I appreciate your specific questions to help guide me in introducing our group. I am (personally) named Lisa Bates, and I am in Provo, Utah in the United States. I am doing all of the internet search for resources that is necessary now in order to connect with any supplies that can be distributed as aid.
To tell the history of the humanitarian work done by Madhav Bhandari, would take more room than I have here to tell. He grew up as a poor orphan boy, and he swore he would never forget the orphans and other disadvantaged people. He has not. He has spent his life helping all sorts of people, from where he lives in Lalitpur, Nepal, just outside of Kathmandu, to the decision by him and his partners to devote 25% of the profits of their travel and tourism business to Madhav’s charity work, (You can read all about it on his website HERE)
Finally, last year, he was able to found Community Service of Nepal… the Board of Directors was mostly women by design, to empower women, and also two men. The nonprofit has been active in training underprivileged women employable skills.
The organization also took the Kopila Chidrens Center - a 30 child orphanage - under its protection. Here is a photo of Madhav delivering badly needed winter clothes to them a few months ago.
Madhav is the tall man in the back wearing a hat.
He is a respected community leader who spearheaded relief efforts among the Nepali people after the Jure Landslide Disaster earlier this year. In this photo, he is presiding at the front of the planning meeting while another man speaks… I have SO MANY photos of this man in action, it is difficult to know which ones will best tell his story.
AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE, first there was the TERROR of not knowing whether our friends in Nepal were dead or alive! After we located everyone we learned that Madhav was with the orphans, and that they were safe!! It was amazing to have everyone alive after so many people were lost!! The orphans are now housed in a strong building, and our donations are going toward their food, etc. as needed.
However, MANY THOUSANDS of people have not yet received aid in the widely scattered villages of Sindhulpachok where we are focusing our efforts now. There are around 6000 completely homeless people in only the three villages of Dhuskun, Piskar and Chokati right now, and there are around 100 of these extremely inaccessible villages in that district alone. The problem is MUCH BIGGER than the 6000 people we are focusing on, but we do have to start SOMEWHERE, when the entire country is like a War Zone!
Here is a photo of Dhuskun before the earthquake (the village in the foreground - It is much bigger than it looks, but a lot of it is hidden in the trees.) It is about 2 hours trek straight up the hillside (“mountainside” in any other country) from the main road, which is down at the bottom of the Sunkoshi River Valley. THE BLUE BUILDING is a community school that our founder helped build over 10 years ago.
Madhav Bhandari grew up in this area,so he immediately went to see for himself how bad the damage is in that area. He went in before the road was repaired, and then climbed up to see how the villagers were living. It is a scene of great devastation!
At first, we thought to purchase strong relief tents to supplement the tarpaulins that the other nonprofits are distributing (while drawing attention to the extreme need in the area so that the people WOULD FINALLY GET the tarps and food aid in the first place. We found a source for 1000 tents that could be delivered from New Delhi within 5-6 days for approximately $100 each, and with the monsoon season’s driving heavy rains due to start ANY DAY NOW and dump 1500 mm of rain on the area before September, we have been collecting money to give them good tents. But we need to raise all of the funds, to deliver them at once, due to the GROUP orientation of the Nepali culture. To buy the tents for some of the people at a time as we get the money would NOT WORK. It would create a strong resentment between the people who have shelter and the people who have not received it yet. So far, we have several thousand US dollars in Madhav’s trustworthy care. He is building the fund while carefully controlling spending to the bare necessities of the situation. He is an extremely ethical man, whom I have known and worked closely with for 6 years, and I would trust him with my donations before anyone else. To buy the needed tents will cost USD$100,000! we are raising funds at our fund-raiser website HERE
HOWEVER, the PEOPLE THEMSELVES are begging for corrugated iron sheets instead of tents. They can use the rubble from the earthquake and build shelters if they have the corrugated iron sheets, AND the iron sheets will last for DECADES and can be the first piece of their new home when they rebuild after the monsoon season, in the fall. Here is a photo of how the iron sheets can be creatively used to create superior shelters:
The corrugated iron is much more expensive than tents, but the people know what they need much better than we do because they are the ones who need to live in their own situation. We need to change all of our fund-raising appeals to corrugated iron, and we need to find a cheap source of he iron sheets… VERY CHEAP! Below cost would be ideal. SO MANY PEOPLE ARE NEEDING ADEQUATE SHELTER TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE MONSOONS, and one tarp per family, while it is IMPORTANT and better than nothing, will be totally INADEQUATE all by itself. I sent a letter to a big steel company, but I have not heard back yet.
Meanwhile, Madhav is scouring the countryside for ANY possible lead on whom to contact, and what to do, to get into our share of the AID sent from around the world so that we can distribute it to the suffering people.
SO our current activity consists of CONNECTING INTO the official network of aid, which has been very difficult to locate in the confusion, and collecting money for shelter for the thousands of homeless people in the Sindhulpachok district.
Madhav went to a SHELTER CLUSTER CONTACT meeting yesterday and made important connections with the people who are sending aid to the nearest city in Sindhulpachok District to the isolated people we are talking about.
IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT THIS AND OTHER MEETINGS RESULT IN AID TO THE HOMELESS, AND ARE NOT JUST A LOT OF TALK!
The United Nations and the Nepali Government have set up separate “clusters of contacts” for each of the different types of aid, such as SHELTER CLUSTER, FOOD CLUSTER, MEDICAL CLUSTER, LOGISTICS CLUSTER, etc. The clusters all have SEPARATE meetings and are also divided by the area of Nepal that they are intended to serve. It is a complicated system, and I am studying the internet documents as quickly as I can understand the interwoven information, so that I have been able to give Madhav contact and meeting information for the SHELTER, FOOD, and MEDICAL clusters. He is an extremely capable leader, and we are hoping that his influence in the meetings will open the floodgates of aid to the people in the isolated villages in Sindhulpachok, many of whom have not yet received one biscuit of aid.
Finally,you can see below the extreme difficulty of getting ANY type of aid into the area . It is a small photo, but it really shows what people have to do to bring anything up into the high country where some villages are more than a day’s TREK straight up the mountain! It is very important that Madhav knows the communities and is already a community leader there, in addition to his leadership duties in Lalitpur and Kathmandu. His knowledge and expertise are needed to get the aid in to the people who need it.
It is POSSIBLE that we may be able to schedule one or more helicopter drop-offs, but that will involve Madhav attending the next LOGISTICS CLUSTER meeting to learn about the extensive paperwork that the logistics cluster requires.