The Extraordinary Journey of Relief

Immediate Earthquake Relief for Rural Nepal comprises of friends who might have started off independently but ended up together in Nepal Earthquake Relief work. Till date, they’ve covered nine districts and reached 44 villages distributing tents and food supplies. We share their story.

“We do not need to institutionalize to get stuff done. I had worked in development sectors in the past and have been frustrated with the kind of work that we don’t get done. For the first time, I was a part of action oriented group that actually took up responsibilities and left no stones unturned in working efficiently. We are cautious but prepared. As a result, we are a part of an amazing journey.” – Nischal Neupane

The beginning

“We were all working independently. I was in Gorkha. Rakesh was in Sankhu. We all worked parallely before. Then we thought, why not work together?” – Sudeep Ghimire

Immediate Earthquake Relief for Rural Nepal is a group of friends (and acquaintances turned friends) who gathered to assist. These motivated individuals are from diverse background but together they have already assisted people with relief materials worth around $23,000.


“We were out of the house three days after the earthquake. I think it was pure emotion initially. We could either have stayed quiet or we could have worked. There is an emotional drive after you see people in need. You cannot not do something.” – Rakesh Shahi

“ What else could we do except help as much as we can.” – Nischal Neupane

“I was in Gorkha when we had the first earthquake. I was stressed out and frustrated to say the least. It was difficult to see the politics making rescue work difficult. I wasn’t prepared for that kind of catastrophe. It was unbearable, personally. So I had to do something. I could see villagers making a young child with a broken leg walk for hours for treatment. I knew I had to do something.” – Sudeep Ghimire

Resources and allocation

“The first place that we went to was through our personal contact. Abhishek, one of our members, talked about his village that was devastated by the earthquake. So we decided to go to that village in Nuwakot. We thought it would be most feasible to work when we have a local contact. From then on, we started getting calls from local people. They knew we were doing good work so they called and invited us to their villages. We started establishing personal contacts and then started making lists of all that was needed in a particular area. We then looked for resources. We used personal contacts and got materials from all around Nepal.” – Sushant Shrestha

“Most of our funds came from friends abroad. After the earthquake, they were forming similar groups there as we were forming here. They started collecting money. But they wanted people they could trust. We have had friends give us money because they knew we’d take it directly to the ground level. They knew we’d use the money well.” – Nischal Neupane

Approaching a geographical area

“We talked to the locals directly and went to a geographical area. In Chautara, we tried to go for assessment before we went with relief aid. But this meant losing time and resources. So what we did was we started cross checking with the Army, government organizations and other organizations. We coordinated to ensure that the place needed what the locals claimed it did. It is natural for local people to assume their villages is in need but it fell upon us to make sure there weren’t other places that needed it more.” – Nischal Neupane

“We tried our best to reach the most desperate places in Nepal. We knew Bhaktapur was being looked after by many groups and organizations. So we mainly focused outside valley. We tried to reach backward community who needed us the most.” – Rakesh Shahi


“We coordinated with the local people obviously. Besides that, we had assistance from army personnel and members from Police. In Thulo Dhading, one of the places that had not received relief aid almost two weeks after the earthquake, we needed security to take the materials so we wouldn’t be attacked by desperate earthquake survivors. We had our own security in question. But besides some places, where political parties hindered our approach, most places had good coordination. At times, we worked with other groups that were providing relief, exchanging materials and information. We mostly coordinated to make resources available to each other. We provided tents to groups that needed it for their rescue work.” – Sushant Shrestha

Learning opportunities: About the country

“I had mixed emotions when I entered Thulo Dhading. I was happy that the people were overwhelmed to receive what little we could give them. But exasperated that the little could make them so happy, that they were so desperate. I remember getting extremely emotional.” – Nischal Neupane

“I still have the images of broken homes and buildings. I remember the roads in places like Chautara and Nagarkot with buildings falling apart on either side of the road.” – Rakesh Shahi

“I realized that there is no government presence anywhere we went. People need to be aware themselves and they need to prepare for the worst. People have to rely on each other in a community and not on the government that is not there.” – Sushant Shrestha

“It is amazing to see how resilient people are. There were places where people were desperate but in most areas, people were ready to bounce back. It is so good to see Nepali people retaining their sense of humor despite the catastrophe. They still have their agricultural fields. They have source of income. Now all they need is to build a house in village and they are ready. Government on the other hand was not prepared for this to happen. The District Development Committee and Village Development Committee in Nepal are exclusively used for paperwork. They do not know about disaster response” – Nischal Neupane

“I think remittance helped a lot in villages. The migrant workers abroad can still send money and they have a good chance of getting back to normal lives because of the money they get from abroad.” – Sushant Shrestha

… and about yourself

“I realized that I was not indifferent towards things. Also, I was extremely action-oriented. I always concentrate on the future. What do we do next? I believe in taking the next step and concentrating in the future. As a team I think, it was good to see people take charge of their activities. Everyone picked up what they were best at and started working.” – Nischal Neupane

“I think we went from one moment of rescue to the other. It was extremely action oriented. It was really good to come together and work.” – Rakesh Shahi

“I realized what life is afterall. Death probably is the most important thing and everything is an illusion. All we did was work to reach people in need. We did not even have time to feel satisfied with our work. Somehow feeling satisfied felt selfish.” – Sushant Shrestha

Suggestions for the future

“We relied on local information too much. Sometimes locals can be misleading as well. Our experience in Dhading taught us this lesson. It is not wrong of them to want to secure for future. These are uncertain times. But we need to be more careful to provide the resources to those in dire need.” – Nischal Neupane

