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Nepal earthquake support: how collaborative networks can help

Jun
11
Eric & Paul

 

nepal earthquake supportOn april the 25th, a very much devastating earthquake hit Nepal, killing thousands of people and destroying even more houses. Hundreds aftershocks have followed. 

Like many travelers who went through this amazing country and who met such wonderful people, we have been even more moved by this tragedy and tried to organize a Nepal earthquake support. 

"Kishor, are you alive? Your family? Our friends?"

 The growing U2GUIDE community, made of travelers and philanthropists, has fellows in Nepal: Kedhar, ... and Kishor who is our ambassador there and who played a great role in setting up our vision. Straight after being aware of this tragedy, we tried by so many ways to contact Kishor. Oversea call, messages via Facebook, emails. 3 days without any news. 3 long days of anxiety... and hope. Finaly Kishor's cousin, working in Saudi Arabia, got in touch with us through Facebook and informed us that Kishor was alive. Soon Kishor himself called us and said these amazing & inspiring words :

"Yes, I'm OK. My family too. Our friends too. We've no more roofs. We're sleeping outside. Well, we've lost quite everything but fortunately, we still have our friends all around the world" - Kishor R.

The building where Kishor's family was living for more than 350 years, says 5 generations: 

nepal earthquake

 

"You might not be able to help the entire Nepal but here is an opportunity to directly support a few great families!".

Paul and I have been humanitarian activists for more than a decade now and we deeply share a common vision,  illustrated by this quite famous motto: "better to teach fishing then giving a fish". However, given the context and knowing how late support finally comes to humble people (and how corruption severely "filters" such support), we decided to launch an operation through U2GUIDE community. After all, if a community can not help its members, what's the point? Through Facebook, Twitter, Wechat, mailing, ... we thus posted a call for donation for Nepal, through U2GUIDE: the biggest part of the donations would be given directly to our local U2GUIDE community in Nepal (involved in emergency relief and primary health care), the other part to a selected local Nepalese NGO. 

In a few days, we had received 2,328.50 euros from various countries (France, China, England, Spain...)! Modest figure for some, life-changing for others,  we were so moved and excited to feel the Philanthropic mobilization within our community. After all, Philanthropy is not about numbers:

"- Georges: (...) We'd like to give 30 euros. We have modest means and it's not much... but if we all do the same... (...)

- U2GUIDE: Dear Georges, the size of ones heart is not measured by the amount of a donation but by the fervor and spontaneity with which a hand is offered to those who need it. Thanks for offering your hand! (...)" - Mailing from U2GUIDE archives

Cupidity vs. Generosity: Kishor, an inspiring soul!

We first gave 1,500.00 euros to U2GUIDE Nepalese community to help them. Let's be clear: the amount would not help to get new roofs, but it would at least support them to deal with emergency issues. Regardless, sometimes Generosity appears to be endless:

"- U2GUIDE: Hi Kishor, Namaste! (...) we just transferred 700.00 & 800.00 euros to you, through Western Union. Please equally share it with Kedhar (cc). (...)

- Kishor: Hi Eric, Namaste! Many thanks to the U2GUIDE community, friends, travelers, well wishers and philanthropists from China, Europe, ... Many thanks for supporting us in this difficult time. However, could you do me a favor? We also have 3 fellows with whom we work on U2GUIDE. They are drivers and are very kind. Instead of sharing in 2 equal parts, could we share it in 5 parts? With hope that you will understand! Thanks again!

- U2GUIDE: Hi Kishor, Namaste! Of course!!! You're amazing! That's inspiring!"

NB:  Kishor has sent us cheques copies showing he had shared the money equally amongst his 4 friends.

earthquake support

Today, Kishor is busy manually dismantling his house, with a few fellow-friends of his. This is certainly emotionally intense for him (as well as for many families in Nepal). If you'd like to follow Kishor,  you can do so on his facebook account (link). One of his last post (link) was entitled "We are the world. When we are united everything is possible". For the few hundred euros we've sent him, Kishor sent us a beautiful reminder: a donation is not only about money... it also includes the subtle soothing vibrations of solidarity, making one feel like he's not alone - a feeling we should not underestimate the importance of,  especially in such traumatic  situations.

