Local adopted by Nepali family raising funds

(May 15, 2015) Patrick Robbins, a disaster relief expert formerly with the Red Cross in Salisbury and an alumnus of several human rights and humanitarian organizations, is desperate to help the Nepali family who helped him.

Robbins graduated from Salisbury University and has remained in northern Worcester County for the last six years, with a few layovers in Nepal and other areas in between. He helped coordinate efforts on the shore related to Hurricane Sandy and was in New Orleans to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

He knows his field, what’s required and why he can’t just buy a plane ticket and go.

“It’s what we saw in Haiti,” Robbins said, where the influx of volunteers and well-wishers contributed less to the aid and more to the problems. Patiently, Robbins goes through channels, making applications and trying to find the best outlet for him to get back into Nepal.

In 2010, in Nepal training for a human rights job, Robbins was adopted by the Basnet family, earning the honorific “Babu,” which is a means of calling a person with great affection, reserved for children, grandchildren and spouses. A matriarchal society, Robbins lived with the 10-member Basnet family in their shared home. They sheltered and fed Robbins for months during his training and every time he has visited in the intervening years, which he places as about 30.

The 7.8 earthquake on April 25 severely damaged the Basnet’s family home, built by the grandmother, Hajuraama, who still lives there and the grandfather who passed away. Just how bad the damage was took a few days to assess. No immediate family members were killed or injured in the disaster, or in the following 7.3 earthquake on Tuesday.

“There are two reasons. One is the timing, because the earthquake hit at noon on Saturday no one was at work, and no one was in school. That alone saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Second, because no one was at work, everyone was out tending their fields, where there was nothing to fall on them,” Robbins said.

Once the house was examined, it was condemned. Homeowners’ insurance doesn’t exist in Nepal. The Basnet family must start over, and they are, living under a tarp in their village with monsoon season only five weeks away.

“Water and sanitation are the major problems. Cholera and diarrhea are all major concerns, especially for children, even without the earthquake,” Robbins explained.

Even without being physically present, Robbins is doing what he can, and that means raising money.

“As soon as we can build one room, they will all move into that room. It’s better than where they are. I feel responsible I’m not affected and I do have the means to fundraise,” he said.

He has started a fundraiser using crowdsourcing platform Crowdrise.com, which is dedicated to hosting fundraisers for “medical bills, volunteer trips, amazing and fun causes and 1.5 million charities,” according to their web site.

Robbins said all funds would go directly to the Basnet family except for associated fees and taxes. Excess funds will be distributed to the Basnet family’s neighbors. Almost $5,000 has been raised already, with a goal of $20,000.

For more information, please visit www.crowdrise.com/basnetfamilyshousefund.

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