Through recent broadcasts we all have seen the immediate consequences of the 7.8 earthquake on the overcrowded city of Kathmandu and surrounding villages. As of today, Nepalese officials are saying the death toll is 4,500 and could expect to reach as high as 10,000.
Our TV screens are filled with scenes of injured people, collapsed buildings and frantic neighbours digging their way through the wreckage, brick by brick, looking for other survivors. Fortunately we have been able to confirm, from our coordinators and leaders in the field, that all of our groups are safe. Although our students and teachers have family and friends affected by the devastation, we are relieved to know that none are victims of this tragedy and that they will be able to offer help to those in need during the recovery and reconstruction efforts.
The media has told us about the outlying villages where contact has been nonexistent. Those of us who have traveled through these villages have seen what those houses are made of (mud and sticks) and know the vulnerability of the residents within and the potential for complete collapse of entire villages.
The long-term consequences of this disaster are equally devastating. The lack of infrastructure and resources will challenge recovery and rebuilding efforts and many of the minimally constructed buildings left standing are still at risk of damage and collapse, causing even more death and injury.
Nepal is a country that relies on tourism and the tourist dollar to make ends meet. Trekkers and sightseers put much-needed income into the hands of Sherpa guides and people in the hospitality, retail and transportation sectors. How many tourists can Nepal expect over the next year — or two or three? There will not be enough incoming funds to help repair the damage that the struggling country has to deal with.
Please join us in making a donation to help the Nepali people.
WELNepal’s staff and board members plan on giving generously to UNICEF. We have chosen UNICEF because our Nepali contacts have endorsed their work locally and UNICEF has partnered with a sponsor to match, dollar for dollar, all donations. This initiative added to the recently announced Canadian government donation match program means your donation has three times the monetary impact. To donate, please click here.
Stay tuned for a note outlining our progress this year and our plans for the next few months. Although recovery and crisis management are top of mind right now in light of this terrible tragedy, we will continue to focus on our core mission in the Chitwan region as our women’s groups require ongoing assistance and support. Through our literacy and education efforts we are training and graduating women who can be part of the solution in rebuilding the infrastructure necessary to help their community and country to grow.
Thank you for your support.