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Paying it forward, means helping others in a significant way. I ended the last blog with: “Just remind your students that AAA is on th Way”. As some of you know, however, the 12th Grade Board Exams have been postponed until June 6, so these students are still locked into study-mode. Many other college students had to return to their home villages to support their families. So, that has left a skeleton crew of AAA (college and university students) available to do relief work in KTM. These few students have donated blood, cooked and served food, built a latrine and a kitchen, and now have come together to help Sudip, an ANSWER student whose home has been condemned. Sudip and his family, like thousands of others are still living under a tent.
Throughout this past week and over the weekend, 19 of our AAA members finished up building a temporary shelter for Sudeep’s family to get them through the impending monsoon season. It took them a week, working together, cutting down trees, bamboo, gathering mud and dung, and roofing it with corrugated aluminum. Bal and Sanoj was there the whole time, too, contributing and documenting the beginnings of AAA’s House Building Program. Before launching into earthbag home construction, another team of AAA members will be starting to build another shelter tomorrow for one of our students. If any of have any doubts about the fortitude of our young people’s convictions to stay in Nepal to become leaders and serve their countrymen, take a look at these photos of AAA at work.
Yet another aftershock last Friday night, only 5.5, but by all accounts it must have been right under KTM as there was more damage and everyone is shaking in their boots, or rather, bare feet as they once again ran FROM COVER. More and more cracks are showing up in buildings, so a mounting toll of damage is being inflicted even if they don’t tumble. I think of my daughter’s condo in Seattle and how that brick structure, built in early 20th century, has been retrofitted with a massive I-beam running across the ceiling. I have never seen any construction steel other than rebar in Nepali construction. This is a lead-in to what ANSWER-Nepal and AAA (our ANSWER Alum Association of college students and grads) are considering as their next move:
AAA is signing up members for a training program in earth-house construction. In addition, they will be learning how to slap together a Quonset hut as a preliminary fix which takes about two hours to construct and costs about $100. The open ends of the Quonset, left open for ventilation during the sweltering hot and monsoon season, can be draped with mosquito mesh. The aluminum siding is reusable as roofing for the earth house! Projected cost is $100 plus for the Quonset and $400-$500 for the earth house. Both are highly earthquake resistant.
The earth house takes two days to construct and consist of stacked rice bags stuffed with dirt, covered inside and out with stucco (examples below). After communicating with an earth house specialist in Thailand, Bal and Sanoj found other people at sites near KTM who are building earth houses with whom we are consulting and assisting in the construction, hands-on.
Our Earthquake relief fund is over $60,000 now–what we thought we might need initially. We are blown away by your response! However, the need is ever growing with each passing quake. We may need to reach $100,000 to adequately address the housing problems, from re-stabilizing their homes or getting roofs back over their heads. So Please Help Us Help Them. We can now say, “If every sponsor can donate something….; if everyone asks their church for a donation or ask for a share- the- plate offering be donated to our Earthquake Relief Fund, then our 300 children will be able to resume their studies with even greater intensity.”
My father would say to me: “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Mary Jane reminds me: “Good intentions make for poor technique.” Please be careful of your good intentions. Our families need homes, not tents, and I think you will agree, to be mindful and careful of what is really needed. DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY by sending or wiring funds or equipment directly to your children in Nepal. SIMPLY DIRECT THEM TO ANSWER-Nepal for help. We will not just help them effectively, but demonstrate what real help is. Here is yet another example why not:
One girl recently told her sponsor that her family needs a tent because their tarp leaked. This girl is 20 years old, and her only experience with tents is feasting under Wedding Canopies which are open on all four sides. She has never lived in an umbrella or a refugee tent, especially in the sweltering heat of the hot season and the impending monsoon season. What’s more, she has no idea that the cost she will have to pay on duty (import tax) is more than the family can provide, much moreTheir lives are dreadful beyond doubt, but what she needs is a 5-cent patch, or another tarp which are handed out free by relief agencies until we can help them. We can build them a much better structure for a fraction of the cost of mailing a tent! Just remind your students that AAA is on the WAY!