The 7.8M Gorkha Earthquake of April 25 hit Nepal at the worst possible time. Besides the forecasted earthquake, the other thing that has been long overdue in Nepal is our constitution. In its absence, governance has remained very weak and trust in the government has been at an all-time low. A lack of leadership and adequate planning left Nepal without a coherent strategy to deal with the aftermath of the earthquake. There was no coordination for immediate relief efforts, platforms to share information were non-existent, and there was little clarity from the government regarding the roles that NGOs and INGOs would play. Nepal had enough problems; the Gorkha Earthquake gave the country one more thing to deal with.
However, there’s been a silver lining to the devastation that has followed. It is the young people of Nepal who have risen to the occasion and have filled in many instances the leadership void created by politicians. They crowd sourced funds for immediate relief efforts, transported relief material to hard-to-reach places, set up platforms for easy access to crucial information, and even worked in harmony with local authorities such as the Nepal Army and the Nepal Police. A generation thought to be out of touch with its country’s needs took charge when the country needed it the most.
Media outlets such as the New York Times, Time magazine, and Wired magazine have taken notice of this youth engagement and have written several articles on their work. An important commonality in most youth-based initiatives has been the desire to document their work so that it can be easily accessible to the public – a markedly different approach than what has been the norm in Nepal.
As a group of young professionals, we, the Global Shapers Kathmandu Hub, have previously engaged in initiatives like the Young Adults Mentorship Program as well as awareness campaigns via social media - #Kathmandugram. Registered as a not-for-profit organization, the Global Shapers Kathmandu Hub is an initiative of the World Economic Forum that takes on social issues. A couple of days after the earthquake, Shapers were already in Sindhupalchowk, the worst affected district, to volunteer with Childreach Nepal, even as aftershocks rocked much of the country.
In the following days, the Shapers set up the Nepal Earthquake Relief Project that would firstly, provide immediate relief in Sindhupalchowk District, one of the most affected districts, and secondly, work on longer term plans to work on three topics – women, children and sanitation (including hygiene). From Day 2 onward, the Shapers started to dispatch relief material such as tarpaulin sheets, blankets, rice, daal, salt, cooking oil, biscuits and basic medical supplies to Sindhupalchowk in coordination with Childreach Nepal. Childreach Nepal was a natural partner for our organization as Dr. Tshering Lama, who heads Childreach Nepal is a recently inducted Young Global Leader (another World Economic Forum initiative) and hails from Helambu, in Sindhupalchowk. In the days that have followed, many members of the Shapers team have spent time on the ground, not just observing but assessing needs and physically helping out in distributing relief and helping provide medical attention.
Early on Shaper Lokesh Todi, with help from his cousin Aditya Todi, set up Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund, a fundraiser on Indiegogo.com (which just achieved its $150,000 goal in just 26 days). Beside the Indiegogo fundraiser, details of our Nepal Investment Bank and PayPal account were circulated widely in our network so people could start donating toward relief, recovery and reconstruction work that the Global Shapers Kathmandu Hub would carry out. The Hub is committed to use a 100% of these funds to directly impact the people affected in the earthquake. We are resolute in our decision that we will not use the donations received for any administration costs.
Beside the financial support, friends, colleagues, and total strangers from around the world donated items such as rice, daal, tarps, and medicine, which was crucial for immediate relief efforts. We were also able to dispatch scores of doctors to Sindhupalchowk to provide medical assistance. Several volunteers spent 2 weeks collecting and sorting relief materials, those who had vehicles offered to transport supplies to off-road destinations, and many, many more sent us words of encouragement and hope that helped us peruse on.
For all of the people who donated, volunteered, and sent us words of engagement, this web platform is a small, but important way to acknowledge your kindness and generosity. Transparency has been extremely important for each member of the Hub. We hope that this platform will not just to allow donors to track how we are using their funds to positively impact lives affected by the earthquakes, but also set a precedent for other efforts to do the same.
The Transparency tab on the website keeps track of our donors, what has been donated and what has been purchased (each kilo of rice has been accounted for), what has been distributed, and also has important documents, and Disclaimers. It is our hope that this painstakingly created document (all of which is available for download as excel sheets) will allow people to see the efforts we have been able to pull together, and to support our work further as we finalize future plans.
The designer of the website, Pagoda Labs, and the Kathmandu Global Shapers Hub have decided to offer the code for the transparency section free to any organizations seeking to provide the same level of transparency. In a time where quick and reliable information is key to savings lives and generating the most impact, we hope that our commitment to keeping our supporters engaged through our regular updates is a reflection of how the Global Shapers Kathmandu Hub will continue to remain accountable during the long road to reconstruction ahead. We remain open, as always, to feedback and want to hear from you on how we can do better.
We thank you for your generosity; please keep Nepal in your thoughts in the days to come.
Global Shaper Kathmandu Hub
On behalf of Earthquake Relief Project Team