“Disaster relief” is a simple phrase to write but a tricky one to implement. Aid necessarily comes from outside the stricken area and is usually provided and administered by foreigners who don’t have to live with the way that their aid is implemented. As a result, the good intentions of the donors and agencies providing disaster aid don’t always translate into the kind of relief that best serves the recipients.
We’ve tried to mitigate that problem by focusing on
community-driven relief efforts. Based on our commitment to Participatory
Development, our 17 community organizers have been trained to manage their own
Together, we followed a standard Participatory Development process to create a community-driven plan. First, we identified four priority sectors: Food, Shelter, WASH (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene), and Flood Prevention. Next, the village elected four leaders to head work in each of these areas. Then we got the community’s commitment and support and sought aid from the government and NGOs to meet our goals. Finally, we turned to our network of generous private donors to fill in the gaps. As far as we know, no other village in Nepal has organized in this way to manage the emergency relief effort.
Within the week Karmidanda should be receiving a large amount of aid from various sectors. If all goes as planned, the villagers will have the food, shelter, drinking water, and sanitation facilities they need to survive the monsoon season. It’s a great relief (no pun intended) to be able to meet these needs, though we’re not there yet, and there are some potential problems between where we stand and where we hope to be. This aid will travel on trucks that have to pass through many army checkpoints, where they may be hassled, depending on the climate that day. Perhaps even more challenging than the checkpoints are the neighboring villages that the trucks have to drive past. The fact that it’s impossible to help everyone here is a painful and heartbreaking truth made worse by the inevitable anger and sadness from those who will not receive the coming aid.
With the aid effort well launched here in Karmidanda, Nat
and I are returning to the United States at the end of the month. We’re looking
forward to a much needed break and the fresh perspective it will bring. It is
difficult to leave when we know that the hard work is far from over, but we’re
departing with confidence that we’ve done as much as we could and, more
importantly, put the villagers in charge of their own destiny as much as
possible. Thank you for all of your support and for following our progress. As
always, we ask that you visit and share our fundraising website to provide
continued support for rebuilding Karmidanda.