Aspen aid effort grows for Nepal
The Aspen Times
Local support is growing for Nepal, where Saturday’s magnitude-7.8 earthquake resulted in more than 4,000 deaths, billions of dollars in damage and nearly 1 million children in need of humanitarian aid, according to reports.
The nonprofit Planet-Med, which has local ties, is attempting to hand-deliver hundreds of tents and sleeping bags so people have a place to sleep. Also lending relief is One World Trekking, an Aspen-based Himalayan tour guide company, which currently has two groups near Mount Everest. One four-person outfit with the company has chosen to forgo its planned trek and assist American Red Cross efforts.
Founded by Pete Ferrara and John Prell, Planet-Med started coordinating volunteer medical camps in Nepal and Bhutan in 1997. After news of Saturday’s quake, Ferrara began reaching out to friends in the area to make sure everyone was OK. By Sunday, he had started the foundation’s “Gimme Shelter” mission. The initial goal is to collect 250 tents, 750 sleeping bags, tarps and about $20,000 and have three or four people hand deliver the gear to villagers. The group has launched a fundraising page at Indiegogo.com titled “Gimme Shelter – Nepal Village Earthquake Relief.”
“The villages are really on their own,” Ferrara said. “If those buildings are in bad shape, which we’re hearing that they’re in awful shape, then it’s going to be forever and a day. I think we’re going to lose more people from exposure than we are to the quake if we don’t get help.”
Similar details have been relayed to One World Trekking founding director Andy Crisconi. According to his field agent, the poorer areas of Kathmandu have been the most devastated. Since 4:30 a.m. Saturday, he has been communicating with family and friends about the individuals traveling with his company.
“Unfortunately, the worst-hit areas, where most of the deaths are occurring, is in the poorer regions in the outskirts of the city, where people live closer together,” Crisconi said. “The buildings aren’t as well-built. They’re not as sound as they are in the main tourist area.”
One World Trekking has been guiding tours to the Himalayas since 1988. The company has donated funds and relief efforts for various disasters in Nepal over the years. Crisconi said the best place to contribute funds is RedCross.org.
Ferrara’s group is asking for new and used tents and sleeping bags and new tarps. He would like to hand-deliver the goods because if they are shipped, he is worried they would end up in the wrong hands.
“If someone in the customs warehouse in Kathmandu saw what that stuff was, my guess is that it would end up on the black market being sold,” Ferrara said. “I want to hand it off literally to the people who are going to use it.”
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