These are challenging times for us all. Here in the U.S. the coronavirus coverage is 24/7. It’s overwhelming.
We aren’t getting the same coverage of things happening in Nepal for a variety of reasons. It’s not the epicenter of the disease and isn’t registering on the global radar screen. But make no mistake. Anyone who is paying attention knows that there are likely far more cases than have been reported and there is little doubt that if this pandemic takes hold it will ravage the society. This is a time of urgency. This is when we must prepare, plan and act. But we can't do it without you.
If it’s frightening here in America, imagine what it is happening in Nepal. The government has banned entry of all international travelers, including Nepalis. The national lockdown has now been extended for a third week to Aprial 15. There is woefully inadequate testing capacity and health workers, who lack the training the protective gear that they need, will be overwhelmed. It’s not a pretty picture.
This is a disaster that will be every bit as serious as the earthquakes of 2015. Thousands could die. People will fall into greater poverty. Just feeding the family will become a daunting if not impossible challenge. Health care resources will be ever more strained and, if the disease takes hold, imagine the horrors we’ll see in a nation where there is only one ventilator for every 114,000 people! Nepalis who have worked in the Gulf and whose remittances have made a huge impact on the national economy won’t be returning to their jobs for months — if at all — and the revenue (and jobs) that flow from tourism will disappear. It is going to be hard. Very hard.
In America we have had massive relief packages. That is not going to happen in Nepal however, No way. So we need to think about how we can make a difference and how we can be ready to respond as the reality and immensity the challenge creates.
At Engage Nepal, thanks to our generous donors we have already put $12,500 into the field to purchase PPE and testing kits in partnership with the America Nepal Medical Foundation. We have partnered with Nepal Rising to put $8000 into the field to feed over 2000 families. But we need to do more. Much more.
We need, more than ever, to have a focused channel for providing assistance that is transparent, that is accountable, and that gives donors assurances that their support will have an impact. We need to build a coalition of partners who care and share that commitment to meaningful and accountable action.
Together with Nepal Rising we have committed ourselves to helping: (1) procure medical supplies; (2) provide training to frontline workers; (3) support hospital and community surveillance; (4) finance emergency food shortage and mitigate an economic crisis and (5) engage stakeholders to advocate for equitable health services. And we are working with the Tran-Himalayan Environment and Livelihoods Project to give youth, women, and marginalized communities training in agro-enterprises that will offer them hope of sustainable livelihoods.
Feed a family. Train docs and nurses to protect themselves with PPE we help purchase. Fund a test kit that might save an aunty or uncle’s life. Help us to educate. Inform. Make a difference. We can’t wait until the disaster is full blown to create the capacity to respond. We must act NOW.
At a time when there is so much we cannot control, THIS is something that we can. We can choose to make a difference. We can choose to help people who are staring desperation in the face. We can choose to act. I hope you will join me in doing so.
We need you. The people of Nepal need you.
At this time of crisis and uncertainty you can be a beacon of hope. It is urgent, it is important, it is life changing.
Please join us. Please be part of these efforts. Please, Engage Nepal!