Bibek's Story

While Natasha often appears in articles and on podcasts, Bibek plays an equally important role in the organization as co-founder of the project and the director of everything that happens on the ground in Nepal. Here is his experience and story of the aftermath of the earthquake, how he came to start the rebuilding efforts in Rainaskot, and what it has been like to devote a year and a half to this work.
 

What was it like to be away from Nepal when the earthquake occurred?

·         -At the time when earthquake occurred, I was at my hostel in India. It was Saturday and I was about to prepare the morning lunch. I was applying for a job in Nepal as my final exam just finished. As a follow up, I tried calling my friend living in Kirtipur (Near Kathmandu) through Viber. While on the phone he said “the land is shaking”, and I could hear nothing after that. The call was disconnected.

Then I followed up with the news, guessing that it must be an earthquake. As I read I understood, it was an earthquake of 7.8 magnitude. It was a terrible feeling, I started sweating and then immediately tried calling my parents first, as I read the epicenter is near to the place where they live. I could not reach them and nor my friends and other relatives in the country. I was so worried about losses all over my country. Over and over, I tried refreshing the news feed to get the latest updates.  I was picturing my place, the image of my family, friends and people in my country.

Later, I tried gathering my friends living in other hostels and we stayed together scrolling the news feed, trying to console each other. On the third day around 3 am at night, I could only contact my parents! Huge relief, but still I was worried about the people as death toll was rising and relief works had not started yet.

I tried reaching people living abroad and on the day of earthquake, I received a message from Natasha trying to get updates about Nepal.

At the railway station in India, bringing supplies to Nepal.

At the railway station in India, bringing supplies to Nepal.


Later we planned about sending relief supplies. For that I wrote people living abroad, did fundraising program in Vishakhapatnam (India),asked people for money.

Also interesting was that our hostel was covered by Indian media, trying to get updates and everyone was concerned about me as my home was near to epicenter. I gave interview to 9 media channels including televisions.

What did you find when you went to villages to deliver relief supplies?

·         A week after the earthquake, alongside my friends living in India, with the help of Natasha and amount we had collected during fundraiser in India, we brought the basic relief supplies including tents, medicines, basic foods, sanitary materials in Nepal. The situation was scary. I was crying all over the journey as I could see the tired eyes of people, hoping for aftershocks to stop and to get the necessary reliefs.

We tried delivering in hard hit Areas of Lamjung and Gorkha in the beginning. Everywhere we went, we just heard from people asking more, I could clearly see frustration in the eyes of people. Their bodies looked so tired, eyes soaked with tears, the face looked fearful but still they had a glimpse of smile on their face when we were giving away the supplies from what we had.

Delivering food to an earthquake victim in Lamjung

Delivering food to an earthquake victim in Lamjung

 The people were asking about what next and they had no clue what they will do next. They were just waiting for aftershocks to stop and some people still had not got connected with their relatives living abroad. For supplying relief, we reached many hard hit areas and the only thing I found was people have not given up, they had hope on getting recovered soon. While delivering supplies I was asked by many for building their homes as they had nothing left.

 When the villagers asked about reconstruction, did you imagine how it would come together?

No way, I was worried if I can work out on fulfilling their hopes. But I was given a boost by my friends living abroad and I could see people willing to support.

So as I returned home after relief work, I could not sleep and dreamed about building homes in some areas. I tried making many plans on how to collect funds to build house, I tried finding out the low cost model, I started writing out my friends at midnight to all day. I did not even used to notice the time there but all I used to say was “I am told about building a village and I am determined now, so can you please help me in this?” The YES answer from Natasha made me feel that I can do it so I started working on it.


 Why did you decide to start a project from nothing rather than joining an established organization?

 Because I could feel people’s emotions and I had heard their stories, I saw people smiling even in crisis and hoping that they will be recovered. So I believe as a youngster, if not me who else, and if not now, when, and if not here, where! I questioned this to myself many times while going for the reliefs.

An early community meeting in Rainaskot

An early community meeting in Rainaskot

I was so determined about leading the project as I was asked by people if I can help them inbuilding homes, I knew if I join established organization, neither I can lead or reach those people in need. Also I was confident; I can lead as I was aware of the scenario. I could not feel the earthquake but could feel the impact it made in people's life and I became determined-I am going to lead and I will commit my time to do it.

