“Aftershocks were countless

Nelson locals raise funds for Nepalese earthquake victims

Two Nelson companies, Ambler and Peak Freaks, raising funds for friends and employees. Photos by Douglas Noblet illustrate quake damage.

All photos by Wild Air Photography/Douglas Noblet

Two locally-owned companies with lengthy business ties and friendships in Nepal have been raising funds to assist employees and friends suffering after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit last month.

Christian Rawles and his wife Jackie Brown have been working with locals in Nepal and Kathmandu for years, in conjunction with their headwear brand, Ambler.

The couple has travelled there many times and Brown left Nepal just 12 hours prior to the first earthquake.

“We have been in contact with our people there continuously and our hearts are broken for them,” wrote Christian.

Compelled to help their Nepalese friends rebuild their homes and their lives, they began their own fundraiser. Within a week, they reached their $10,000 goal which they matched dollar for dollar. Rawles said they wired $21,000 to Nepal last Monday.

Since then they have raised another $3,000 and will continue to seek more, sending funds in $5,000 increments to minimize the $40 wiring fee.

Rawles said the funds are being used to mainly to buy tents, rice, water and water filters.

Christian said at their maximum capacity, Ambler pays 150 knitters who work in their homes as freelancers, also working for other companies. The workers are spread throughout different neighbourhoods, one of which is Bhaktapur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has reportedly lost all of its homes. The knitting done in people’s homes is then transported by bike or bus to Kathmandu for handcrafted finishing touches, like labels, quality control and packaging to North America.

Of the 250 employees who work in the assembly and finishing shop in Kathmandu, 45 lost their homes completely, and 30 more were left with uninhabitable homes.

Rawles said they wanted to make the work environment safe for their employees and the four storey building was built to withstand earthquakes. It was not damaged in either of the powerful quakes. In spite of the sound structure, after the second quake that measured 7.3 on Tuesday, Rawles said everyone left.

“The second quake was probably psychologically more damaging,” he said, explaining many people have left the city to go to their smaller hometowns to take care of family and help.

Rawles said after Tuesday’s quake, it’s “all totally up in the air” as to how many have homes or are not safe.

He said four staff are tasked with assessing the situation, providing food, water, and shelter to those worst hit.

Whatever is left over will go to rebuilding, which Rawles said probably is not going to be for a while as the need for basics is still high.

“We can’t offer tax receipts but we can offer a guarantee that 100 per cent of your donation will go directly into the hands of a person in Nepal who has lost their home,” wrote Rawles.

If you are interested in contributing to this fundraiser, visit amblermw.com/helpnepal.

NELSON PHOTOGRAPHER CAPTURES QUAKE AFTERMATH

Nelson resident and photographer Douglas Noblet was trekking the Annapurna circuit when a major earthquake hit Nepal on April 25. His photographs, seen here, show some of the damage to buildings in Kathmandu, when he returned to the capital city for his flight out of the devastated country on May 7.

“The bus back to Kathmandu was fine, to the local standard at least,” wrote Noblet. “Aftershocks were countless, making nights a little stressful, keeping everyone on their toes. I wasn’t particularly nervous going back to Kathmandu, though slightly apprehensive of bigger aftershocks. The city itself was definitely quite affected, with damaged and crumbled buildings throughout, but it’s not like the entire city was flattened.”

Langtang Valley is a different story.

Noblet helped pack food and supplies for remote villages in his two days in the big city. Noblet wrote: “Many of the small and remote villages had yet to see aid two weeks after the quake, which the locals were taking in their own hands and organizing deliveries themselves.”

PEAK FREAKS RAISING FUNDS

Meanwhile, Tim and Becky Rippel, owners of Peak Freaks, which offers tours to climb Mt. Everest, are appealing for donations to three funds they have set up. They employee numerous guides from various countries but the majority are Nepalese Sherpas.

While they were not climbing Mt. Everest when the earthquake struck, they have been working tirelessly trying to arrange aid.

They have been operating in the Himalayas for 24 years and led 50 expeditions, and 14 on Everest, putting hundreds of clients on summits. Becky runs the business and Tim guides them.

“We have 60 staff members and helped make the lives of the Sherpa people where they are today, enjoying education and the comforts of western life through tourism,” wrote Tim. “We are told by thousands and our sherpas that we are well respected and have a major focus on environmental issues. We’ve been the leader on that topic forever.”

They hope to change construction practices in Nepal. “Right now everything is made of stone, rebar and now wood that will be lost forever as the forests are depleted,” wrote Tim.

At the end of April, the couple was frantically coordinating communications, trying to find people and get a scope of the devastation. “There are no roads to so many that need help,” wrote Tim.

The couple typically would have been in Nepal this time of year but took a stand on corruption in Nepal that Tim said got a lot of media attention and put pressure on the situation.

“Right now the country is uprising against the people in office making bribes off foreign aid supplies,” wrote Tim. “Not good. We will continue to offer help to our family friends for 24 years in Nepal.”

They have three projects in the works to help: On the Ground Rebuild Projects, a relief fund appeal with First Steps Himalaya and Sherpa Direct. While the Rippels encourage people to continue to travel to Nepal, just not right now, they have two rebuilding treks scheduled for this fall.

In October Tim will lead a fundraising trek to the Everest region with his Sherpa crew. In November, the couple will lead a fundraising trek and rebuild in Sangachok, which lost an estimated 40,000 homes.

For more details, visit peakfreaks.com.

The Canadian government has donated $5 million and committed to match donations made to the Canadian Red Cross’s Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund dollar for dollar until May 25.

UNICEF, Docters Without Borders, and OXFAM are among the many aid groups helping victims of the Nepal earthquake.

The earthquake killed more than 8,150 people, injured 19,000, and left hundreds of thousands homeless. A second earthquake measuring 7.3, shook the already terrified nation again on Tuesday, killing dozens more and causing further damage to buildings. The monsoon season is expected to begin in less than two weeks.

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