It has been six weeks since we awoke to news of a horrifying 7.8 quake in Nepal. For a few days, the world watched a steady stream of shocking images of collapsed homes and terrified people. In those first days, friends of Nepal from around the world mobilized to help a devastated country. More than $60,000 was donated to Friends of Nepal in the first week after the quake, and we committed to spending the money to meet health-related needs.
In May, we transferred $30,000 to Patan Hospital, a private hospital in the Kathmandu valley. Doctors and nurses at Patan worked around the clock treating the injured, and the hospital kitchen fed dozens of people—patients, relatives of patients, neighbors—at no charge as well. As the influx of Kathmandu victims began to taper off, Patan began receiving injured patients from outlying districts who were airlifted into the valley. It was five days before the first staff members could go home to check on their own families and homes, and to get some sleep. As a private hospital, Patan is dependent on patient fees, but they asked for no payments in the first days after the quake, putting their duty to help the injured over the financial needs of the hospital. Our donation helped refill their depleted coffers so they can continue to provide care in the future.
Another $6,000 was sent to the Nepali NGO Phul Maya in May to provide tarpaulins, medicine, food, soap, and other necessities in Kavre district, where more than 30,000 houses were destroyed and 150,000 people rendered homeless. With the rains already beginning, adequate shelter is crucial for preventing further injuries and disease. Phul Maya has a long history of effective development work in Kavre district, and they have already organized dozens of trucks which have delivered thousands of tarps and other necessities all over the district.
This week we are sending $30,000, through World Education, to rebuild schools in Dolakha district, a hard-hit area which hasn’t received as much assistance as some of the areas closer to Kathmandu. Admittedly, building schools is not the first thing that comes to mind in regards to health-related needs, but when a representative from Friends of Nepal visited the earthquake zone, re-opening schools was the number one request made by the local people. Life has been chaotic and unpredictable since the quake, and re-opening schools would provide children with a measure of normalcy and structure which will help them cope with the stress and anxiety they have suffered since the quake. This is a very cost-effective way to provide aid: since local communities have committed to providing the labor, just $1000 in construction materials is sufficient to build one school. We have already made arrangements for trucks and helicopters to carry construction materials in to remote villages before the monsoon hits in July and transportation becomes impossible.
Going forward, Friends of Nepal will be focusing on the long-term needs of people in the earthquake zone: schools and shelter. The $30,000 we sent for schools will build 30 temporary learning centers, but there are many more villages which have requested a center of their own. The monsoon is about to hit, and tarps and tents just aren’t enough when the rain is coming down in sheets. Over the long term, people will need help rebuilding actual houses. One of the most devastating aspects of the quake is that it hit hardest the people with the least resources. The mud huts of the poor were much more likely to collapse than the concrete houses of the better off. Friends of Nepal is still accepting donations for earthquake relief in Nepal. With our connections to local people and NGOs throughout the country, we are uniquely positioned to get aid into neglected areas. As the earthquake begins to recede from the forefront of international attention, let’s not forget that millions of people are still living with the effects of the earthquake every day.