Nepali crowdfunding effort hits halfway mark

(June 19, 2015) With more than $10,000 raised of his $20,000 goal — nearly 10 percent of that raised this past weekend — local disaster relief expert Patrick Robbins said the Nepali family who adopted him is now living in a traditional albeit temporary structure until a replacement house can be built.

“What’s happening now is the typical Nepali bureaucracy taking over,” Robbins said, as the Nepali government has instituted a rebuilding ban until new design standards can be implemented.

“That knowledge is already out there around the world,” Robbins said of construction intended to withstand natural disasters.

Like many conversations with Robbins — a graduate of Salisbury University who engaged in a number of national and global disaster-relief efforts while remaining on the Lower Shore — there is a silver lining.

“Monsoon season has already started,” Robbins said, “and the best time now to build is after it ends.”

Monsoon season runs contemporaneously with the western hemisphere’s hurricane season, but is a horse of a different color. Instead of a few major storm events, monsoons in Nepal are more of a constant soaking rain punctuated with times of high winds and infrequent clear days.

“When you wash your clothes, which is all done by hand, of course, even if you hang them inside they don’t really get dry,” Robbins said. He is a frequent visitor to the area and has experienced monsoons.

Even without the first earthquake, which hit at the end of April, or the follow-up quake that hit a couple of weeks later, diseases such as cholera and diarrhea are annual deadly threats.

Sanitation is a concern in the best of times, Robbins said, and the Basnet family’s new temporary quarters is a giant step forward from the tarp they had been living under since the earthquake.

“This is separate from the house funds we’ve raised,” Robbins said of the traditional structure, built from bamboo harvested from the nearby jungle and fitted with a corrugated metal roof. The walls will be plastered with mud to aid weatherproofing, but the structure is still a far from the brick-and-mortar structure the 10 members of the family had been used to.

“It’s a 15-minute walk from where they were in a portion of field they usually plant,” Robbins said. The new structure is not without its own dangers, Robbins explained, because of its proximity to the jungle and another threat: leopards.

“I didn’t really believe animal attacks were a problem until I was introduced to an uncle who had survived an attack,” Robbins said. The scars, he said, were horrific.

Overall, the Basnet family is lucky in terms of outcomes, Robbins said.

“Of the 22 houses in the village, nine were damaged or ruined. People in the village are taking care of each other, and they’re close to the capital so there are some resources. There are lots of Nepali families who will be, let’s face it, living in tents for years to come,” he said.

The fact that some houses remain livable is no small blessing.

“In the remote villages, everyone is in the same situation. No one in this village is starving or out on their own,” Robbins explained.

The crowdfunding effort, even at 50 percent of its stated goal of $20,000 is enough to get started. After monsoon season ends, and the government passes its new standards for housing, Robbins said the boots are on the ground ready to build.

For more information, or to donate, visit www.crowdrise.com/basnetfamilyshousefund.

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