It often seems that a plethora of urgent issues commands our attention on a day-to-day basis. An easy solution to manage the regular information overload, that is indicative of our hyper-connected age, is to choose the path of least resistance and have your attention directed by the popular media.
But it's an unfortunate fact that in choosing this route, we rarely break away from the stories that are its chosen topic for the day, or search out information that tells us more, or even just, 'what happened next'. Issues that at one time dominated the headlines are quickly and easily forgotten. But they are still a part of a story going on, somewhere.
Through the Impact Awards we have built a relationship with a number of Nepalese organisations, all of which were affected when the earthquake hit back in April 2015. The devastation caused by the earthquake was felt more greatly in Nepal than it would have been in a more developed country. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, with low levels of employment, high child and maternal mortality rates and poor access to basic healthcare services. With a median age of just 22, Nepal's population is incredibly young.
However, one-third of children work for their survival, with thousands living or working on the streets, and thousands more thought to be trafficked to India each year. The earthquake and its major aftershock were simply devastating for the country. It claimed over 8,500 lives and caused over 22,000 injuries. Over 3.5 million people were estimated to be in need of food assistance at the time, and UNICEF reports that 1.7 million children have been directly affected. There were close to 600,000 fully damaged and over 270,000 partially damaged private homes and UNESCO World Heritage Sites were destroyed.
Nepal responded with a comprehensive local emergency response. Every organisation that we have awarded was involved in some way, and a few have given us more detail about what it entailed for them.
Child Welfare Scheme Nepal (CWSN) usually works on long-term health and education programmes, focusing on marginalised children and young people living in urban slums and remote villages. However, when the earthquake hit, CWSN responded by providing emergency humanitarian assistance on the front lines.
“In the area where the houses were built with mortar of mud and small stones, every single house had collapsed. A local structure serving as the home for the native villagers had turned into a useless pile of brick, stone, wood and dust. Most of the schools were not good enough for the children to go in.” - Madhav Prasad Acharya, CWSN
Because our award funding is flexible, CWSN were able to re-allocate part of its award funding to providing emergency humanitarian support, which included providing tents and blankets to the affected areas where people are forced to live under open sky even during rain.
At the time of CWSN’s last update, the target was to reach 10,000 families with emergency supplies. CWSN is also acting as a transit home for injured people as many of the injured are being discharged early from hospitals because of the overwhelming number of cases. CWSN is offering shelter and medical care until they can return to family. The organisation is also providing a safe place for children without parental care or in unprotected situations.
Nepal Water for Health (NEWAH), which delivers integrated water supply, hygiene promotion and sanitation services in rural Nepal's most disadvantaged communities, was also mainly involved in relief work at the time of the earthquake. It is now working on recovery and reconstruction, assisting over 4,000 families in rural areas through the distribution of WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) -related materials.
GoodWeave works very closely with carpet-makers, one of the most important and most labour-intensive industries in Nepal. Many workers in carpet factories are from areas that were hit hardest by the earthquake. As well as having lost their homes and many family members, their places of work have also been affected, as carpet factories are often structurally unsafe.
GoodWeave distributed immediate relief but has also made mid-to-long-term plans to help rehabilitate workers and revive the industry, an initiative that is crucial to the rebuilding of communities and the country alike. The organisation aims to provide livelihoods and education support to workers and their children, technical support to the carpet-making industry and weaving training programmes to supply skilled labour to the industry, an initiative that began with the award support of Stars back in 2011.
Friends of the Disabled (FOD) and their unit on the ground, Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre for Disabled Children (HRDC), set-up 20 mobile camps in the areas hardest hit by the earthquake. By early May, just over a week after the earthquake hit, HRDC had reviewed over 440 patients and field clinics had treated 687 patients. More than 300 surgeries were performed, and over half of these were major operations including amputations, fracture care, head trauma and abdominal injuries.
"We have plenty of work in our field clinics - by 6 May we had performed more than 300 surgeries, and easily more than half were major, with some surgeries performed in makeshift tents. Our staff work relentlessly and we are trying to see how to secure funds to cover the costs" - Dr. Ashok Banskota
HRDC buildings were left in dire need of repair after huge cracks appeared in the walls, and patients traumatised by the earthquake and its aftershocks were managed in tents for almost a month. A repair cost for the HRDC buildings was estimated at 6.1 million Nepali rupees (US $57,500). HRDC and partners set up an Emergency and Surveillance Response Camp (ESAR), which from April to August 2015 treated 43,255 people, 13,087 of which were children.
Despite the fact that Nepal is no longer headline news, the work continues, as these short overviews demonstrate. We are proud to have awarded six Nepali NGOs working on the front lines supporting children.
Watching the speed with which they have reacted to the earthquakes confirms the long-standing belief we have always had at Stars that locally run organisations are best placed to respond to the needs of their communities. And the type of flexible support we offer, allows them to do just that.