As I write this, it’s been exactly one week since a 7.9 earthquake hit Nepal. Karmindanda is only about 40 km from the epicenter, and our village was largely destroyed, with many dead and injured. Sadly this is the story for most of the villages in this area of Nepal. During the past week, the families here have built makeshift shelters and everyone has at least a physical refuge. As far as I know, all of the dead – both humans and animals - have been dug out, honored, and buried. However, this is only the beginning – the beginning of the beginning, really.
As you can imagine, the people’s physical needs are great, overwhelming the available resources. Everyone wants to take care of their own family first, and there’s a lack of organization to distribute the limited supplies that have arrived. The government can’t be relied on to come through with promised relief, so additional support is essential to basic survival.
I’ve come to realize a couple of sobering facts: people will live or die by the decisions we make over the next weeks, and no matter how much we do, there will inevitably be some people who get angry with us for failing to help enough. During the next week or so, we’ll hone in on the best course of action, and I’ll update this blog as this occurs.
We got a big burst of hope when Nat arrived a few days ago from the other side of the world with survival supplies donated by people in Portland, OR. This was a great help, but the relief and rebuilding effort s are just getting started. Nat is going to remain here in Karmidanda to help me coordinate and carry out the distribution of the aid we can bring in.
The support we provide to this area will be supervised by Jhabraj Neupane, a kind and honorable man who is well known locally and internationally for his service work and giving spirit. I’m listening closely to him, and this is what I’m hearing: He wants to help each of the 1061 families in his municipality, Lahaurepouwa, and he is heartbroken at the thought that he cannot. Everyone is counting on him, and he’s overwhelmed. Despite the limited resources, it’s very difficult for him to say No - to Nat and me, to his family, to the people of his village, to local political leaders. He wants to provide support through legitimate, legal, transparent channels, and those do not currently exist at this time.
The situation all over Nepal has changed overnight, but my mission and intention remains the same: Listen to Empower to Heal. I’m listening to the local people here in Karmidanda and the surrounding area, and what I’m hearing is a range of strong emotions. Some people are depressed, some are desperate, some are still in shock, and some are angry to the point of aggression. Everyone is distraught and afraid of the coming monsoon and the inevitable landslides and further destruction it will bring.
Disasters of this magnitude can be overwhelming, but so much rides on how we respond. I have to stand strong in my commitment to Karmidanda, and my conviction to empower its people to design recovery projects that will work for them. While I await further aid, I intend to do the following:
- Be patient. It’s only been 7 days since these people lost everything in the biggest tragedy of their lives.
- Be prepared. I know these people and this area well, and am stockpiling ideas and solutions. I’ve got Nat to help coordinate international support so we’re able to mobilize our resources when appropriate.
- Lead by example. I’m feeling present, calm, positive, and staying active. I know hundreds of people are looking to me as an emotional guide, and I intended to be the best model I can be.
- Do the work nearest. A favorite of many brilliant quotes from my mentor. At the moment I can provide clean water to at least some of these people, so that’s what I’m working on.
I’m so grateful for so many things these days, not the least of which is your support. With your help we can quite literally save Karmidanda and its people. Please visit our fundraising campaigns linked below and contribute if you can! You can also help by sharing Karmidanda’s story as widely as possible through your social media connections. I’ll remain as active as our limited Internet allows, posting updates about our work, so there should be plenty of information for you to pass along. I’ve already posted some journal entries and up-to-date photos on my facebook page if you want to read about one set of first-hand experiences during the quake and its immediate aftermath.
Thank you so much for the monetary and emotional support you’ve already provided. It’s quite literally a life or death situation here right now, and it means so much to have your help.