On April 25, 2015, a massive earthquake hit central Nepal, and the destruction, particularly in the Kathmandu valley and the mountains to the north and east, was widespread and devastating. Having left Nepal only one month before the earthquake, and with many people we knew living or travelling there, Katheryn and I watched the news coming in with dismay. Like many others, we felt compelled to do what we could to help. Our biggest contribution to the fund-raising efforts was a benefit sale put on at the Community Farm Store in Duncan, with the incredible help we received from all the people there. That event was very emotional for us, both in terms of remembering the personal loss of friends in the earthquake, and by the outpouring of support and the basic good will and humanity of all those who came by.
The response to the disaster from the people we knew in Nepal was also nothing short of spectacular. Without exception, often in very difficult circumstances, they gave shelter, brought supplies and helped rebuild the lives of those who had less than them. For example Arif, who is the son of our friend and jeweller, Malik, rented a truck, and with the help of his friends loaded it with tarps, roofing and supplies, and took it to hard hit villages where conventional aid would never get to.
I am sure that it was the story of this kind of grass-roots involvement that touched a chord with many that we talked to. In addition to the benefit sale, we had set up a fund-raising web site, and through the two we were able to send about $8,500 to Nepal. Some people who helped us had an agency or cause in mind, and since the Canadian government was matching donations that went through certain established organizations, we earmarked about $4,500 in that way. Many, however, wanted their contribution to go straight to Arif, without the bureaucracy and overhead costs of conventional channels, and so the remainder of our funds were sent directly to him and others we knew there. When we went back to Nepal in March 2016, we carried with us the balance of our fundraising as well as money we raised during the summer of 2015. This was enough to start two small projects: putting two children who had lost family in the earthquake through school; and aiding in the rebuilding of the village of Dhum Besi, where many of the artisans who make our jewelry live. Both projects are long term and on-going, and our support for them continues. We are happy to receive donations during our pop-up events, we are giving 3% of the sale of our Nepali goods, and we are having another fundraising sale in Duncan.