Archive for the 'General' Category

From certain chaos to potential doom…

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

You’d be forgiven for knowing little or nothing about what’s been going on in Nepal over the last few months. Not least because of my own continued inability to keep this here website even nearly as up-to-date as it deserves and in deed needs to be (Cringe!) but also because, unless there’s a deadly earthquake to sensationalise or a quirky government-sponsored goat slaughter or similar to fill the “and finally…” news slot, poor ol’ Nepal never commands a great deal of the global media’s increasingly limited attention.

Earthquake devastation aside, it’s the political chaos, ineptitude and criminal inaction which has unfolded since that sees Nepal now in the grips of a humanitarian crisis the outside world most probably knows very little about. What started with violent protests (against the introduction of a knowingly divisive constitution some months back) disrupting the regular supply of goods across the Indian border, has continued to spiral out of control with the powers-that-be doing very little by way of constructive intervention and the black-market economy fast becoming the accepted norm.

Political intricacies and confusion aside, the current situation remains that with ‘normal’ supply channels from India being severely disrupted for months now, a slowly-growing array of daily essentials (including petrol, diesel, cooking gas and, perhaps most worryingly, medical supplies) are only available to those who can afford the extortionate prices demanded by those who somehow or another have managed to maintain a readily available supply.

Needless to say, the long-suffering Nepali citizens continue to struggle on, as best they know how, getting by on what little they have. Times are tougher than they’ve ever been before though and I find myself wondering if the resilient nature of Nepali people, which I’ve admired for years, isn’t actually one of their greatest weaknesses… One being cruelly exploited by those who have the power to create change but choose not to… Ke garne? Nepal este ho…

While it’s definitely a whole lot more uncertain than it’s ever been in the almost 12 years that I’ve lived here, I can’t actually say that it’s hugely different. The children and families we work with remain vulnerable and as in need of a caring and supportive hand as they’ve ever been. We’re incredibly fortunate at just-one to enjoy the continued support of a small but incredibly generous army of fans from all over the world who kindly empower us to do what we do.

From the hundreds of school students who were inspired by our visitors on this autumn’s Etihad-sponsored fundraising trip to Ireland, to individuals like Thomas Fitzgibbon who ran the Everest Marathon kindly raising over €7,000 and the 14 fundraising trekkers from Ireland who visited Poon Hill recently and contributed almost €35,000 between them are just some of the endeavours that have allowed us to continue reaching out to some of those most in need and help them get their lives back on track.

***Post-Script***

As I wrote that last paragraph just there and wondered how I’d wrap the post up ready to be published, I saw notification of a message received by our facebook page and went to take a look… I’m still shell-shocked by what I read but feel I must share it with you here too… It was from the daughter of one of the aforementioned Poon Hill trekkers to share the terribly sad news that her father, James Fitzgerald, died yesterday following a tragic accident at his home. It’s difficult to comprehend that the gentleman pictured to the fore of the photo below is no longer with us… :o(

RIP

James Fitzgerald, Nov 12, the morning we reached Poon Hill.

In sharing our deepest sympathies and most heartfelt condolences with his family, I’d also like to remind them that the legacy of his incredibly generous and valuable contribution to our work (well over €1,000 more than the €1,500 minimum each participant had to raise) will live on in the bright and happy smiles of the children who are already benefiting from the support he kindly empowered us to provide for them and their families. May he rest in peace.

Same-same, but different…

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Much of what just-one has done over the last 10 years has involved closely working with the children and families we support here to help them in creating solutions for problematic aspects of their lives, and our efforts since the devastating earthquake on April 25th last have, in many respects, been carried out along very similar lines. As the earth shook and buildings crumbled, so many of those spared death and serious injury found themselves nonetheless exposed, vulnerable and facing a formidable struggle to return to normal life. ‘Normal life’ for many of those we work with was even at the best of times already a struggle – post-earthquake though, it’s hardly surprising that it’s now become an even more difficult challenge.

