We interview Mar Estartús, the co-founder of Living NEPAL, a non-profit association that was established in Barcelona on 12 May 2015, after the earthquake that shook Nepal, when two of the association’s founders survived.
What is the situation in Nepal?
Almost three years have passed since the earthquake that shook Nepal on 25 April and 12 May 2015. The aftermath, a nightmarish situation: more than 8,600 dead and 100,000 injured; hundreds of disappeared and thousands of displaced people; hundreds of thousands of houses destroyed and infrastructures flattened…and today, when there is still a huge amount of work to be done, the country is gradually recovering a certain normality.
Reconstruction work is slow, together with an inefficient emergency management policy. Many of those left homeless have not received the aid to rebuild their homes; the price of construction materials and transport has risen…
With almost 30 million inhabitants, Nepal is one of the 50 least developed countries in the world. Around 44% of the Nepalese population live under the poverty threshold, and the political instability and difficulties caused by monsoons are making the reconstruction process complicated.
Faced with these difficulties, the Nepalese continue to move on, with a spirit of coping and cooperating that make this country so special.
What is your relationship with Nepal?
LivingNEPAL was established with the earthquake. After surviving the tremor, it became clear to us that we wanted to go back to help those who helped us.
We established the association and set ourselves the goal to focus our help on children, one of the most affected, vulnerable and underprivileged groups in the world, and especially in Nepal.
With this goal in mind, we invest resources in projects to reconstruct rural schools, in developing social educational projects, and distribute materials in different places in Raswua district, a remote area that is difficult to access and that most suffered the consequences of the quake.
What projects do you carry out?
We work in Nepal full of enthusiasm and with the desire to help in a heartfelt way, using our hands. We love this country and its people; we joined the reconstruction of this land and its dreams. We work side by side and cooperate in the projects started by villagers, and we coordinate with other organizations to make our contribution and work together.
This 2018 we are launching an ambitious and exciting project.
We will be moving to Tipling, a town that is 2,500 metres above sea level with some 3,000 inhabitants. After the earthquake, the population was left totally helpless. Almost 100% of structures collapsed, and most people were forced to live in temporary dwellings made with wood and leaves. Today, around 75% continue to live in precarious houses.
What were the consequences of the earthquake in Tipling?
The school collapsed entirely and the students were taught in precarious conditions ever since. One of the demands made by all those we interviewed was the need to build a seismic-resistant school, with adequate equipment, additional facilities such as a library, a laboratory or a safe playground that will allow boys and girls to be safe, and learn to draw their future with their illusions, like all children in the world.
What tasks do you do?
At LivingNEPAL, we collaborate in everything that may help to improve the conditions in Nepal, and we contribute knowledge, labour force and materials in the different areas where we collaborate:
- Technicians to build seismic-resistant structures: architects, engineers, workmen, electricians and handymen in general.
- Professionals in the field of education to develop a social educational project, based on emotional and experimental education as a means to stimulate personal growth and self-sufficiency. Social educators, instructors, clowns, artists, music, English and yoga teachers…to foster creativity, free expression of emotions and feelings, as well as to foster cohesion among the participants in the educational community.
As for the project to distribute warm clothes, teaching and construction materials, we need hands, feet, strength and the will to carry weight up the hill to remote villages.
This year we will be starting a new project, Medical Camp, in Tipling. We will be taking a medical team with doctors and nurses to provide better treatment and relieve the health problems of the local population, by training local professionals, make an inventory on the material needs, and teach courses on preventing disease and good healthy habits.
How can people collaborate?
You can also help us with communication. We like to document all the projects we work on, so we need people with knowledge on video recording and photography, social media or writers to update the information on our web’s blog; it is crucial for us to keep our community alive and to remind people that a lot of work is still needed in this country to recover a certain normality and tranquillity.
Another very important aspect in terms of communication is that we need IT specialists to help us configure a smart and nice web structure, with good SEO positioning and to have a good overall presence on the Internet.
For a very small organization as ours, where there are three coordinators and we work in a self-managed, decentralized and altruistic way, searching for financial resources is very tough. We are looking for someone who could help us to look for resources through grants, private foundations or sponsorship programmes.
Also to develop solidarity cultural events, which we love, because they help us to see and feel that people believe in what we do.
Finally, you can also help us with dissemination, to explain what we do and, if you’d like to and can, you can also make a donation to our bank account or our PayPal account.
By visiting Nepal and getting to know its peoples and land you will also be helping the country to recover, so if you are thinking about planning a trip, this could be a good opportunity.
This video shows an example of what we are doing in Nepal:
If you would like to make a donation:
Triodos Bank IBAN: ES21 1491 0001 2621 5068 5325
http://livingnepal.org/donate/ (link to access Paypal)