Bright lights during dark times
- These have been trying times. Our patience and resolve has been tested. But if we choose to look away from all the negativity, we will find hope in the form of our own fellow countrymen.
May 7, 2015-
In times of perseverance, the resilient shine through. And in the case of Nepal, during this great disaster, there have been more than a few who have stepped forward, undeterred by tragedy, and embraced the challenge. We have found leaders and we found doers; but more importantly we have found unity. There has been light in this moment of darkness. These are the individuals who epitomise what we as an entity revere, the movers and shakers, the people who by their intentions and by their actions leave a mark in the society and shape it in the process. In the wake of the earthquake, there are thousands who have lent a helping hand and have tried to make a difference in their own way—little or big. We may not directly be able to show our appreciation to each and every individual but we have tried to bring a few whose contributions cannot be overlooked, regardless of anything else. It’s time we stop complaining and start doing.
“Our troops consists of individuals from across the nation—ones who themselves have families in distress and homes demolished. But we still have been continuously serving for the wellbeing of fellow Nepalis.”
Brg. Gen. Jagadish Chandra Pokharel, Deputy Public Relations, Nepal Army
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that we, as a country, were not adequately prepared for the earthquake that hit us on April 25th. We were caught off guard and our resources have been stretched too thin to tackle a disaster of such a scale. But saying that, considering all the hindrance, our troops have done commendably well, and we are slowly making progress. Brg. Gen. Pokharel informed us, 90 percent of the troops have been mobilised so far. The army and police spent the critical first 72 hours in search and rescue operations and now have been directing their efforts more towards providing relief, prioritising urgent locations first. As Brg. General said, the troops have sacrificed their personal commitments for the greater cause of the nation, and it is high time we understand limitations, appreciate efforts and facilitate each other for a more inclusive and effective way forward.
“We can imagine the suffering of not-knowing about the wellbeing of our loved ones. Taking that very anxiety out of the equation at such trying times through open communication was the major goal.” Prativa Vaidya, NT Spokesperson, Nepal Telecom
One of the biggest and most immediate relief received by the general public after the earthquake had to be the free service provided by the Nepal Telecom. In an exemplary quick response, the telecom giant decided to provide their call, SMS and 3G services free of charge starting from day one to day five. The extended facilities also include a rescue hotline (dial 1234), extra calls from the base charge in case of landlines and an extra week extension for ADSL users during the month. And a credit facility has also been set up to tackle the problem caused by shortage of recharge cards. Although loss of network towers due to blackouts and the quake itself did cause a lot of congestion, the initiative has been duly noted, and now the next step is to restore infrastructures.
When we talk about the positives during the relief effort, the individual efforts surely top the list. We had throngs of willing volunteers doing their bit to help everyone around, and with the individuals coming together we saw a glimpse of the new Nepal that could rise from the rubbles of the disaster. We talk to a few group of individuals who caught our eye with their own way to approach to relief.
Nepal Bharat Maitri Hospital has been one of the most active medical teams in operation. The group that compromises of 22 members, including 15 doctors work hand-in-hand with Max Hospital, New Delhi, to set up two-day medical camps around the valley and the neighbouring districts such as Gorkha, Nuwakot and Dhading. The group shares that the most encouraging fact from their stint is that at times the places that they’ve visited have gained some sort of medical aid and they can provide follow-up checks, which can be sorely lacking during times like these. “It’s encouraging to see that people in affected areas are taking our awareness programs on hygiene and cleanliness positively and actually implementing it,” says Pawan Pathak of the team. However, the group does feel that awareness about cleanliness and hygiene need to be given more priority by the government as well as other organisations so as to minimise the risk of potential epidemics.
Contact Nepal Bharat Maitri Hospital: 9851018128
Social media has become a force, and after two days of working at the chaotic Teaching Hospital, Shashank Shrestha and Brijendra Joshi realised just how powerful the medium could be to connect and manage all the confused efforts. “With the online activity after the initial quake, the tracking of efforts and incidences became easier,” says Shrestha. Nepal Rises turned into a rapid response team with all the contacts that they had since accumulated and has been working to coordinate and dispense volunteers and supplies to far-off areas with urgent needs through their active social media pages along with a dedicated website. As life is slowly heading towards normalcy, the numbers of volunteers is expectedly diminishing but the team is still working on resource distribution and are glad that the process is slowly becoming proactive. “I just hope Nepalis don’t forget how we all came together during the disaster afterwards,” says Shrestha.
