The Nepali people are working hard to rebuild their homes and their spirit is strong. The world community has been generous thus far but there is so much more to be done.
In this post I will give an overview of the current status, per my understanding, and make firm recommendations on how you can help. Also, I want to promote help for the village of Pangboche where Lama Geshi and Kami Sherpa lives.
This small village is slightly off the main trail from Namche to Everest Base Camp but frequently visited by climbers to receive a blessing from the Lama. Many of their homes were destroyed after second earthquake on May 12, 2015.
There are four ways to help:
- Donate to large relief organizations
- Donate to long term, smaller organizations located directly in Nepal
- Donate to small direct efforts lead by individuals
- Travel to Nepal to support the tourism industry
A Huge Problem with Individual Faces
My personal fear is that all the negative publicity of a corrupt Nepal government that refuses help for outside its borders (source) or skims money for personal gain will discourage people from giving. Or the magnitude of the problem will deter donations. Or stories of ineffective aid in Haiti will spill over to discourage help for Nepal. (source)
While there is substance to these stories, they are not reasons to freeze into inaction; and thankfully few have.
The Nepal government has provided some degree of help. International relief agencies have delivered tons of tarps, food and water to remote villages. Smaller organizations continue with their focus in their traditional areas. Individuals with direct contacts and relationships are also making a difference.
The annual monsoon rains have begun. There are mixed reports on the ever-present threat of more landslides. But it is clear that the earthquakes have disrupted the ability of villages to grow their own food. Some people are now living in structures formally used to store wheat, rice, potatoes and in some cases their animals – for these villages, their entire way of life has been dramatically impacted.
Adding to the misery is a shortage of skilled masons and craftsmen to rebuild homes. Finally, with the desperate need for money, many young men are leaving Nepal, as many as 1500 per day, for work in countries like Qatar thus taking away the ability to rebuild homes in their local villages. (source) This catch 22 situation is made worse when their labor is underpaid, or countries refuse to let them return home to help.
This map shows the location and severity of the destruction:
If you are uncertain about making a donation to a large organization, look up their rating on this site,CharityNavigator.org for a score on their overall use of money. Another good test is whether you can obtain a receipt for your donation. Of course indviudals working directly with contacts in Nepal most likely will not offer these reassurances.
Donate to large relief organizations
The United Nations is doing great work in Nepal coordinating efforts and gathering funding from member countries. Also other countries are making significant contributions, for example the USAID. These are funded through tax dollars but sometimes have short term objectives and some are not a long term presence in the impacted country.
Often the UN will partner with large relief organizations like the World Food Program, Red Cross, UNICEF, Save the Children, Mercy Corps who are funded through donations from companies and individuals alike.
The International Medical Corps is working to relieve the suffering of those impacted by war, natural disaster and disease by delivering vital health care services that focus on training, helping devastated populations return to self-reliance. Our team doctor who was killed at Everest Base Camp, Marisa Eve Girawong, was part of this organization.
Most of the major world powers have been and continue to send money, but even this is problematic with the UN recently saying only 22% of the promised funds have been delivered. (source)
Donate to long term smaller organizations located directly in Nepal
Non-governmental organizations aka NGO are making a huge difference. Nepal has more than 5,643 NGOs (source) so selecting one that matches your personal goals can be difficult.
These are my suggestions based on personal experience and relationships
DZi Foundation: In Nepal since 1998. Today they have a full-time staff of almost 20 Nepali nationals working between the headquarters in Kathmandu and the remote communities where their projects take place. dZi currently serves almost 30,000 people in an expanding network of remote villages, focusing primarily on basic infrastructure like school buildings, toilets, drinking water systems and bridges as well as agriculture initiatives. For the earthquake they will work on the reconstruction of at least 20 damaged schools, impacting 4,200 children.
Himalayan Stove Project: We donate and distribute, free, clean-burning, fuel-efficient Envirofit cook stoves, transforming the lives of individuals and families who now cook with traditional, rudimentary stoves or over open fire pits inside their homes, consuming excessive amounts of precious fuel and polluting the indoor air to dangerously unhealthy levels. For the earthquake, their overarching goal is to provide as much emergency aid and redevelopment help as we can, with the support of our partners on the ground, and our donors and supporters.
Juniper Fund: They provide funds to affected families to cover cost of living expenses for years after the loss of a worker. For the earthquake they will work with the 10 Nepali families who lost their primary wage earner at Everest Base Camp.
Donate to small direct efforts lead by individuals
The climbing community has rallied to support one of the premier climbing destinations on the the planet. Almost all major guide services have a donation program in place where they will help their Sherpa and climbing staff in Nepal to rebuild their homes. Visit your favorite guides website to see their program and make a donation.
But by far the largest of the small scale efforts is by individuals through crowd funding websites. I’m told this is the single largest effort using the collective crowd funding websites in their history. There are too many to list here, and almost impossible to find them but many are promoted via Facebook and to emails from friends to friends.
One village that has already gained a lot of support is for Thame. It was leveled from both earthquakes and will take a lot of support to rebuild. You can donate to that effort at the Thame Sherpa Heritage Fund.
Another village that experienced a lot of damage was Portse, you can support that rebuilding at the Seven Summits Foundation.
Another effort that seems to gaining momentum is “Night(s) for Nepal”. This is a local fund raiser in different cities run by people with personal contact in Nepal of a love of the country. Search Facebook to see if there is one near you. Finally The Sherpa Foundation is another good effort.
Travel to Nepal to support the tourism industry
The trekking industry in Nepal and foreign climbing guide services are heavily promoting to return to Nepal this Autumn as the best way to help. There are several articles describing the damage to teahouses and the tourism infrastructure but its not as dire as sometimes described. (source).
The Nepal government issued a press release saying the region was safe for trekking. (source)
However, other studies suggest the repairs were done too fast to be secure in another large earthquake and the threat of landslides is very real as it takes a long time for the earth to settle. (source)
But if your expectations are set properly that not all the teahouses will be perfect, the risks are the same as always in this remote, mountainous region then visit Nepal this Autumn, spend your money and support the local economy. I promise you that everyone will be welcomed with huge smiles.
As I mentioned, this village is the home of many climbing Sherpas and Lama Geshi. I worked with Lama Geshi’s son Jigme Dorji Sherpa to set up a donation program that will help the entire village. Jigme was born in Pangboche but now lives in New York and works for KPMG. He will oversee the donations and how they are used working with his sister who lives in Pangboche. I will consult as needed.
Donations will be prioritized to help rebuild the homes of those with the most needs:widows, single mom, elderly with no children, family with a lot of children.
For the worst case, it is estimated to cost $15,000 to tear down and rebuild an entire home but many homes can be made livable with $1,000.
OK, there is a lot of information in this post but please don’t get overwhelmed and do nothing. Make a generous donation to the organization you trust, the people you know or the area that touches your heart. Don’t delay, now is the time. It will be a long journey to get Nepal back to where it was before the earthquake so we need to start now.
If you have already donated, thank you, thank you, thank you. Perhaps we can all dig deep once again and make a difference.
Nepal gives us so much, now it is time for us to give back.
Memories are everything
Alan Arnette, www.alanarnette.com