Also I had a very interesting circle and support from my friends and families, they trusted in my capacity and believed in me.

Were you surprised by the donations coming from the US?

Not at all in the beginning as the news was in headlines, but I was a bit surprised as the donations came in even after months when the news headline was something else. I have no words to appreciate their efforts, really thankful.           

What do you imagine is the motivation for the donors, especially ones with no connection to Nepal?

We always have seen the cruel face of humanity about loss of lives, refugee crisis, wars and all everywhere but while receiving donations I realized the beautiful face of HUMANITY exists, despite any religion, race, tribe, geographical location or anything.

So I believe people are tired of these inhumane behaviors and they want to get rid of all this and help the people in need. I have a conviction our donors have same motivation, they want to help and also they have a faith in us that we can do it.


 You have made personal sacrifices to work on the rebuilding project, what has that been like for you?

I have understood personal satisfaction is the greatest happiness and I am really proud and satisfied with what I am doing. With my sacrifice, if many others are benefitting, why should I not? It sounds philosophical but that is what I have understood.

Bibek with villager Bittikumari Gurung

Bibek with villager Bittikumari Gurung

If my sacrifice can bring smiles on those faces whom I met while supplying relief, why should I not go for it. Sometimes I do feel "what am I doing?", as I can see my friends working at some reputed organizations, pursuing degrees in prestigious universities but I get message from them mentioning “I wish I was you”. That just brings a smile on my face and motivates me to be more dedicated and committed.

What has been your greatest reward?

What else than The ‘wish I was you’ response from my Friends and relatives!

What has been your most rewarding moment in your relationship with the villagers?

The overwhelming response when I get when I am there. I have never felt that I am far away from my family staying here. The villagers have been like my family and they have treated me like I have been there for a long time.

Bibek with Pashupati Gurung

Bibek with Pashupati Gurung



How do you deal with the constant challenges and doubts that the work can be completed?

·         I am very open minded person so I tried to listen to everyone. When I am in the village, I go and meet every individual house and ask them what they feel. The best way to get rid of any difficulties and challenges is to be in touch with people more often.

I try to be clear on everything, if I am facing any odds or difficulties; I share that with Natasha and ask if she can help.

Whenever I have doubt, I do often ask the villagers if we can work this way.

To overcome the challenges, I have been adopting the technique of sharing everything, I sit with villagers every time I go, have fun with them, try to make them familiar with the challenges and circumstances and ask them for any possible remedies. I have to say I am lucky as well as the villagers have patience and also are very open minded, who share everything they feel with me.

After a year and a half, we are getting close to finishing Rainaskot. We need your support for our final campaign, so that the villagers will all be in their new homes this winter. 

Lend a hand here: www.rebuildnepal.today

Fund for Lamjung is becoming Sangsangai

After a year and half of growth, learning, and hard work, we are excited to announce big changes in our organization. 

As you may know, the project began from nearly nothing, as an effort to help earthquake victims with relief supplies. Once the decision was made to rebuild the village of Rainaskot, non-profit sponsors were arranged in the US and Nepal, the project name Fund for Lamjung was chosen, and we were off and running.

Now that we are getting ready to complete Rainaskot, with plans to works for other villages in the districts of Gorkha and Kavre, we have formed an independent non-profit dedicated to the mission of rebuilding and economic development in Nepal. Our new name is:


Sangsangai
(sõng-sõng-eye)

The word means "together" in Nepali. It perfectly represents the coalitions and connections that have grown through the work in Rainaskot, a web of people and relationships that bridges the gap between the US and Nepal. 
 

At the office in Kathmandu with the Nepali board members and volunteers.

At the office in Kathmandu with the Nepali board members and volunteers.

Our organization will use the Sangsangai name both in the US and Nepal. The Nepali organization was begun by a group of students from St. Xavier's College in Kathmandu six years ago, with Bibek Kumar Pandit as an original founder, and he will now be the executive director. The Nepali board consists of a group of young professionals with the main office in Kathmandu. The US organization will be headed the team of Natasha Wozniak as president, along with board members Sharda Thapa as treasurer and Carol Stimmel as secretary. 


