to those in the hills and mountains who were desperate for relief and help.
How can we forget the 9,000 individual casualties and the gnawing grief of their families; the 21,000 injured, those missing who never returned and a fifth of our precious Nepali cultural heritage destroyed to rubble? How can we ignore the 3.5 million remaining homeless and 800,000 damaged homes?
At the hour of need a year ago, all of us touched by our immediate human compassion, rose to the occasion to assist those who had their lives torn apart by the earthquakes. The Nepal Villagers Earthquake Fund( NVEF), along with various Buddhist organizations from Malaysia and generous international private donors, in collaboration with the Buddhist People's Rights Forum, raised generous funds, mostly within the initial three months, to deliver relief of food and shelter distribution to 14 districts, 54 villagers and 58,000 persons. The largest portion of the money raised (as described in charts presented earlier on the website) went for community food, shelter, medicine and modest financial support.
In hindsight, as challenging as it was to deliver the relief amidst the immediate chaos and continuous aftershocks, the reconstruction of individual homes has been a much more arduous task. In evaluating our achievements over the past year, we were able to quickly accomplish more during the first six months of the post-earthquake period then the situation the past six months.
The problem with the reconstruction has mostly been in the often vague and complicated regulations established by the Government of Nepal (GoN). No doubt they are trying their best. However, their desire to control and manage all of the post-earthquake reconstruction has required endless negotiations by NGOs and civil society to permit us to work at the community level, as well.
In fact, it has taken the GoN a year to establish the NRA (National Reconstruction Agency) for the reconstruction of individual houses. With the process often stuck in bureaucratic hurdles, the GoN only just begun to provide limited funds to under 1,000 families out of the 650,000 that lost their homes last year. Yet, through this time, the villagers have had to weather the biting winter cold under open tarps and already the monsoon has begun across the country. Sadly, the poor villagers' suffering is palpable at every step of the way.
Already this year, the NVEF/BPRF has been able to complete the construction of nearly fifteen individual bamboo, stone and GI sheet homes (as shown in earlier updates), as well as distributed winter blankets and jackets in January 2016 for the villagers and children of Okharpauwa, Nuwakot. However, as the GoN clarifies its rules on the role and autonomy of civil society, we have been negotiating assiduously with the GON to permit us to continue our temporary shelter reconstruction projects.
Throughout 2016, we will continue our endeavor to alleviate the continuing suffering of the most marginalized Nepalese people, especially in the Nuwakot villages where we are engaged. Instead of getting frustrated, at the slow pace of the official reconstruction process, we have learnt patience in order to support the dignity of those who have been working with us in these villages. As we have learned, in seeking to help others less fortunate than us, every day brings us new challenges. We continue to meet them with the inspiration of the Buddhist four noble truths and the eightfold path.
We are reminded of each of your own contribution of sweat, strength and sincerity. We may have to be patient now for the next stage of our work, but we retain our commitment to helping those most wanting of human habitation.
At this time, we reminiscence and remember the most crippling human tragedy in modern Nepali history and fondly remember your overwhelming compassionate response.
Thank you for being such gracious human beings.
Metta and kindness!
Sincerely, Shakun Sherchand Leslie
I have an update from Shakun in Nepal.
January temperature from 7 C (45°F) dramatically hit the night temperature to 3°C ( 40°F)lows. The chilly winds sent biting and numbing sensation through your body and it was hard to stay warm.
In the villages of Nepal, almost nine months after the April 25, 2015 earthquake, the villagers are still hurdled under donated tarps to protect them from the harshest and coldest months of the year.
As long as the Reconstruction Authority delays the reconstruction and obstruct NGO voluntary works in the earthquake devasted areas in Nepal, the earthquake victims will suffer under miserable inhuman conditions.
Suffering is endless but unnecessary suffering brings anger and depression. We were informed of 5 deaths in Okharpauwa, women and children dying of hyperthermia.
On Friday, 29th January, we were able to distribute warm blankets to the community and jackets to the children. We were able to coordinate the materials for the community primary school.
Our eager volunteers have already gone hands on board with the villagers with the renovation work.
To have these trusting hands fix the cracks, confirm loose walls, replace the shaky , rotten roof beams and knot- bolt the corrugated sheets is reassuring for the school staff, the community and the grade one to grade five 140 children attending the school.
Yesterday, Joanna and some of our members visited Okharpauwa to the delight of the villagers.
Thank you for the December and January contributions from Gofundme. We were able to fulfill the villagers' request to protect them from freezing in the open barn like temporary shelters and tarps.
Fear revisits us again after an earthquake shook us at 10 pm on February 5th. 5.5 on the rector scale is less than the devastating earthquake of April 25th last year. However, there seems to be no rest for the wicked! as the saying goes.
As the contributions are trickling not because of lack of generosity but because of life's economic spread, we are challenged to provide relief to those les' miserables afflicted by both calamities out of human control and those brought together by the collective human stain.
As the Zen teacher Thich Nchat Hanh wisely has spoken that, "As you learn how to suffer, you learn to suffer less".
