14 July 2015
Rebuilding Nepal Brick by Brick: 6/24/15: I’m in Nepal for the next few weeks covering the earthquake relief efforts. What I’m seeing here is breaking my heart, this country is such a part of me being as it was my home for so many years. These people don’t deserve this. No one does. And now it’s pouring monsoon rains.
Today I visited the Nutritional Rehabilitation Home run by the Nepal Youth Foundation. This woman suffered extensive injuries after being buried in the rubble of her home that collapsed on her during the earthquake. She weeps thinking of her lost her house and seven year old granddaughter that was killed. In the background, eighteen-year-old Ramesh who lost both legs in the quake wheels himself out of the room.
In the mountainous Kavre District of Nepal the people wonder how they’ll ever afford to rebuild their homes that were devastated by the earthquake. One in four of Nepal’s 28 million people lives on a daily income of less that $1.25 a day. Many have built small tin shelters from their old roofs to protect themselves from the pounding rains. The local government is offering 150,000 rupees or about $150 per person to rebuild. With such a distressed government it’s reassuring to hear the Nepali government received $4.4 billion in aid at the large donor conference in Kathmandu yesterday.
It’s not just the personal philanthropic efforts that are needed in a disaster such as this but actual government money for larger rebuild efforts. Still, these people that live so remotely need to know that people care and it is grassroots organizations that are bringing them immediate supplies. Many of these local organizations TEWA, Loom, Saathi, Beyond Beijing Committee, Women for Human Rights, WACN are supported by the amazing efforts of the Global Fund for Women. (www.globalfundforwomen.org).
The beautiful villages of Bungamati and Khokana, old Newari towns basically no longer exist. I have fond memories of this picturesque area, especially during harvest season when the villagers winnowed the rice in the streets. Now it looks like a war zone. Children mimicked their parents clearing the rubble and a man showed me a rat he’s just speared. I told him Nepal has nothing on our New York rats. It’s a race to build temporary shelters against the impending monsoon. It absolutely down poured rain all day.
Sleeping in a tent in torrential downpours in the Dolka region, in an area near the epicenter and basically destroyed by the second earthquake. The locals live in makeshift shelters cobbled together from their old tin rooftops and whatever they can find. It’s mountainous here on the road to Jiri, and cold wet and rainy. Global Fund for Women helped supply grants to grassroots organizations such as TEWA and Loom who are distributing much needed mosquito nets and dignity kits for women.
I’m honored to be documenting the work and spending the evening with incredible women who are really making a difference with their earthquake relief efforts and their tireless inspiration to better women’s rights here in Nepal. Bandana Rana executive chair of Saathi, photographer Alison Wright, Lily Thapa founder of Women for Human Rights (WHR), Sajanai Amataya Paneru general secretary of Saathi, Prativa Subedi of Women Awareness Centre Nepal (WACN), Shanta Shrestha from Beyond Beijing Committee (BBC), Durga Sob from Feminist Dalit Organization (FDO). All are grantees benefiting from the influential organization Global Fund for Women.
Heartbreak City. Just a few down and dirty photos of the destruction in Dolkha, a town on the way to Jiri that was just a few miles from the epicenter and hard hit by the second earthquake on May 12. It’s pissing down chilly rain in this mountainous area and most people are still living under tarps. At least my tent proved to be waterproof. This young girl emerging from her makeshift muddy tarp home in her clean school uniform and braided hair tied in neat blue ribbons just encapsulated the situation in Nepal to me. No matter what hardship is thrown at them the people of Nepal will always have their dignity and their pride.
Followed Loom, a small NGO, distributing women dignity kits for new mothers and much needed mosquito nets. Loom is a small NGO but it’s encouraging to see the passion in the younger generation of Nepal students so fired up about women’s rights issues. They were here just after the first quake and Bishnu showed me some of the photos of buildings he’d taken on his phone. Since the second quake these buildings and most of the town no longer exists.
Exciting day in Gorkha for the Nepal Youth Foundation (www.Nepalyouthfoundation.org) where we’ve delivered 30 large tents to help shelter 120 displaced families. Thank you to those who helped raise thousands of dollars through my Faces of Hope non-profit (www.facesofhope.org) as each tent costs $500 and the money has gone to help support these tents, mattresses, blankets and solar lights for the displaced families and orphans in the NYF run transit camp.
We’ve experienced the monsoon mudslides first hand and now hundreds of families are displaced as their damaged homes are sliding down the mountains.
The Nepal Youth Foundation opens the first new school in Ghorka to replace the school that was destroyed in the earthquake. I’m amazed by the resilience and tenacity of the orphaned and displaced children I’ve been staying with at the transit camp. Every night they sing and dance and they’re so excited to be returning to school!
ANJALI – A LONE SURVIVOR
Thirteen-year-old Anjali Darai, lost her entire family: father, mother and younger brother, all at once on the April 25, 2015. They were on the site of the landslide collecting fodder for their animals. Her family is still buried under the mud because nobody can dig the bodies out. I accompanied NYF President Som Paneru, with Sanjoj Maharjan o visit her in her village Salyantar, Dhading District, last week. We visited her ultra poor and elderly grandparents who are now taking care of Anjali. The team has assured her and the grandparents that NYF will take care of her education, living cost, health care and emotional well-being, at least until she graduates high School. Anjali is one of the thousands of children who are severely affected by the recent deadly earthquake. NYF plans to support at least 1,000 children like Anjali under its “Kinship Care” Program, a model best suited for community based rehabilitation of children. If you wish to sponsor a child or make one time contribution, it costs only US$350 per child a year. Please visit http://www.nepalyouthfoundation.org to see how you to can help sponsor these children and their education. We did.