Now, as I write this story, I can vividly remember the
pristine beauty and gentle people I met on that trek. These
memories comfort me because I know that since the quake,
these same villagers have remained rooted in their strong
community, rebuilding homes and schools the best they
can, but they need help.
While the Nepali government has worked hard to repair
damaged roads, clear rubble and inspect buildings for safety,
no focus has been placed on directly aiding people in affected
villages. Fortunately, NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have played an important role in rebuilding Nepal.
Here in Marin, many people are making a difference.
I met with Olga Murray, founder of the Nepal Youth
Foundation, and learned of its long-term goal of training 1,000
homeowners to rebuild homes. Of course rebuilding schools
will also be included in the effort, because, as Olga says, “we
are all about kids.” Most important, she says, people should not
forget Nepal’s need just because it is off the front page. Olga has
been working on behalf of Nepali youth since the 1990s, and the
foundation has been recognized for having a major impact on
more than 45,000 Nepali children through education, improv-
ing health conditions and liberating them from slavery. She has
recently written a memoir about the experience entitled Olga’s
Promise: One Woman’s Commitment to the Children of Nepal.
Jay Tamang, founder of Nepal Freed, is rebuilding four
schools in his village of Bhalche, Nuwakot. He began his
NGO because of his own childhood challenge of obtaining
an education, walking to and from school four hours daily
and being carried over a river in a basket seat by a pulley
system. Prior to the earthquake, he had raised money
to build schools in Bhalche, and since last April he has
focused on rebuilding them.
Back to the young man I met long ago as we crossed a
sacred lake. Through his photographs, Mani brought remote
Nepal to the world more than three decades ago. Now our
paths cross again. I wanted to begin photo tours to Nepal, so
I contacted Mani, who now leads my groups in there.
Since the earthquake, Mani has been doing relief work
in the worst-hit districts such as Gorkha, Sindhupalchock
and Nuwakot. Social causes are not new to the young man,
who participated in a UNICEF project that raised awareness
about truck stop prostitution through a photo essay exhibit.
Mani knows that although it will take time, his people will
work hard together to rebuild Nepal.
“We in Nepal haven't lost hope,” he says, “and soon we
will together rise again.” m
My love affair with Nepal began
in 1979 and has lasted 36 years. It
was love at first sight.
Destinations / JOURNEY
This page: A Nepalese
woman on a metal bridge.
Opposite: A Syabru woman
in her doorway.