On a positive note, our combined effort of giving, doing and happening does give relief to those of us who are less fortunate for no fault of ours.
Here is an update from Daniel, a volunteer working in Nepal with NVEF.
The entire NVEP team
It's been three months since I relocated to Nepal and I've experienced so much in this short period of time. It feels like a lifetimes since I left the States in October. I've taken in so many new sights and sounds and have been consistently overwhelmed trying to process it all. There have been many ups and downs, as with any endeavor in this little life, and I am optimistic about a productive and enlightening rest of my stay here.
On a daily basis, I'm confronted with so many juxtaposed scenes of beauty and tragedy, determination and indifference, peace and chaos, amidst other conflicting emotions. It's been hard to make sense of it all.
Our volunteer team of three Americans and one Spaniard has a diverse range of engineering, building, and conservation experience. Leveraging these talents with the expertise and uncanny resourcefulness of our village partners has been one of the most enlightening and rewarding parts of these efforts. Both villagers and volunteers alike have shared various building and landscaping tricks learned along the way, and we have all learned so much from each other despite a challenging language barrier.
Our on-site host Prem-Ji is an energetic community leader, and is really the only local with a conversational grasp of English beyond a few simple words or phrases. Prem's enthusiasm towards both teaching us volunteers Nepali and learning English himself is equal parts amusing and uplifting on a daily basis. His English has improved dramatically due to his diligence over the last two months. At any given moment during the day, he is bound to break out into a hilarious nonsensical string of random words we have taught him along the way - "Mustard! Peas! Pick-Ax! Twice!" Every so often, he will casually say something so heartwarming and kind that it absolutely stops me in my tracks. He is truly the consummate host, sharing insights like, "Daniel-Sir, you are my brother, and it is my responsibility to teach you what I know." I am so eternally grateful to Prem and his family for making me feel comfortable in such a foreign environment and for the development of my Nepali language skills. The first few weeks in the village were definitely an immersive and isolating experience the likes of which I had never been through but I feel amazingly comfortable there now. I still have so much more to learn, but I am now at least decently conversational on a few different topics which has really opened up my interactions with and ability to work alongside the villagers.
I have learned a wide range of useful skills but more than anything, working in Nepal has been a constant lesson in patience and adaptation. New challenges are continually arising, especially with supplies always difficult to come by. Transporting building materials in the current fuel situation is often unreasonably expensive, and there are some days when we can't even seem to round up enough saws with which to cut bamboos.
I'll never forget sitting in countless office meetings in my previous life the last few years, feeling suffocated by the four bland walls around me and uninspired by the inefficiency and monotony of it all. I used to daydream about getting out into the world and working in a less restrictive and regulated environment. Now there are times when scheduled meetings are repeatedly postponed or simply never materialize with no notice or explanation. Be careful what you wish for, it might just come true.
Then again, many of our villagers are just struggling to get by, especially through the oppressive cold of winter. How can I blame them for reorganizing their priorities to best ensure the survival of their families? These words are no hyperbole - 5 villagers have died in recent weeks as long, cold nights have only gotten longer and colder. Every day I observe weary sixty year old men and women toiling long hours in the fields and carrying heavy loads up steep hillsides just to have enough food to eat. The fact that these folk are donating any of their precious time and resources on these building projects to benefit the greater community going forward is a constant inspiration and reminder for me to take a step back and really look at the bigger picture.
We are hoping that we will soon be able to purchase and deliver a shipment of warm blankets and/or jackets for our friends in Okharpauwa as they battle this tough winter. Us volunteers are blessed to have warm layers and our down sleeping bags to crawl into in our tents at night, but the villagers simply aren't all as fortunate. Seeing toddlers and seniors alike lacking proper winter jackets in houses with no source of internal heating breaks my heart and causes me to have increased sympathy for this population that is already recovering from a tragic natural disaster and trying to operate beneath an unbelievably unresponsive government. For example, the National Reconstruction Authority only just recently got itself organized in the last month. Local news this week has reported that official government-sponsored reconstruction will not begin until at least April, marking the one year anniversary of the quake. We are doing our best to operate within this difficult climate, and remain determined that our collective efforts will be able to make a lasting impact.
Any further contributions made to this fund will have an enormous impact on enabling us to provide the winter supplies mentioned above, as well as to continue to provide novel structures that will help this community rebuild and recover. From all of us here, we sincerely thank you in advance for any donations you are able to give, and for just reading these words and learning about our work. Your support up to this point has made all of our work possible, and we are so grateful to have you on our team.
For a more detailed look into my time in Nepal and the volunteering experience, feel free to check out my full post on my blog at:
Much love to all and to all a good fight.
I hope this fund goes to directly real earthquake victims area. It is truth, In Nepal there is alots of NGO/ INGO . But some are doing nothing and making earning business themselves. I am fully optimist with Shakun amd Keith, Hope result would be see soon. Thanks Shankun n Keith.
https://www.facebook.com/charity.page.10485 I would love to thank you all for the help you have done for these people God bless you all