On Saturday April 25th, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck Nepal. There has been more than 60 shocks in the two subsequent days. The reported death toll has crossed 5000. According to Wall Street Journal, the economic damages of the disaster have been estimated by U.S. Geological Survey to exceed Nepal’s GDP of 20 Billion dollars. The economic impact is much larger than the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004, and Haiti earthquake of 2010.
More than 250 Finns were in Nepal when the disaster struck. All but one Finn has now been in contact with the Finnish embassy in Kathmandu. On the other hand, more than 3,000 Nepalese living in Finland involved in various sectors. Nepalese in Finland are working as entrepreneurs, researchers, engineers, medical and other professionals along with many students all of
whom have been affected by this earthquake in one way or the other. Many of us have lost us near and dear ones including family and friends. Even larger number of Nepalese living in Finland have had their family’s homes in Nepal demolished by the earthquake. Now our family members are living in tents, waiting for food and other relief materials. Lack of proper drinking water, food and sanitation threatens the spread of an epidemic if proper actions are not taken at the earliest possible time.
Finnish government, and INGOs and NGOs in Finland, such as Red Cross, Finnish Church Aid, Plan International, and Save the Children have continually extended their support. The Nepali community in Finland is very anxious at the current situation. The helpless feeling of not being there to help our families and friend in Nepal has depressed the community. Not being able to stand this helplessness and only following the news of havoc created by the earthquake in Nepal, a group of 10 volunteers who are doctors, registered nurses and experts in the area have planned to physically on the grounds to support and rescue the victims. Suomi-Nepal seura has helped them in collecting the logistics (tents, sleeping bags, lights, blankets etc.) for their work in Nepal.
Finnair and Spicejet generously provided free tickets and also carried the logistics including tents, sleeping bags, blankets for the volunteers and the victims which was over and above their normal baggage allowance. “We had the motivation and determination to help Nepal but we had financial problems as some of us had less than 100 Euros in our bank account”, said Bhuwan Pokharel, the leader of the volunteering group, “If it was not for the generosity of Finnair and Spicejet and other donors including NRNA-Finland, we couldn’t have dreamed of helping our brothers and sisters back home who are in desperate need”. The volunteering group also includes a Finnish citizen of Nepalese origin.
Five days after the disaster struck, the help and support from government agencies, national and international agencies have not been able to reach the worst areas in the rural Nepal. These volunteers are from those rural Nepal and have the know-how of the area and also the expertise thus expediting the rescue and the rehabilitation process. Although the families of some of the volunteers have themselves suffered the havoc, most of the volunteers will not meet the family but would deploy themselves to the deadliest hit areas in rural Nepal, namely Sindhupalchowk and Gorkha.