Month: May 2015

DONATE TO PM’S DISASTER RELIEF FUND

I know what most of you may be thinking-“Is he out of his mind?” And I don’t question on your analysis regarding my suggestion. But as bitter as it may sound, this is the most viable option.

In the aftermath of the earthquake disaster at Nepal, many countries, inclusive of its organizations and individuals, pledged support in terms of relief materials and money to the victims of Nepal. It was very welcoming but as days passed by, the government released statements that of the total pledged support, only 5% had been directed through the government channel and 95% had either been channeled through INGOs or through local organizations or groups.

The reason for this trend is obvious- people’s lack of trust on government’s transparency and accountability. Nepalese know that the government does not use its budget to the maximum and that most of the money gets ended up in the pockets of the government officials and their relatives. For example, the large quantities of tents that have been sent to Nepal have either been sparsely distributed or taken care of by the political parties’ cadres/relatives to sell it at two hundred times the cost price. That is what most of us hypothesize. We end up relaying the message to the Nepali diaspora abroad that the money must not be sent to the PMDRF, but instead to the international organizations like The Red Cross, Save the Children, UNICEF and so on. I do not blame my people. But from what I have read about the situation of the financial assistance that Haiti received back in 2010, the idea of not depositing the funds in the government’s relief fund can prove too costly in the long run.

In the initial phase of the post earthquake trauma, most of the time is spent on saving the lives of those who are still alive under the rubble. After this, the relief operation shifts to supplying basic needs and seeking out for those in need of medical attention. After the second phase, the priority shifts to reconstruction of damaged/collapsed buildings, which is the ongoing phase. Most of us may not realize it yet, but the most difficult part will be to build new shelters for the affected ones. It is why I urge you to donate through the PMDRF.

A snapshot of the transactions made from Prime Minister Disaster Relief Fund

A snapshot of the transactions made from Prime Minister Disaster Relief Fund

If we are worried about the long term developments, then it is absolutely necessary that government funds are gathered. Nepal cannot carry out the reconstruction phase alone and needs international aid to do so. Nepal’s government will be the one to undertake rehabilitation process and it has the necessary equipment to undertake mass rehabilitation. Forget about the INGOs, they mostly do not have the necessary construction materials/they lack the area of expertise/they genuinely cannot carry out in a large scale. There are also fears that the adage ‘every penny counts’ which the individuals/organizations have advertised to collect funds may not be as it has been circulated. They may be used to cover the transportation costs for the volunteers or to feed themselves on the way to the relief areas. I appreciate the mass relief operations that INGOs are carrying out in remote areas and the thousands of lives that were saved in the process. But beneath the social works, there are clearly indications of just how the funds can be misused as justified by the lack of developments in the aftermath of Haiti earthquake. I am just saying that lessons ought to be learnt and implemented.

Now, I would like to digress a bit and clarify further on your false assumptions that the money may be embezzled down the government hierarchy. From what I have read from this article titled “What is the PM’s Disaster Relief Fund and What it is Not?“, it is clear that the PMDRF is not affiliated to PM himself, and he has no control over its use. The fund is established by the National Planning Commission. Furthermore, it is directly dispatched to the Chief District Officer who ensures that the money is spent directly on the affected victims. In a sense, there is little that the political leaders can do to divert the funds to their comrades/relatives.

The second and the most important reason that I love about this fund is that it is transparent. Were you to visit the fund’s website, you can easily download the copy of the transactions made from the account. It is a check and balance system in action. No worries. We can know who donated how much and to whom it has been dispatched. It then becomes our duty to check whether the funds have been used appropriately at the local level or not.

Those of you who are still in the dilemma of where to donate the funds, the reasons that I have highlighted explain the gravity to urge you to make the government channel the best one. This earthquake is an opportunity in disguise and if we don’t make the most out of it, then history will punish us for committing a crime in being unable to develop it to a full scale. Make the best choice because the long term developments are what will define Nepal and its people.

NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: TALES OF HOSPITALITY

It has been two weeks since the Great Earthquake struck Nepal. Those who survived this disaster have witnessed the worst and it will haunt them throughout their lives. People know that life is uncertain and that they must carry on with what they have left and treasure the memories that they build next. And with all the chaos surrounding this disaster, there were certain tales of hospitality that Nepalese demonstrated and which touched the hearts of the world.

I had highlighted the generous nature of the Nepalese in my post titled “YAHA CHHA KHUSI (HERE IS HAPPINESS)” and once again my fellow countrymen have proved their hospitality in a state where their hearts have been shattered and their shelter in ruins.

Within the next three or four days after the earthquake, the national and international media highlighted the destruction that crippled Nepal’s tourism sector with shocking images of collapsed buildings, demolition of UNESCO’S World Heritage Sites and cries of agony that were echoed whenever the media reached out to the affected areas. And at a time when rescue missions were just limited to Kathmandu Valley and its outskirts, there were examples that just illustrated how much more we were than just the news of our homeland’s destruction.

A picture emerged from an international news reporter and that was circulated in my Facebook circle about an old woman asking the reporter if he wanted any foods to eat despite knowing that her house had been turned into rubble. The news reporter was surprised of her resiliency and her genuine hospitality that its weightage compelled him to show the respect that she deserved. In a sense, it was really touching. It really moved me because that is what we expect in the aftermath of a national crisis. People helping each other even though they have nothing left, even though their family connections were taken away, even though they had not received relief days after the disaster. Maybe that is who we Nepalese truly are. It just pushes you into admitting that very soon, the nation will see its denizens in the state that they were in before the calamity. Or maybe Nepal can take the rehabilitation as a challenge and push its development strategies in ways that had never been imagined by the Nepalese.

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Hospitality showcased in the aftermath of the earthquake.

A few days later, another photo emerged on the national daily, Kantipur, where it portrayed a young girl offering Waiwai, an instant noodle, to anyone asking for it. The picture just justified that despite the crisis hitting hard on our mental strength, there seems to be little bit of our culture that sets an example of who we really are. If you consider that such actions are common, then you are wrong. Let me ask you: would you rather rush to save the people buried under the rubble or would you rush to open area and just watch others saving the affected ones? A large proportion would choose the latter but there are few among us who dared to show the true face of humanity.

These are just few examples of how our hospitable nature describes our nationality. We seem to have an empathy feeling towards those who are affected by any means. We are happy when we showcase our culture and feel proud at the same time.

In times such as these, I feel proud being a Nepali because some stories are so captivating that it feels that I am part of the story. A story that lets hope exponentially grow and makes a platform for other people to fight back against the crisis. And I believe these stories should be on the forefront of every news media that tend to cover stories on the aftermath of every great crisis.