We apologize for the limited communication in these past few weeks. It has been an interesting time for us with some unexpected twists and turns, but we are happy to report that we’re back on track and have some exciting news to share with you!
Many of you know that we left Nepal for 12 days at the end of May because of delays in my visa application process. For those of you who didn’t know, allow me to explain further: My tourist visa was set to expire in early June, but my student visa application was significantly delayed because of the earthquake. By leaving the country for two weeks, we effectively ‘stopped the clock’ on my tourist visa and bought some time for the student visa paperwork to be processed through Nepal’s (painfully slow) bureaucratic system. We regretted having to leave the country at such a time, but if I had stayed and the student visa did not get processed before my tourist visa expired, I would have been forced to leave Nepal for 7 months (until the new calendar year in 2016). Drew and I are both committed to relief efforts here in Nepal, and were determined to avoid a situation in which I would have to be out of the country for so long. And so, we headed to Malaysia, using the opportunity to get some much needed rest and relaxation. We returned to Kathmandu on June 3rd, refreshed and ready to tackle the challenges ahead. (And, I’m happy to report that I now have my student visa in hand!)
We hit the ground running upon our return, planning and conducting two art workshops for children affected by the earthquake with our friends Bikram and Bimal. Do you remember them from previous Relief Fund updates? Our goal was to provide materials and opportunity for children to engage in art-making as a way to relax and unwind amidst the extreme stress of the earthquake, the aftershocks, and the ensuing aftermath (in all its forms). It is our feeling that art-making can be a healing and restorative act, and that giving children the opportunity to make art is one small way to help them process the trauma that they’ve experienced. Our first workshop was held on June 13th in Paiyatar, near Jarankhu, in northern Kathmandu…
We set up six different ‘art stations’ which the children were encouraged to work at as they pleased. Activities included group mural painting, life-sized self-portraits, drawing, collage, paper folding, and mask-making. With over 80 children in attendance, the concept of ‘organized chaos’ was certainly in full effect – we made a mess and had a TON of fun!
At the end of it all, there were many proud artists sharing their work with us…
We were very grateful to have the help of Bikram’s wife Binita, Bikram and Bimal’s mother and sister-in-law, and several other adults from the community. It would have been nearly impossible without them!
At the bottom of the hill, the Guiness Public Secondary English School is currently holding classes in a temporary structure because their original building was badly cracked in the earthquake and is no longer safe… We set up art stations inside the shell of their new school building (currently under construction) for over 50 children in 1st – 6th grade. Like in Paiyatar, the children participated in painting, drawing, collage, and mask-making activities…
Like at our first workshop, there were many proud artists sharing their work with us…
Again, we had great help…I don’t know what we would have done without the teachers!
We look forward to continuing our art workshops in these areas in the future (and possibly in other areas as well). Because of your generous donations, bringing art programming to these children is possible. Thank you!
Drew and I are also happy to report that we are making significant progress on a temporary shelter project for the coming monsoon season. We have connected with the folks at Project EK, a grassroots organization that has been doing great work coordinating the providing of shelters to those in need since the earthquake. They helped us determine the design for our shelters, as well as helped us locate a local company that provides all the materials necessary for construction. The basic shelter looks like this… Once these materials are delivered, the villagers will receive training on how to construct them, and will also be responsible for covering the sides of the structures using local/salvaged materials. This can be done in a variety of ways, as I saw during my recent visit to Dharmasthali… (Villagers will be strongly encouraged to consider adequate cross-ventilation while constructing their shelters).
We are still in the planning phase and details are currently being finalized, but we look forward to updating you with more specific information on this project very soon! Lastly, for those of you that are interested, here are this week’s numbers-
Funds raised since our last update (May 17th): $1,495
Total funds raised: $9,692.36
Funds spent since our last update (May 17th): $388.13
Total funds spent: $2,574.61
Funds leftover for future relief work: $7,117.75
Thank you so much, again, for your many generous donations! We are honored and humbled by your support and your trust. If you know of anybody else who might be interested in donating, please send them to our original appeal for donations HERE. More updates coming soon. For now, here are a few more wonderful pieces of art from our workshops to make you smile (they are just too good not to share!)…