Kids are caring

Thank you to many young people and school groups in our area who are showing they care for Nepal – We are touched, and your energy is uplifting!

Here are a few glimpses from this week…

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Nickels for Nepal at Steward School in Topsfield (students wore red on Wednesday for Nepal)

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Girl Scout Troop 61214 in Ipwsich – Bake Sale and…

prayer flags

… Messages of Hope for Nepal to be hung like Prayer-Flags in Zumi’s

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Lemonade Stand in Topsfield

THESE KIDS ALL DID A GREAT JOB and showed their BIG HEARTS!!!

Other Schools showing support:

Ipswich Middle and Highschool

Landmark School

Proctor School

Brookwood School

and more…

You are helping kids like this in Nepal have safe spaces with UNICEF:

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Living through fear in Nepal today

The two earthquakes hit Nepal with epicenters to the west and then to the east of Kathmandu Valley, where our family lives.  Umesh has many friends in the region where today’s earthquake was centered.  The worst hit areas were in places where the shaking was the worst, in many cases not near the epicenter itself.  Both quakes had their own set of aftershocks, lasting for days after the event.  What this means is that everyone is in a state of fear, not knowing when they will be safe.  We are not looking to be morbid or to sensationalize things – We are generally optimistic and solution-oriented…  But today, we can’t help but wonder what it is like for them there.  Why are even those whose homes have survived sleeping under tents in open spaces tonight?  Some footage collected here gives us just a glimpse:

This building must have been deemed unsafe:

Original footage from the first quake:

Mountain landslide May 12:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2015/may/12/landslide-triggered-by-second-nepal-earthquake-video

That is enough for today.  Perhaps tomorrow we will post more beautiful images – There are so many – Images of people coming together and helping one another; spontaneously organizing and collaborating with relief workers as they have been; rescuing children and giving them safe spaces to play and be kids in the midst of all this; literally picking up the pieces; perhaps tomorrow.

Today we only pray for some respite for the people all over Nepal…  Pray for a calm night, and a peaceful tomorrow.  Enough.

5/12 Statement from Oxfam

Hi Umesh,

The support from the Zumi’s community is helping Oxfam save lives.

The second earthquake in Nepal is so upsetting. We just issued the following statement: Nepal’s second quake a double disaster says Oxfam Cecilia Keizer, Oxfam’s country director in Nepal said: “This is a double disaster leaving many of the survivors of the first earthquake shocked and fearful of further tremors. Our teams in the quake areas reported that buildings collapsed and landslides have blocked the roads. They too were very shaken but immediately got back to work. Whilst we don’t yet know the full extent of this second major earthquake, we do know that the people of Nepal will need much more support to help them put their lives back together. “It was already a race against time to reach people before the monsoon season arrives at the beginning of June. It’s now more vital than ever for us to be able to reach as many people as possible.” Oxfam currently has over 100 staff and volunteers working in seven districts in the country on the humanitarian response and all are safe. Oxfam is helping over 60,000 people over seven districts in Nepal, delivering clean water, emergency toilets, shelter, food assistance and hygiene kits. Reaching communities in the country’s rural districts has been challenging and initial reports suggest fresh landslides have cut off some areas. Ends// Jessica

Something like Karma: with Stop Hunger Now

On Saturday, March 28, 2015 our family participated in the second annual “Stop Hunger Now” meal packaging event organized by Richard Denton at the First Congregational Church meeting hall in Boxford, MA.  Here is that story in the local newspaper: http://boxford.wickedlocal.com/article/20150404/NEWS/150408202/12445/LIFESTYLE

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This week, we heard from Richard Denton that Stop Hunger Now has already sent 200,000 meals to Nepal from their affiliate in India, and intends to send 1.2 million meals in total over the coming weeks, to support earthquake relief in Nepal.  For our family, for our children, the direct connection feels a lot like Karma.  Spending a Saturday morning packaging meals to provide necessary nutrients to people in dire need was a “fun project” for our kids, a neat opportunity to do a good deed.  Now that their father’s homeland has become the recipient of nutrient-rich meals from the same organization, our children have a  direct experience of the web that connects us all worldwide; every action has an impact.

Here is more from Stop Hunger Now about their plans in Nepal:

http://www.stophungernow.org/helpnepal/

“Stop Hunger Now is preparing to provide disaster relief to Nepal in response to the devastation as a result of the recent 7.9 magnitude earthquake. In conjunction with Stop Hunger Now India and other non-governmental organization (NGO) partners in the region, Stop Hunger Now is working to provide food and other aid for victims of the earthquake.

