Donations for Nepal: Sending Directly to the People
Organized by: Christina O
Hi Family & Friends!
Do you want to actually make a difference in Nepal? You're in the right place! We will be sending money directly to the people who need it most. No waiting on big organizations like the Red Cross, to donate money while people are literally dying of starvation and thirst. Most of the time donations to these NGOs take TOO LONG to be processed to be of any use on the ground. (See: The Problem of Donating to Disaster Relief Efforts http://www.whydev.org/the-problem-of-donating-to-disaster-relief-efforts-and-how-ngos-can-start-to-solve-it/)
That's why we want to send money to our good friend Jasmine J. Kwon, who was living in Nepal when the earthquake hit and is still there on the ground trying to rebuild. She sent us an email pleading for direct help because the situation is still so dire. This money will go directly to her and thus directly to the people that need it most!
Every little bit helps and is more than they have. Please share this with friends, family, coworkers, rommates, anyone that can help! Thank you so much in advance!
Christina & Alise
Here is her email, if you're interested, so she can explain her struggle to you herself:
Friends and Family,
Hope this message finds you happy and healthy. I know it has been a long time since I've been in contact with most of you, but I trust that you are all doing well. I'm reaching out to you from Kathmandu, Nepal, which has been on of my "heart homes" in this turn of samsara and has truly become my current gypsy/nomad "base" since last March. I have no idea what the international media is putting out there, as I have such limited access to Internet and outside news. All I can tell you is the situation is unimaginably DIRE over here... And I'm calling out to/pleading/begging you to help us directly... Please.
I'm hoping by sharing my personal experience, you might get a better idea of what it is really like on the ground. I'm appealing to you to PLEASE HELP immediately, and to continue to keep Nepal in your mind and on your tongues in the coming weeks, months, (and years), as media attention fades out. The devastation here is too real. Unlike you, I cannot turn off my monitors and ignore the situation - desperation is everywhere, and within everyone around me.
I was in a huge dharma talk (wang) when the earthquake hit, at Shechen Monastery, in the heavily Tibetan Buddhist-populated area called Bouddha. The neighborhood surrounds an enormous Buddhist stupa, Boudhanath, which is one of the many world heritage sites of the valley.
We just finished the opening prayers - for the safety and enlightenment of all sentient beings when the English translator said, over FM, radio "Now Yangthang Rinpoche will begin the fire puja to mark the last day of the Ratna Lingpa cycle". The Ratna Lingpa Termas is a series of secret tantric meditation techniques and prayers that were preserved by an ancient Tibetan-Buddhist master many generations ago - because he predicted that at this very time, the earth would face degenerate times. More than 500 of us gathered everyday for 10 days to learn the techniques and try to collectively use our energy to cure the world of suffering - because SOMEHOW that great yogini knew that at this time, sentient beings would be facing something terrible... Just as the last word rolled off of Lama Sean's tongue, the earth began to rattle underneath us.
Lucky we were in meditation, right? I remember looking up at the projected screen and seeing our teacher, Yangthang Rinpoche, in his frail 80-something year is body, seated atop the ornate seat, eyes closed, simply smirking from one corner of his mouth, then relax further into meditation. But the energy instantly changed. In silence, I looked around at the scene - everyone in their best clothes, carrying bunches of multicolored flowers and white, beige, and yellow khatas to offer Yangthang Rinpoche, as a mutual blessing in thanks for his transmission of the Termas on the final day - smiling and bubbling, now suddenly both alert yet dumbstruck at the same time. I felt no "fight or flight" reaction in that moment - my brain failed to register any sign of danger. I watched my mind in wonder, seeing that the illusion of my own centered existence fade, as I saw myself as a tiny little ant, trying with all my might to stay put whilst a greater entity swept away the anthill from beneath me...
Moments later, the earth started to shake again, this time making the grand Dharma Hall in front of us wobble from the side to side, cracking at the bottom and balancing its enormity from one pillar to another. Immediately I grabbed hold of these two young girls seated next to me, who I had just learned, five minutes earlier, were alone. According to culture, the elderly Tibetans began to clap and hiss away at the unknown force of evil that seemed to have penetrated the monastery walls. As those hundred or so inside the Dharma Hall exited calmly and silently, a quiet frenzy took over the crowd.
Then we started praying. OM AH HUNG BENZRA GURU PEMA SITTI HUNG. http://www.rinpoche.com/gurumantra.html
As the crowd joined into the melody of the recitation, scores of people came scrambling into the monastery, and 500 became 1000... As I sat there counting mala beads, people steadily continued to pour in, carrying mattress pads, blankets, and whatever provisions they could before running out of their houses. It wasn't until early evening, motivated by curiosity and the sheer mass and condition of the people still trickling into the already crowded monastery, that I went back to my guesthouse, just 200 meters away to find my first-floor room in shambles. The north side wall was falling apart, and shards of brick and plaster littered my open suitcase. An open pipe had come through the ceiling and had soaked everything. Without really thinking, I started to sort my wet and dry clothing and pack my things - put them in a storage room; also on the first floor, which looked like the bottom rung of a crushed beer can - accepting that I might never get these things back. "Fuck it." Gathering my toothbrush, sweatshirt, scarf, passport, and shawl (my only option as a blanket) I only lamented my habitual under-packing in that I had no socks or warm layers to prepare for the cold night ahead.
I walked back to the monastery, and sat in the same spot I had been for the past week, whilst listening to the teachings. Between meditation and chanting, I got to know the Bhutanese lamas (monks) who were around me, and we shared some snacks and talked about Dharma, and my affinity towards becoming a monastic. At night, we shared stories and the lamas played jokes on each other by pretending to use my FM radio as a walkie-talkie, switching on and off the newscaster's constant report of destruction. The tremors continued all night, and served as a silent alarm clock for all of us... "Pheri aeyo (It's coming again!)" Once, in the middle of the night, I sprung up and found that a lama had curled up next to me and covered us both with a warm blanket. For that I will always be grateful.
Serving an estimated three thousand displaced people, the monastery ran out of food and water by next morning. We were asked to help by going outside by bringing back food and water. Outside of the monastery, the normally crowded, bustling cocktail of monks and laity roaming around fruit stalls or zooming past corners through hidden alley ways on motorcycles and endless stalls servicing the thousands of tourists who visit the stupa daily...(How to put it...?) dried up. Ghost town. I ran up to the last fruit seller and bought 150 rupees (1.50 USD) of oranges and continued on to Boudhanath where people stood, staring at the damages, conversing about what to do next, wondering how long we'd have to sustain with no power, water, and with food stores quickly depleting, unable to return indoors. I intentionally eavesdropped for answers, but none were offered. Only, "ke garne? (what to do?)"
Fast forward two days of having not a single sip of water, breaking my vegan-ness to share one packet of dried chicken-flavored Rara (instant) noodles amongst 3 others; strategic spooning with monks to survive in the cold rain (and then them blackmailing each other about it with photos in the morning, HAHA); and finally paying all but 100 Rs ($1) out of my wallet to take a cab to the other side of town (taxi rates have hiked up due to unstable road conditions and petrol shortage), to my friend's house, having not heard from anyone in days.... Unsure if the house was still standing or if they were even alive; getting back into the matrix, and finding everyone safe but traumatized.
I arrived at my friend, Soham-dai's family house in Jalawkhel, in the late afternoon of Day 3. Besides noticing that the house was still standing and that a small group of people were huddling under a make-shift tent between two cars - all I could concentrate on was the sudden, swelling dryness in my throat and mouth. What was my monkey mind doing? Whilst at the monastery, I was able to control my thirst and hunger. Now, with my adopted family's emotions rising, "How are you? Are you ok? Where have you been?" A flood of questions...a blur voices... "Please, do you have water?" was my only response. I'll never forget those moments, that first drink of water. And later, that first meal of chiura (dry, flattened rice) with dry chickpeas. I watched my mind as it wavered between gulping down the sweet sustenance... and retraining myself in recognition of the limited supply and uncertain availability in the future. I felt guilty in being fed when millions of others surely have not had their share. From that first anthill realization I had during the first tremors, I've been reminded of how small and insignificant I am, over and over again. And yet, I'm reminded in every handful of dry rice which I have been so fortunate to receive that small, individual pieces can come together and do, truly, make something significant. Right now, when we can't even dare to ask for more, we are able to appreciate each minuscule grain that is offered to us, because those minuscule grains are keeping us alive. I recognize that I am entirely dependent on generosity of others, who, by all means, are not in a comfortable position to share, in order to survive. This is how we survive... together in this fragile existence.
