My original hope for this trip was to continue with the shelter project but with the blockade by India, materials and fuel are too expensive. We’ve been talking about helping villagers gain access to low interest building loans but everything is at a standstill until the government stabilizes and decides how to administer aid. Instead I raised money (thank you!) for the two new libraries being set up in Ghusel by other CASD Ambassadors and carried books that had been donated to me for this cause.
But surprise! I’ve heard that the government has not allocated a single dollar of the $4.1 Trillion given by the international community for earthquake relief, but somehow for some reason someone from the government delivered a couple hundred books to the new libraries the week before I got there. This was great but unexpected news. My first day in Ghusel I helped Marjorie sort through the suitcases of donated books that she brought from Australia and then brainstormed about what to do with the money that had been donated for a project that was already provided for.
When the rest of my USA team was in Ghusel in November they were able to help distribute fleece jackets that had been donated by supporters in New Zealand. We had heard that children were freezing in Dolhaka, a district to the east, and had just recently heard that a 4 year old in Lalitpur District, this district, had died of hypothermia. Rick and Marjorie had some funds left as well and we decided to pool all our funds to buy jackets for another entire school of 600 kids. We worked with Prakash, director of CASD-Nepal and Senior Program Manager for Solve-Nepal, to identify a village in Lalitpur with 600 or less children. We selected Bhardeu, lower secondary school.
So my very last day in Nepal I got to travel to a new part of the valley, where beautiful but condemned houses clustered on hilltops reminding me of France. It didn’t feel as poor here, but I learned that even though there are still houses standing none of them are habitable, and to make their situation worse it will cost these families $1,000 just to demolish their homes before they can even start rebuilding new ones.
When we pulled up to the school there were two lines of the oldest kids, each with a bouquet or fragrant marigolds to hand us as we walked in. There were SO many smiles!
Between this distribution and a second that occurred after I left (thanks to CASD-Nepal and CASD-Australia Marjorie and Rick!), with your donations we gave 533 kids a warm double-thick fleece. Some of the kids didn’t look like they needed them, while others were nearly dressed in rags and didn’t even know how to use a zipper. Looks can be deceiving, but I feel very good about what we were able to do. When we were climbing in the car to leave (after someone magically showed up with the ever-present milk tea), amongst many thank you’s, the Principal of the school said “Thank you. We did not expect to get any help. Thank you.”
(Some of these photos from CASD-Australia at: