When I visited Nepal on a solo trip six months ago, I was apprehensive, yet there was something that had spurred me to go – whether it was to get myself out of my comfort zone, or something more. It turned out to be the best trip of my life. I made new friends and the awe of seeing the Himalayas was indescribable. Six months later, Nepal is trying to recover from a devastating earthquake.
Nepal could be yet another disaster statistics from the many in the news. I could have read about it, sighed at the horror of it all, probably donated a small sum to the Red Cross and moved on. But since I had been there and made friends, there was an emotional attachment I had with the people I met there.
So when the resort hosts Luca and Camilla wrote to me and asked if I could donate to their funds to help the villagers surrounding the resort, I couldn’t ignore their email.
They were very detailed about the damages in the village. While their resort were spared, many traditional houses were badly damaged. What I had first thought were charming Nepali mud houses during my walk around the village crumbled like digestive biscuits in the earthquake.
They wrote that the money collected would be distributed to areas that are unlikely to receive International aid, the homes of the families of the staff of Chandra Ban as well as divided by a local committee of Taulung to help restore the 29 damaged homes surrounding Chandra Ban where the resort is located.
My donation won’t be a big amount and so I decided to ask my relatives and friends to contribute. They can either agree or decline and I reminded myself that I would not judge my friendship with them based on whether they supported my cause or the amount they donated.
I was being tested immediately as the first person I asked, my brother, declined when he heard that there would not be any tax refund. He would only give to causes with tax refunds. I wasn’t offended by his decision, since he was sponsoring my friends and I to a charity talk which he had donated a four figure sum. But it wasn’t a good encouragement to my fund raising.
I decided to send out to a few requests to my relatives and very close friends and the few whatsapp chat groups I belonged to, as well as highlight my cause on my Facebook page. I have faith in my relatives and the close friends despite the incident with my brother.
My relatives and friends were overwhelmingly generous, and in a way, I feel ashamed for having not responded to some of them when they requested for donations before. Okay, there were some who didn’t have a choice but had to donate, like my husband and my sons. My aunts were always supportive so I didn’t think too much about it. It was the unexpected donations, from my cousin who had recently became a mother, and my twelve year old niece in Germany. Their contribution touched me. Also heartwarming were the odd friends who read my post on Facebook and contacted me with their donations, or the friends and classmates from chatgroups whom I hardly contacted who were among the first few to contact me. I would never have been as compassionate as them.
My PSG group brought in the most donations. In a way it was not unexpected for through volunteering their services to the school which in many cases included financial contribution as well, I was already a witness to their generosity.
In the end, I transferred US$3200 to Luca and Camilla, much more than if I were to donate as an individual. Many of my friends praised me for my effort and indeed it was at times not easy. For example, do you chase those friends who had promised to donate but didn’t? I did, feeling a moment of dejavu when I used to chase for payment a long time ago when I was working. I must tell myself it’s not for me, it’s for Nepal.
Or how do I explain why I am doing this and how do I know if the money will go to those in need? I can’t, except that I know Luca and Camilla and trust them, just as how my donors have to trust me.
So once again, a heartfelt thanks for your trust and support for me.