Nepal Earthquake: More Updates, and Gear Donations Progress
NOTE: Some have asked, and I have asked myself: Why? Why now? Why me? I didn’t act – outside of my pocket book – for many other human calamities in the recent past. I am no expert, nor am I trying to pretend to be. Put simply, sometimes we are called – deeply, profoundly, inexplicably – to act. Two nights ago, I awoke with a start at midnight, just after the quake hit. I couldn’t fall back asleep, but had no idea of what was happening on the other side of the world for several more hours. I have been connected to Nepal in ways I cannot fully explain for more than 2 decades. Some of my most profound experiences have been thanks to the people and the place that is Nepal. I am moved to act, to do something, anything, everything I can to help, to make meaningful change a world away, and to do it with respect, integrity, and only the best of intentions. Namaste.
It’s been another long day here of sadness, and an even longer time for those suffering and trying to help on the front lines in Nepal. Sadly, the news thus far has only gotten worse for the most part.
- The official death toll is now over 2,500, and continues to rise. Hospitals are overwhelmed, and the streets of Kathmandu are choked with survivors afraid (understandably) to return to houses and buildings for fear they may collapse.
- Aftershocks continue to hit Nepal, with a magnitude 6.7 recorded midday yesterday Nepal time, south of Kodari near the Tibet border on the Friedship Highway, NE of Kathmandu. Many other aftershocks keep hitting, toppling more buildings and triggering landslides and avalanches. Reports say this afternoon a landslide or avalanche struck in the Langtang Valley, burying a village completely.
- Kathmandu is in bad shape, with water lines severed, electricity sporadic at best, and much rescue efforts still in process. The good news is Tribhuvan International Airport is relatively intact and has been receiving flights, primarily of aid. Indian C-130’s have been making many runs with medical supplies, and US teams are en route to help, as are teams from many other countries and relief agencies.
- In the rural areas, the picture is still unfolding. Everything I have heard from friends and friends-of-friends indicates the situation is quite bleak. Many villages reportedly are completely flattened, roads are destroyed, and people are left with no shelter nor anywhere to turn. Unconfirmed reports say that the Langtang region, NW of Kathmandu toward the epicenter, has been hugely hit, with estimates of over 2,000 casualties.
- On Everest, at least 17 climbers (perhaps more) were killed by the massive avalanche, triggered by the quake, that roared down from the col between Lingtren and Pumori, which stand just ENE of Everest Basecamp. The carnage was caused by the concussive and destructive wind blast from the massive glacial collapse, which moved entire camps some 1/4 mile across the glacier. Victims have begun to be evacuated from Basecamp to Lukla and down to Kathmandu for treatment. Meanwhile, many climbers remain stranded at Camps 1 and 2, as the route through the Khumbu Icefall has been largely destroyed, preventing descent to Basecamp.
The situation continues to unfold, and just as 12 hours ago, Nepal still needs help. I see many people writing and using the hashtag #prayforNepal. While I appreciate the sentiment, and prayers are needed for sure, I hope everyone reading this and sharing it will take it a step further and pray, but also GIVE, and give generously and often. (See below for suggestions.)
If you have been to Nepal before, you can skip this next part, as you already know the impact the place and the people have on almost everyone who goes there. Nepal has long been one of the poorest nations in the world financially, and perhaps the richest in other, more important, regards. It is common in Nepal for the poorest of the poor to invite a foreign guest into their home for chiyaa (Nepali tea, similar to India chai) and a meal of daal bhaat (rice and lentils) for no more reason than friendship and respect. Nepalis, in general, have generosity written into their cultural DNA, and give readily of themselves, their smiles, their spirits, their love. Since my first visit to Nepal in 1992, the country and its people have had a greater impact on me, my life, and my view of the world and our place in it, than anything else. Nepal is a country of great struggle, but also one of great love, kindness, and respect. The birthplace of the Buddha, of Lord Shiva, of great saints and artists and cultural legacy…the list goes on.
