Local Help for Nepal

As follows a message from Michael Sherraden, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis who works toward alleviating poverty through asset-building and social and economic policy. Below, he details a plea for assistance from a Brown School PhD graduate, Gyanesh Lama, advocating toward and spearheading local relief efforts. Lama’s concerns over bureaucracy are also concerns I share, part of the reason why I chose to support (in a small way) Adhikaar’s efforts: https://life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/immediate-relief-for-nepal-earthquake-survivors

Of course, I don’t know too much about the situation or the best disbursement of funds for emergency relief, but these are things worth considering. Feel free to comment with more insight!

Dear Brown School Colleagues,

Below is an email message from Gyanesh Lama, a Brown School PhD graduate, who grew up in a small, remote village in Nepal.  (He is the first Nepali PhD graduate of Brown School.  Prof Shanta Pandey served very effectively as his chair.)  Gyanesh is now on the faculty at Fresno State in California.  Below he explains the circumstance for his village, and suggests a way you can contribute, if you might want to help out.

Allow me to say that Gyanesh has worked on projects at CSD during his PhD studies and afterwards. I completely trust his honesty, commitment, and judgment.  If you make a contribution, your generosity will directly help the villagers who are now without shelter or sufficient food.

Michael Sherraden

From: Gyanesh Lama <glama@csufresno.edu>
Sent: Sunday, May 03, 2015 6:03 PM
Subject: Re: Nepal Earthquake Rescue

I have my family back in my village in Sindhupalchok district, the hardest hit area.  For six days after the earthquake, I did not hear anything about the status of my family. No rescue efforts had reached to remote villages of Tamsaling region, including my village, Lisanku, the area of Tamang indigenous peoples.

So, I have been mobilizing migrant youths from my village as volunteers and to go to the villages to rescue those who survived the tragedy. They have been collecting tarps/tents, food, and medical supplies in Kthamandu and taking them to the villages. But transportation has been the biggest problem. I just heard back from the volunteers that 75% of the homes in my village is completely destroyed and need to be rebuilt, 20% needs repaired and 5% are in living condition. The situation is much worse in the surrounding villages. There is a high risk of starvation and disease spread as people are living in the open field without tent, food and blankets. They listed these priorities: 1. Tent and blankets for immediate shelter, as it frequently rains; 2. Food; 3. Medicine; 4. Rebuilding materials. They reported that there were no causalities in my village. However, other villages on the way to my village were completely destroyed with several causalities.

Some media reported that supplies were overflowing in Kathmandu, but no one is taking them to the remote villages. Kathmandu has many medical colleges, doctors and nurses, but no one is taking risks to venture out to the hinterlands. Millions of dollars have been poured in to the Nepal Government, but the government is not responding to the needs of people in remote areas, at least not urgently and adequately. Large international organizations have given priority first to rescue foreign tourists, second to villages that are politically connected to Kathmandu, and only then to the rest. The remote villages have been left to their own means. As the impact in the remote villages begins to unfold, the need for aid will only increase.

In my judgment, best thing international community can do is to support local volunteer and direct funds directly to those villages to be used by the villagers themselves. I have been hesitant to endorse large organizations such as Red Cross, UNICEF, Oxfam etc., largely because they already have large budgets, perhaps even bigger than national budget of Nepal, and secondly because of the bureaucracy (they need permission from Nepal government before they can go to villages) which delays the effort. I also wanted to make sure that people in Nepal know that help is coming from caring people in Ameria. and that the donation is not lost as a drop in the ocean of large budgets.

For last few days, I have contacted few U.S. 501c(3) organizations that have presence in local villages in Nepal but without success. So as a last resort, I have created a GoFundme (http://www.gofundme.com/tbjyjw) for a local non-profit, the Himalayan Community Development Society, Nepal, that is located in my village (Hrisyango, Sindhupalchok). This is a rather small organization with no funding sources, but they are very effective locally and know the local terrain, needs, language and culture. Everyone is a volunteer, no overhead cost. They didn’t have a website, so I created a rudimentary webpage for them using a free site:http://gyaneshlama.wix.com/hcds This webpage is very basic and doesn’t have the capacity for online donation.

I have been supporting this organization for last few years and they have helped me to connect with many remote villages for my research on poverty, international social work and social development in Nepal. They are committed people. Many of these volunteers are jobless, some are students and others are farmers and laborers. I see no other people that are better fit to do the rescue and rebuilding works as we are racing against the time. They deserve our support. I encourage you to support these volunteers. They were the first rescue team to reach remote villages, including mine. These youths are risking their own lives to venture out to the hinterlands to care for those who are unknown to the world .

I will personally take the responsibility for monitoring the fund and making sure they go to the most needy people in the hardest hit area of Sindhupalchok, Rassua, Dhading and Nuwakot for both relief and rebuilding efforts. Please donate at http://www.gofundme.com/tbjyjw
CBS47 coverage:

A little about me and my work in Nepal:

Latest update on my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ganesh.lama.5621

Thank you for your kind support.

Gyanesh Lama, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Social Work Education
California State University, Fresno


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