In the dark, frightening and chaotic hours of April 25, Nepal cried out for help -- and many friends of Salesian Missions answered, generously and from the bottom of their hearts. Today, a new video produced by Fr. Jiji Kalavanal in Nepal details the positive impact of that generosity -- as well as the important work that still needs to be done.
In the first two weeks following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which shook Nepal to its core, members of the Don Bosco Society in Kathmandu fanned out across the country -- reaching more than 8,000 families comprised of 30,000 people in 19 different villages. Thanks to the immediate and overwhelming response to our Nepal Emergency Fund, these Salesian missionaries and volunteers were able to deliver more than 100 tons of critical humanitarian aid to victims in desperate need: medical supplies, clean water, food rations and tents for temporary shelter.
“Their ability to act so quickly absolutely saved lives,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “So many outside aid agencies were unable to gain immediate access to the most-affected areas because they were cut off from communications systems, blocked by mudslides, or hampered by other logistics. Since our Salesian missionaries were already on the ground, they were able to make a real difference. I am so grateful for the caring kindness of our supporters, who helped make this happen.”
As the challenging work of sustainable reconstruction begins -- work that will create a stronger-built environment to mitigate the risks of future disasters -- the video highlights an ongoing and critical concern: the plight of Nepal’s youth.
“As with any natural disaster, the children are the worst affected,” says Fr. Tony Valiaparackattu, a Salesian missionary serving in Nepal. “They have been displaced from their homes and families, they are traumatized by the scenes of devastation surrounding them, and many have lost parents, siblings or other loved ones. Their world has literally been turned upside down.”
For these thousands of girls and boys in Nepal -- who are now highly vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking -- education simply can’t wait. Returning to the classroom is crucial to restoring a sense of normalcy, and to combatting the long-term side effects of what they have experienced. And, most importantly, education arms them with the knowledge and skills they will ultimately need to rebuild their own lives, communities, and country.
For this reason, our Salesian missionaries have sharply focused their attention on returning children to school. It’s a daunting task -- more than 32,000 classrooms were destroyed by the quake, and any remaining school buildings are unsafe to use. However, they have begun setting up temporary classrooms to accommodate as many students as possible until the educational infrastructure can be completely rebuilt.
These efforts are in conjunction with our ongoing commitment to help Nepal rise from the ashes -- stronger, and more resilient than before. For a more complete understanding of these efforts -- and how you can be part of them -- we invite you to watch this inspiring new video, “Nepal is Calling.”