It's Day 7 now, and after two quiet days, the tremors have started up again and seem stronger yet infrequent. Just as you think it is all over, another "DAAAAEEEENNG!!!" reminds you that...Nope, it's not. We are not in control. Reality is unpredictable. Here in Jalawkhel, we are much more fortunate than most people - water, electricity, and network connection (even wifi!), have returned (at least for the time being). We are rationing food but are completely unsure about how long this can last.
We have begun to mobilize, and hundreds of us have began to collaborate in order to reach the hardest hit areas of the valley, outside of the city where the large INGOs and governments haven't reached. Small teams have gone out, finding entire villages in shambles - not one structure standing. We're bringing what shelter, food, medicine, and gear we can via hiking, motorcycle caravans, or 4x4s, if the roads permit.
Unfortunately, the government of Nepal has made a really dumb decision to channel ALL BANK TRANSFERS LABELED FOR "RELIEF" into their own disaster fund. Though I am not in the position to criticize the government's efforts, I can tell you that THEY SIMPLY DO NOT HAVE THE RESOURCES TO REACH PEOPLE on the fringe, where the most devastating damage has occurred. It is DAY 7 and there are villages which STILL haven't been reached!
We are pulling all resources and using every channel that is available to us - I personally have spent all of my personal savings, and am now using my credit card in order to procure as much material as possible... And we are also going to distribution centers around the city, operating under larger INGOs and the government to pick up basic supplies, water, tents, etc. We are using taxis and personal vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, and scooters) to go to the airport where a lot of the supplies are coming in to get some materials, as well.
Beyond that, we have created a website and Android app platform, in order to locate, "report, verify, and act" as quickly as possible to these rising needs. Since the launching of the site, http://quakemap.org, and our phone hotline, hundreds of reports (basically, calls for assistance) have come in, and we have already begun to act on many of these calls. Things are getting done, but everything is, unfortunately, dependent on supplies. I'm currently at a volunteer meeting where we have already allocated supplies using all channels (INGO distribution and mostly going out to the stores and warehouses and buying what we can). About 40 groups have already gone out in the past few days, and our supplies are being exhausted just as fast as they are coming in.
Understand that we, as volunteers, are doing what we are doing by using BACK CHANNELS because we are individuals with no political power and not affiliated with any NGO. We cannot work through official channels now due to the the governments actions, and also inter-organization politics (sorry to say, but these slow moving INGOs are keeping information out of reach and limiting shared resources because they want to service areas where they can get media coverage and don't have to spend on logistical costs (such as transportation). That's only in reachable area in the city... Not the places that need help the most.)
Calling Out Beyond the Himalayas
I apologize for this long e-mail, and if any of my words do make sense right now.
I cannot express how urgent your help is needed right now. You can donate to is directly by wiring money to me via WESTERN UNION. You can transfer up to 600,000 Nepali rupees (6,000 USD) a day. I understand that most of you would prefer to donate to a registered organization for tax relief... But like I said, any money transferred to those accounts aren't going to make a difference RIGHT NOW. For more information about this, please reply to me in this e-mail.
People are dying now. It is raining now. Night time has been cold and windy, and people are sleeping under the open sky. People have no food, no water now. We have the ability to buy that food and buy things like 2,000L water tanks and go to filling stations in order to distribute... But we have to pay for that tank and the transportation to bring them where they need to go. People have nowhere to shit, and they are camping out in groups of thousands... And they are waiting on basic medication to ease the pain incurred after heinous injuries. There is so much that we can do here but we need you help. We are desperate.
Please see the message which I have posted on Instagram and Facebook... which, unfortunately has not received much response. If anybody can step up and help us out, we would be eternally grateful.