Contact Nepal Rises: www.NepalRises.com
Unlike other groups we talked to, on their second disaster relief effort, first being during the Sindhupalchok landslide, Fill the Bucket team has been working hand-in-hand with the Nepal Government. “We are trying to become the bridge between the government and the people,” says Avash Nirola of the team, who feels that the government is reaching out to the public and supporting other initiatives in a bid to expand the aid reach. Along with that, they are teaming up with Nepalgunj Medical College to provide complete package of food, medicine and shelter to heavily affected areas. The team themselves are receiving support from Nepalis within the country and outside and are trying to provide a more organised three phase process: Relief, re-establish and restructure. “The biggest positive is the very fact that people have become forth coming and trying to help out regardless of the situation,” adds Nirola with an optimistic note.
Contact Fill the Bucket: facebook.com/FillTheBucketNepal
For the ones left behind
Ayusha Shrestha doesn’t have a big team behind her, it’s mostly just her friends, but while others are busy helping the largely apparent areas, they are helping the ones that have been forgotten. In collaboration with Sagarmatha Orphange, her team is looking after the reliefs and rehabilitation efforts for almost 150 orphanages within the Kathmandu Valley, including shelter, food and repairs. “In all the frantic rush, people seemed to have had forgotten about the orphanages. Children are more vulnerable, so we primarily directed relief efforts towards them,” says Shrestha. She also adds that their biggest criteria for relief work, apart from orphanages, is the genuineness of the affected area in need of help. “We use local firsthand information to ensure our efforts reach genuinely needy areas.” On the second phase, the team plans to direct efforts in relocation and repairing settlements. “The biggest positive till date is that people are personally reaching out to help and, personally, I’m also moving away from the blame game and focusing on working for the society together,” says Shrestha.
Contact Ayusha: 9841444643
Food, roof and cotton
Bina Ghale, and her group of five friends, started out by providing food supplies to people huddled up with her family at the Lainchor Banquet. After three days of this, they directed their efforts towards providing tents before being clogged by high demand and low supply. The group then decided to manufacture their own tents with flex sheets under the name of Ghale’s own fashion label as Gabi FRC, standing for Food, Roof and Cotton, the basic requirements gaas, baas, kapaas. The group, along with willing volunteers, have produced and sold more than 1,000 tents to volunteer groups and donated hundreds from the earnings. In the third phase, driven by Ghale’s connection with clothing and their personal experience with the inadequacy of the second-hand clothes distribution, the group are planning to make and distribute fresh clothes to the needy. “With the affected areas largely in the rural parts and the donated garments being urban clothing, which at times aren’t in the greatest of conditions, the victims are put in a difficult predicament,” says Ghale, who plans on providing ethnic clothing.
Contact Gabi FRC: facebook.com/gabifrc
Where cars don’t go
There’s always some way that you can help. That’s what the group Bikers, Vehicles with Wheels Nepal Relief have proved. The group, consisting mostly of students who came together for their love of all things motorbikes, now stay on high-alert in case anyone requires urgent delivery of supplies in areas inaccessible to four-wheelers. The information flows mostly through Facebook and the available members mobilise on notice, be it from organisations or any person in need. They’ve successfully covered outskirts of the valley and have
even gone to areas as far as Sunkoshi in Sindhupalchowk. “The most fulfilling task so far has been when we rode all the way to Sipapokhari, Melamchi to deliver urgent medicines to a young girl,” says Subindra Manandhar of the group. The teams, which has more than 30 riders on standby, feel that the biggest joy from their work is being able to reach and help areas that have been cut off from large aid efforts and that they feel grateful that they can contribute to the relief efforts through their own passion.
Contact: Bikers, Vehicles with Wheels Nepal Relief (Facebook group)
Published: 08-05-2015 12:07