Donation checks should now be made out to: 
"Sangsangai"
c/o Natasha Wozniak
30 Sterling Place
Brooklyn, NY 11217

We are expecting our final paperwork for tax exemption to be complete in mid-December but all donations made prior to that will still be eligible for a tax deduction.

Finishing Rainaskot

Now that we have raised $105,000, with another $10,000 in pledges, we are in the home stretch to finish the funding of Rainsakot. $35,000 left to go! Our goal is to complete construction in time for the New Year celebration in Rainaskot, on January 1st, which is called Losar. 

On November 17th, we will be launching a campaign to raise all of the remaining funds in just one month! As a friend and supporter of our cause, we need your help. We will be using the crowdfunding platform called Generosity, and your help in spreading word and building momentum will be key in reaching our goal, and beyond.

If you are in NYC, please join us for a party to start this off, sponsored by the Juke Bar in the East Village. It will be happy hour, and there is no ticket required. In addition to donations that we collect, they will be giving 10% of their sales that night to our cause! We will be announcing special guests as we get closer to the event.

If you are not in NYC, we would like to have you join us by hosting a gathering in your town. We will provide you will a full array of materials ideas to share with your friends and family, and we will live stream the event in New York so that you can be part of the festivities from wherever you are. 

Reply to this email to get in touch and let us know if you would like to join us.

Updates from Rainaskot

Festival season in Nepal has been in full swing, with the festivals of Dashain and Tihar happening throughout October and November. Dashain is the biggest time of the year for families to gather together, and people travel great distances to their ancestral homes. This is the time in Rainaskot when relatives living in Kathmandu, other parts of Nepal, or even overseas, return home.  
 

Bittikumari and Jeet Bahadur Gurung

Bittikumari and Jeet Bahadur Gurung


We are very proud to say that some families in Rainaskot were able to celebrate this Dashain in their new homes. In the video about Bittikumari and Jeet Bahadur Gurung, shot during Dashain last year, Jeet Bahadur expressed his frustration that he has not spent a night in his own house since the earthquake of April 25th.(click here to see the video) Bittikumari has had to cook in what used to be a cowshed. We are so pleased to share with you the news that they celebrated the recent festival in their own home. 



We share with you the pride and joy of what we have done together, Sangsangai, as we say in Nepali, .

Want to help us get closer to the finish line?
Head over here to make a contribution.

Our Friends in the Nepali Community

 

In the past, I wrote to share the great news about the donation Jacksonville, Florida. Again, I have some wonderful news to share. Two organizations Nepalese Organization in Southeast America (NASea) and the Association of Nepalese in Midwest America (ANMA), held a conference last year, at which I presented about the project in Rainaskot.

They have decided to join together to fund one house/ community center in Rainaskot, thus making a lasting and permanent contribution to the Rainaskot community. We are grateful to have such strong backing from this group of people.



Speaking personally, I am in great admiration of them as I get to know many of them better. They have come here, achieved professional success, and yet are constantly spending their time and effort to give back to their communities and their home country. They have inspired me to keep going, and I know they are always there to help when we need it.


Natasha Wozniak
US Director of Fund for Lamjung

Natasha with Bimal Nepal of NASeA and with Rajendra Khatiwala and Sushil Sharma of ANMA

Natasha with Bimal Nepal of NASeA and with Rajendra Khatiwala and Sushil Sharma of ANMA

It’s about HUMANITY, Not Geography by Anastasia Valentine

Our newest team member, Anastasia Valentine explains why she decided to come join us a marketing strategist.

On April 25, 2015 a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal. It was followed by another measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale on May 12th. It made the headlines, people were moved, motivated and it was discussed at great length in coffee shops, at the water cooler, online and everywhere….for a while.

“Making the connection…”

As a PR person, I know not everything that is newsworthy stays in the headlines. In fact, the majority of happenings get their 15 mins max then make way for the next shiny thing. If the headlines are big enough, in a few months there will be a follow-up ‘what is happening now‘ story. If it was a really big story, there would be some mentions of it on it’s anniversary a year later. We can be assured the devastation of the earthquakes in Nepal will be revisited and in the news in April 2016.

