If you have family or loved ones in Nepal or, if like many of us, you visited and fell in love with the people of this magical country in the high Himalayas, then your heart has to have been touched by the tragedy that is unfolding there.
We all know just how bad things are. Not a day goes by that I don’t get another appeal or hear another tale of loss and despair. The COVID pandemic is ravaging the nation and hearts are breaking every day. Ours break with them.
It’s terrible, I know. But I am writing today to ask that you not let the daunting magnitude of this crisis discourage you. I want you to know that, thanks to you, we can and we are making a difference.
To begin, I'm proud that we are working with a consortium of groups and donors in the US and in Nepal who have raised over a million dollars to fund 11 large oxygen plants for Nepal. It is such a huge effort and we’re so proud to see what these groups have been able to do for Nepal. And, for our part, we are actively engaging partners in the U.S. government and asking that they help us to meet the challenge of transport.
Moreover, even though Engage Nepal by itself doesn't have the resources to fund a million dollars worth of oxygen plants, with our partners at Nepal Rising we are sending 60 oxygen concentrators to Nepal, and they will be delivered next week. Those concentrators will not only support the 83,000 people in Thimi Municipality served by NKFMH Hospital but we are working to create what is essentially a community oxygen bank that supports smaller hospitals, community health centers and isolation centers.
At the same time, we are also trying to raise another $40K to fund a small stand-alone oxygen plant that can meet the needs of a large and important free health clinic supporting some of the Valley’s poorest and at risk populations. In addition, working with Nepal Rising through their partnership with Creasion, we will fund and deliver oxygen cylinders as well.
It’s a lot of work and a lot of money. We’ve already spent $46,000 on our part, and there is so much more to do. But people are dying as I write so, yes… we’re going to do all we can to offer them the breath of life — the gift of oxygen
It's not just COVID's immediate threat that we have to fight, though. This pandemic's insidious and pervasive damage has cost families their livelihoods, their savings, and it is stealing their futures. People are struggling just to feed their children and provide basic necessities for their families, including their elderly parents. So we’re committing ourselves to continue our focus on food support programs for which Engage Nepal alone has invested $20,000 in the past year.
Now, we’ve identified 200 of the most vulnerable families in a squatter’s community in Kathmandu and 200 more in some of the hardest hit wards of the Shankharapur Municipality where we have worked so hard in the past months. Those 400 families represent more than 2000 people and we’re going to offer $10,000 more in food support for them (we’ll provide coupons redeemable with the local merchants who will stock and distribute the supplies).
Are there more in need? Damn right. And sadly, these food stocks we offer may only last a few weeks. But we have to start somewhere. And that is what we are doing. And we will continue.
So this is a great place to offer a shout out to the Chandra Gurung Conservation Trust which has donated $1000 to support this effort. We are so grateful to them. They stepped up.
And so has the community of Fredericksburg, Virginia, where the supporters of the Sister City Program with Kathmandu have also transformed compassion into action. And so has the Basingstoke Nepalese Community - Youth Group in the UK. You too are making a huge difference and we are so grateful.
So many of you have offered your support that we can’t list every donor here -- though I wish I could. You are the lifeblood of our work and I have tried to thank you all individually and personally because every one of you has helped touch lives, save lives, and give our partners in Nepal hope for the future in a time of desperate need. Thank you.
This is going to be hugely challenging and it will not end soon. Oxygen needs are going to continue. Food needs are going to continue. The need for PPE, medicine, testing kits, oximeters and more — that too will continue.
We aren't just funding projects, though, as important as they are.
We are also actively sharing information and helping to match those with funds to those with needs. We are partnering with others in the diaspora community in a shared effort of advocacy and outreach. And, on that front, I am so delighted to see the diaspora community effectively raising its collective voice in an effort to stand for Nepal in this time of need.
More than anything else, though, I want to say how very proud I am of you, our donors, and how extremely grateful I am to every one of you who has transformed compassion to action. The road will be long. We will need you help. But thanks to you we have made a good start on this arduous journey.
Please, know how much you matter. Please, know how much you are valued. And please know that we will not allow what you have helped us to begin on behalf of the people of Nepal to lag.