Khumbu Comeback- Relief Effort for Nepal
Organized by: Dan Maurer
Dan Maurer via Crowdrise
January 07, 2016
EVENT DATE Sep 25, 2015
(*Scroll down for trip updates!)
On April 25, 2015, Nepal was tragically struck with a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that left the country in shambles, accounting for nearly 8,800 deaths and injuring 23,000 people. Many historic sites, homes and businesses were destroyed in the capital of Kathmandu. Small villages throughout the country were either heavily damaged or completely destroyed. Due to the geography, the remote areas of Nepal have had little to no relief aid distributed and people are left without clean water, food or proper shelter. Many Nepali's livelihoods have been destroyed due to the earthquake and the already struggling economy has made jobs few and far between.
In 2011 two friends and I traveled to Nepal to enjoy some trekking throughout the Khumbu region. We then worked with the WWOOF organization to volunteer our time on local organic farms living and working alongside Nepali families. Shortly after arriving, I fell in love with the countryside, but mostly its people. Once I heard about the earthquake in Nepal, all I wanted to do was go over and help.
This October, I will return to Nepal with my friend, Anthony Mancini, to help with the relief efforts. This will be just after the heavy monsoon season which is a time Nepal will need the most help to continue to distribute relief aid. It also will be the opportune time to rebuild destroyed areas before the winter approaches. I have been collaborating with an owner of a local trekking company in Kathmandu who is planning to help rebuild areas in Nepal starting this September. The money raised for this fundraiser will be used to purchase building materials and distribute them to areas in need. I will NOT be earning a profit during this fundraiser. All the proceeds raised will go directly to rebuild efforts.
October 11, 2015
After three canceled flights and a one week delay, I have finally made it to kathmandu, Nepal. Unfortunately, my good friend and partner on this venture, Anthony Mancini, become ill and injured one day before our flight and was unable to join me on this journey. I am very sad he is not here to share this experience with me, but I wish him a quick recovery.
Kathmandu looks different from when I was here 4 years ago for a variety of reasons. When I left the airport the other night in the taxi provided by the hotel I'm staying, I was most surprised by one thing: quietness. For those who have visited kathmandu, the street are always bustling with cars, scooters, motorcycles, buses and whatever other form of conveyance the Nepali people have rigged a motor upon. There was hardly any cars on the streets and it's only occupants were a few walkers and cyclists. Even during the day when Kathmandu is usually screaming with noise and "organized chaos" there is a certain stillness about it all. This is all contributed to the fuel crisis due to the blockades at the Indian border.
I'm starting to make progress on volunteer projects to help with rebuilding. Nothing happens quickly in Nepal and especially with the fuel crisis things are moving slower than ever. I will be leaving kathmandu in the next day or two to visit friends who have had homes damaged from the earthquake. Then I can start organizing ways to get materials for construction.
In my three short days here I was quickly reminded why I love this country so much. With all the political turmoil and devastation the Nepali people continue to smile and welcome everyone warmly. I ask everyone to keep the Nepali people in their thoughts and hope for a quick resolution to the blockade and political situation. Then nepal can get back to rebuilding this beautiful country in a bigger and better fashion.
After days of waiting and much organization I am finally ready to start the first rebuild project in Nepal. My Australian friend, Toby (Choppa), also happens to be in Nepal at this time with the same goal as me, to help rebuild. His Nepali friend, Ramesh, who owns a trekking business in Nepal (trek nepal) has been our Main help for this first project.
Tomorrow we are off to the village of Bahunepati, about 4 hours north east of Kathmandu. This village was completely destroyed during the earthquake and not one single structure is still standing. Ramesh was visiting this village two weeks ago and saw how devastated the area was from the earthquake. He asked what the main thing these people needed was, and they said shelter for their crops and people. Our main goal will be to build temporary structures with reused timber for framing and sheet metal for the roof. With the money donated by this fundraiser, along with help from Toby we will be able to build 30 structures that can house over 200 people. Ramesh was our savior in this mission as he was able to coordinate the buying of materials and organization of the transport of the materials and us to the village. This would have been very difficult, if not impossible to organize without Ramesh. Also joining us on this adventure are two Australian guys , Mick and Peter, who are old friends of Ramesh. We will be working alongside residents of this village to get as many structures built as quickly as possible. It is not a long term solution but it will provide shelter and protection for the people and their crops until more resources and money are available.
We leave tomorrow, October 14, from Kathmandu. We will be traveling by truck to pick up the materials and then on to Bahunepati. I will update once I arrive back in Kathmandu, approximately one week from tomorrow.
I am trying to upload picture but am having trouble at the moment. I'll continue to work on this.
After 6 days at Bahunepati I am back in Kathmandu. Overall the first rebuild project was a success. We left kathmandu in a private jeep to an industrial town to buy the tin sheet metal for roofing, along with some basic tools we needed for construction. We hired a separate flatbed truck to haul the materials up to Bahunepati. In true Nepal style it was a mission getting the truck and jeep to the small hilltop village. It rained 30 minutes before we arrived so the dirt road was slick and traction was limited. With help from the locals we were able to get the two vehicles to the top with lots of pushing and digging out bogged down vehicles. Always a mission.
