Between Disasters, The Calm Before The Storm

We never know what nature has in store for us these days. Nat and I arrived in Kathmandu today to witness a wall of dust wash over the city in the largest dust/wind/rain storm Kathmandu has seen in some time. This followed on the heels of the 7.3 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal just seventeen days after the first 7.9 magnitude quake. 

In Karmidanda, this second quake brought no more deaths or major injuries and structural damage was limited, but it was a major emotional setback. The feeling of the earth swinging underfoot reminded everybody that their lives and homes were far from secure. That did a lot of harm to the optimistic momentum we’d been able to foster since our aid efforts got underway.

Our biggest challenge right now is preparing to survive the quickly approaching monsoon season and its inevitable landslides. Only about half of Karmidanda’s 75 families live in monsoon-ready structures, and many homes are a significant walking distance to public latrines, a major problem when it pours rain for days on end.  Our goal is to see each family in a safe and sanitary structure in the next 30 days, and that’s no small feat.  

Nat and some friends demonstrated simple ideas to build strong temporary structures with limited supplies.  We had success in building one large structure, and we’ve seen that these kinds of ideas are catching on with neighboring families. I’ve been working with the local health post to manage their daily patients and ensure that they’re prepared for any epidemics that come during the seasonal monsoon.  

Between the two earthquakes, Nat and I spent some time in Kathmandu advocating for our area in what we couldn’t help calling the “Disaster Aid Circus”. Despite the circus-like swirl of government and international organizations attempting to coordinate a response, there are successes to report.  Action Aid provided us with staple foods, clothes, and hygiene items. We worked with Entrepreneurs Organization Nepal to secure four classroom tents for our local school, a welcomed gift that brought the community together.

One of our main focuses is on what’s known was WASH: clean drinking Water, safe Sanitation, and Hygiene.  Representatives from Water Missions International and Red R India came to Karmidanda for WASH assessments, and we collaborated with Venture Church to provide water filters for twelve public taps around the village.  Thanks to these organizations, the people of Karmidanda now have access to clean drinking water, and they should enjoy that for many years to come

Barring another natural disaster, we’re entering a transition phase from short-term emergency aid to long-term rebuilding. My goal is to promote a rebuilding effort that is truly driven by the community, not by outsiders. NEPAN, a Nepalese authority on Participatory Development, has agreed to come to Karimdanda to train a group of villagers and conduct a Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA). This is a process that organizes the community to analyze its situation, prioritize its problems, and design solutions to address them.  

Nat, Jhabraj, and I explained the process to the villagers and had them elect representatives to conduct the PRA.  The seven women and ten men of various ages will attend a three-day intensive training program here in Karmidanda at the end of May. They were energized and excited, and everyone is feeling good about moving on to a better future in a process led by the community itself.

All in all, we’re having a good amount of success with our aid efforts, thanks largely to your generous donations.  We’re deeply grateful for the help. Everyone should know that their contributions are having a huge impact here, though our needs remain much greater than our resources. Please consider what the people here are going through, and what they’ll be going through in the near future. If you can give something, either for the first time or once again, it will make a tremendous difference in the villagers’ lives. 

Please click here to visit our fundraising site, and spread the world. Everything helps.  Stay safe out there, we’ll try our best to do the same over here!