Dr Sally Dreger, a postdoctoral researcher in our Centre for Tumour Biology, first visited Nepal in 2011 to trek to Everest Base Camp.
During the trip, she got to know their trekking guide, Dhan Kumar Rai, and his wife Champa Maya Rai; learned about life in Nepal and the trekking company (Adventure Gaurishankar), and how the money they earn from treks is used.
Adventure Gaurishankar employs the company’s porters from the local and surrounding villages - Juving 6 - where Dhan grew up. This means employment for those living in the village and a commitment to supporting the community.
Late last year Sally returned, meeting with Dhan again for another trek, and has kept in touch with the family ever since.
When the earthquake hit on April 25th, 2015, she immediately thought of them, fearing for their safety, and contacted to ask how they were. Dhan assured they were safe but afraid and nervous. When asked what they needed, Dhan said that while aid was coming in slowly, any kind of help is greatly appreciated.
The camp that Dhan & Champa set up near their home for family and other members of the community.
Distributing aid supplies to villagers 60km from Kathmandu
Since the initial earthquake, Dhan, his family and community members have been tirelessly delivering aid to the remote villages affected outside of Kathmandu, including medical staff to tend to the injured.
Every few days, supplies (food, clothing, tarpaulins, etc.) are delivered to a different area. Notification of aid distribution is via mobile phone. The volunteers and supplies arrive via a truck going as far as the road runs while villagers from the remote areas trek along trails to the distribution area.
Devastation: houses collapsing, leaving people afraid to return for their possessions
Once all the aid has been distributed, Dhan and the group of volunteers return to Kathmandu to restock. In the past week, the group have hired 23 donkeys to transport supplies to remote villages a couple of days away from Kathmandu.
Sometimes we feel that donations might not go where they are needed. In this case if giving could be done directly, it can make an immediate and greatly appreciated impact.
Here at BCI, Sally organised a bake sale, which raised £721 through donations for the cakes! Many thanks to everyone who made cakes and donated. Without your support and generosity the success of the bake sale would not have been possible.
If you missed out on the bake sale but would like to contribute to the relief fund, please contact Dhan Kumar Rai via the website.
Through all their hard work and effort, Dhan, his family and group of community members are helping those left in the wake of such devastation slowly rebuild their lives and communities.
Hope for the future
In addition to the earthquake relief efforts, Dhan and his family in conjunction with Canadians David and Elisabeth Checkel (Juving Nepal Development Society) have also fundraised for a new school to be built in their village, Juving 6.
Until its completion in 2014, local children aged 9 wanting to continue their education after three years had to move to another village some distance away to receive an additional 1-2 years of schooling. Now they can remain in their own community until age 11 after which they can either continue on to secondary education or be eligible to study at Basic Technical Schools for 3 years to obtain a Training Level Certificate in another village.
Having not had the opportunity to complete his own schooling, Dhan continues to passionately advocate for the value of and access to education for the local children.
Our thoughts and hopes for the future go to all affected by the earthquakes in Nepal. Many thanks also to Dhan for sharing images with Sally, and with us.