I wanted to provide an update on our progress in Nepal. Each day of the past week has felt like a lifetime, thoughts racing so fast, then slowing down to a halt, then picking up again like a twirl of spinning leaves. Some days just when I’m too sleepy to stay up, someone in Nepal or California or India comes on Skype and we talk till 2am, and then I dream about it and wake up in Hartford.
Our Kaski Oral Health Care working areas have sustained property damage to homes and schools, but no human loss of life as far as I know. But we have been able to work with our dental teams (the three locals that run each village clinic) and use our relationships with local governments in these areas to quickly find out what’s going on there and offer help. Earlier this week, thanks to funding from another donor (thank you, GNE)! our board members worked with KOHCP’s dental teams to distribute tents for about 42 families sleeping outside in their respective villages. In the district of Parbat, our dental technician called seeking help for a neighboring village where another 40 families are sleeping outside their destroyed homes.
Since I launched our relief fund on monday, it has been amazing – $5200 poured in from people on both continents in less than a week. This morning, we agreed to spend $3500 of it on tents for the 40 homeless families in Parbat. It’s a start.
We’ve all agreed that order to get back to our goal of building dental care, we have to do our part to help stabilize the immediate trauma in the places we work. In fact, I’m realizing that with our localized knowledge of these villages, we’re as well set up to do so as anyone is. And that’s been the really incredible lesson of this week: for locally-based organizations like mine, nobody else is coming while we wait. There are just too many places to get to, and the aid that’s available to the people we work with is us. Luckily, Eva Nepal’s working areas did not suffer on nearly the scale of many other places.
I’m also talking with friends making trips out to the epicenter in Gorkha, where the devastation is incomprehensible, and all hands are needed. I know this is hard to really believe – by believe I mean, to really picture what this would be like – but some of these remote places have not been reached yet. People have been stranded for a week with injuries and no belongings or shelter or food. So everybody is needed throw in their shoulder the best way they can, or invent a way, and the Red Cross seems to have stepped in to provide coordination, wisely making use of the tremendous energy being delivered by locals. In the upcoming week, I will try to get a better understanding how we can help out there as well.
As for me, I have reconnected with a wonderful network of people in this country who also consider Nepal a second home – in many cases researchers who spent years devoted to specific communities or issues on Nepal. People who I met at conferences at some other time, followed generally on Facebook, and are suddenly my go-to clergy for all the pressing questions and worries in my life. We end up chatting late at night on Facebook about the longing to be nearby to help vs. the unhelpfulness of it, sharing articles and tips, asking for contacts and help moving information around. Many of the articles being passed around online are written or commented on by people within this tight, quirky circle of people whose hearts have roots in this country and culture.
There is one moment from this week that will always stick with me. The morning after the earthquake, I was Facebook chatting with our graduated fellow, 18-year old Santosh, who just this spring moved to Kathmandu to get his Bachelor’s degree. It was a big deal, coming to the capital from little Pokhara, and we helped him find a cool internship at a software development company to pay for his living expenses. He was describing the scene, the event – “Oh my god, what is that, so scaring” – where he slept, what he’d been doing, and I was trying to get him to take photos to publish in Youth Journalism International. We were getting ready to sign off when Santosh typed in to the little blank white screen…
is this earthquake in america also??
To donate to Eva Nepal’s Earthquake Relief Fund, click here.