Children have returned to school, families can now shelter from the monsoons.
The determination and resourcefulness of two Salmon Arm men is paying off in a Nepal village – but there’s still much to do.
Riley Boudreau and Isaiah Houle began raising funds to support a village in Nepal following the destructive earthquakes in April of this year.
The idea was sparked after Boudreau travelled to Nepal last year with Students Leading Initiatives for Change, where he helped in an orphanage and explored the country. There he was overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of the Nepalese people, particularly by his guide Ram Timalsina.
“Hearing how much they’re in need, having had my experience with them, there’s no way I couldn’t help – knowing they would have done this for me, 10-fold over.”
Similarly Houle, a close friend of Boudreau’s, was speaking to a friend in Kelowna right after the earthquake who kept expressing her sadness about the devastation in Nepal. Frustrated because he was unable to do anything other than sympathize, Houle contacted Boudreau and suggested they help.
The two young men got busy, working around the clock to raise funds and organize support. They began with Timalsina’s village district, Khari – one of the small high mountain villages, as non-governmental organizations tend to focus on the higher-density populations.
To ensure that any money donated was used for exactly what it was intended, Boudreau enlisted two other cherished and trusted friends in Nepal to help oversee the project along with Timalsina – Ravi Chaudhary, who guided him through the jungle, and Krishna Raj Adhikary, who owns a hotel Boudreau’s group stayed in.
Since then Naren Sharma, a Nepalese doctor, has joined their team.
Operating under the name ‘Stand With Nepal,’ Boudreau and Houle, with their counterparts in Nepal, have already facilitated the rebuilding of 55 houses and three schools, as well as administering food and medicine to an area of 900 families.
So far they have raised $5,700 just through donations from Salmon Arm.
“It’s really good since we have no administrative fees and the team over there is volunteer. Every dollar we raise goes directly to them. And they know where to buy everything so cheap,” Boudreau says.
Exacerbating the difficulties left by the earthquake is the monsoon season, which will carry on through August. Boudreau points to a photo of an elderly women who is living in a lean-to covered by a sheet of plastic.
“That shelter is what separates her from the worse storm we’ve ever experienced here.”
The young men note the scope of the project has expanded with its success. They have 33 more houses and two more schools to rebuild before completing their initial goal of rebuilding the village district. Three other villages have been identified as being in extreme need of help.
A blog has been set up at standwithnepal.weebly.com, where more information on the project is available. A ‘Go Fund Me’ website can be found at: www.gofundme.com/u7z6ak.
“If people want to help out and get involved, I would love to facilitate that… whether it’s having a garage sale, or a show, or a dinner,” Boudreau said. “My biggest hope for Salmon Arm is to inspire people and to enlighten them to the fact they’re not too small to get their help over there.”
Houle adds a challenge: “If you think two guys with a computer can do all of this, think what CEOs could do.”