Chloe is a recently returned volunteer from Nepal on the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme. When the earthquake struck the country just a few weeks after her group got back, they quickly mobilised like true active citizens to raise awareness and funds for their friends. Here’s her story:
Over 3,500 people have been confirmed dead and almost 5,000 people have been injured following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal.
I am part of a cycle of volunteers that returned from Nepal a few weeks ago after spending three months working in the Dolakha region. Thankfully, we returned safely from the country and we are also pleased to hear that on the morning of the 26th of April all Restless Development staff and our fellow Nepali volunteers were also confirmed safe. However, others have not been so lucky and our friends, students, and host families have had their houses and schools destroyed. They are living outside in tents with little water and no electricity, fearing another earthquake.
When we all heard the news of the earthquake on Saturday morning it was devastating. After living in our communities for several months and becoming so close with our Nepali volunteers, Nepal became a second home to us! My village, Namdu, welcomed us with open arms and made us feel so at home in the time we stayed there. I couldn’t have had a better experience if I tried and that was all because of the love they gave us!
My Aamaa and Buwa (Nepali for Mum and Dad) were some of the most kind and generous people I have ever met! Nothing was ever too much for them – they were always there for not only us, but the entire community. Our house was a social hub in the village and you could tell how much the students and other people in Namdu liked them- this is why I feel I should should give back.
We are very grateful that they are safe however we know that there has been damage in the village. Ramila, a grade 9 student, sent me a message to say “Some Namdu’s people houses are down and died… My family are safe but I have suffering from small accident to earthquark [sic]”. Not only did we become close with our host family, but Namdu truly became our home during our time there – it was awful to receive this news.
The people in the most remote areas of Nepal are particularly vulnerable and hard to reach. Dolakha has poor transport links and is highly susceptible to landslides. The largest aftershock at 6.7 was in the region, only adding to the devastation caused by the initial earthquake. 90% of buildings in Dolakha are thought to have been destroyed.
So you can understand that when we first heard about the earthquake the first thing any us wanted to do was help. On the ICS programme we learnt what it meant to be active citizens, so my cycle and other returned volunteers all quickly came together to see what we could do. We decided the best way we could help was to raise awareness of the destruction in the rural areas of Nepal, as well as Kathmandu that has been shown on the news, and raise funds- particularly for the sustainable development of the rural communities after emergency relief pulls out.
To do this we set up a Facebook page and Twitter account called ‘Help Us Help Nepal’ to share our stories. At the point of writing, and just a few days after setting it up, we currently have 824 likes on Facebook and have raised over £1,300! As well as this we have been trying to get as much media coverage as possible including appearing on four local BBC radio shows (and counting!) and getting into local newspapers across the country.
We are hoping to continue our work for the relief effort alongside Restless Development and hope that all of our friends in Nepal stay safe. You can support us here.