Upon arrival the locals gave us a hearty Nepali welcome and greeted us with open arms. The truck was quickly unloaded and tin was swiftly distributed to those most in need. Within an hour all materials were at the work site ready for construction, and some were already installed on old sheds to cover crops and protect farm animals.
We camped in a large tent in the front paddock of the one house left standing in the village. Our host family provided us with superb hospitality by feeding us with large portions of dal bhat and endless cups of tea.
Day 2 constructions began. It took a few structures for everyone to get in the groove and understand exactly what the people wanted. Those most in need, who were unable to build on their own were helped first. It was all hands on deck with us and the locals clearing rubble, leveling the job site and constructing the shelters. The language bearer between us westerners and Nepalese was a struggle at times but we soon learned from each other and by the end of the trip we were in a real groove. It was a total community effort with young men in the village helping to build one structure at a time before moving to the next. Nepalese people truly look out for their neighbors and this was a perfect example of their strength of community.
In our 6 days in the village we did not get as many structures built as hoped but we left the people of Bahunepati with lots of materials and tools to continue the building projects. It was a great experience and I thank the people of the village for their kindness and hospitality. It was great to see the money from the fundraiser finally being put to use. For all those who contributed you should be happy and proud to know you have helped people live more comfortably and able to survive the long winter that is quickly approaching.
I am off to the small village of Kinja tomorrow to help my friend DB rebuild his guest house.
I'm still struggling with uploading photos but I have a top notch technology chief on the case....
This last trip I did was on a more personal level. I made the long journey to the small village of kinja, which is tucked away in a tight valley of the Khumbu region. My friend Dam Bar lives here and has owned and operated a guest house in this village for the past 7 years. I met Dam Bar four years ago while two friends and I were walking from Jiri to the Everest Base Camp. We all instantly became friends and stayed in touch ever since.
On May 12 the second big earthquake hit Nepal, which was the shake that devastated the Khumbu region and the shake that was felt at the top of the world on Mt Everest, leaving several people trapped and others dead. Speaking with Dam Bar after this earthquake he explained most of his village had been destroyed along with extensive damage to his guest house. Being a guest house owner on the Everest trekking route is his only source of income which he needs to provide for his wife and two boys. With the guest house damaged and the trekking season right around the corner Dam Bar was in a tough situation. With a donation I provided him from the Khumbu Comeback fundraiser and an additional loan from the bank, Dam Bar was able to get his guest house repaired and operational in time for the trekking season. When I arrived on October 22, most work had already been completed by local laborers hired by Dam Bar. I helped with a few odd jobs such as running water lines into the guest house. The trekking season has been extremely slow this year due to the lack of tourists visiting nepal. But New Everest Guest House in Kinja is open for business and Dam Bar is waiting with a warm place to rest for the evening and some of the best food on the trekking route.
Kinja was a town I got to know well on my last visit to Nepal in 2011. It was tragic to see how much of the town had been destroyed and how quiet the village was at all hours of the day. Most locals are currently still living under tarps and tin structures in a plot of land behind the town. Most homes are unsafe to be inhabited. Kinja has no road access and on a good day it is a 4 hour walk from the closest road. With bad weather the rough road is closed and road access would be at another village 8 hours away. So getting supplies in and out of kinja is a physical challenge to say the least. I am glad my friend Dam Bar is comfortable and can operate his business but I won't forget how much help the people of Kinja need. Helping directly right now is too big of a task for me but I will keep scheming ideas and I encourage ones with more resources to do the same. The best way the average person can help is by visiting nepal and spending money in places like kinja. Locals thrive on the business and are always happy to see tourists. I wish nothing but the best to the people of Kinja during this difficult time.
January 7, 2016
I am am back in America after nearly three months in Nepal helping with rebuild and relief projects. I am still reflecting on all I saw and was a part of while in Nepal. Overall, it was a successful mission and I was able to help many people in need. However, I barely scratched the surface with all the work that needs to be done.
The last project I was a part of was one of the most rewarding, yet most challenging. With help again from Resham we were able to organize and build two toilets for a primary school in the village of Pataleshor, near the town of Dolalghat. The school was completely destroyed during the earthquake, along with the toielts. The students are currently being taught under a very basic tent covered by a hole torn tarp. We discussed trying to rebuild the school but the project was too expensive and beyond our ability at the moment. However, two new toilets were needed and this was feasbile and an achievable goal.
We decided to hire six builders from the village and pay them a fair wage to build the toilet. My guide, Pramod, and I were there to provide extras hands and labor for the builders. All the men working on the toilet had building skills and were eager to have a paying job for a short time. They were very hard workers and I enjoyed getting to know them over my 2.5 weeks in the village.
We were hoping to have the building and the toilets completed within 10 days but there were a few setbacks. Nepal time is slow time so each project takes longer than usually intended. Unfortunately, I was not there to see the project 100% complete but the village had all the suppies and materials needed to finish the job. I heard from Pramod and he informed me the toilet has been completed and everyone is more than pleased with its outcome.
I want to thank everyone once again for your donations and support during my time in Nepal. Every place I visited I made it a point to emphasis I was not the person donating all the money. I explained this was a gift from your friends of the world. Everyone who donated should be proud and happy we were able to help make peoples lives more comfortable. The people of Nepal extend a smile and a big THANK YOU!