The only way situations like this get the visibility they need is when people, whether they be down the mountain, across the country or on the other side of the globe make a connection. Last year I made that connection when my dear friend Natasha heard the news about the earthquake, and immediately spent the next 48 hours trying to locate her loved ones in the village she lived in for 2 years. All she wanted to know was that people were safe and accounted for.

“I felt compelled to do something. I needed to help.”

I imagined myself in that situation. Wondering ‘Where are my loved ones? Are they physically ok? How are their loved ones? What about their homes? What about their hearts? My friend hurt for her loved ones in Nepal. If she hurt, I hurt. And there, my friends, is where I made my connection. As I learned more about the village in Rainaskot and began to hear about the challenges in bringing in relief supplies, not to mention the long road ahead to rebuild, I felt compelled to do something. I needed to help.

People asked me why help someone an entire world away when there are people who need help in your own backyard? My response is twofold and very simple. I help, everywhere I can and don’t need to broadcast every time I do.  Secondly, I like to think of all of us as a bigger, more extended and connected unit. It’s about HUMANITY, not about geography. We are all connected. Your sister is my sister. Your brother my brother and so on.

“It’s about HUMANITY, not about geography.”

What started as an effort to bring in relief supplies with only $100 has grown into a much bigger project that has an even bigger and more positive impact. Our goal is to Rebuild Communities, Lives, and Homes – One Village at a Time.  And so, Fund for Lamjung was founded, and I agreed to come on as a strategic advisor to the fund.

There have been some challenges with fuel shortages, embargoes, and politics that are beyond our control, but within our collective abilities, we work around and through these challenges. Currently, Fund for Lamjung has 5 homes under construction with a goal of having the community of Rainaskot, Nepal rebuilt by April 25th.

An Interview with Natasha

First of all, an update on our matching challenge. As of January 2nd, we have reached $2070 of our goal of $6000 to fund Bimala Bhujel's home. Click here to read more about this challenge.

In the meantime, you can hear an interview with co-founder Natasha Wozniak about how she came to agree to this huge undertaking and change her life this last year.

Create Your Magical Life with Alana Burton Shereen

As you can hear, it wasn't always an easy ride, and it all started with $300.

 

Natasha, Shambhu Gurung of Rainaskot and Bibek

Natasha, Shambhu Gurung of Rainaskot and Bibek

A Challenge for You

 

Back in July , I received an email about a woman named Chris Griffin from Chicago. She was about to head to Nepal and was seeking a place where her service as a volunteer could be used. The story was, she had a life-altering experience when she found herself in a crush of people fleeing a hotel during the Nepal earthquake on April 25th, 2015, and she resolved to go back there as soon as possible to help. Though she flew back to Chicago shortly after the earthquake, her heart remained with the people in Nepal.

Bibek agreed to bring her to Rainaskot so she could help and see for herself the project that we had begun. At that point, the first few houses were being demolished and the road was being cleared to bring our first load of supplies for rebuilding. She experienced first hand the life of villagers as they planted crops while simultaneously dealing with the challenges brought about by the earthquake and reconstruction.

Chris with Bhim Kumari earlier this year.

Her bond with her host family, headed up by Bhim Kumari Gurung has stayed to this day. In an extraordinary act of generosity, she would like to pledge the funds for the house of her host family.

We decided to use her donation as a challenge and inspiration to all the supporters of Fund for Lamjung. Can we match her $6000 donation? We are going to be running her matching fund challenge until January 15th. All amounts are welcome to to help us reach this goal and we will keep you updated as the campaign progresses.

Here is how to help:
-Forward this update with a personal note about why you support the project
-Share the link on social media. We have Instagram and Facebook accounts with shareable photos and text.
-Give a donation as a gift
-Send another contribution of your own
- Ask others to donate as a gift to you.
Our donation page

We have chosen Bimala Bhujel's house as the house that the challenge will fund. Her house is a priority for us as she was without a permanent home before the earthquake, and as you can see in the video below, she is overdue for a safe and comfortable place to live with her daughter. When you get to the end of the video, you will also see that Bimala has a great spirit and sense of humor despite her hardships.

As always, many thanks for your support of this work. Together we can change the world, one life at time.

