Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. Two Nederland women are boarding a plane next Tuesday, October 24, 2017, that will ultimately take them to Ghormu, Nepal, where they will pay for and facilitate the purchase of an ambulance for the village and its surrounding area.
The trip has been two years in the making and after much consideration and planning Jill Dreves, director of Wild Bear Nature Center, and Resham Gurung, owner of Kathmandu Restaurant, are about to achieve their goal of making the best use of funds received two years ago.
On April 25, 2015, a devastating earthquake demolished many villages in Nepal, including Ghormu, where Resham’s family lived.
When Nederland residents heard of the disaster, they gathered around Resham and her family and organized a community fundraiser with the intention of raising money to help the villagers survive and recover.
Community members Barb Hardt, Larry Higgins, Laurelyn Sayah and many others worked to perform music, give presentations, show pictures of the villages and enjoy the restaurant’s buffet while they emptied their pockets and filled the donation jars. People were generous as they watched videos of Ghormu residents living in tents, having lost everything.
Jill Dreves remembers, “Many of us felt the funds should go to a nonprofit organization to get it there quickly. Resham, however, was determined to bring the funds directly to her small village of Ghormu. But this was no easy task. The funds were secured in a bank account managed by Mountain Forum for Peace.”
A total of $19,000 was raised in the week following the earthquake and Resham and her family decided to wait and research the most sustainable, most helpful project on which to spend the sizable donation fund. Resham says that so many people need help that if the money were to be divided among households, the families would receive only about $50 and they wanted this money to go farther and last longer.
“We considered maybe building a community hall, but that would take too much time,” says Resham. She thought back to the days she lived in the village and remembered that many people had died because there were no medical resources and no ambulances to transport sick or injured people to far away hospitals or clinics. In fact, at that time, there were no roads for the ambulances to travel on.
That changed about five years ago, which led Resham to begin researching the possibility of buying an ambulance for the village and for neighboring villages, a way to transport residents to medical assistance.
When Resham shared her idea with Jill, a plan was formed. Resham asked Jill to accompany her to Ghormu to help with the transaction and to record this momentous, life-changing project for the small village.
The ambulance needs to be ordered from India and Resham and Jill plan to meet with a chosen Board of Trustees to discuss the maintenance and operation of the ambulance service which will be overseen by the district government.
It is expected that the government will oversee the operation and maintenance of the ambulance and that fees for the service will go to pay the driver and to keep the gas tank filled. It will take 45 days from the time Jill, Resham and her brother, Khagendra, order and pay for the ambulance for it to be delivered. Any leftover money will go to build a garage to store the ambulance. Their hope is that there will be enough money in the fund to also install a tank for potable water.
Resham has not been back to the village since 2009 and is nervous about making the trip. Her mother is sick and in hospice and she has never left her son Beshal before. She figures that she will have about a week in all after travel time to make sure that everything goes smoothly.
People in Ghormu have expressed their excitement about having an ambulance in the community and say they will welcome Jill and Resham with music and a party. Both of them will be bringing clothing and gifts from Nederland.
“I am so excited,” says Resham. “The people will be so happy and I am so happy I can do something for them. Thank you to all the people in Nederland for helping me to do this.”
We thank the community for your generous support and hope that you can see firsthand where your support will be making a HUGE difference. Stay tuned…
We will return on 11/8 and will have a special celebration at Kathmandu Restaurant. “
(Originally published in the October 19, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)