May 12, 2015

NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: Help us to help Nepal - Please donate to the Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund

When I was growing up there was a game that I was absolutely obsessed with – a simple game called ‘cats cradle’. The game involves one piece of string tied end-to-end and can be played between two or more people. It involves creating a series of string ‘patterns that get progressively more complicated with every ‘rotation’.

I hadn’t thought about cats cradle in quite literally years – until I entered a ‘pop up’ medical tent in historic city of Bhaktapur, an area just outside of Kathmandu which suffered extensive damage. Amongst the hundreds of patients seeking medical attention – everything from check ups to more extensive injuries – and the general chaos were a group of young girls playing cats cradle. They gave me a huge smile and I couldn’t help but stop and join them for a game – the piece of string being perhaps the only toy that could be salvaged from the rubble that was once their home.

Continuing on I couldn’t help but notice how another family had constructed simple shelter outside a dusty pile of bricks that was once their home – now in ruins and looking like it had been hit by a bomb. Their make-shift house is a bright orange tarp donated by one of the aid agencies. Under the tarp is a pregnant mother with a toddler running around in the dirt, a chicken waddles through the rubbish. Her husband killed in the earthquake. In the middle one thin mattress-less platform bed salvaged from the house. That and a dented kettle is everything she now owns in the world. The biggest fear is more aftershocks… 

That was the day that I decided not to return home but rather to stay in Kathmandu and do what I can to help the people of Nepal deal with the tragedy that has impacted over 80% of the population. Today the numbers rise to over 8,000 people dead, double that injured, thousands left homeless and even more buildings now uninhabitable. The headlines in the newspapers here make grim reading… If there was ever a time to ‘give back’ to a country that has been so incredibly good to me, it's now.

I read today that there have been hundreds of stillborn births and miscarriages – I can’t help but think of the pregnant woman and her toddler under the tarp… I’m saddened as I know that her case is like so many others – both here and in the country’s remote areas. 

Every day the situation changes – it’s a rollercoaster of emotion. One minute you feel like you’re making progress, you see an unexpected smile, you read a story of a family saved, a loved-one lost but then found, much needed relief efforts reaching a remote villages… and then the next minute a new challenge is thrown at the country and its people. Yesterday it was another landslide in Langtang – once a thriving tourist region, now a scene of destruction absolutely devastated by the earthquake with hundreds dead and a pile of rubble a 50-80metres deep in some places. Each day brings us closer to the monsoon and months of torrential rain – torrential rain that will bring with it flooding, landslides and disease. 

Today there was another earthquake. I, like so many others in the city, had finally stopped pausing every time we thought we'd felt the ground move or heard an unusual rumble.

A earthquake measuring 7.4 that not only ripped through the heart of the country - the Khumbu - but also violently jolted the moral of a people who had just begun to start life in the 'new normal' - amid the rubble and dust. A life where tents, poor sewage, and the disparity between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' becomes increasingly startling and apparent.... but sadly, and slowly, the new way of life.

People continue to ask what they can do to help – and these requests are tremendously appreciated and your help is so needed - even more so as the ‘headline hitting’ impacts of the earthquake become “yesterday’s news” for the international media. 

I believe the most effective way to help is to send money through the relief funds set up, so that this can be disbursed in the most transparent and practical ways to those that need it most.  I’ve been working with an incredible fund - Help Sherpas Help Nepal - that has been providing relief to people and communities in some of the most disparate parts of the country. Incredible, dedicated and selfless efforts from volunteers have brought much needed relief those who had given up hope. 

And hope - as well as continued resilience and resourcefulness -  is what the country and its people will need to survive. 

Depending on the aid agency, the funds go toward a myriad of things  - anywhere from feeding those desperate families in the remote hills who have received little to no support to those families here in Kathmandu lined up in the ‘tent cities’ begging for food and water to tending to those lined up outside the hospitals to buying tarps, tents, and longer term – bricks and mortar so that the rebuilding process can begin.  Every little bit helps. It’s so easy to make a difference here.

Nepal is a resilient nation. The country seems to ‘bounce back’ from one disaster after another – last years tragedy on Everest, the storms in the Annapurna region in the fall, the Turkish airlines disaster, and now an earthquake that has ripped through the heart of the country. 

The response from the international community has been overwhelming – but there is so much more to be done. It’s a sentiment that’s evident everywhere in Kathmandu. Everyone seems to be doing the only thing they can right now, which is trying to help in whatever way they can. The news reports are so desperate, the situation so dire. Aftershocks continue to rattle the country – setting off landslides, deepening the cracks in the homes or shaking them to the ground.

In the face of the ups and downs we must not lose hope and we must continue our efforts to recover and rebuild.  

Much gratitude and many thanks for reading, for caring – and I hope that you will consider making a contribution to the rebuilding of this country and its people. 

Your donations are needed now more than ever - please give what you can to help:


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