December 5 2019
Twenty years ago, Matthieu Ricard set out to build a better world for the people of the Himalayan region through the founding of Karuna-Shechen. Working in remote and underserved villages, made poss...
When two major earthquakes struck Nepal in April and May of 2015, Karuna-Shechen already had a long history of humanitarian activities in the region and had been working for 15 years to relieve suffering for the Nepalese people. Our teams had relationships with remote mountain communities, knew the villagers, and had established partnerships with local grassroots organizations.
Given the magnitude of the destruction, the immediate needs of the people, and the presence of our medical and operations teams on the ground, Karuna-Shechen responded immediately in the earthquake’s aftermath. Joining forces with our partners, we accessed key information and responded to the most urgent needs of small isolated communities. Over the next few months, we delivered food, supplies, and vital medical and relief aid to 622 remote villages and over 200,000 people affected by the disaster.
Within a few months, our teams on the ground reported the need to move beyond — and deeper than — emergency relief efforts. The Nepalese people are resilient and used to hard work, and they were ready to roll up their sleeves and rebuild their lives.
In the summer of 2015, Karuna-Shechen implemented a comprehensive 3-year rehabilitation program. Targeting more than 58 severely affected rural communities in 12 of the 15 affected districts, we worked with villagers to rebuild what had been lost and strengthen for the future.
To ensure children had access to quality education, we repaired and supported 12 elementary schools affected by the earthquakes. Activities included constructing temporary structures, building desks and benches, installing clean water supply systems and toilets, hiring additional teachers, and more.
To replace dangerous kerosene oil lamps with clean and sustainable solar energy, we expanded our solar power program. Activities included training two women from each selected village to become solar technicians and entrepreneurs, installing solar electricity in 100 houses per village in each project area.
To increase access to nutritious food, we established a food security program. Activities included planting household kitchen gardens, teaching villagers to use natural/organic composting and pest management, and helping villagers to use traditional techniques for food storage, bio-forestry, animal husbandry, and more.
To reduce the instances of human trafficking that drastically increased after the earthquakes, we launched intervention efforts in vulnerable districts. Activities included forming village surveillance groups to monitor, detect, and protect against suspicious activity, as well as information sessions and intensive trainings, street dramas to raise awareness, and networking in communities, schools, and families.
To address the pressing need for emergency medical response and medicine, we launched an intensive advanced first-aid training program. Activities included training selected villagers as community first-aid responders and creating a nation-wide network of emergency health responders in isolated communities, who could then train others and spread their knowledge to neighboring villages.
To strengthen the capacity of communities, village committees, and individuals to prepare for and respond to natural or man-made disasters in the future, we launched our disaster preparedness training. Activities included organizing information and training sessions, and leading practice drills.
Karuna-Shechen’s low overhead, established relationships with communities, and partnerships with local organizations enabled us to effectively implement programs that met the most pressing needs. Working hand-in-hand with villagers, we empowered people to learn skills to improve their lives. To encourage sustainability, we trained local people from within the communities to then pass on their knowledge and expertise to the inhabitants of neighboring villages. Our projects, therefore, served as models that other communities could replicate locally without outside intervention.
Thanks to the dedication of our team, and the extraordinary solidarity shown by people around the world, we worked with affected communities to make it through the emergency, rebuild, and strengthen infrastructure in remote, underserved mountain villages.
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November 15 2019
Karuna-Shechen’s projects are developed to serve the needs of villagers and communities in remote and under-served areas of Nepal, India, and Tibet. While we gauge success based on the number of peo...
Meet the villagers, our team, and all those who make our work possible. Discover the values that guide and inspire us. And learn how your generous support improves the living conditions of 250,000 peo...