This is Maiya. She is 90 years old and lives more than 10,000ft (3000m) high in the Himalaya. This week, she—and you—changed my life.
As you know, on April 25 of this year the earthquake in Nepal devastated Maiya’s village along with large swaths of the country, killing more than 8,800 people and injuring more than 23,000. The destruction is ubiquitous, overwhelming, and—from the ground, air, or afar—it is heartbreaking. Of all the districts in Nepal, Rasuwa was hit hardest. And it is among the last to receive any aid or assistance.
This week, with your help, we brought them shelter, water, and medical training.
In the aftermath of the Nepal earthquakes, relief efforts and fundraising have been swift and admirable. One challenge affecting the relief, however, is the ancient Nepalese caste system, a hierarchy in which those born to higher castes receive greater relief.
Maiya and her village and the three villages we visited this week are actually below the caste system. They are considered untouchable.
This means that even IF they somehow could make the trek from their villages high in the Himalaya down to the centralized relief centers, they would almost certainly be turned away. So with your help, from dronation.com, we went to them.
Late at night, after nine hours from Kathmandu, our trucks reached the end of the road: still more than 300 meters from the village of Shyo. We arrived, parked, and down a precarious (and seriously terrifying) singletrack we carried the construction supplies.
The homes we spent days building were simple, but durable. They are corrugated tin roofs that create a 1/2 dome and are secured with rebar. Basic, but far better than the tattered tarps and piecemeal shelter Maiya and the other families have been surviving in since the earthquake.
Your help has been invaluable. We built 22 shelters in this village and then trained the village on the water systems provided by Waves for Water. Thank you to Jon Rose, Trista and Damien Handisides from Waves for Water for providing the most valuable substance on earth—clean water.
Finally, first aid training. Helping a disaster-affected region is often as much education and preparation for the next disaster as it is relief for the current one.
After Shyo, we made our way to Suazon, where the needs were the same, but the access was slightly easier. Instead of the “EK Project” corrugated shelters, we were able to transport and build more permanent homes. With your help from dronation.com we built 15 of these, more water and medical training, and then made our way to Bhaktapur, where the initial drone footage which inspired so many people to lend a hand was originally captured. There we delivered 72 bundles (9 sheets at 12 foot lengths per bundle) of corrugated tin to the village, where a lot of bamboo structures were framed and ready for the roofs.
One of the most inspiring parts of this project has been the stark contrast between the heartbreaking devastation everywhere I turned and the outpouring of gratitude, songs, cheer, and love from the Nepali people YOU are helping. Hefting hundreds of pounds of tin and supplies in not just scary but also treacherous conditions is made light work by the inspiring joy of these people. Thank you so much for getting us there to help them.
Of the nearly $65,000 raised so far through dronation.com, we have used approximately $40,000, leaving us with $25,000 for Phase 3 but still raising funds. We’ll be doing a needs assessment in similar villages in the coming weeks to determine the best way to use our limited resources. For that and many other efforts, a special thanks to my partners on the ground, Bronwyn, Lama, Iswari, Paresh, Prem, Pooja, and Som.
Without their help, and yours, none of this would be possible.
One final thing which deeply affected me this week was during each part of this ordeal remembering that this is a group of people considered “Dalit,” or “untouchable.” And at each turn, the opportunity to not just bring them real relief from terrible destruction but to also show them love and hug them and sing with them is truly the most incredible reminder of the great people in this world.
Not only did we bring your love to a people who receive it from almost no one, we found that same love in each village we visited. It was truly inspiring to see how many of you have given resources large and small to dronation.com, and equally inspiring to see the love and joy and charity of the people you helped. I am utterly, utterly humbled to have gotten to see both.
Thank you, and Namaste,