by Piljin Kwak, Rise Nepal Volunteer, Global Peace Foundation and Student, Mercer Island High School in Seattle, Washington, USA
Sabita Shrestha and her family of six were living in a bare makeshift home when my team of Rise Nepal volunteers got to work building her a new shelter.
The 7.8 Richter scale earthquake that hit Nepal months prior in April of 2015, left hundreds of thousands like Sabita homeless with nowhere to go. After Sabita’s clay and brick home collapsed, she was left moving from place to place with her family. But finally her and her family were able to move into a more permanent home through Rise Nepal’s Shelter of Hope campaign.
“This is the greatest help we received in our time of crisis,” she told me. “I am very thankful to Rise Nepal for building this shelter. Their help was substantial as nobody has helped us with finding safe shelter.”
She now has a sheltered place to cook and her children a place to study.
Sabita’s family is one of 500 families who have received simple, yet sturdy temporary shelters through the Shelter of Hope campaign which aims to provide 500 more shelters to families in need. The campaign is driven by the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) and other members of the Asia Pacific Peace and Development Service Alliance and provides “relief, rebuilding, and resiliency in Nepal.” In addition, Rise Nepal offers emergency food, medical support, sanitation, and trauma relief.
Rise Nepal is made up of mostly young Nepalese volunteers who passionately seek to rebuild their communities and nation to be even stronger and brighter than before the earthquake. As a spur of the moment decision, I decided to hop on a plane and join these volunteers for two weeks during my summer break, not knowing then how much the experience would impact my life.
The volunteer work was grueling but incredibly rewarding. My team’s main duty was to build temporary shelters in villages surrounding Kathmandu. An intimidating feat I quickly mastered as I helped turn out shelter after shelter, bending large durable aluminum sheets over curved plastic pipes and hammering the structures into the ground. The days were long and exhausting but looking at the ecstatic Nepalese faces as we built their homes that they would live in for years to come, was the fuel that fed this priceless experience.
My family has always emphasized the importance of living for the sake of others. When the opportunity to volunteer in Nepal arose, it was a natural response to say yes. As my stay in Nepal went on, I felt this seemingly small commitment grow into something far more. My motivation grew and transformed into a personal interest, a hunger to learn about the nation’s fascinating history, its people, the difficulties they face, and ways that I could contribute to heal the wounds inflicted by years of suffering.
The phrase, “Help those in need/less fortunate” is a common one today, but is often overused and has become somewhat of a cliché with perhaps the significance of it not wholly taken to heart. During this summer experience that phrase became very real for me and the goal of living for others motivated me each day.
The Shelter of Hope project is just one example of how a determined group of people from all over the world can come together with a common goal of making a small yet effective and influential impact to restore and revive a nation. Each shelter built brought us inches closer to our goal and I am thankful to the various supporters and donators with whom we could not have had such success. I was fortunate enough to be able to support Nepal on the ground, but for those who are not able to, you can make a world of a difference by donating.
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