Last year I had the privilege of visiting Nepal to meet with a local Architect, Rabindra Puri Ji and discuss his work and plans for the future of heritage buildings in Nepal and the education of traditional skills and craftsmanship. A mere five months after that meeting and Nepal was dramatically shaken last Saturday by the worst earthquake in over 80 years. A 7.8 magnitude quake killing more than 4,500 people and injuring over 8,000 and those numbers are still rising with aftershocks.
Nepal is a beautiful region of mountainous terrain, villages and communities living nestled between the famous Himalayas. My visit was short but it gave me a good insight into the architecture and community of Nepal and its people; friendly and always smiling, chatting to you to find out where you were from and so pleased to share their culture with you. I visited villages and buildings carefully being restored by the Architect, Rabindra Puri Ji, who's work has received UNESCO awards, and learned of his work with local universities training the next generation of architects and craftsmen. The thought of these sites now, the people I met and the work I saw being so carefully restored is just heartbreaking.
The earthquake has devastated the region and left tens of thousands without shelter in heavy downpours and many of these locations will not be reached for days. Rescue and recovery efforts are still underway in Nepal, India, China and Bangladesh, as many people are missing. There is a serious lack of food and water, emergency supplies and money. It might feel that Nepal is just too far away for us to do any real good or that this event is too surreal to get involved with but that way of thinking prevents us from making a difference and helping in anyway we can.
Here are 5 ways to help Nepal:
1/ Donate, if you can Though this can feel impersonal, Nepal needs help and the best way to do this is by donating as much as you can. Charitable organisations are now working together to help provide the best support.
Make sure to fully research who you are donating to and know where, and how, your money will help. The best donations are well informed so do not rush into anything. Be wary of emails and cold calls asking for relief donations. Never give out your credit card or bank details.
- AmeriCares is an emergency response and global health organisation
- CARE Internationalfights poverty around the world - partnering with charities to help 75,000 people in the quake affected area
- Direct Relief provides emergency medical care after disasters - concentrating on those immediately surround Kathmandu, where injuries are highest and medical centres are overrun
- Doctors Without Borders specialises in emergency medical response to natural disasters around the globe
- Oxfam International is a poverty-fighting organisation with a long history, providing clean water and hygiene supplies to displaced families in Nepal
- Save the Children is an international NGO devoted to children’s rights and welfare around the globe - accepting donations to help the youngest victims of the quake
- Shikshya Foundation Nepal is primarily an education-focused organisation, but they are turning their efforts toward humanitarian relief in the aftermath of the quake
- International Medical Corp provides communities impacted by disaster with life-saving health care and emergency services, in addition to providing training for ongoing medical care after the disaster relief organisations have left the scene
- UNICEF works for the welfare of children around the world and has said nearly 1 million children will be impacted directly by the effects of this disaster
2/ Don't send supplies Sending a box of supplies might feel a little more direct than donating money however this is rarely practical or efficient. Most impacted communities, especially in developing countries, lack the infrastructure to properly receive your box and these would rarely be efficiently distribute to survivors. Instead, many established charities partner with companies (meaning they get discounted prices) for hygiene products, clothing, bottled water etc. So instead of spending your money on items to send in a box, you could research and donate to a charity who could spend that money on many more supplies in bulk to help victims.
3/ Follow your donations effect Disaster relief efforts take time and assessing as situation to help allocate the right funding, aid and workers can be a huge task. Follow up on development with the charity you donated to on their web site and social media every few weeks to see how donations are being put to use.
4/ Get involved on social media Most of us have smartphones and are on some form of social media which can potentially reach out to hundreds, even thousands of people. Make use of this to help spread the word of how others can contribute and get involved in constructive conversation. Use the hashtag #nepalearthquake to keep the conversation going.
5/ Look out for local projects in the future All too often we forget about, or dilute, the terrible events when the next big story hits the news. Keep up with local news and stay in touch with people you have reached out and connected with on social media. This way your impact can be stronger and together we can make a difference. Look out for projects over the next few months and beyond that you, or someone you know, could get involved with - and spread that word.