NOH Earthquake Relief Fund Report – April 2020

NOH Earthquake Relief Fund Report – April 2020

As part of its mission, Nepal Orphans Home has long supported other charities and the poor in Nepal. NOH assistance increased after the earthquakes in the spring of 2015.

The Earthquake in April 2015

Nepal Orphans Home board members and friends across the world awoke on the morning of Saturday, April 25th, to news of a major earthquake (magnitude 7.8) in Nepal. Michael Hess, founder and Director of Operations, was able to send an email that all Papa’s House children, staff, and volunteers in Dhapasi were unharmed. Structural damage to our Papa’s Houses, Chelsea Education and Community Center, and Volunteer Nepal house were relatively minor. Not so, however, for other homes and buildings in the Kathmandu Valley and even remote regions. In the days following, there were significant aftershocks. Three weeks later, on Tuesday, May 12th, a second earthquake of magnitude 7.3 hit, causing further destruction.

Papa’s Sambhav House interior

Nearby in our Dhapasi neighborhood

NOH quickly set up an earthquake relief fund, posting information on our website and Facebook page, and sending updates out through our online newsletter.  Donations from friends around the world quickly poured in, and Michael and the NOH staff began rendering assistance. Volunteer Nepal sent out staff to villages where we had placements in order to assess the damage and to provide cash for food, as well as supplies (tents, tarps, and blankets). NOH also provided help to locals in Dhapasi, who had lost family members or suffered destruction of their homes or businesses.

Assembled in the yard outside Papa’s Samanjasya House immediately after the first earthquake 

Two days later, the clean-up begins

Volunteer Nepal’s work in the aftermath of the earthquake was especially commendable. All volunteers were contacted and accounted for soon after the quake hit. The VN staff also contacted placements to assess the damage and need. Robin, one of the volunteer coordinators, travelled to placements to provide immediate relief.  Among other aid, Robin delivered three large water tanks to the village of Chaturali; money, food, and tents to an orphanage in Charikot; and 450 blankets as well as tarpaulins to two small villages in the Dhading district, one of the hardest hit areas.

Robin with funds for Shree Sham School

Relief for Dhading

In 2015, donations to the NOH Earthquake Relief Fund totaled $141,920. Over the remainder of the year, NOH spent $26,799 for relief. The remaining funds were designated to a restricted fund for reconstruction and recovery assistance.

Relief Assistance in the Following Years

As Mikel Dunham noted in an article, Deadly inertia: One year after Nepal’s earthquake, the government’s shameless record in aiding its own people, “The earthquakes in the spring of 2015 killed over 8,900 people, injured over another 22,000, and destroyed or severely damaged more than 776,000 homes, 1,200 health centers, and 8,000 schools in Nepal.  A year later, despite pledges of more than $4 billion in international assistance, little had been accomplished in reconstruction or relief.” Dunham attributed the inadequate relief largely to Nepal’s ineffective government, noting “the Indian blockade of fuel, building supplies, and other essential commodities also contributed to the disruption of reconstruction.”

In 2016 NOH spent $54,487 from its Earthquake Relief Fund. Most of this went towards the reconstruction of buildings destroyed by the earthquake. NOH had long supported the Shree Sham Primary School in Dumrikharka in the Ramechhap district, funding a hot lunch program six days a week and contributing to teacher salaries and school supplies for the village children. This assistance was continued. In addition, NOH contributed $45,000 to the Shree Annapurna Community Society in Ramechhap in 2016 for the reconstruction of the school building that was destroyed by the earthquake. In the spring of 2017 NOH made the final installment of $4,700 for the completion of the new primary school building.

Similarly, for years, NOH had been supporting the Bigu monastery, where destruction of buildings was also extensive. Immediately after the earthquake, NOH provided emergency funds for tents, blankets and food. In 2016 NOH spent $6,543 for reconstruction at Bigu. Early in 2017 NOH provided the last installment of $2,750 for the construction of a new house and kitchen at Bigu monastery, which along with Ramechhap was the most popular Volunteer Nepal placement outside the Kathmandu Valley.

New Shree Sham Primary School Building

The new house and kitchen at Bigu

Drawing on the NOH Earthquake Relief Fund, in the summer of 2017, the Nepal Orphans Home Director of Operations signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mother Sister Nepal, an NGO serving the women of remote Sindhupalchowk as well as caring for children who lost both parents in the earthquakes. NOH then contributed over $5,800 for the construction of their Everest House Children’s Home.  

In the fall of 2017 Nepal Orphans Home also contributed over $5,800 to the construction of new facilities for Education and Development for Underprivileged Children of Nepal (EDUC-Nepal), a school providing free education to poor children in a squatters’ neighborhood in Kathmandu. The rented school building had been heavily damaged during the earthquake. EDUC-Nepal continued as a popular placement for Volunteer Nepal.

Overall, in 2017, Nepal Orphans Home spent nearly $23,000 for earthquake relief. In 2018,  $5,900 from the earthquake relief fund was expended, mostly for the reconstruction of homes of family and friends of Nepal Orphans Home.  In 2019, another $8,000 was spent from the fund for the reconstruction of homes, including $3,500 for finishing the Everest Children’s Home of Mother Sister Nepal, and nearly $4,500 for reconstruction of homes of family and friends, some in remote villages.

In total, from 2015 through 2019, Nepal Orphans Home spent $118,089 from the NOH Earthquake Relief Fund. Nearly seventy-five percent ($88,538) went towards reconstruction of buildings and homes. Seventeen percent ($20,303) went for relief for communities. The remaining eight percent went for reconstruction and relief for Papa’s House ($4,539) and charity to local friends and family who were destitute ($4,708). 

Criteria for NOH Earthquake Relief Assistance

Nepal Orphans Home has always been careful in its spending, not the least of which for earthquake assistance. For one, NOH does not want its assistance to substitute for, or duplicate, government assistance. Even so, major NOH reconstruction projects have to be approved by the government authorities as well as the local recipients. The primary criteria that must be met for NOH Earthquake Relief Assistance, and NOH Outreach in general,  are that:

  • There is a demonstrated need that will not be met by the government or other organizations.
  • Nepal Orphans Home has a good history with the recipients, e.g., an existing working relationship or collaboration, as with the village in Ramechhap and the Bigu monastery, or, for a new organization or project that has been proposed, NOH feels confident the support that is extended will be used properly.

At the end of 2019, $23,831 remained in the NOH Earthquake Relief Fund, as a contingency for assistance with future natural disasters and emergencies.  In April 2020, the Nepal Orphans Home Board of Directors approved drawing on this fund for assistance and relief from the COVID-19 crisis in Nepal.