Catastrophe in Nepal

From the founder of Tevel b’Tzedek, a first-person account of the relief effort after an earthquake devastated the South Asian country, and what more is left to do.

By MICHA ODENHEIMER
May 7, 2015 13:53
Nepal quack

An earthquake survivor runs past collapsed houses on the outskirts of Kathmandu, May 5.. (photo credit: REUTERS/ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA)

 
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KATHMANDU – Even before the earthquake, Nepal often teetered on the edge of chaos: A 10 year Maoist civil war ended in 2006 with the venal Royal Family ousted from the palace, but no powerful leader had filled the void. General strikes often paralyzed the country, the constitution remained unwritten, and most importantly, the thousands of remote villages that dotted the hills and mountains lacked access to health and education services, and mostly could not grow enough food to feed the population.

My organization, Tevel b’Tzedek, founded to connect Israel and Jews to the challenge of extreme poverty in the developing world, had come to Nepal eight years before and had never left; although we have expanded to Haiti and then to Burundi since then. During our first two years, we had placed our Israeli and Jewish volunteers as interns in local organizations; we quickly began to realize that the crisis of rural villages was the great producer of poverty in Nepal.

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