Nepal Earthquake – 1 year on

These past two weeks the world suffered a series of huge earthquakes in both Japan and Ecuador. The media has given some light coverage in the UK, but so much more is going on in the wake of disasters like this. Peoples’ lives have been irrevocably changed.

Immediate relief efforts are incredibly important. But building long term resilience for communities affected is as critical. So, as we approach the first anniversary of the Nepalese earthquakes in 2015, GlobalGiving UK caught up with Andy Chaggar, the founder of one of GlobalGiving’s partner organisations International Development Volunteers.

Even though it has been a year, the relief effort is ongoing. Andy wrote to us to explain the situation further and tell us why these anniversaries are so important.

“On April 25, 2015, Nepal was struck by the first of two devastating earthquakes. The combined disasters killed around 9,000 people and injured many thousands more. Over 500,000 homes and 36,000 classrooms were either totally destroyed or badly damaged and millions of people were left in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

The earthquakes featured heavily in the media and donations began to flood in. Our charity, even though it’s small in size was able to raise a staggering £70,000 in the four months following the disasters. The funds raised in these early days were vital as they allowed us to respond quickly and meet the immediate needs on the ground. This meant we were able to deliver food assistance, clean water and urgent shelter to thousands of people. We also helped thousands of children return to education by providing transitional classrooms and school supplies.

 

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Temporary classrooms and community shelters in rural Nepal.

But while meeting immediate needs is vital, it’s only half the story. Support for long-term rebuilding is going to be needed for years to come. This is often the case following major disasters but is doubly true in the case of Nepal. The country was incredibly poor even before the earthquakes, then it suffered the annual monsoon season and a political crisis. As a result, long-term reconstruction has barely even started, even a year after the first earthquake struck.

And this is where challenges start to arise. As the attention of the media moves on so too does public support and resulting donations. It’s not that people don’t care anymore, they often just forget or fail to understand that rebuilding is a long-term process, which is why anniversaries are so important. They represent a milestone, and the focus of the media and the public returns, even if only for a day. This presents a chance for charities to highlight their achievements so far and to remind the world how much remains to be done.

So now is the time we want to highlight our achievements and the challenges we continue to face. We’re delighted that on the first anniversary of the earthquake GlobalGiving are launching a campaign that will match donations 100%. With attention back on Nepal the match funding provides a greater incentive for our donors to contribute again. And because the world’s focus will soon move on again this provides a critical opportunity to “top up the piggy bank”.

At the moment a big focus for us is school reconstruction and the funds we generate from this matching campaign will be vital for this work. It’s critical that we raise as much as we possibly can during the campaign as this will directly affect how many children we’re able to help move forward with their lives.

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Children and the wider community help rebuild the schools.

One of the schools we are working with is the Shree Bal Shiksha school in the district of Sindhupalchok, which was one of the areas worst affected by the earthquakes. Over 600 children attend this particular school and since the disaster they’ve all been learning in either temporary classrooms such as in the photo above or, unfortunately, in some of the damaged buildings. To ensure the safety of the children, and so they can get the best education possible, it’s vital that they move back into permanent classrooms as fast as they can and this is what we are working on. We hope that GlobalGiving’s 100% match funding will make this a reality even faster! We aim to raise £5,000 during this campaign, which will then be raised by GlobalGiving to £11,000 – the amount we need to complete our work. If we are lucky enough to raise more, we can also help in other ways, such as by providing the equally essential school furniture and supplies.

How do I know that that is what the community needs? Well as I am writing this piece I am out there now! We just had a planning session and I had the privilege of visiting the school myself. So, I’ve directly seen the needs on the ground and know exactly what a fantastic impact our work would have. I am even more enthusiastic than ever now to get back and take all the opportunities we can to let donors know about the available match funding.

Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter or other social media, we’ll be counting down to the campaign starting, and also keeping people updated on progress to try and generate excitement and enthusiasm. We’ll also be reaching out more directly through email shots and also personal messages. And because we’re active on both the UK and US GlobalGiving platforms, we’re segmenting our overall messaging based on our donors’ locations – basically we are doing everything we can do to get these schools back in business!

ShreeBalShiksha_PlanningMeeting

Andy and local leaders discuss community needs.
Only time will tell how successful these tactics are, but overall the matching campaign which starts on Monday 25th April 2pm BST is a critical opportunity to help not only Bal Shiksha school but other schools in the region too and also to drive our work in Nepal forward into its second year.

Thanks everyone for your support!”

This post was written by Andy Chagger, Founder, International Disaster Volunteers. Support their work here.

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