Natasha
US Director of Fund for Lamjung

A Message of Gratitude

This year, when our lives became consumed with helping Nepal, you stepped up in all sorts of ways with funds, moral support, connections and all sorts of other wonderful gifts to help get this reconstruction underway. We have seen the true beauty of humans many times over since then. You touched our hearts more times than we can count. Thank you.

Natasha and Bibek and the rest of the team.

Here is a message from the village fo Rainaskot to all of our supporters.

Five weeks in Nepal, where do I start?

 

Personally, this month was one for the history books. Arriving in a place that feels like a second home to me, meeting my beloved Nepali families and friends after 16 years, and my stay in Rainaskot were all very moving experiences.

Especially the stay in Rainaskot. It is one thing to see pictures of a place, and know that your actions have made a difference, but to go and meet the people in person and hear how their lives have changes is an extraordinary experience. As a supporter of this project, I hope you will plan to visit them when the houses are complete. They told me many times how eager they are to welcome you and share their thanks for giving them hope again.

The day that Bibek and I arrived in the village together, with the elders of the village and our contractor. There is a tradition of offering scarves and flower garlands to special guests.

The day that Bibek and I arrived in the village together, with the elders of the village and our contractor. There is a tradition of offering scarves and flower garlands to special guests.

After a few days of getting to know the villagers, Bibek and I began filming interviews with the villagers. A member of each household in Rainaskot is represented in these videos, which I will be sharing week by week.

I have to acknowledge the courage of the villagers to allow themselves to be filmed for the whole world to see. I can say for myself that I don't love seeing or hearing myself on video, and they had the same reaction. Yet, they all agreed to be filmed and share their thoughts and emotions about the earthquake and project.

There was one very important and surprising thing that I learned as I spoke with the villagers. Before they received the news that we would be rebuilding the village, it was likely that many people would have left instead of rebuilding. It was a contentious conversation within families and between neighbors.Some wanted to stay forever, and others were not sure how they could have a future in Rainaskot.

With the news of the rebuilding plan, however, they became united in their resolve to stay. Now, people who had migrated out of the village are also considering moving back to their ancestral home. You can very proud to know that your contributions have kept this community from disappearing forever.

 

Prasad and Tulsi Maya Gurung

There is much more to share about the time in Rainaskot, which I will include in future updates. Each week I will introduce a family that has been the recipient of funds for rebuilding. If you are a donor from New York, I have selected Prasad and Tulsi Maya as the house that your donations have funded.

Building progress and the challenges ahead


While in Rainaskot, I was able to see the foundations for the first five houses take shape. From just a grid marked by string to the stone layout of a house with the cement and rebar reinforcements in place. The workers had a break for the fall festival season and will be returning to work soon.

However, we have a huge challenge in continuing the work. This issue has been wildly under reported in the international media, but there is an unofficial fuel blockade at the Indian border. During my entire stay in Nepal, fuel was being rationed and at some point was not available for private vehicles at all. This means that this and every other rebuilding project in Nepal is being delayed by the lack of fuel to bring materials to the construction site. 


We have no idea when this situation will end, but those of us living in the US can get in touch with our senators, the State Department and the White House to ask our government to intervene in this current crises in Nepal.

Fundraising
 

The other challenge ahead is to keep the momentum of fundraising going. After meeting the villagers and spending 20 days to them, I feel the large responsibility of fulfilling the pledge to rebuild. It is truly wonderful and amazing that we have raised nearly $30,000, almost a third of the way to the overall budget of $100,000. 

As a small team, we cannot do it alone, and we need your help in spreading the word about this project .Here is how:

Pass along the updates and videos to your friends.
Plan a fundraising party dedicated to one family. If feasible, I will come in person to help.
Reach out to friends that work in the media to help with press coverage.
Ask friends and family to donate in lieu of birthday and Christmas gifts.
Make a plan to give ongoing support to the project.

However you can help, please know that all of the villagers, and all of us working on the project have you in our hearts and prayers, as your actions are creating an extraordinary story of hope and recovery.

Thank you for supporting this work and being part of the journey with us.

