Alpenclimb is dedicated to raise awareness and support for the victims that have suffered from the earthquake in Nepal this past weekend. We are writing here to support a nation that many travelers, mountaineers and outdoor adventurers have benefited from exploring. Our hopes are with those left devastated in Nepal, the rescue teams searching for those buried and for the climbers stranded on Everest. Below, we have collected stories from people close to the Nepali communities who are able to speak about this tragedy from a direct perspective.
Mukesh Ghimire is 21 yrs old, born in Kathmandu, now goes to school at Tufts University in Boston while his family remains back in Nepal.
What was your reaction when you heard news of the earthquake?
Mukesh Ghimire: I was very rattled. I hadn’t heard back from my mother, brother or other relatives. I was scrambling to message them on Facebook but there was no Internet there.
Fortunately my dad, who was not in Nepal, was able to communicate with them through phone but they had to stay outside and it began raining heavily.
How is your family doing right now?
MG: They were told to stay outside until sometime today. They may be back home unless there were any other updates. They are safe, that’s the most important thing.
What is going on with the government of Nepal?
MG: The Nepali government has been disappointing in the last few years because there has been a lot of under the table corruption…We were supposed to have a constitution written and finalized…but there’s nothing left of the money that was supposed to go into building the constitution. Because of this track record we’re not trusting them with the resource management for the earthquake.
Tragedies like this can happen anywhere. These are natural disasters, they’re not man caused. It’s times like this we need to stand together as a global society and we need to help each other.
How we can help
We spoke to Nepali American Anupa Gewali, who works with GlobeMed in Chicago and Students Stand with Nepal, to find out how students around the US are responding to this incident by fundraising through the Global Giving Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund.
Tell us about Students Stand with Nepal
Anupa Gewali: We wanted to help coordinate students’ efforts, regardless of their school affiliation, to raise money and collect stories from people.
Tufts and CU-Boulder have been the first two schools to say ‘we really want to step up’… this creates a national momentum. What we are trying to do is spread resources, connect people across the country…create a ripple effect so people continue to hear about this and it doesn’t go away.
As of yesterday, the US government has offered $10 million (before they only offered $1 million)- the information for where [the money] will be going is currently vague. Google and Facebook have responded immediately with more money than the US gov. did right after the earthquake.
How do you think the earthquake is going to affect the community? How will Nepal respond?
AG: As of Tuesday morning, the death toll is 5057, over 11,000 injured, and over 500,000 people have been displaced.
People are not sure if they can get water… there’s a lot of fear involved.
Now we’re in a huge mess of good intentions and confusion…It happened on a Saturday morning, no one was at work [not even government officials]…people were not ready to respond…People who are responding to crisis are also worried about their own families.
Where is the money donated to the Global Giving Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund actually going?
AG: People have been saying ‘make sure you are giving money to the right place’…it’s a good sign in terms of the critical thinking of our network.
Global Giving’s partners are more often than not Nepali people- they understand the culture, speak the language…they are in it for the long haul.
The decision to go with Global Giving was due to its system, integrity and our confidence with the organization. These people will be working for the rest of their lives in Nepal to recover.
How do you feel the event and ongoing coverage has been represented in the news?
AG: Media is a really powerful way to inspire people to take action. That’s what we are aiming to do…almost prepare for the moment when the media stops covering the earthquake by collecting stories from our partners and taking donations.
We are transitioning this event into a message of empowerment. The Nepali people and community are coming together. I don’t want people pitying Nepal, I want it to be a message of solidarity.
Students taking charge
Mallory Feldman is a college student in Boston who studied abroad in Nepal this past fall. She is currently one of the students in charge of Tufts Stands With Nepal, one of the organizations working with the larger Students Stand with Nepal network.
Where does your story in Nepal start?
Mallory Feldman: I initially decided to travel to Nepal because of the Himalayas. I had always wanted to backpack there. Ultimately, I had research interests in the area with the Tibetan refugee community. I spent four months there, fell in love with the place and the people and I miss it like crazy; I miss it every single day.
How about the family you stayed with there?
MF: I stayed with three families while I was there. One of them in Kathmandu was my base host family. We were a mile from Boudhanath, which is the big stupa that cracked.
Luckily my families are safe. The Kathmandu family is all out camping right now in a field that I could see from my window. I haven’t been able to speak to them directly, all the communication lines are down. However, one of their host students has been able to get through to them, so I know they’re safe but it’s hard not being able to hear directly from them.
How is your experience in Nepal driving your plan to help?
MF: I met up with my friend Mel at a Nepalese restaurant. We were talking to the Nepalese restaurant staff, one said, “my family is safe, my home is destroyed but that’s okay because my family is safe.” They told us to calm down which was a little crazy. Their homes were destroyed and they were telling us to calm down. Mel and I sat down and decided to mobilize a Facebook group at Tufts to try to connect everyone who might have interest in doing something… It was amazing seeing how many people ended up reaching out to us.
Where do you see the money going?
MF: We’ve been really careful. It’s hard to know where the money is going and who the best person to give it to is… We’re also trying to give people many options of other ways to get involved so if people aren’t comfortable with our choice they can access other groups and alternatives. Global Giving is doing a really great job in terms of humanitarian aid and getting resources to different organizations involved.
How do you feel about how this event is being represented in the news?
MF: It’s hard to contextualize what’s going on based on the news.
I wish the news covered more of what infrastructure is lacking there that makes this an issue beyond just being an earthquake. There’s a lack of government organization, [Nepal] is writing their constitution right now, they’re forming government and who knows whether they have the political resources to handle this.
It’s so destructive and it’s so devastating. It breaks my heart every time I see a picture of a place I’ve been to crumbled… I have faith in the people there and their ability to mobilize. The sense of community from my perspective was really empowering to me so I have a lot of faith in the future. Maybe it’s a far and long future but I have a lot of faith.
For those looking to make a donation, we’ve included a link in our footer to connect to the Global Giving Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund.