Hamro Nepal Update – Rebuilding Projects Kick Off

Dear friends and supporters of Hamro Nepal,

It is our pleasure to report that Hamro Nepal rebuilding projects are finally getting kicked off. The delay was beyond our control given the volatile political situation in Nepal.  We appreciate your patience and support. It took over a year for the Government of Nepal to finalize the policy guidelines for rebuilding. It delayed projects for all international organizations including us. We were, however, continuously working with our partners in a responsible way through Ashok Gurung, one of Gurung Society’s Board of Directors (BODs). Ashok who is the Sr. Director at India China Institute of New School University has 25+ years of experience in the field of education and international development. After making 7 trips to Nepal (on his own expenses) over the last year, Ashok has carefully identified and recommended four projects and partners to the BODs. The Gurung Society BODs has unanimously approved the proposed projects and the partners. The agreements have been signed between The Gurung Society and the selected partners. The projects and partners are as follows:

1). Construct a primary school in Aklang village, Barpak VDC, Gorkha, in partnership with Chandra Gurung Conservation Foundation. Barpak VDC is located at the epicenter of the earthquake. The school will be dedicated to Dr. Chandra Gurung to honor his contributions to conservation and sustainable development in Nepal.

2) Construct a primary school in Sipapokhri, Sindhupalchowk, in partnership with Nepal National Dalit Social Welfare Organization, joined by three other organizations as supporting collaborators i.e. Jagaran Media Center, Samata Foundation and Sarita Trust Fund. We are designating the funds received from the NYC Mayor’s Fund to this site. The primary school will be dedicated to late Suvash Darnal, a prominent journalist and advocate for equal rights of Dalits and other marginalized groups of Nepal. Our vision is to develop Sipapokhri as an important site for Social Justice Learning.

3). Help rebuild a lower secondary school at Kharpachowk VDC in Kavre district, in partnership with SAGUN  Institute for Social Research and Development. The school building will be dedicated to honor late Dr. Prahlad Yonzon, a renowned wildlife biologist

4). Construct two multi-purpose community centers in Suri and Chankhu VDCs in Dolakha district, in partnership with National Trust for Nature Conservation. The centers will be dedicated to late Dr. Harka Gurung and Mingma Sherpa of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for their contributions to nature conservation and development in Nepal. The centers will be used for emergency shelter, health camps, training and orientation programs etc.

In brief, Gurung Society from the very beginning had decided a set of guidelines for Hamro Nepal initiative:

  • Use all funds raised from Hamro Nepal event for reconstruction purposes (not for relief, recovery or temporary activities)
  • Support suitable projects (mainly to promote education) in rural areas (not urban) and for meeting community’s needs (not supporting individuals or households)
  • Use funds for marginalized communities, not just for the Gurungs, even though Gurung Society of USA raised the funds
  • Work with capable and credible partners who are committed to broader equity and sustainability concerns i.e. beyond reconstruction of physical infrastructures and who are government registered entities eligible to receive foreign funds
  • In addition, find partners who are in position to mobilize additional resources and create much positive multiplier impact
  • Dedicate the buildings to honor carefully selected important leaders from indigenous and Dalit communities to recognize their immense contributions and to inspire future generations

Once again, Gurung Society thanks you for your generous contributions and  love for Nepal. We know just like us, you want to see the devastated communities of Nepal get back on to their feet. These projects will certainly play an important part in their long recovery process. As part of our agreements, we will receive quarterly updates from our partners on these projects. And we will provide you regular updates on gurungs.org, our official website. Please stay tuned and check us back here!

A Year After the Earthquakes in Nepal

Dear Friends:

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the earthquake in Nepal that ravaged much of the country. It is a heart-wrenching moment to remember the thousands of lives tragically cut short and the millions of people still suffering from the aftermath of the devastation.

On behalf of Hamro Nepal family, I am writing to express my sincere gratitude for the generous support that was received during last spring, following the disaster. We are saddened to report that, as a result of the complex political transition, the reconstruction efforts have been stalled in Nepal. The rebuilding in Nepal has been slow, to say the least. Funds donated from around world (close to $4 billion) were on hold for an entire year (!) due to (among many reasons) serious political protests that ensued after a new constitution being passed in Sept 2015 and a new leadership taking over the National Reconstruction Agency (NRA).  However, the recent developments in Nepal are promising in terms of the NRA making some positive inroads, which gives us hope that the reconstruction efforts will soon commence in full swing. If you would like to read further on the current situation in Nepal, please find below a selected list of articles. We would also greatly appreciate it if you can consider joining us for a public talk on Nepal earthquakes on May 6th in NYC, which is being co-organized by International Crisis Group and India China Institute.

As indicated earlier, Hamro Nepal is partnering with four credible and committed Nepali organizations and local communities to help rebuild primary schools and multipurpose community centers in Gorkha, Kavre, Sindhupalchowk, and Dolakha districts. Our approach is both to help address the imminent infrastructure needs and to engage with communities for meeting long-term educational needs in rural Nepal.  Despite the delays, we are sincerely grateful for your support and your patience as we navigate through this complex political situation in Nepal. Rest assured, your contributions will aid in the much-needed  reconstruction process. On behalf of Hamro Nepal team and the partnering organizations, I would like to thank you for your support, thoughts, and trust as we continue to do our part in the reconstruction efforts of Nepal.

