Aryan Uprety is an educational consultant with a degree in social work.
Olive Nepal, formed in February, 2014, is an environmental advocacy group and a registered non-profit NGO. Aryan became the Nepal coordinator for CCL in August, 2014. ONCE Institute, formed in December, 2014, is his for-profit operation that does educational consulting, training and tutoring. ONCE is a subsidiary of Olive Nepal.
Ever since the day of the earthquake, Aryan has been engineering and managing the logistics of a spontaneous, volunteer-driven direct relief operation under the auspices of Olive Nepal, CCL and Operation Relief Nepal, launched by the FNCCI. In the past two weeks, the total value of all materials and services distributed in 8 different locations is in excess of 1.2 million NRs.
An initial call for volunteers through Facebook attracted over 70 people including 8 doctors, 6 nurses and 2 health assistants. These volunteers were divided into teams, each with a coordinator responsible for documenting and reporting exactly what operations occurred and to how many people they were delivered.
The initial contacts with locations needing relief were made directly to village development councils or by Olive Nepal reaching out to village representatives based on media reports or word of mouth. Each location was evaluated (mapped) by Aryan’s team before determining what to deliver and to whom. Mapping consisted of determining how many structures were damaged, how many people were affected, the nature of direct injuries, the water, medical, sanitary and food conditions. Based on mapping data, Olive Nepal determined what direct contributions could be made, for how many people and for what period of time.
Aryan has used the treasury of ONCE Institute to finance a significant portion of the cash requirements of the operations, spending 350,000NRs of his personal funds. In addition, large amounts of rice, dal, salt, cooking oil, soap, tents, water purifiers, tooth brushes, lime powder and used clothing have also been collected from a number of donors. These donors include Operation Relief Nepal, which has donated 20,000NRs worth of medical supplies, and Help Nepal, a national organization whose members are almost entirely expat Nepalis living throughout the world. The commitment these members make is to donate at least $1 per month. Help Nepal has collected $285,000 since the earthquake alone and has been highly supportive of Olive Nepal because of their efficiency, transparency and reliability.
Olive volunteers have been active in eight hard hit locations, including Dolakha (22 volunteers now completing their work), Kavre (12), 2 groups in Gorkha (12), Bungmati (8), Sankhu (12), Bhaktapur (4-now complete) and Kathmandu (2). I accompanied volunteers today to Dading, 70 km from Kathmandu valley.
Some groups have been active for more than a week already. Medical operations have been conducted at three locations, triaging residents and making medical referrals. Most notably, Olive Nepal provided tents to house about 800 people in Gorkha, one of the most damaged areas.
The intention in all of these cases was to be a bridge relief operation for neglected areas until more official recognition of the need occurred and until an official response becomes active. Olive has relied on mass media to publicize the need and to provide data directly to the government to stimulate an official response.
Bungmati is a good example of how these operations have been initiated and delivered. After mapping Bungmati, it was determined that fifty older houses collapsed, effecting fifty families totally about 250 people. A village committee was established to liaison with Olive Nepal who is providing food, utensils and gas stoves, while the actual cooking and catering is performed by village members to provide 2 meals per day to the relief group. This will last for 10-15 more days.
Most of the volunteers working for this organization since the earthquake are students. They are currently on a break from school that started shortly after the quake and which will last until June 7. Their availability has been a key factor in jump-starting the uncounted and invaluable youth-led operations that have been able to circumvent or cut through the usual bureaucratic obstacles of a government caught largely flat-footed when catastrophe struck. Aryan has been supporting volunteers by providing 2 meals a day per person at a cost of roughly 240 per person per day as well as reimbursing them for fuel.
What remains to be seen is how these battalions of activist youth will transition back into being students and whether they can sustain their engagement and effective advocacy for the long term health and welfare of their fellow citizens. As for Olive Nepal and CCL Nepal, although small, these have become established among the cohort of nimble and effective domestic NGOs meeting the profound challenge of post-quake Nepal.