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Kiva - loans that change lives

Kiva update 30

It’s been a while since I reported on Kiva. Next to my efforts to support Nepal after the earthquake, it remains my goal to help people in other countries with microfinancing. Quite a few repayments had been made in the mean time and I’ve relended that money to other people.

But I’ve also received less positive news from Kiva. A number of loans will not be repaid because the organisations that owe this money to Kiva, can’t get the money out of their country. As a consequence, I need to write off about 400 $ permanently. That is obviously not pleasant, but the overall picture remains positive because 186 loans have been repaid completely in the last 5 years.

I have reinvested the repaid loans in new loans, but I have also compensated the lost 400 $. This allowed me to help another 17 students around the world to make their dreams come true. These 17 loans have pushed me over the symbolic limit of 300 supported projects. This means that I have supported 302 entrepeneurs and students since 2011 with Kiva loans.

For more information about Kiva and the projects I support, I would like to refer you to the Kiva page. Below, you can find a short overview:

Voordracht Rumst

 

Salsa 4 Nepal

Yesterday evening, my sister Anne, together with Pascal Tilborgs en Ian Charanga, organized a Salsa 4 Nepal party. 400 people showed at the event. More than 2000 euro was raised for Nepal. That brings the total to more than 5000 euro. Monday, I will give a lecture in the townhall of Rumst.

Reconnaissance mission completed

Since yesterday afternoon, I’m back in Kathmandu after a reconaissance mission of five days. On Thursday, I set off with Victor and 4 Nepalese to assess the damage and the needs in a number of villages in the Dhading Bhesi district. The first day we spent 8 hours in a bus and 4×4 before we could start walking. On the second day, we managed to reach Sertun.

The damage we saw on the way was enormous. The trekking trail is damaged but can still be used. One of the bridges is damaged but it’s still being used. There are a number of landslides on the trail but with a bit of scrambling you can get to the other side. The houses however are in a much worse state. Most houses were either severely damaged or totally destroyed. People have been sleeping outside for 3 weeks, often in the rain. Here and there, tarps have been provided or someone has built a temporary shelter. Although a lot of food has been destroyed, people are not starving. The supplies are decreasing though.

But two weeks from now, the monsoon starts. As of then, it will be much harder to drop supplies with helikopters. So time is running out to provide each family with a temporary shelter to protect them from the rain. And as of the beginning of June, the trekking trail becomes the only lifeline for these families.

Aid is starting to get up to speed in this area in the mean time. This weekend tarps were flown to the main villages with helicopters. Distribution of the aid in the villages remains a problem however if the army is not present to maintain order, especially because the aid only covers part of the needs. When 50 tarps were supplied to Barun (a village of 280 families) on Saturday, people started fighting. On top of that, more remote villages often only see a small portion of the materials that are dropped in the main villages.

The aid also doens’t just come from the large NGO’s and organisations. Often, groups of people that are connected to a certain village set up their own aid. On Sunday, we met a group of Indians that had just supplied 250 bags of rice to two villages. A little later, we met Josh, an American that owns a restaurant in Pokhara. He had just supplied food and tarps to the hometown of his employees. One of his employees had lost 18 relatieves in the earthquake.

In the mean time, I’ve gotten in touch with Durkin of Mountain People, a small ngo that has been active in Nepal for many years. They have concentrated their aid activities on the Manaslu region and on Tipling, one of the villages in my reconnaissance mission. I’m investigating with Dave in the mean time how we can work together to meet the short and long term needs of Tipling. More about this soon.

Today, I’e also managed to book my flight home. I will land in Zaventem tomorrow afternoon. As of then, it will be easier to reach me if you want to know more about the situation in Nepal.

Aftershocks and reconnaissance mission

Last night, I was woken up by aftershocks. I’m staying in a hotel at the 2nd floor at this moment, so I was not sleeping as solid as I usually do. Fortunately both aftershocks were light and short. There were even more earthquakes that were so short and light that I didn’t even get out of bed for them. And there were probably even more shocks that didn’t even wake me up.