 Humanitarian initiatives are often about this feeling of unity or some inspiring solidarity in the midst of situations where positiveness and sometimes even joy are arising despite the terrible things that happened. Thank you Kishor for you're amazing strength, your positiveness and your words of hope. You have truly inspired us! Keep it up dear friend.

To our readers: You can still support Kishor and his friends by sending us donations. Just send us an email to action@u2guide.com by specifying "Nepal" and the amount you'd like to give: we would then send you an invitation to donate, through paypal. Nevertheless, another way to sustainably help Nepal is to travel there. After all, mountains are still there, Folk is still so lovely and there's still plenty, plenty of amazing things to do over there!

Sometimes NGOs can be (sic!) disappointing!

Simply put: we received 2.328,50 euros. We gave 1,500.00 euros to some of our community members in Nepal and we still had 828,50 euros to give to a rapid response local NGO. Through our "humanitarian/NGO" network and our local U2GUIDE community, we identified a local not-for-profit organization with efficient local initiatives around the earthquake. We reached out to this NGO offering a brief Skype call in order to (1.) understand how the money would be spent, (2.) discuss how we would be able to give a transparent feedback to our community and (3.) introduce U2GUIDE and how we could help the NGO in the long run, using philanthropic traveling worldwide. NGO CEO was supposed to get back to us "next monday" (like a month ago); he never did, despite our several follow up emails over a month period. Was our donation too modest? If yes, should an NGO ever turn its back on a donation and potential thousands of donors?

NGO staffs are certainly stressed out during rush periods like this one, however, from a professional point of view it would be fare to expect any NGO to:

1. be able to explain how donations related to the emergency would be spent, using a simplified Plan for Actions. Easy to share. Nothing confidential. Copy/Paste. Send.

2. be able to provide a transparent feedback. This is highly important for us. Indeed, it's easy to exhibit People suffering through words, pictures, etc. And as horrifying as this may sound, "poverty marketing" exists. Take a few examples: Haiti (Hearthquake), Thailand (Tsunami) ... : Huge amounts, billions have been given in a few days, demonstrating the greatest potential of human kind. But for all those who have generously donated, how many of them received precise feedback on how their money had been allocated (or not) ? And how much of all the money donated has really reached those in needs? Those for whom, in the first place, these donations were intended? Many humanitarian experts and independent critics have expressed their shame and disgust regarding these abuse in times of crisis. We do too, especially since specialized journalists have been reporting more and more abuses, between strategic failures (i.e. expensive but unsustainable shelters are still being built in Haiti while People need concrete houses and long term solutions...), corruption and "payroll erosion" for "experts reporting". At the end of the day, worldwide donors feel abused by such scandals and great initiatives (because they exist) lack support - too bad. Thus one of our mission at U2GUIDE: to identify and push great initiatives and, as a community of Philanthropists, be able to promote them through our audience while giving a clear feedback regarding their efficiency. 

3. be open to new fundraising opportunities. Fundraising cost a lot to international NGOs. Some of them report dedicating 15% to 20% of their operating expenses to it : for them, a donation of 10 euros costs 2 euros. Some others contract specialized companies to deal with it : they send thousands of young salesmen in the street. This is called street-fundraising! One of french leader "ONG Conseil" reported in a newspaper having raised 130 millions euros for a cost of 70 millions euros. In other words, simply put: a donation of 10 euros cost 5,4 euros. Scandal... and donors certainly don't know that. Would you give 10 euros if you new more than half of it was paying a private company? certainly not. So shouldn't such new, free, ethical and collaborative fundraising solutions introduced by U2GUIDE (link), based on Travel, be of interest and promoted by NGOs? Good new is, it is: most NGOs we have contacted have shown great interest. Few others did not even answer our invitations. In this latter case, an insight regarding the Plan for Action with few words "let's deal with emergency first. We'll get back to you as soon as possible" would have been fair enough for us. 

So this is where we are, reaching out to other organizations and making sure we'll give our U2GUIDE contribution to the most ethical and efficient one. And you can count on us to inform you about our final choice!  

GREAT NGOs EXIST!

Once again: GREAT INITIATIVES WITH GREAT IMPACT EXIST! The bigger the U2GUIDE community, the more we will be able to promote them and the more we will be able to ask clear & transparent feedback... At the end of the day, the more we will trigger positive changes!

Stay tuned and thank you for your trust.

From Philanthropia with Love,

The U2GUIDE team!

Traveling as a solidary experience

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