With the help of volunteers and supporters, Stop Hunger Now wants to deliver at least 1.2 million meals to Nepal, which is enough to provide 2 meals per day for many as 21,000 people for one month. The initial response will include 700,000 meals to be packaged and shipped through the Stop Hunger Now affiliates in India and Malaysia, and 142,560 meals being air freighted from Kansas City, MO. In addition to meals, Stop Hunger Now shipments will include other critical supplies and donated aid such as health kits medical supplies. Stop Hunger Now is working with in-country partner Hope Worldwide Foundation  to distribute the meals and supplies.

Stop Hunger Now will stage meal packaging events, as well as transportation and distribution operations through its affiliate in Bangalore, India. Due to its close proximity to Nepal, Stop Hunger Now India will be able to coordinate the response faster, cheaper and more efficiently so that meals and other aid can get where it is needed most.”

Our personal “headlines”

Nepal is not in the headlines much anymore, but it is still in the forefront of our minds and hearts every day. We have been following friends and family who are there, ….We are following stories every day, and some themes we have found follow:

– Our family is resilient and hopeful – It is refreshing to see our 13-year-old neice in Kathmandu posting fun nonsense on facebook again – A sign of some return to normalcy for her at least.  Some extended family are still without a home, and everyone is coming together to help.  Beyond our relatives in Kathmandu valley, we feel a close bond with the people living in the rural and remote villages – Umesh was born in a small mountain village, Shyangja, and spent his elementary school years in another, larger village, Bandipur.  He later guided treks through the mountain regions, and in his heart has always considered rural Nepal “home.” We now worry about mountain villagers every day, and feel compelled to support them – where they have given shelter to travellers and trekkers, we now want to help them find shelter once again.  Where they harvested food on their farms, now at risk, we want to supply them with food while they recover.  Umesh’s brother Dinesh is on the board of Resource Himalaya Foundation, and has shared with us their plan for helping in the areas with greatest need.  Will post separately.

– There is value in coordinating with local existing service organizations of any kind – Watching things unfold, we saw lots of “glitches”  trying to distribute supplies efficiently to the places with greatest need.  It was small local organizations with varying missions that quickly mobilized to help connect supply with need.  Many of the larger relief organizations working in Nepal already had local headquarters, which helped.  Right now one of the biggest needs is temporary shelter with the monsoon season coming, and again, many organizations are coordinating to make this happen.

– The challenges of reaching remote areas are real – After two weeks, we are still hearing reports of isolated mountain villages (due to landslides etc) having recieved NO outside help at all!!  Examples:  only one out of seven Gorkha communities that EDWON works in have received aid;  One relief worker arrived in a village to find 10 different famlies living under one tent (around 60 people);  New to the list of supplies needed, is something to handle the smell from rotting bodies in villages that lost more than half of their population, including livestock, and 80% of their buildings.  The featured photograph (by @briansokol) with this post shows one of hundreds of villages like it that the photographer saw from the air when delivering food/supplies with MSF/Doctors Without Borders.

There are still concerns about making sure appropriate aid is sent to the appropriate places of need. Based on the challenges above, every group we follow seems to be trying their best to get appropriate help to where it is needed, no matter how remote.  The key is to work with the local people who have been helping one another from the start, the citizens who became “first responders” because there was no other option.  They are the heros that aid organizations must be connected with to help them repair and rebuild.  This includes populations that have been marginalized – EDWON is an organization advocating for aid to those who still struggle against prejudice based on their “tribe” or caste, in some remote regions of Nepal.   Their model positions them well to be leaders in rebuilding in their own villages, but not without some outside aid to get it started – They’ve lost too much.

Keeping up:  Today, we spoke with a local MA doctor who is travelling to Nepal tomorrow with Himalayan Health Care, focusing on the Dhading region, who will keep us posted. We have also been in contact with the founder of EDWON, who is very concerned about not overlooking some of the underserved Gorkha villages.  We continue to follow our friend who is working with Team Rubicon, as well as updates from Maiti Nepal, where they are seeking out children who have lost everything, and keeping them safe.  Both Oxfam and Unicef have increased their reach based on funds raised, and they report updates regularly.    We do also check in on and research other organizations that we trust, but those named here are the ones we have direct relationships with.

Summary of situation to date

We continue to follow things closely in Nepal, and these two articles summarize much of what we have been finding:

http://www.alpinist.com/doc/web15s/newswire-recovery-efforts-in-nepal-mountain-villages

http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/world/wire/we-need-help-aid-scarce-in-quake-hit-nepal-villages/article_120bbd35-4200-514d-a95f-f6029636bb4c.html?mode=jqm

Reading these reports, and of course hoping we have helped in some small way, it is reassuring to hear from our Oxfam contact-person: “Oxfam has been in Nepal for 30 years. So we were prepared, along with local partners, for a disaster such as this one.” Similarly, UNICEF’s Nepal office had pre-positioned relief supplies and many local partners to mobilize quickly.  Following the local agencies has been remarkable – They have been quick to adjust to the literal and figurative roadblocks, and have responded by collaborating with one another… Maiti Nepal, a safe home for women and girls, became a distribution center for Tents-for-Nepal while caring for newly orphaned children.  Girls from an orphanage cooked meals for hundreds of newly homeless people in a camp. Disaster Psychiatry Outreach has already been set up. It is still a long road ahead, but hope is steady.  The larger beaurocratic structures did not adjust as quickly (the helicopter “shortage” and stocks of supplies waiting too long to be distributed where needed most), but they too seem to be coming around in many cases.  This has probably been the biggest roadblock for the most remote rural areas since the earthquake and aftershocks.