URGENT. PLEASE SHARE, and also comment if you are able to step up and collaborate with us.
FRIENDS - Calling out to you to help us mobilize on your side in order to reach some of the hard to reach villages outside of the city.
We are looking for anyone who can help us by:
1. Fundraising like a mighty super(wo)man slash setting up and managing a Crowdfunding site
2. Collect and help us to get specific materials delivered, which are not coming in via aide agencies; or if so, are in high demand. Major airlines have offered free cargo shipments to Nepal for earthquake relief. You can send us cargo directly through various channels.
We are committed to providing immediate relief and begin the necessary step of building semi-permanent shelter, water, and sanitation systems, to be built preemptively before the monsoons. Specific materials include: tents and tarp, wind-up batteries, and long-term water filtration systems.
If you're looking for a way to be directly involved with our work on the ground, this is how. I cannot stress the URGENCY of this situation.
You can also support the wider guerrilla distribution cause by donating to http://www.youcaring.com/emergency-fundraiser/relief-for-nepal-earthquake-victims/343686
#JaiNepal #LetsMobilize #HelpNepal #AfterTheQuake #Sustainability
May all benefit.
Of course, donating online on the YouCaring site won't get to us immediately (because of the Nepali government's decision, as I mentioned earlier). But we would still greatly appreciate this donation - and will most definitely be able to utilize that for more sustainable work in the future. As we know from Thailand/Sri Lanka and Haiti, it is going to take DECADES to rebuild this country.
Side note: As many of you have expressed to me interest in supporting the monasteries, which have not only sustained immense damage to their temples and monks' living quarters, but have also so graciously exhausted all of their food stores in order to feed all of the homeless, please donate directly to Shechen Monastery at http://www.shechen.org/donate. You can donate directly to the disaster relief by noting it with your donation. Shechen Monastery has already assembled a "Shechen Rescue Team," and all of the able-bodied monks and nuns have been rotating between "camp" shifts and going out into the hard to reach villages, as well. Again, the government's stipulation also goes with this online bank transfer - so if you would like me to make a direct cash donation to fund their work RIGHT NOW, please respond to this message and I would be happy to receive the Western Union transfer and deliver the cash in hand to the monastery. For this donation, I can procure an official receipt which you can use for tax relief purposes.
In closing, I would like to share one more thought with you, my friends.
Three days ago was the first time that I saw an article refer to the millions of homeless Nepalis as "refugees." Up until now, whenever I thought of a refugee, I thought of Sudanese, of Syrians, of Tibetans... fleeing their home countries due to war and genocide, completely helpless - forced to live in makeshift camps without any of the comforts of home, waiting... just waiting for foreign aid to come. Though I have always felt immense sympathy and empathy for these people, their suffering felt so distant from myself. I never imagined being in a place where the people around me would ever be referred to as such...
Here is what I've learned in the past week: I guess, minus the condition of war or genocide, we have, indeed, become refugees here in Nepal. We are being forced to live outside of our homes in makeshift camps, and we are completely dependent on others' assistance to survive. But we are banding together and sharing our resources. We have no time to wait around for the international governments to make their contributions and to stand in a queue for humanitarian aid to hand us our rations. The work that we are doing to help others is not heroic work, in the least. We are people who are merely doing what we need to in order to survive. We are like ants whose anthill has been dredged up, and we have no other option but to move forward and rebuild. We have no time to lament our many, many losses, or to think about taking rest or retreating from the chaos around us; because there are countless mouths to be fed and structures to be rebuilt.
Please take from the lesson I've learned and realize that our devastating condition is not one that is far away from yourself, wherever you are. This existence is fragile, and we have no choice but to come together.
So, please, please, please join us. This is not just a cause or a news story to glance at. This is real life.
Thank you for bearing through this excessively long-winded message. Thank you, in advance for your help. I have reached out to you because at some point or another, we have crossed paths in this lifetime - and therefore, we have shared our energy, love, and life. I thank you, from my heart, for your love and support.
So much LOVE and METTA,
jasmine junghyun kwon