Much love,

Natasha
US Director of Fund for Lamjung

Greetings from Kathmandu

 

Last Friday, late at night, I arrived in Kathmandu for the first time in 16 years. In the last few days I have been able to see many old friends and my Nepali families as well as contacts that want to help with the rebuilding project in Lamjung.  Bibek and I have spent many hours discussing the project and all of the things that have happened in the last 5 months that we have have only been able to talk about by text or the occasional Skype call. I was also able to spent time with our lead architect Prashnna Ghimire.

My other home in Nepal besides Lamjung is Patan, and I visited my family there at the perfect time. One of their biggest festivals is the Rato Macchendranath festival, during which a chariot is pulled down the street, stopping in each neighborhood. The street is filled with people making offerings and in each house families and friends are feasting.

Bibek and I on our way to Patan

Statues are tucked away into every corner, yet they are lovingly tended to with offerings

Enjoying some time with my Newari family before we head out to Lamjung

This year the Rato Macchendranath festival was happening at the same time as the earthquake and they had to delay the end of the festival for five months. It was great to see such a joyful celebration after the difficult times that people have endured after the earthquake. Everyone had a story of where they were when it happened, and which field they slept in during the weeks that followed.

Around Kathmandu, many of the damaged or destroyed buildings have already been cleared away. However, in the old part of Kathmandu, where the alleyways are very narrow, there were a couple of destroyed old homes that have not been cleared away, and when I saw them I felt how truly frightening it must have been to experience this event.


On Friday, Bibek and I will travel to Lamjung to start the work on site during my visit. By Saturday we will likely be in Rainaskot and I will have the chance to meet the villagers for the first time. 

 

The Inauguration in Lamjung

Just before my arrival in Nepal, an inauguration ceremony was help in Rainaskot to mark the official start of construction. As with anything in Nepal, any new project starts with offerings, also known as puja. In the photos above, the first five foundation stones are being laid into the ground to symbolize the auspicious beginning of the this new project.

There are many rebuilding projects around Nepal, but with this official start, we can say the we are the first in Lamjung to begin permanent reconstruction.

Thank you as always for your support. 

Natasha
US Director of Fund for Lamjung

A Big Boost for Rainaskot

There are a couple of big updates on the current funding status of the rebuilding in Lamjung.

First of all, the fundraiser held in Racine, WI at the end of July raised nearly $5000 for the project. Co-founder Natasha Wozniak's hometown showed great support and compassion for the people of Nepal and her connection to them.

Shortly after, through Nepali-American Sharda Thapa of Chicago, a community of Nepalis living in Jacksonville, Florida decided to commit to the project in a big way. They had raised significant funds in Jacksonville after the earthquake and decided to send $13,000 for the project! 

Additionally, all of the paperwork that is required by the government has been filed with all of the proper stamps and signatures, which is worth celebrating in itself, as the process is quite complicated with many potential snags along the way.

FInally, a picture from the ground. These are the supplies that are being loaded and taken to the village right now, as the architect plans are being finalized and the villagers complete the process of clearing the remains of their damaged homes.

 

11947452_10153535678258360_8805740496533375073_n.jpg

The Village of Rainaskot

Up on a mountain ridge, at an elevation of 5000 feet, is the village of Rainaskot. By assessing the needs in Lamjung and by invitation of a local official, we are rebuilding 20 homes that have been rendered unihabitable.

Before the earthquake, the village had a small program offering homestays, and some micro-agriculture projects. Both of these projects are being incorporated into the rebuilding plan, so that as we build, we also add in sources of income for the residents.

The residents of Rainaskot are of the Gurung ethnicity and this village is a repository of Gurung culture, as it dates back to the 16th century. 

The homes are being designed to preserve, to the fullest extent, the traditional appearance of the homes in this region, while the inner structure is made seismically sound. Three houses will have the traditional stone roofs, as examples an old style of building.

Right now, the residents are sheltering in structures made of scavenged materials and tarps, waiting out the rains, eager for the construction to start. In the meantime, they have begun clearing the damaged houses to make way for the rebuilding.

About 100 people in Rainaskot, including 18 children will have their lives improved with the project, as we bring their homes and village to a state that was even better than it was before the earthquake struck.

