This spring, when the earthquake stopped shaking Kathmandu long enough for Gopal Kumar Nakarmi to detach himself from his wife and daughter and check on their home, he immediately thought of the villagers in remote Nepal districts where he does community development work. It took three days to get word about their survival.
The news wasn’t good: 30 people and 643 animals had perished, 94 people sustained injuries, 395 houses and 258 barns collapsed, and 153,000 kilograms of crops were damaged. By day five, Gopal’s organization, BBP-Pariwar, had started distributing rice, sugar, salt and plastic sheets for shelter.
AJWS began funding it soon after, and it has already used our support to provide enough corrugated roofing material to build shelters for 87 families in Sindhupalchowk and Kavre districts.
While “everything was lost” and the people struggled with food and shelter in the initial days after the disaster, “hope is not finished,” Gopal said. “We know that if we work together, we can come out of this problem.”
As the country recovers, BBP-Pariwar aims to improve cultivation and fertilization. Its beneficiaries are part of Nepal’s “untouchable” class—the country’s poorest citizens.
Gopal grew up one notch higher in the caste system and can sympathize with the untouchables’ hardships. His family of eight lived in a cramped house in Kathmandu and ate rice and water buffalo meat when it was available.
“Sometimes we had to go to bed without anything,” he said. “We thought that was usual, but our condition compared to other people was not good.”
Unlike other families, his didn’t own any land, and his father worked longer days than other adults. At the age of 9, Gopal started repairing bicycles for 10 hours a day to fund his education, going on to earn a management degree in college. He started working as a bookkeeper with BBP-Pariwar’s predecessor in 1979; today he helps BBP-Pariwar provide health services and teach villagers how to make a living and grow food to feed their families.
He believes strongly in grassroots change: “If the planning comes from the bottom, the rate of success is higher.” AJWS’s funding gave people the materials to build their own houses.
Without our help, Gopal said, “we would not have been able to support these earthquake victims, and families would have to spend days in a small tent, even in the rainy season, without sound sleep at night. It would have reduced the number of zinc sheets or the number of families we could help. We are very thankful to AJWS because it has shown confidence in us, and we can help fulfill our promises [to the community].”