Why I’m Going Back to Nepal
Author: Tim Clarke, Sales Cloud Product Marketing at Salesforce
On Saturday, April 25, 2015 a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Nepal. It lasted approximately 20 seconds, but caused catastrophic damage all across the country, reaching bordering countries including India, China, and Bangladesh.
At the time the earthquake struck, I was hiking up to Everest Base Camp, and felt the full-force of its power. My goal of hiking upwards to this iconic camp had quickly turned to a focus on getting down the mountain as safely as possible.
I got back to the UK on Saturday 2nd May. The experience was very challenging (I was very lucky really) and it will certainly have a lasting impact. The reason I was in Nepal was to fundraise and raise awareness of bereavement and the impact of grief on lives, with many generous people helping to raise a great amount for Grief Encounter and The Stroke Association.
Why Am I Going Back?
I still feel incredibly lucky to be alive although also very guilty that I managed to escape when so many lost their lives. I’ve continued to track the impact of the earthquake (and many aftershocks) on Nepal and it’s clear that so much support is needed still.
As if the devastating earthquakes in Nepal weren’t enough, heavy monsoon rains are heaping further misery upon the survivors. Millions of people, already homeless, hungry and grieving the loss of their loved ones, are living under temporary shelters with little protection from the seasonal rains and cold.
In Nepal, more than eight million people have been affected by the earthquakes, with over 365,000 homes either destroyed or badly damaged. Most people have also lost their businesses, jobs and ability to earn money, making it extremely difficult to support themselves and their families. Rural communities are difficult to reach in Nepal at the best of the times. Extra hazards such as the increase in heavy trucks on poor roads, potential landslides and damaged infrastructure make getting aid to those in need in isolated areas even more difficult. With 80% of people in Nepal living in rural areas, it will take time to provide people with permanent shelter and the help they need to recover in the months and years to come.
Over 10,000 people have died, leaving many thousands mourning the loss of family, friends and neighbours. Counseling is also an important part of helping people recover from disaster. Enabling those who have lost loved ones and witnessed terrible scenes of destruction to share their experiences is an important first step in helping them to grieve, move on and pick up the pieces.
I’ve decided to go back in July to Nepal to offer aid support, working with other Salesforce and Google employees and Effect International.
Who is Effect?
Effect.org coordinated one of the largest local aid volunteer groups in Nepal with over 125 volunteers conducting 75 missions each day delivering life saving supplies to the hardest hit areas of Nepal. They arrived in Kathmandu to an atmosphere of helplessness they found shocking and disturbing. Having located their friends and colleagues within hours, the team quickly mobilized its film equipment with drones to document the disaster.
They quickly teamed up with Nepal Rises a group of local entrepreneurs organizing relief efforts for those most affected. One of the keys of the joint effort’s success has been the leveraging of technology to scale operations. Within 8 hours of the earthquake, the group had built www.nepalrises.com and designed a bot (an automated internet software application) to do the heavy work of scanning social media, with software engineers working full time to continue to understand the crisis and provide life saving materials to those most in need. For many villagers, they are the first response aid group to arrive. These are areas that larger international aid organizations have so far been unable to penetrate.
What Will We Be Doing?
The team’s primary project is to leverage each individual’s technical skills during a 54-hour Startup Weekend-like hackathon, to come together, share ideas, form teams, build and or design products and launch your idea. Each team will present their idea, product or design at the end to a panel of local professionals. The theme of the hackathon is, “How Great Technology Can Help Rebuild Nepal.”
The three days leading up to the hackathon, team members will be able to understand the scope of the problem and the affected people’s needs through interactive involvement with nonprofits, local leaders and lawmakers. Each member will learn hands on about Nepal’s earthquake and how it affected Nepal. We will be diving into what solutions worked for Nepal and what didn’t.
This group will be “adopting” one village in the most affected earthquake area. Team members will get the opportunity to work with locals by helping construct temporary structures for families and school classrooms. Additionally we’ll be working on rain catch water systems for the community to provide clean water.
Live Life. Give Back. Change Lives.
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