I had big plans to talk about my latest kitchen creation this week and then - things got real. Nepal. 7.8M. The current death toll has climbed to over 4,800 at this point in time, and almost double that in injuries counted so far. Millions of people have been affected across the country. The loss and suffering is heartbreaking and is apparent looking at the news and social media. For now. I know that first wave of relief organizations are already there on the ground doing the work that needs to be done immediately - help save lives and provide food, water, shelter and medical care for the survivors.
But I worry about two months from now, when monsoon season comes, and many people are still living outside without adequate shelter, and the threat for water-born disease spreading increases.
And two years from now, when many organizations have moved on to the next great crisis (because there is always another, unfortunately) and the people of Nepal are still trying to rebuild and still living among rubble and remnants of their homes and communities.
The situation in Nepal is already bringing back to life the aftermath and handling/mishandling of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Working for a small international nonprofit organization, I saw this aftermath firsthand, and seeing the devastation in Nepal brings it all back.
This is me surveying and mapping new rebuilding sites after the 2010 earthquake, just outside Port-au-Prince.
Even over a year after the earthquake in Haiti, people were living on top of rubble. Some literally living on top of where their home once stood, just tarps on top of crushed cement. Others left the crowded areas of Port-au-Prince for tent camps set up in the countryside. Most had patched together tents given to them by relief organizations during the first wave of post-earthquake response. Imagine these tents over a year later, after being exposed to the elements for that amount of time. What was meant to be a temporary shelter had become a semi-permanent home for many, many people.
I share all of this because I still carry this experience in my heart. Haiti and Nepal share a bunch of sadly tragic similarities - from GDP's, to government disfunction, and now historic earthquakes. It can feel overwhelming for one person to take this all in, like how in the world can I do anything that could actually help? Would a donation actually make a difference?
I get that. There are a lot of places you can send your money, and regardless of the size of your donation, you want to make sure it counts. That is does SOMETHING. For someone suffering, injured, or who just lost everything.
Even though I am not working for an international nonprofit currently, I am so fortunate to be involved with a great INGO based here in Colorado - Embolden Alliances. One of my favorite professors from my time in graduate school, who inspired me to work internationally, started Embolden and I am honored to serve as a board member for the organization. Embolden Alliances team members are en route to Nepal and are partnering with other organizations to provide immediate medical relief on the ground.
While large relief organizations like the Red Cross already have the bulk of the funding necessary to respond to the situation in Nepal, smaller/grassroots organizations often times have the local knowledge and partnerships already in place to hit the ground running. And these sorts of partnerships are more likely to be maintained - long after the large relief organizations have packed up and moved on.
So, if you are in a position to donate and want to know that your contribution is definitely being put to use on the ground in Nepal, please consider Embolden Alliances, or another great direct relief organization you trust. And if you can't donate - even spreading the word on social media to your circle can have an impact. Every individual action does matter.