Grand County aid helps rebuild Nepal |

Grand County aid helps rebuild Nepal

Lance Maggart

On April 25, the world literally came crashing down for people in Nepal.

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the mountain nation destroying roads and villages and killing thousands. It was followed just a few weeks later with a 7.3 magnitude aftershock on May 12. These two events obliterated the infrastructure in a nation already struggling with numerous poverty related problems.

Many folks in Grand County have particularly strong ties to the region and have been working to provide what aide they can to those suffering in that far away land.

According to Avis Gray, Grand Lake Rotarian, the Grand Lake Rotary Club has managed to raise between themselves and other entities about $16,000 in funds to send to the beleaguered country. Along with Grand Lake Rotary, matching donations were provided by Trinity Church in the Pines, Winter Park Rotary and Granby Rotary. Numerous private individuals also donated to the cause. The funds will be going to The Small World, a nonprofit organization founded by Karma Sherpa, a Nepalese man with close ties to Grand County.

Sherpa was born in a remote area of Nepal in the village of Deku, about 40 miles from Mount Everest. His family, including 12 siblings, was nomadic. They did not attend school and spent their time grazing the family’s yaks. After initially being unable to attend school Karma was eventually sponsored by a group of Colorado residents who paid for his education from kindergarten through college. After graduating Karma founded The Small World, a nonprofit dedicated to providing girls’ education, women’s empowerment and poverty alleviation through community development projects.

According to The Small World website, more than half the Nepalese population lives on less than $2 per day. The nation is also ranked 5th in the global slavery index and an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 girls are trafficked out of Nepal annually.

The Small World focuses its efforts on supporting vulnerable young girls, but when the earthquakes struck their network of organizers, volunteers and donors was already prepared to tackle the tough work of rebuilding. Sherpa has been very busy the last two months, taking in tons of rice along with hundreds of toothbrushes and other hygiene related items.

“It is important to provide not just survival but also safety from disease,” said Gray.

The earthquakes destroyed whole communities as massive landslides ripped buildings and families apart. Karma Sherpa and The Small World quickly recognized the need to not only continue educating the children in the area during the cleanup efforts; but also realized the need for continuity in the lives of children. “Karma realized that once you take children out of school they lose hope,” said Gray. “They (The Small World) were able to put up, within days, several small schools.”

So far The Small World has constructed 20 temporary school shelters in Solukhumbu District in Nepal, expecting to provide schooling services for approximately 6,000 students.

There is still a lot of work to be done in Nepal, and cleanup and reconstruction efforts won’t end for quite some time. But with the efforts of Karma Sherpa and The Small World, and the support of generous people like those in Grand County, the rocky road to recovery can be a bit shorter.

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