by Earle Canfield, ANSWER Executive Director
Nearly a year ago, on April 25, 2015, a devastating earthquake, 3X more powerful than the one that hit Haiti five years before, wreaked havoc and mayhem on the landlocked country of Nepal. A second earthquake followed a month later and aftershocks are still being felt even today, eliciting ripples of fear and panic. Approximately one third of its population was directly affected, including Kathmandu, the capital city. UNESCO Heritage Sites and Monuments were destroyed, and 800,000 victims found themselves homeless. The death count reached 9,000 lives with many times more injured.
The ANSWER office was more fortunate, and its students scattered across 55 of the 75 districts in Nepal all survived….although one mother and other relatives of our students were casualties. About one third of our students’ homes were damaged, but the majority are reparable. Initial telephone accounts of damage have turned out to be reparable in many cases, and most of our students are back in their cracked. Still, some homes have been condemned, destroyed or are awaiting demolition, These students are living with relatives or in shacks of thin, corrugated aluminum, nailed or wired to bamboo struts.
Response from the generous hearts of ANSWER sponsors has been amazing, and we have amassed just over $100,000 to rebuild these homes. These funds have empowered our AAA members (our ANSWER Alumni Assoc) to spend the next few years rebuilding the homes of their peers. Immediately after the quake, AAA, on their own, began building temporary shelters for two of our families of mud and wattle construction with “tin” roofs. Soon thereafter, ANSWER and AAA decided to build solid, earthquake-resistant homes as the Relief Funds amassed.
In the spirit of sharing their efforts, as well as to be widely transparent, we want to give you a general accounting, as well as documentation (photos), at this one year dateline.
$31,020 spent to date
Scheduled in the next few months: Projected cost
5. Deepa’s House Bhaktapur Plaster&Painting (only): Apr $3,000
6. Meenu’s House Changunarayan Repair & Retro fit: May-June $8,000
7. Gita’s House Naubise Brick?: May-July $12,000
8. Samjhana’s House Naubise Brick?: June-August $12,000
Looking ahead, it is clear that recovery will take all of 5 years or more, not 2 or 3. We have many more families who are in dire need. We are addressing the poorest whom we can most easily access first. As we grow our skills and logistics, we are only now beginning to reach beyond the Kathmandu Valley. We cannot help many families until property rights involving co-ownership between brothers are ironed out. Other families, like Deepa’s (#5 above) were able to resolve family issues expeditiously and were able to start without us on their limited settlements until they ran out of money and credit. Ram Chandra’s family (#4 above) is destitute. His father is a deaf-mute who does odd jobs, and even before the quake they lived in a tin shanty at times. In such cases, we feel we must contract out part, or most, of the work, but AAA will be there to contribute and stretch our dollars as far as they can. When one considers that the Indian blockade has severely impacted reconstruction (nearly doubling our costs), the government has been foot-dragging, and our students can only help us on long breaks and occasional Saturdays, we have made great strides. We owe a great deal of success to the efforts to our staff, esp, Bal and Sanoj, as well as to many of our AAA members. If you have a student in college or the university, chances are they have been on the scene building houses, if not year 1, then year 2. As their skills increase, they are doing more and more. Be sure to ask them about their participation, and to thank them for Paying It Forward. We hope this brief accounting provides some assurance that your funds are being spent effectively. Of course, a full accounting is being maintained with receipts and invoices in Nepal and double-checked by us in the US. We thank you all for you donations.
$35,000 by summer’s end