As with when every single one of the number of major upheavals that have shook my country in my life time — starting with the first one in 1989 (the first Indian economic embargo) — when the last one (the 2015 earthquakes) occurred, I was again abroad!
This time, I was in the US, in Alexandria, Virginia, to be precise. I had been gone from Nepal for less than a month on a longish three-month visit to the country. As per my original plans, I was going to traverse the width of the country including a visit to the island of Hawaii, attend my 20th reunion at Grinnell College, and visit and catch up with old, long-lost friends. I had arrived in Alexandria after having spent some time in New York City and Vermont.
I discovered the calamity had struck the early morning of April 25, late evening of the same day in Kathmandu.
The calamity destroyed pretty much all homes and schools in Thangpalkot, Sindupalchok, COMMITTED’s project site.
Naturally, COMMITTED put its projects and programs on hold and responded to the need of the time engaging in emergency relief. While COMMITTED’s team members in Nepal carried out the relief work, I got myself busy attempting to raise awareness about the calamity and to raise funds for the relief work and reconstruction.
To that end, I spoke at schools and to community members in different parts of the country as I continued my travels.
I also reached out to — and met — with individuals and members of regional Nepali Association around the country, in an effort to solicit their support for COMMITTED’s efforts. Some paid off while others didn’t at all. (A Whirlwind Tour contains details of the talks and presentations I made as well as the places I visited during my travels in the US which ended up lasting 13 months!)
One of those that paid off was the visit with the members of Nepal Rising Colorado in Denver, Colorado.
They contributed to the reconstruction of Taltuleshwori Basic School.
As for the support from Avaaz, I have to thank Bhupal Adhikari, the cousin of a very good and close friend of mine from my St. Xavier’s days.
Thanks to Adhikari’s referral and endorsement of COMMITTED’s work, Avaaz provided funds for emergency relief (USD30K) as well as for reconstruction of Taltuleshwori Basic School (USD50K).
We at COMMITTED and the students and community of Thangpalkot owe a great deal of gratitude to Nepal Rising Colorado for their contributions, and Adhikari and Avaaz for Avaaz’s generous contributions.
At the time, Avaaz were preparing to run a campaign to encourage Qatar to improve the working conditions of migrant workers involved in 2022 World Cup related construction. As someone who had also suffered in Qatar in the hands of ordinary Qataris (and other Arabs) — students at Qatar Academy and their parents — and as someone familiar with the plight of those entangled in the Qatari legal system, I was supposed to have helped them with that but nothing came of it. I did prepare a write-up, Bound to Kafala, as per their request, which I ended up publishing as a blog post. (If you follow the link to the blog post and read it, you’ll now understand what the note appearing at the bottom is all about!)
(As for Run To Stop Child Trafficking, click here for all the details.)
Another person I paid a visit to, also in Colorado was the Senior Program Manager at Western Union Foundation.
COMMITTED has a longstanding relationship with the company; they have supported us in the past. My visit was more to make a personal connection and to reaffirm COMMITTED’s wish to continue working with them. Their contribution was used towards the reconstruction of Raithane School. We at COMMITTED on behalf of the people of Thangpalkot thank Western Union Foundation for their generous contribution.
Apart from these, we received support from a number of other institutions and individuals I had the pleasure of visiting and meeting during my travels and stay in the country.
Among them are the community members, students and parents of Irvington School in Irvington, New York, where my good buddy Michael Hanna lives. As a matter of fact, it was Michael who made my visit to the area as well as all the presentations to the students at the schools possible. He introduced me to the executives of the school district and other community members! I owe a great deal of gratitude to my buddy and his family; none of that would have been possible without them.
Early March 2015, my Swiss friend Michael and his friend and business partner Elias returned to Nepal for another visit.
Following my first meeting with Michael, at a bar in Thamel, in the fall of 2013, Michael and Elias had been supporting students at Raithane Secondary School. The Spring of 2014 they had returned to meet with the students and teachers. The Spring of 2015, they had come again to donate some football jerseys, and to assess where to put the funds they had raised the past year through their business, Nemira.
After consultation with a teacher from Chilaune Secondary School, we all decided that the funds should support the construction of a small multi-purpose court. Not long after the visitors had left Nepal, COMMITTED had started work on the court. Unfortunately, most of the funds, work, time and effort that went into the project was lost when the April 2015 earthquake struck. (Click here for an embedded video of the damaged court.)
COMMITTED combined what remained of the funds Michael and Elias had given us with other funds and assisted the school with reconstruction.
What do you think?