We always think of big AID organizations as being monolithic, centralized and constantly disbursing tasked employees into the field for reasons both bureaucratic and practical. I think that’s mostly fair.
That’s also not the way our earthquake relief processes have materialized. We are discovering that decentralized, individual efforts—partnering with, but directed by Nepali ideas and leadership—yield the best results and minimize our foreign footprint.
For the most part, we tell our volunteers that there is nothing we can “teach” Nepalis about rebuilding their lives—and they won’t take ownership of a project if we do. We in the West must do what we do best: Raise money, direct the distribution of materials, and elevate the anxiety level just enough to pressure people into performing in a timely fashion. That’s it. Our most valued volunteers learn the needs of a particular area, create their own fundraising campaigns and develop targeted expertise under the supervision of local Nepali leaders.
Himalayan Aid supports these volunteer “modules” with logistical expertise, transportation and material access, funding when available and the political and practical experience that comes with our 20 years of work in Nepal.
Our approach makes a rare and radical departure from aid efforts of the past: We listen.
Volunteer Leslie Brown supported a young Nepali girl’s schooling (pictured in green shirt above) over the past few years and translated that relationship into an expertly-timed and executed delivery of women’s hygiene “dignity packs” near Dhading. The young girl heard that officials were stopping and confiscating all shipments escorted by a “white” person, so she delivered the packs on her own and presented a list of individual names as recipients to show to officials.
By now many you know the story of Booth and Atchu. Booth met Atchu on the plane flight into Kathmandu and the two struck up a fast friendship. To date, Booth has delivered sheltering for 150 families and will return to his project area in Melamchi to help with school reconstruction as time goes on. Follow his exploits on the fundraising Facebook he’s created at “Teeters Tribe”