It’s been a year since massive earthquakes rocked the country of Nepal in April and May of 2015. It brought extreme devastation to this peaceful and isolated nation high in the Himalayan Mountains, destroying huge numbers of homes, much of the infrastructure and leaving thousands of its citizens struggling to get by as the mountain tourism that sustained it ground to a halt. The country’s isolated and rugged mountain location made all support efforts even more difficult than your typical disaster response. It also made Nepal’s suffering easy to forget– out of sight, out of mind.
In the past year, very little has been done to restore Nepal and it’s misery continues. Many of its citizens continue to live in tents, the same ones that sheltered them from the last harsh Himalayan winter. Kids were especially hit hard. There is a huge number of orphaned children who are at risk of being placed institutionally– which is not a pretty sight in the context of a poor nation such as Nepal. Many. many schools were destroyed and have yet to be rebuilt or replaced, leaving these same children without a continuing education.
Human trafficking has reared its ugly head here as well. Many young women in devastated areas are lured with the promise of high wages for domestic work outside the country. Once there, they find themselves held captive, often as sexual slaves. But many feel they have no other option as the tourism supported by expeditions to the mountains have been very, very slow in coming back leaving many in Nepal without incomes and in dire poverty. It’s a terrible scenario to even consider.
I have become involved with the Soarway Foundation which was formed this past year by former US Ambassador to Nepal Scott DeLisi and his wife, Leija. Their goal is to raise awareness and funds that will get quickly into the hands of people and organizations that can have an immediate impact.
They are partnering with a number of local groups, one that is aiming to provide over a thousand transitional homes before this next winter as well as rebuild schools in the hardest hit areas. They are working with Maiti Nepal, an organization founded and led by Anuradha Koirala, the 2010 CNN Hero of the Year, that actively fights against human trafficking in Nepal. They are working with groups that aim to place orphaned children with extended families instead of the underwhelming institutional orphanages of Nepal.
This has become a labor of love for Scott and Leija. It would have been easy for them to shift into an easy retirement after Scott’s lifetime of service with the foreign service, most recently as our ambassador to Nepal then Uganda. But their empathy and concern for the people of Nepal who they came to love during their time there has made this a more than full-time effort for them as they try to help in any way possible. They are going non-stop in trying to raise funds and schedule events to raise awareness of the need for help in Nepal and engage others in the battle.
They have an upcoming fundraiser in NYC with Anuradha Koirala to raise funds for Maiti Nepal and have started organizing Wounded Heroes Treks which consists of wounded military vets visiting and climbing the Himalayan Mountains in an effort to kickstart the lagging economy. They also have organized artists from both Nepal and Uganda and here in the USA in an effort consisting of online auctions, gallery galas and the thing I am here today to put forward.
I am partnering with them on an effort called Engage Nepal. It is a fundraising effort that will hopefully provide sufficient funds to make a difference in Nepal’s recovery. I am asking you to visit their page at the fundraising site Crowdrise and donate today. But for your efforts, we wish to reward you in some small way. For every donation of $25 and above, you will receive a signed poster like the one shown at the top of this blog. The painting used was chosen because the whorls in the sky remind me of the Buddhist prayer flags one might see throughout Nepal.
And there’s more: A donation enters you in a drawing to win the painting shown below, Enraptured. It is a large painting, 30″ by 40″ on canvas whose intertwined trees represent for me the strength of combined efforts in weathering the storms of this world. It is valued at $5000. For a $25 donation you get one entry into the drawing + a poster, for $50 you get two entries+ a poster and for $100 you get five (5) entries + a poster.
This effort was scheduled to kick off tomorrow but it has opened this morning so you can be one of the very first to check it out now by clicking here. This event with the drawing and poster is scheduled to end in approximately two weeks so please take a moment to look and act. Give if you can and if not, please share this with your friends. We are seeking to raise as much awareness as possible. Thank you for taking the time to read this.