One of the charities we have known since it began fifteen years ago, EDWON, is located in Gorkha, which is mentioned in the first article as one of the hardest to reach areas. Their perserverence and determination is helping them do whatever they can to get the aid needed to the places it is needed most.  We worry for those in remote and rural areas who lost their families, their homes, their livelihoods, livestock, and food-stores.   We are still following their progress, and seeking out the agencies best situated to help them moving forward.  Will keep you posted…

Touching song by Nepali cousin

Song Title:  “Love for My Homeland” = “Mero Deshko Maya Chha”

Some of you may want to have tissues handy to watch this – nothing jarring but the song with the photographs from this past week can bring emotions to surface.  So you have been warned.

Here is a song composed by a cousin, Vikas Shrestha, post-earthquake in Nepal as part of a fund raising effort by Nepalese communities abroad.  His niece (another cousin) shared it with us today.

He has “dedicated the song to all Nepali brothers and sisters in Nepal and around the world who are united in thoughts and actions during this time of human tragedy, unity and resilience.”

Here is the link:

Because I like to understand how the language is translated, here is each work broken down:  

Mero = My;

Deshko = Homeland-for;

Maya = Love;

Chha = There is.

 

May 4 Oxfam update

imageAid travels via India to remote villages hit by Nepal earthquake
May 4, 2015 By Oxfam

An Oxfam truck filled with relief supplies left India on April 30, bound for remote villages in the Gorkha region of Nepal. Photo: Oxfam

Oxfam is trucking supplies across borders to help some hard-to-reach communities.

When a major earthquake struck Nepal on April 25, the damage went far beyond the city of Kathmandu. Many rural parts of the country were affected, too—particularly the Gorkha region, near the epicenter of the quake.

Oxfam aid workers report that in some Gorkha villages, up to 80 percent of houses were destroyed. There are no organized camps set up there, so people are sleeping outside in the chilly and rainy weather.
“This is not sustainable, especially for the sick, elderly, and children,” said Oxfam India’s Andrio Naskar. “Women—especially those who are pregnant or breast-feeding—are desperate for private spaces to wash and bathe, while rudimentary sanitation systems have been wrecked.”

Travel to remote areas of Nepal is difficult at the best of times. Now aid workers face huge challenges trying to reach scattered rural communities on the steep slopes that cover most of the country. These villages are often only accessible via dirt roads, some of which have been blocked by landslides. Nationwide fuel shortages, ongoing heavy rainfall, and congestion at Kathmandu airport add to the difficulty.

To help get aid to people as quickly as possible, Oxfam is trucking supplies into Gorkha through India. Three trucks left Gorkhpur seeking access from India on Thursday, loaded with essential items for those who have lost everything: tarpaulins, foam sheets, water containers, chlorine tablets, and solar-powered lamps. Another two trucks from Kolkata are stocked with water filters and latrine construction materials.

The convoy reached villages in Gorhka yesterday. The trucks may not be able to get to every community directly—the terrain is so rough that some villages can only be reached by foot—but bringing aid by road from India helps get supplies that much closer to the people who need them.

Oxfam aims to reach 430,000 people affected by the earthquake, focusing on clean water, sanitation, and emergency shelter. Yesterday’s delivery is one small piece of the response, but for those who have lost their homes and so much more, it may be a very important one.

SOURCE: http://www.oxfamamerica.org/explore/stories/aid-travels-via-india-to-remote-villages-hit-by-nepal-earthquake/

From Umesh’s brother

Thank you for your call the other day, prompting me to post this mail along-with some glimpses of earthquake aftermath that are relevant and close to our concern. I should have done it long hours back, but some kind of numbness is stuck with me/us after this disastrous Earthquake April 2015.
We are all survived, though the fear is still killing us. Those who remained, rescued themselves by taking shelter on roadside or any open area available. We have lost several of our friends or their families, no house is remained without a damage or loss of property- less or high. In remote mountains, settlements have perished to the ground.
This, however, was not the only one earthquake we had; in the past there were several and severe. Human beings are but resilient, this very attribute has brought us up to this stage (of civilization). Our responsibility for the generation awaiting, therefore, is to face it, stand up and advance.
Thanking you all for being with us at this crucial moment,
Dinesh