by Lorraine Payette, written May 2, 2015
(Gananoque, ON) The disaster in Nepal has left the world reeling in its wake. A tiny nation of only 147,181 square kilometers, it was ravaged by a giant earthquake of 7.8 magnitude on the Richter scale at 11:56 NST on 25 April, killing more than 6,500 and leaving more than 14,000 injured with thousands still missing.
In Gananoque, the Rotary Club (RC) has special interest in Nepal and is doing all that it can to help. Over time, they have built a sixteen room school in the remote mountain village of Phulbari and have provided financial tuition assistance to more than 30 students seeking higher education. They have contributed 15 sewing machines to enable the women to learn to sew, provide clothing for their families and help them become more self sufficient. Rotarian Pat Butchart is anxiously awaiting more news on the project and its participants as she considers all of them to be family. The RC has provided poly liners for 65 ponds that were hand dug by the Nepalese villagers. At the moment these ponds are 75% full of water which can be filtered for safe drinking water.
“One of the graduate students, Shree and his pregnant wife Angella, are now living in a tent – not a good scene,” said Rotarian Pat Butchart. Many other families are living without any shelter.
“What is most needed in Nepal right now is money,” says Rotarian Bruce Higgs, also of the Gananoque Rotary Club. “The Rotary Club of Gananoque will undertake to receive and transfer cash donations to their contacts in Nepal and Phulbari, a town about an hour’s travel from Kathmandu. The Rotary Club of Gananoque will also issue charitable tax receipts to donors.”
“Roughly 30 percent of the houses in the village of Phulbari have completely collapsed,” said Rotarian Doug Bickerton. The 16-room school which the Rotary Club built has lost most of its roof. The cost to repair the school is estimated to be $5,000.
In this village served by the Gananoque Rotary Club, there have been 3 known fatalities as of May 1.
The Education in the school goes to grade 10. Students must leave the village for grades 11 and 12 and Universities. Many of the students walk 2 – 3 hours over extremely uneven ground to attend classes there. The fact that this building has survived is very encouraging for the entire community. With education and water, there is hope that the bright future is still there on the horizon.
“We always sponsor one boy and one girl to go to higher education, these being the top two students in the class,” said Bickerton. By starting with the two best students, the entire village is enriched and inspired to keep moving forward.
Then came the earthquake, shaking not only Kathmandu (the capital of the country and location of the University), but the entire surrounding area, threatening everyone and everything they had ever accomplished. It’s when things look bleakest, you learn who your friends are.
“We are busy in Need Assessment visits and relief packages distribution in different villages around Kavre and Sindhupalchok District,” said Shree Krishna Dhital, Student of Mechanical Engineering at Kathmandu University, President 2013-14, Rotaract Club of Budol, Coordinator, Rotary Community Corps Simalchaur. “Our Rotary Club of Dhulikhel, Rotary Community Corps Simalchaur, CDRA Nepal and many other organizations and Rotaract Clubs have been jointly working in this time of need. We are able to mobilize many volunteers coordinating with local bodies and ground level organizations. The situation is getting under control but still there is high risk of epidemic as the dead bodies are yet to be taken out of the rubble. We are concerned about the diseases that might outbreak after the monsoon start and also the mosquitoes start to appear with flies.
“I have included a photo of our Basic Survival Pack which includes:
8. Beaten Rice and Noodles
10. Plastic Sheet
“Phoolbari received 100 relief packs May 7. This package will be enough for a family for a week. And this is the immediate help we can do to the villages nearby. Our Rotary have already distributed more than 1000 such packages to 1000 families around. Still more to distribute to more villages and victims.
“Further, we are planning what will be the best way to reconstruct the village houses and how will we do that. We are waiting for the government to decide some donation/loan for the earthquake victims regarding rebuilding plans. Lets pray and serve more people at this time of disaster.”
“There are two well organized Rotaract clubs and a Community Corps in this community; the closest Rotary club is RC Dhulikhel,” said Higgs. “Both of the Rotaract clubs are led by young men and women who are university graduates (engineering and architecture, respectively) who benefited from Rotary scholarships made possible by the RC Gananoque and friends.”
Donations can be made to the Rotary Club of Gananoque. To donate contact Rotary Club of Gananoque c/o Bruce Higgs, 301 North Shore Rd., Howe Island, R.R.#4, Gananoque, ON Canada, K7G 2V6. In the memo section at the bottom of the cheque, write “Nepal Earthquake”. For those not in the Gananoque area, please contact your local Rotary Club.