“Passion is important. But passion also brings fear. I think we need to work as neutrally as possible. For the first time in my life, I understood the meaning of action-oriented instead of result-oriented work. We did not know how to cope with this catastrophe but we evolved and we reached out to people.” – Sushant Shrestha

“Our activities keep on increasing. We started with materials but naturally moved on to talking about sanitation. We took responsibilities as they came to us.” – Nischal Neupane


Welcome Immediate Earthquake Relief for Rural Nepal

@savyata, Welcome to Edgeryders! Thank you for sharing your story. We are proud of what you have done so far. I am sure we’d have many who could use your help and experience! :slight_smile:


@anubhutipoudyal and @savyata, it’s a very interesting story. I was here when the earthquake happened and it took me two days to regain a sense of reality and start working a little bit on fundraising and volunteering. And after all the work I have joined and saw, I am wondering, how did you cross check with other channels? How did you communicate with them? That seems like a very tricky but essential procedure indeed.

And one more thing, what kind of materials did you bring to the villages? What was necessary, and what - probably more interestingly now - will be more essential in the upcoming future? Do you think these small, self-organised group can provide a long-lasting support, or now it is really time to hand it over to the government?

Thank you for the story:)

Sharing what you learned – that was so helpful!

Thank you Nischal, Rakesh and Sushant for taking a break from your work to sit down with @anubhutipoudyal and reflect on your work and experiences.

I found it very interesting where you guys talk about your mental approach to the work (“action-oriented, not result-oriented” etc.). That seems like a good answer to this problem that I have (and I guess, more or less everyone else after the earthquakes here in Nepal): seeing so much damage, needs and work that one does not know where to even start … . So you guys just started and did “at least something meaningful”, and expect that if everyone does the same it will help everyone … did I understand that right?


After a couple of relief ops when we realized that local information wasn’t sufficient to make informed decisions (for obvious reasons), we started talking to the village development committee, other relief groups that had frequented the area with insufficient materials, and in some cases the security forces. We communicated mostly through phones- numbers weren’t too hard to come by. There were a couple times when we met up with people directly in Kathmandu as well. There were also times when other organizations informed us about the situation in some localities. In time, we realized that we liked outside information better than local information. Local information was at times skewed because ( I am going to sound very crass here) we felt that a lot of villages and communities(sadly) had this sense of entitlement for relief materials, even when we could see that they were relatively more resilient/more elastic communities than others. But then again, you except that during days filled with uncertainty like these…

When we started out, we tried to be more comprehensive with our relief materials. We started out with tarpaulin sheets, food for a family for a week ( beaten rice, rice), mosquito nets, basic medication, mattresses etc. But as days ticked by, we started realizing that the need for temporary shelters in affected areas was the most compelling/immediate one. After that, we focused a lot of our energy in setting up a supply mechanism for tarpaulin sheets ( which were in short supply at that time) and getting them to places where they were needed the most. That didn’t mean that we completely gave up on other relief materials. When some communities we reached to asked for food or other materials, we tried our best to get them for them. For example, a community in SIndhupalchowk told us how they were having problems charging their cell phones due to the lack of electricity and there was no communication with the outer world, we found solar mobile charging stations and got them there.

From what we have seen and heard, affected people are still looking for temporary shelter materials. In the face of the impending monsoon torrents, I think that is the thing people should prioritize for. ( I think that is happening though).

For the longer term, shelter (of course) is necessary. The villages that we have been to have lost their structures but their source of livelihood is still there ( where there haven’t been landslides)- the fields are OK, and are full of crops. There have been a lot of groups that have come forward to help, but I am worried about  HOW this help is going to be given. I think we should help without undermining the elasticity of the amazing people who live in places so far away from our comfortable urban centers. We need to help them for sure, but the help should be supplementary, mostly in form of knowledge about disaster proof, resilient building technologies, greener alternatives, better sanitation measures and of course, some ( some, is important) financial backing. We do need to get our schools and hospitals upright, I think we need to start with these.

I would love to tell you that it is time to hand it to the government, but I don’t think our government is ready. I do think that small, self organized groups can provide a pivotal role in providing long lasting effort if they work with the government. Our government needs support from groups like us, it wasn’t ready for this.

Hope that was helpful!


Welcoming Nischal

@savyata, that was helpful for sure smiley I like this, mmh how to say that, admiration you  have for the self-sufficiency and resilience of the villages. Good attitude for helping where they need it!

I also want to welcome @nischneupane from the “Immediate Earthquake Relief for Rural Nepal” project here on Edgeryders – I just activated your user account, and sorry for the delay. (The delay was because we have admin approval for users in place at the moment to protect the site against automatically created spam accounts … we’ll switch to usable captchas today though.)

Replying to Matthias and a disclaimer

Matthias, Natalia and everyone,

Thanks for the welcome note.

Just wanted to clarify that the ‘I’ voice that opined in the reply above came from me (Nischal), and doesn’t speak for the whole group. I was using Savyata’s account to answer to Natalia.

To answer Matthias’ question: So you guys just started and did “at least something meaningful”, and expected that if everyone does the same it will help everyone…did I understand that right? 

Personally, I didn’t even think about “everyone”, I had no time to. Again, I can’t speak for the whole group, but for me, it just seemed a natural response after the quake. I think as a group, we got out there to do what we could, as much as we could, as fast as we could. Thinking didn’t happen at all (it could be a good and a bad thing)

Big shout out Anubhuti for making us sit down to reflect, it was good to do that.