UPDATE 4/28/15: Last night we received the horrible news that 95% of the homes in Ghumarchowk have been razed or damaged, with 6 confirmed dead in the village. The rains and the continued tremors have continued to isolate this difficult to access mountaintop village. The acute aid response has not yet arrived, and quite frankly I will be surprised if there is much help beyond what we can offer from here. The teacher mentioned at the end of this post is working with the Hem Sarita Pathak Foundation (HSPF) to attempt to remedy the lack of response for the village. HSPF is currently working to buy tents and provide shelter for the villagers. Hygienic problems and the risk of infectious disease outbreak are of tremendous concern.
Original Post: As you probably know, a series of huge earthquakes have been rocking Nepal for the last several days. Hundreds-year old historical landmarks have been razed, and the death toll is climbing well into the thousands. My good friend, Ramu Kharel, is a medical student working to raise funds to help address the rebuilding needs of a particular village, named Ghumarchowk.
UNICEF, the Red Cross, and hundreds of other organizations are going to do their best in addressing the acute needs of this crisis. Food and shelter will be offered to many who need it, but there will always be people and communities left behind. There will be hundreds of remote, marginalized communities in a crisis of this scale, so I am asking for particular help for this village named Ghumarchowk, high on a mountain side and only accessible by motorcycle. Since it is so difficult to reach and the village leadership is more isolated, It is unlikely to receive the same level of aid that larger communities will. In addition, the rebuilding process is not one that will end any time soon. Nepal is going to need long-term support to address the homelessness and rebuilding issues that are going to arise from this disaster.
Ramu is a personal friend and hero of mine. He was born in a small village in Nepal and is now attending UT Southwestern Medical school with me. He aspires to become a leader in addressing health needs of Nepal. He will be attending Havard School of Public Health this next year, and received the Golden Humanitarian award at UT Southwestern a few days ago (this is no small feat in a school chocked full of young, aspiring, service-minded individuals). He is a phenomenal and inspirational individual, who understands what needs to be done to improve lives. He believes in working from the bottom up, identifying problems with the help of local leadership, rather than the “plan and spend” idealistic approach that is used frequently in foreign development campaigns. This means he can do more for a village with less money by identifying needs and necessary leadership by working personally within a village. He is very much going to play a key role in the effort to help Ghumarchowk rebuild.
For the last 3 days, the mountainside village of about 400 homes has seen more than half of its family dwellings razed, with extensive damage to the remainder. As the quakes have continued, even those who still have homes are cooking, sleeping, and living in the fields, awaiting the tremors to subside. I’ve visited this village myself and was touched by the strength and earnestness, and warmth of this community. They are a poor but happy community that simply will not be able to rebuild to their former quality of life without resources to back them up. They will need to rebuild safe drinking water supplies, create safe bathroom areas to prevent the spread of disease, and of course rebuild so many homes. There is a family-run organization that supports the village, The Hem Sarita Pathak foundation, run by a philanthropic Nepali family in Austin. Ramu will be working directly with this foundation to understand and address needs of this beautiful village that will need so much support to regrow.
Thank you for taking your time to read this message.
Please visit Ramu’s gofundme campaign page and forward this e-mail or add the page to your facebook. If you can’t donate, there is NO REASON to feel bad, just simply re-post the page so others can see the project and donate if they can. If you have family or friends that may be in a position to support, please let them know of this project. The only hindrance to this project is getting the word out and growing a large network of small contributions! Thank you!
If you still have time to keep reading: the following is an excerpt from a volunteer who was working in the village with the Hem Sarita Pathak Foundation:
Tiffany Tran is a graphic designer from the US and is in Nepal working with the students at Ugratara School in Ghumarchowk. Luckily she was not in Ghumarchowk (the village where the school is located) this weekend when the earthquake hit. Her host family told her over the phone that they were glad she wasn’t in her room because she could have been hit by fallen bricks. Her room is no longer the way it was a few days ago.
Here is what she shared this morning:
“Rarely do I ever make a Facebook post, but what I am about to write is something that is very close to my heart. I am reaching out to all of you in high hopes that you can help.
As some of you may know, I temporarily moved to Nepal to volunteer teaching English at a small village called Ghumarchowk (a 1 hour walk + 1.5 hour bus ride from Kathmandu). This past weekend, I decided to visit Kathmandu when a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit us – an earthquake so strong that it even caused deaths in the neighboring countries of India and China. Buildings have collapsed, roads cracked in half, and many stuck beneath fallen rubble. At this point, the death toll is more than 3,000.
Ghumarchowk is so small and isolated that Googling its name will yield minimal information of it or even its whereabouts, and this is why we fear that no help will arrive to this village that has had over 200 homes destroyed. Working with the Hem Sarita Pathak Foundation, I will be returning to Ghumarchowk with Sandhya Sitoula (a KTM resident) to assist those in need. We are a very small team, so we are asking for any kind of help – whether it be sharing this Go Fund Me page or donating $1, we appreciate every action.
Please keep Nepal, and all those affected, in your thoughts. To be going through this firsthand among these kind and welcoming people is truly upsetting and my heart suffers with them.
P.S. I received an overwhelming amount of messages, emails, and texts concerning my safety! I am unable to reply to every single one of you at the moment, but please know that I am OK and am warmed by all your love coming from the States, Europe, and Australia. Thank you so much, I love all of you!”