In the wake of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, Nepalese Canadian Community Services (NCCS), a Toronto-based not-for-profit, has partnered with the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) in an effort to aid the Himalayan nation of 27 million.
The earthquake killed an estimated 8,000 people, injured more than twice that number and destroyed approximately half a million homes, according to ACT Alliance, which is conducting relief efforts on the ground. A second, 7.3 magnitude earthquake on May 12 killed an additional 82 people and caused further damage to the country’s already weakened infrastructure. (PWRDF, the Anglican Church of Canada’s relief and development arm, is a member of ACT Alliance, a global grouping of church-based agencies working in emergencies worldwide.)
ACT Alliance is in the midst of performing a rapid assessment of the extent of the damage cause by the second earthquake, said Simon Chambers, communications co-ordinator for PWRDF. Chambers is also expecting firsthand reports from Naba Gurung, PWRDF’s humanitarian response co-ordinator, who arrived on the ground in Nepal on May 14.
Gurung, who is Nepalese himself, is active within NCCS, and helped broker the partnership between the Nepalese organization and PWRDF when NCCS was first exploring methods of getting aid to the people of Nepal. NCCS, which provides services to new and already settled Nepalese immigrants, works to “facilitate the integration of Nepalese in Toronto, in Canadian society and to foster the retention and development of their cultural heritage within the framework of multiculturalism,” according to its website.
Funds raised by NCCS will be funnelled through PWRDF to ACT Alliance.
The entirety of the funds raised by NCCS will go toward tarpaulins, blankets and other elements essential for shelter. NCCS determined as a group that emergency housing was where they wanted their relief efforts to go, said Chambers. A memorandum of understanding signed by NCCS and the PWRDF stipulates as much. NCCS president Gopal Bhandari has stated the organization has set a goal of $50,000.
Shelter, food and water are the three essential components of disaster relief, said Chambers. And the need for shelter in the aftermath of the earthquakes has taken on a particular urgency unique to the country itself. “Next month is the beginning of monsoon season in Nepal, so we need to get shelter going as soon as possible, and tarps [are] the easiest way to do that…as we move further along, we’ll be producing other forms of shelter that are more long-term.”
In addition to the NCCS funds received through PWRDF and earmarked for shelter, ACT Alliance has also been active in providing psychosocial support, noted Chambers, a type of aid that helps foster a return to normalcy for victims of natural disasters such as earthquakes. “They’ve been setting up classrooms for kids who’ve lost their schools, because…2800 schools were destroyed by the first quake. So they’re trying to get classrooms set up so kids can get back to learning, which both helps with the learning…[and] with the psychosocial part of recovering from an earthquake.”