The entire situation reminds me of a blog that I wrote a few weeks ago. I pointed out then that aftershocks were a serious risk and a good reason to cancel the expedition on Makalu. I’m relieved that I wasn’t on Makalu at 30 km of the epicentre of the earthquake on Tuesday. Those that minimised the risk and wanted to continue climbing were obviously wrong.

In the mean time, I’m all set for the reconnaissance mission of the next couple of days. We’ve collected so,e extra information about the region this afternoon and did some shopping. Apparantly, the damage in these villages is substantial but it’s not clear how much help these villages have received already.

It’s also nice to see how many climbers, trekkers and other westerners are helping out in Nepal. I’ve met quite a few in the last couple of days in Kathmandu. And apparently, a lot of people are trying to collect money around the world. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to contribute. The Nepalese will be extremely gratefull for your contribution.

And if you had planned a trip to Nepal later this year, hold off a bit before you cancel it. The danger should be gone by then. And for Nepal, tourism is a major source of income. And if you’ve never been to Nepal, you can do some good and give yourself and unforgettable trip by choosing Nepal as your holliday destination for this year.

New earthquake

Today was another painful day for Nepal. At lunch time I was sitting outside having a drink in Kathmandu while planning my reconnaissance mission of the next couple of days when the earth started moving again. The earthquake had a magnitude of 7.4 on the Richter scale and lasted for about 2 minutes allthough the worst shaking was over after 30 seconds.

Everyone ran outside. I wasn’t inside fortunately but I was next to a large building. So I moved to a safer spot where I could run in several directions if necessary. When the shock was over, people stayed in the Streets. There was no real panick but people were nervous.

After half an hour, I went back to my seat but a bit later it started again. The second earthquake was as bad and it didn’t last that long, but it did impact the confidence of people. Shops and restaurants were closed and people went home.

I wanted to return to my hotel but that too was closed. In the mean time, stories about damage and victims started popping up. In my neighbourhood, there was no damage or any victims but not everyone in Nepal was that lucky.

In the end, I went to the meeting we had planned to prepare our reconnaissance trip. The goal of our mission is to assess a number of villages near Gamesh Himal, namely Boran, Sertun and Tipling. In that region, there are about 7000 households of which very little is known when it comes to needs and damage. I have been warned today that the atmosphere in some of these remote villages can be pretty grim if they haven’t gotten much aid yet. That’s why we’re taking locals with us that can speak the language and know the culture and habits.

If all goes well, we are leaving for a five day mission on Thursday morning.

New earthquake in Nepal. Wim i…

New earthquake in Nepal. Wim is OK.

New earthquake in Nepal. Wim i…

New earthquake in Nepal. Wim is OK.

Earthquake update

Yesterday, Victor and myself had a meeting with Ben Ayers of the “dZi Foundation” to discuss how we could help. He pointed us in the direction of the Yellow House Bed & Breakfast where a group of volunteers co-ordinates actions. We immediately went there and apparently our timing was perfect. They were looking for people that could check out a few remote villages in the region between Manaslu and Langtang.

This afternoon, we will get together again to finalise our plans and tomorrow we will depart with 4 people: Victor, 2 Nepalese and myself.

As usual, you will be able to follow my progress via this website.

Back in Kathmandu

Yesterday, I arrived back in Kathmandu after a trekking of 6 days, followed by a ride with a 4×4 and a flight. The descent from basecamp went pretty smooth.

On the way, I could already experience what the earthquake had done to Nepal. Because Makalu is 300 km away from the epicentre, the damage in this region was not as desastrous as in the West. During the descent from Makalu basecamp to Numm, there were however damaged buildings. Stone walls had often collapsed while wooden structures seemed to withstand the earthquake better. Only in Seduwa, there seemed to be a number of houses on one side of the village that had been destroyed. On the other side of the village, there was no damage at all. Fortunately, there were no casualties or seriously wounded in this region.

In many cases, the Nepalese had already started fixing the damage. At one point, I passed by a lodge where the stones of the collapsed walls were still in front of the building on the ground. In the mean time, the locals had built new walls in different material and the lodge was open for business again.

Because the damage in the East of Nepal is less serious, I’ve returned to Kathmandu to offer my services in areas that have suffered more from the earthquake. Today and tomorrow, I will talk to a number of NGO’s to see where I can add most value.

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