By Nick BeJeaux
Help is pouring in from all over the globe to Kathmandu, Nepal after a devastating earthquake ravaged the region late last month, and among the many organizations lending a hand is BR’s Compassion Asia.
Compassion Asia is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating and funding humanitarian projects throughout Asia, primarily in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Nepal. One of its directors, Adam Pitts, is a successful realtor operating in Baton Rouge and has departed for Nepal to help coordinate CA’s efforts there. Already, Compassion Asia has coordinated the distribution of over four tons of food, 6,000 bottles of water and 56 tents to the earthquake survivors in and around Kathmandu.
“We don’t have paid staff on the ground, but we just partner with organizations and individuals there and help them get what they need. We mostly cover the fundraising side of it, as far as actual labor is concerned,” said Pitts. “Our contacts are locals bringing supplies into southern Nepal and then up to Kathmandu. It’s mostly food and tents; those are their most urgent needs right now.
Compassion Asia’s strategy for taking on the devastation is simple. Partner with individuals and organizations in Nepal near the border of India; buy food, first aid, and medical supplies cheaply in Nepalgunj, India, transport them to the areas affected by the earthquake, and distribute them to people in need. While it is a 12 hour drive from Nepalgunj to Kathmandu, driving the supplies in by truck has proven to be the most efficient and reliable way to bring in supplies.
Besides bringing in material goods, Compassion Asia is also networking local craftsman to help rebuild homes and structures in the Kathmandu Valley.
“This is far more efficient and far more effective than sending international teams,” said a statement on CA’s website. “Our leaders are skilled workers, are knowledgeable, and can more accurately assess the needs more than any international visitor. Since we have worked with them for over twelve years, we trust their judgment.”
In order to strengthen their efforts to support their partners, many of whom are struggling with the aftermath of the quake themselves, Compassion Asia is asking the public for funding.
“The site we have up is nepalquakehelp.com, and it’s very easy to give through there,” said Pitts. “Literally 100 percent of everything that people give goes directly to that recovery effort.”
The 2015 Nepal Earthquake, also known as the Gorkha Earthquake, was a 7.8 magnitude quake that struck on April 25. The epicenter of the quake is believed to be 15 kilometers below the village of Barpak in the Gorkha district—hence the name. As of press time, it is estimated that almost 7,500 have been killed and over 15,000 have been injured in Nepal alone, making it the worst disaster to hit the Himalayan country since 1938. It is believed that as many as 19 people were killed by an avalanche on Mt. Everest caused by the quake, making April 25 the deadliest day in the mountain’s history. Deaths and injuries attributed to the quake were also reported in India, Tibet, China and Bangladesh.
Apart from the loss of life, the quake caused catastrophic damage to important landmarks and heritage sites. Kathmandu Durbar Square, a UNESCO world heritage site, completely collapsed along with the Dharahara Tower, which was built in 1832. Countless temples and sacred sites were also damaged or destroyed by the quake.
More information on Compassion Asia can be found at compassionasia.com. Other vetted organizations that are also accepting donations are AmeriCares, CARE, DirectRelief, International Relief Teams, and The Red Cross.