Beverly Williams, a Red Deer resident, was present in Nepal during the major earthquake on April 25th. Upon her arrival home, she took it upon herself to help fundraise for the man who kept her safe in the quake’s aftermath.
Williams was hiking with a Nepali man named Harin Dhakai when the earthquake struck. The pair had to walk for a day and a half to reach the capital, Kathmandu. Williams said Dhakai never left her side and was a great support through the ordeal.
“Through my research I found out it takes about $10,000 to build a home that could survive an earthquake. I have raised about $3,500. I had a water can at the farmer’s market and a lot of the media told people that I would be there, so people brought in a lot of money. I’ve also done five speeches where people could donate at the events as well,” Williams said.
“People gave all amounts. This one little girl was so sweet, she must have been seven or eight. At the farmer’s market, she said, “Oh Mom, look this is what I read in the paper!”. She went in her wallet and got 25 cents and put it in the jar. That was so special. Afterwards she looked at her mom and asked her donate – it was really cute.”
Williams’ daughter Janvier had planned to travel to Europe and Australia and stopped in Nepal to hand deliver $2,000 to Dhakai. Beverly said she would like to deliver the rest of the money and any additional donations in person some time next year, approximately March or April. She said she did not want to send it all at once in the off chance that the money would be stolen from Janvier.
“Har was so grateful. I told him that a majority of the cash raised came from Central Albertans and other locations that I was positive people had donated from. He was smiling and kept saying thank you very much, and that it was going to help make a huge dent in the reconstruction of his home,” Janvier said.
“It was amazing to actually get to see his face – he was just so happy.”
Janvier said there were same areas of Kathmandu that looked as though they had barely been affected by the earthquake, but away from the major tourist destinations the damage was very real.
“I walked to the Monkey Temple and the path took me through some of the local houses. They had been completely destroyed. There were people rebuilding, but they still had a long way to go,” she said.
“Most of the buildings have either been rebuilt or were in process of being rebuilt. Some buildings were still missing one or more walls.”
Janvier said most of the houses she saw were rebuilt with a tin roof and tin walls. She said Dhakai told her many people were not going to rebuild completely until monsoon season passes – around December. She also saw some houses that were filled with rocks and rubble from collapsing in on themselves.
She said many people had taken to tents for a temporary home.
“Before we even began hiking, we walked past a big town. And I saw an empty lot and tents absolutely everywhere. I asked Har and he said that people either can’t afford to rebuild their homes, so that’s all they have at the moment, or they are just waiting until the rain season ends. I was honestly surprised by the amount of tents.”
Beverly will have a kiosk set up at Parkland Mall from mid-November through December, where she will continue to collect funds for Dhakai.
Economically, Nepal isn’t doing well for a number of reasons – the most obvious being the aftermath of the nation’s largest natural disaster in history. A lack of imported goods from India coupled with an extremely low tourism rate are sinking the country’s economy even further.
“The situation is really bad right now. India is stopping the import of water, food and fuels into Nepal right now. Even without the economic dispute with India, a lot of people are thinking it’s not safe to go to Nepal because the earthquake happened and so the tourism is down,” Beverly explained.
“Tourism is a very, very large provider of money for people living there. So many of them rely on tourism to live, but without people visiting, they have no jobs. They don’t have work and they have no money to feed their families.”
Beverly said she hopes the money donated serves Dhakai and his family well. She said he was a very kind person and she appreciated his concern for her well-being during her visit. Janvier mirrored these regards, and said that Dhakai, his family and the community as a whole were optimistic and lively regardless of their present situation.
“Nepalis in general are just relaxed kind of people. Most people, when they were talking about the earthquake said, ‘Yes, it was horrible, but it is life and stuff like this happens’,” Janvier said.
“Despite the devastation and the destruction that ripped through their houses and their lives, almost everyone I met was laughing and joking around on the streets.”
Beverly will continue to fundraise for Dhakai and his family by collecting donations at her hat, mitt and coat kiosk in Parkland Mall.