 

New York Rebuilds Nepal

On Friday June 5th, a benefit was hosted by a dear friend to our cause, Zette Emmons. There were authentic Nepali momos (aka dumplings), a group of world-class musicians playing a blend of Nepali folk and Appalachian music, and art that many people enthusiastically bid on and took home. 

In just one night, we nearly funded house #2!

With the monsoon already happening in Nepal, we will be waiting until August to build the first permanent houses. In the meantime, the team on the ground is building small shelters of brick and metal sheet in order to keep the people dry until they can settle into their homes. 

In the meantime, here are some photos from the event. A great time was had by all. If you want to host an event at your home please email Natasha at natashawozniak@gmail.com. 

 

Bidding got heated for a few of the items!

Bidding got heated for a few of the items!

Flags over Namche Bazaar by Natasha found a new home. We were very happy at the end of a successful evening.

Flags over Namche Bazaar by Natasha found a new home. We were very happy at the end of a successful evening.

Katherine Paul, the current curator of Asian Art at the Newark Museum with fellow Fulbright to Nepal alumi, Natasha

Katherine Paul, the current curator of Asian Art at the Newark Museum with fellow Fulbright to Nepal alumi, Natasha

Musicians Shyam Nepali on Sarangi, Raj Kapoor on Drums, and tara linhardt on mandolin

Musicians Shyam Nepali on Sarangi, Raj Kapoor on Drums, and tara linhardt on mandolin

The Mission is Shifting

News from the ground in Lamjung.

After making the trip from India to Lamjung, Bibek and team met with the team at Sarvodaya Sewashram to reach the village of Purankot, which had received no delivery of supplies. They were also able to distribute tarps, tents and food to people that were left homeless by the quake in other villages in the area.

With scattered thunderstorms and downpours as the monsoon approaches, these improvised shelters are very necessary for the these families to stay healthy. 

Based on the prior experience volunteer experience that Bibek has in these villages, (and the funds that I am raising here), the district administrator has asked him to create a proposal for creating permanent new homes for the people who lost everything in the quick.

With larger organizations reaching more and more people with basic survival gear, it is time for the local organizations to begin long term preparations for earthquake recovery.

We are very excited about the proposal, which will include the use of local materials, such as bamboo, and rammed earth. With the help of architects and structural engineers to create the initial plan, the local villagers and volunteers will create homes that are comfortable, earthquake-resistant, and relatively low-cost, and also appropriate to the culture and environment.

I am very happy to be supporting this Nepali-led effort, which is really indicative of the wave of energy and creativity that has been rising in the country after the earthquake, with young Nepalis leading the way.

By next week, we hope to have the final proposals and budgets for the houses ready, and work will begin.

Now that we have moved into the next stage, all further funds will be directed to reconstruction.

We are so grateful to have the support for the recovery of Nepal. This started with $300 and a few boxes of medicine, but it has the potential to grow into something much, much larger.

With immense gratitude,
Natasha, Bibek and team.

The Relief Efforts

In less than two days, more than $1300 has been received and pledged to the relief effort! With the help of Paypal, this fundraising platform, Western Union and our Nepali friends on the ground, $1000 has already been sent and used to buy supplies in India. Bibek and his team have also raised $1000 in India, where they are students.

He and his fellow volunteers have been busy shopping for supplies, and arranging for transportation, but he took a moment to send over his supply list and some pictures of the supplies that have already been sent ahead to the Nepal border.

 

Just to give you an idea, I calculated the exchange rate for the list:

150 tents at $8 each
1500 boxes of electrolyte powder at 26 cents each
1000 pairs of gloves for $80
2000 masks for $16
1000 water purifiers for $241

They also have first aid and medical supplies, toiletries and sanitary pads, and will be buying food once they reach the Nepal border.

Some pictures of the supplies that have already been shipped:


 

I admire the work they have been doing to organize everything on such short notice and make the arrangements to get it all to the affected region. 

They expect to be out of touch for the next few days as they travel to the Nepal border and arrange to transport the supplies to the Gorkha district, but we will provide any updates as they come in.

The next money transfer will be sent once they arrive in Nepal, so please continue to donate, and share this with friends who would like to help the recovery effort. All amounts are welcome!

Thank you again for the support! Together we can make things happen.

In gratitude,

Natasha, Bibek and team