And, the beauty of Nepal and its people aside, we should all give, and give generously, because as humans, we all rise and fall together on our interconnected ship. The fortunes of those suffering on the other side of the world…those are our fortunes, too. We are, whether we like it or not, one big human community, and by giving, we also receive, perhaps in less tangible ways.
My posts from yesterday (here and here) have a lot of suggestions of how and where to give. Again, please do your homework and make sure where and to whom you direct your money will use it wisely, efficiently, and honestly. Since then, some more have come to my attention and to my addled memory – many thanks to Zem’diki Sherpa:
- The Himalayan Trust has a fund established to rebuild, specifically in the Solu-Khumbu region. See here: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/nepalearthquake.
- The Juniper Fund: Started by my Eddie Bauer colleagues David Morton and Melissa Arnot, Juniper Fund has been on point for delivering funds to the relatives of deceased Nepali climbers on Everest and elsewhere. David is not only a great friend, but also a great lover of Nepal with deep and real connections there. He’s also meticulous in all matters, and I can guarantee funds donated to Juniper will be used wisely. http://www.thejuniperfund.org/donate/
- A new one to me, Diki also recommends the work of Abari, which is building locally sourced and portable tents made of bamboo and canvas to shelter the needy. See here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/earthquake-nepal-accommodation-medical-camps
- One that most would not think of immediately is the Prime Minister of Nepal’s disaster relief fund. Yes, the Nepali government is notoriously corrupt, and at times inept. But, in this situation, reports say they are doing a great job. And, Diki puts it more eloquently than I:
- “Finally, as Pauline Limbu has pointed out based on reading about Haiti’s experience with disaster aid, “The danger at this situation seems to be the creation of imbalance in power between the government and the NGOs because of the normative ‘Failed corrupt state’, with higher faith on the international aid and NGOs work. People feared giving aid to the Haitian government due to the assumption of corruption getting into the way. On the other hand, the NGOs had absolute control of their actions without accountability. In the end, the government was to be blamed for the failure.”Keeping in mind this and and the fact that in everything i have heard – in my two beautiful valley homes of Thame and Kathmandu and everywhere beyond – the state police and army have been working tirelessly as first responders… while i am so very very skeptical about giving the Nepal Government money and even more leery of things like police/army forces in general, i do firmly believe in the idea of good public systems. It therefore becomes a chicken-and-egg situation: do we expect a good public system of disaster response with legitimacy to be in place before empowering it with funding, or do we empower it with funding and then demand results and accountability? if you can solve that one or otherwise want to take a chance on the Nepal Government (someone has to!) check out details for the PM’s Disaster Relief Fund in http://www.myrepublica.com/politics/item/20014-govt-appeals-for-contributions-to-pm-disaster-relief-fund.html
Again, the suggestions from yesterday still stand – please check those posts.
So, how about that gear? Those old sleeping bags you don’t need, the extra jackets in your closet, the tent that you don’t use anymore? Here’s an update:
I’ve been hard at work trying to crack the biggest nut of this equation: how to get donated supplies from the USA to Nepal. And, how to do that without taking critical resources and space from relief efforts ongoing. Not an easy task, but thanks to many friends, connections, phone calls, texts, and more, we’re getting closer. I’m confident we’ll have a means soon to move gear, and will then start the collection process.
Please know that my first priority in this – and that of the people I am working with – is to only be an additive response. That is, we are not aiming to send supplies to confuse and confound the efforts already ongoing, or to show up, unannounced, with a couple of tents and no plan. The idea is the opposite, to find an efficient means of getting needed equipment to Nepal, and then have a team ready to in turn get it out where aid agencies cannot or have not been able to serve yet. The need for supplies, clothes, and shelter in the rural areas is huge, and we aim to get it there without adversely impacting the efforts already happening.
Again, I will keep you posted. Thank you to all who have communicated with me already with offers of help, support, encouragement, and donations of time, resources, and funds. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to respond to all yet, but will do my best – but know I appreciate it.
That’s all for now, and thank you all.