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.
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.
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.
US Director of Fund for Lamjung