Last but not the least, our thoughts go out to all those who have suffered/suffering from recent earthquakes in Haiti, Japan, Equador, and Burma.

Here are some reasons why and how funds are delayed:
The Great Divide by Shradha Ghale
Why were discussions about relief and rebuilding being conducted in a language that was so removed from lived experience of most affected people? What kinds of solutions will emerge from a discussion that excludes its main subject from starting point?
The Aftermath by Anup Kafle
Anup Kaphle returned home to find a country that has been failed by its government — and ignored by the world.
The Year That Was by Subina Shrestha
What momentous happening would it take for Nepal to change?
This story of resilience, hard work, and optimism is also very common:
Kartok Lama is a disabled woman from Langtang whose small teashop was destroyed in Nepal’s earthquake. Her village was buried by an avalanche, but she is determined to rebuild.


Deeper Reading: 

The New York Times Review of Books just reviewed two books on Nepal that are phenomenal.

If you are interested in understanding Nepal’s modern history, civil war, myth and why and how this country is where it is today, you might want to read:

Battles of the New Republic: A Contemporary History of Nepal by Prashant Jha

Kathmandu by Thomas Bell

The Bullet and the Ballot Box, Aditya Adhikari

Bringing the community together at the Hamro Nepal International Benefit Concert

By 10:00am on May 16th, 2015 volunteers from all over New York City had already gathered at The New School University Center to help coordinate between ticketing, technical setup and logistics. At the same time, the event planning team led by Ashok Gurung, Rina Gurung and Kevin Wenzel was ensuring that program for the night would go smoothly and ironing out any last minute details. Each volunteer received a “Hamro Nepal” t-shirt, which was generously donated by key members of the Gurung (Tamu) Society. Run throughs, A/V setup, sound checks and rehearsals took place in the afternoon in the auditorium while volunteers were prepped on their respective roles in the team.

Around 5:00pm, food and refreshments arrived to give the team some energy as the event loomed. Some of the food was prepared by home cooks and members of The Gurung Society while the rest was generously donated by a local Nepali restaurant in Queens.

With all of this out of the way, it was time for the event planning team to conduct a final run through and ensure all bases were covered for the event. By 7:30pm, guests already started to arrive into the lobby of the University Center. Just with the initial crowd, it was clear that this initiative had reached far and wide, bringing together people from all walks of life.

As planned, doors opened at 8:00pm sharp – guests were ready to get to their seats. As guests were coming into the new John L. Tishman Auditorium at The New School Auditorium, volunteers spread across the auditorium to assist guests with seat and any question they may have had. On the stage screen were a set of images that were representative of the disaster that hit Nepal as well as relief efforts on the ground.

By 8:30pm most everyone was seated and the event program was underway. Less than 30 minutes into the programming, Muna Gurung, the emcee for the night, happily announced that we had already reached our initial goal to raise $100,000 through our indiegogo campaign! This exemplified how swiftly the Nepali and New York community acted to help support the rebuilding of hard hit rural areas near the epicenter of the earthquakes. In less than 20 days more than 400 people had donated to our campaign – truly a great achievement!! The event had more than 500 in attendance with only 2 weeks of planning for the event.

The event went along smoothly and embodied the emotional atmosphere of the auditorium. The event was carefully curated to grow from somber to a more hopeful note by the end of the night. Fashion Designer, and alumnus of Parsons School of Design, Prabal Gurung spoke about how he is working to help support Nepal before introducing the headline for the show. The headlining act, Red Baraat, ended the night with the right kind of energy to lighten the mood of those in attendance and gave people that hope. By the last song of the night, speakers and guest were walking up and joining Red Baraat on stage for a little bit of dancing and singing.

This special initiative was truly amazing and did its part in raising awareness, bringing community together, and fundraising for Nepal, Hamro Nepal.

Press Release by Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City

A press release has been released by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City to support initiatives by organizations to raise awareness and support for Nepal and relief efforts. Please visit the Mayor’s website for the press release and more information.

“During moments of need, the indomitable spirit of New Yorkers’ charity truly shines. We have received significant initial support from generous New Yorkers, and I hope that many more who have been moved by this tragedy will give. With such a massive and costly recovery ahead, every dollar counts.”

First Lady Chirlane McCray,
Chair of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City

The Gurung (Tamu) Society has been listed as one of the partner organizations to receive support from the Mayor’s office. Board member and the Hamro Nepal initiative co-leader Ashok Gurung was quoted in the press release saying, “When disasters such as Sandy or Katrina in the U.S., the tsunami in Asia, or the earthquake in Haiti struck, the Nepali community in New York gave generously for relief and rebuilding efforts. Now, the tragedy has struck in our homeland, Nepal, and we are asking fellow New Yorkers to give generously for relief and rebuilding efforts for those affected by this disaster.”

Direct link to this press release can be accessed by clicking here.