Sanjeev Pradhan is Karuna-Shechen’s Director of Field Operations and Nepal Country Director. He has been coordinating our relief effort in Nepal since the earthquake struck on Saturday April 25. In this interview, he explains how Karuna-Shechen is helping those affected by this terrible tragedy.
What was Karuna-Shechen’s intitial response ?
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake the Shechen Clinic functioned as a triage center for assessing injury severity in the Boudhanath area. This had always been our plan for any disasters or emergencies Our doctors and medical staff helped with the relief effort by addressing medical emergencies around the city, in their own residential areas.
After having secured the Boudhanath area, which was our core designated priority area in case of an emergency, our two mobile clinics went into affected isolated villages to bring essential medical assistance to remote communities affected by the disaster. We also brought food and material assistance.
What is Karuna-Shechen’s area of expertise for dealing with such a disaster?
A majority of the communities who need help are very small and isolated. There are numerous small settlements scattered all over affected districts, high up the mountains, most have no more than fifty houses.
A lot of those people have lost everything, and are in desperate need of assistance. However, because of their size and isolation, aid from the government and large humanitarian organizations do not reach them. They stay on the fringe of humanitarian aid because their numbers are not large enough to make them a priority and, also, because they are difficult to access.
This is where Karuna-Shechen comes in. If there is a need that we can directly address, no matter what the challenges, we will go where we are needed. This has always been our area of expertise, and even more so today, in such tragic times. We have already been able to reach and bring assistance to over 20 isolated villages in four affected districts, directly helping over 6,000 people. And this is just the beginning.
Karuna-Shechen will continue to bring medical and relief assistance (food and shelter) to communities affected by the earthquake as long as they need it. Because we have been working in Nepal since 2000, we already work with a network of local grassroots organizations. This is how we are able to reach isolated communities. We are joining forces with them to deliver adequate aid, reach isolated villages, and help those who are too often forgotten.
Our partnership with LOOKS Nepal, in the Kavre district, (where we also support a number of schools), is a very good example of how we work with local NGOs to distribute relief materials to families living in temporary shelters in small villages.
Rehabilitation and reconstruction will be the next phase. Given the magnitude of the devastation, this is not going to be a small or easy task. We have started to assess the needs of the people and will devise long-term programs that benefit communities as a whole, based on their specific requirements.