Nepal earthquake – how can I respond?

19 nepal autumn 05 050 Kathmandu Boudnath © Ann Foulkes.jpg19 SAS Gokyo Cho La Nov 2010 © Ann Foulkes mju.jpgnepal autumn 05 050 - Copy

How best to respond to the Nepal earthquake?

Two weeks on, the situation in Nepal has left us all wanting to help, but there are some confusing reports coming out of media and social media which I thought I’d try to clarify with the help of friends, Ian Wall, Jo Chaffer and Tanya Perret who have all spent many years living in Nepal and who have thrown themselves into the heart of relief aid and promoting the cause.

1. Which organisation can I donate money to without it being seized by the Nepalese government?

There are a many good organisations working now on the ground in Nepal to help those in great need. There are many reports of the Government of Nepal commandeering newly-opened Nepal bank accounts of relief projects.

trekMountains supports and recommends the following organisations, all of whom will receive all funds directly – please consider donating as much as you can to them. Even small amounts go a long way in Nepal:

International Nepal Fellowship – a well-established organisation which has worked in Nepal for many years. INF’s Green Pastures Hospital in Pokhara specialises in reconstructive surgery, spinal cord injury and in the treatment and rehabilitation of people with disability. They have done pioneering work creating prosthetic limbs from locally sourced materials for victims of leprosy and the landmines from the troubled years with the Maoists. Green Pastures Hospital is already receiving earthquake victims for rehabilitation, and it is anticipated that the hospital will play a significant role over the next months.
INF is currently busy with distributing aid to remote villages, and no doubt will soon be busy fitting many more prosthetic limbs for earthquake victims.
http://www.inf.org/

Himalayan Stove Project – this organisation is working with Ian Wall and Sarita Lama who some of you will know, and who have been involved in aid in Nepal for many years. They are focusing their relief aid work on specific areas including helping the villages of Gumpa in Sindapulckowk District and Megre in Ramechap District – areas well known to Sarita as many of her extended family come from there. The damage there has been extensive, and many from the villages are unaccounted for.
http://himalayanstoveproject.causevox.com/

LED – Light Education Development – has been working in Nepal for many years with PHASE in Kathmandu distributing solar lights and medicines to village communities that need them. LED just filled a helicopter with 108 tents, 200 sleeping bags, tarpaulins and water purification systems which are being flown to Nepal with the Gurkhas. They are also working on the ground in Nepal with a team of young Nepalis from a mixture of ethnic groups who are all working together brilliantly. Donate via their just giving page at http://www.justgiving.com/lighteducationdevelopment
http://lighteducationdevelopment.org/

2. Should I send items to Nepal?

What there is a need for now:

Tents and tarpaulins – there are not enough in Nepal. The monsoon is fast approaching, and many people are still sleeping without any shelter.
If you do collect any items please ensure that you also have a contact in Nepal who is capable of both sorting and distributing it, and find out from them how to label the load, and what paperwork is required.
They are currently asking for tents before 12 May (last date they can get them there before the monsoon)Contact LED.charity@gmail.com and valpitk@gmail.com for further details.

What we suggest NOT to send:

Clothing – can be collected to send, but please don’t send it just now. The airport at Kathmandu is clogged with aid which is log-jammed due to red tape, and the essential items now are tarpaulins, tents & water purification systems. If you do collect any items please ensure that you also have a contact in Nepal who is capable of both sorting and distributing it, and find out from them how to label the load, and what paperwork is required.
Medicines – miscellaneous medicines are difficult to sort so please don’t just empty out your medicine cupboard, and medicines in a language the locals don’t understand can’t be used. If you want to send medicines, find out what is needed and send direct to an organisation that is asking for them.
Food – rice can be bought from within Nepal from areas not badly affected by the earthquake. This helps the Nepal economy. It makes sense to send money rather than rice.

3. Should I go to Nepal now to help?

What Nepal needs most of all NOW is your financial help. Whilst many of us want to jump on a plane and go to help, the time is not now. See this post from a medic in Kathmandu:
“PLEASE NOTE ALL PEOPLE WHO WANT TO VOLUNTEER FROM ABROAD, DO NOT COME TO NEPAL UNLESS YOU HAVE A VERY SPECIFIC MANDATE TO DO SO. I have seen bunches of international doctors and other hopeful volunteers standing around twiddling their thumbs because they don’t speak Nepali, don’t know the area, can’t look after themselves as far as food, water and shelter in the remote areas is concerned, and are actually more of a burden on the system than a help. The last thing a remote village needs right now, is to have to supply a tent and food to a volunteer who is not making a huge difference, rather than give that tent and food to a family who has no shelter and is starving. WE ARE INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL FOR YOUR DESIRE TO HELP. PLEASE HELP US BY DONATING CASH SO THAT WE CAN REBUILD THE COUNTRY FROM WITHIN”.

4. How else can I help?

The damage is so extensive that Nepal is going to need support for the long term, long after the media and the rescue teams have gone. I am currently working with several other folks in the mountaineering world who have been involved in Nepal for many years to find a way that ordinary folks can help support Nepalese communities in the longer term. We are looking at how we can all help by focusing on communities that most need our support – perhaps places off the traditional trekking routes (which will get more support as they are more famous).

Our idea is for long term community support. This may well include the chance to visit the communities being supported, but would think ‘work force’ rather than just a sponsored trekking holiday. You would need to pay your own way, and be prepared for hard work, basic conditions and a trek into the location. At the moment we do not have dates or locations in mind – only time and the people on the ground can tell us when it is right to go.

Everyone can get involved in this, even if you don’t consider yourself able to get to Nepal yourself. If you have special building / engineering skills / medical skills please let me know, but folks without these skills will still have a role to play. If you are interested in helping Nepal in the longer term, please register your interest with Ann at
info@trekmountains.com.

5. How can I keep informed about what’s going on?

Facebook, love it or hate it, has been key in helping us keep in touch with friends and colleagues in Nepal. It has been a great way of staying in touch with up to date events.
• Follow trekMountains’ facebook page https://www.facebook.com/trekMountains
• Follow the facebook pages and websites of the above mentioned organisations to find out what they are doing in Nepal. LED have asked me to say that their communications will be down when they are all based in the village communities due to lack of phone signal, but their silence will mean they are out there delivering the aid!

6. How can I help keep Nepal in the media’s attention?

Please share posts to help keep the media attention on Nepal.
‘Shares’ work better than ‘likes’.
Hash tags # are a mystery to me, but those that understand them tell me to ask you all to add the following to your social media posts about the Nepal earthquake to help keep it fresh in the media.

#shakeitupnepal
#channel4news
#bbcnews
#Nepalquake
#itvnews
#reuters

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for anything you can do for Nepal

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Ann Foulkes
trekMountains

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