Our earliest response saw us providing what immediate support we could for the communities in which we work – both within the city itself, as well as a couple of affected villages in the neighbouring districts of Sindhulpalchowk and Nuwakot. Food supplies, clean water and tarpaulins shelters for some of those whose accommodation was rendered uninhabitable by the initial quake and the countless aftershocks which followed. With the initial paralysing fear and sense of panic now long subsided, efforts have already turned to doing all we can to ensure these families we’ve reached out to will remain safe and secure over the monsoon season which is currently sweeping westward across the Himalayas.

With a few temporary shelters already constructed for the families of children whose education we support, we’re currently approaching the final stages of what’s been a frustratingly long process of renting a plot of land to the north-west of the city, on which we’ll be building shelter for up 10 families who are still managing in tented accommodation. We’ve ensured the plot’s big enough to allow us comfortably and safely accommodate these needy families, while also having enough land remaining to allow us help them to set up a small vegetable farming project through which they’ll be able to generate additional income. Our accountant is with the landowner and a lawyer as I type, finalising the lease agreement, so hopefully it’ll signed and sealed before the end of the day.

I think it’s only fair to mention here in closing that absolutely none of this additional work that’s landed on our plate since the first earthquake nearly two months ago would have been even remotely possible was it not for the most incredible and humbling outpouring of generosity that I’ve ever experienced in all my years working with just-one – particularly from my native Clonakilty and the surrounding West Cork area. Each and every one of the numerous individuals, families, schools, companies, organisations, groups, etc. who’ve kindly made contributions, be they large or small, in support of our ongoing work here can rest assured that we will continue to make it our top priority to ensure that every single rupee received will be spend to the best effect for the benefit of those we support.

Know too that your kind support, be it past, present or future, is hugely appreciated by all here. Now, more than every before, we need continued and, if at all possible, regular support to help better ensure the medium to longer term sustainability of our newly added responsibilities. Please, if you haven’t done so already, do take a look at the variety of options we’ve listed here on our ‘Make a Donation’ page and consider if you’re perhaps in a position to kindly lend us some much needed support.

Destruction on a Himalayan scale…

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

It’s not yet 24 hours since a massive earthquake rattled the Himalayas and brought destruction upon the entire region. With the epicentre of this 7.8 quake laying roughly mid-way between the city’s of Kathmandu and Pokhara, Nepal certainly seems to have been the country which was hardest hit by this truly catastrophic event that’s still unfolding as I type these lines.

First off, I should say I’m incredibly relieved to report that, from what news and details I’ve been able to gather so far, the children supported by just-one and our team of staff have all survived relatively unscathed and are currently safe and well – albeit camped outside for safety and still frequently contending with the significant aftershocks which are expected to continue throughout the day ahead.

While I’m currently back in Ireland dealing with family matters, during what’s been a very surreal and emotional day, I’m happy to say I’ve had skype contact with both our Program Manager and our Chairman, as well as contact with one of our social workers, as well as a number of friends, on various social media channels and, as useless and all as I feel from here on the other side of the planet, I’m as confident as I can be that all those we work to support in Kathmandu will remain safe and well through whatever lies ahead.

As this first day-after starts to dawn across Nepal right now, I’ve got no doubt that there are some scary and uncertain days ahead with this tragedy continuing to unfold. Electricity and clean water will almost certainly be in short supply. Emergency medical services will be stretched to the absolute limit and most probably beyond. The number of dead and injured will only rise further – not just in the Kathmandu Valley, but throughout rural Nepal too and perhaps in Tibet, India and Bangladesh too where deaths have also been reported – as the true depth of this terrible destruction becomes more apparent over the days ahead.

Photo of a collapsed building in Kathmandu.

Buildings reduced to rubble just a mere 5 minute walk from our centre

Destruction that is so far beyond the scope and capacity of just-one that it would be completely disingenuous of me to even try suggesting that you could donate to us if you’d like to make a meaningful contribution towards the emergency relief work that’ll be desperately needed over the days, weeks and indeed months ahead right across the Himalayas… There are far larger, better equipped and more well-known global organisations which I’m sure have already started looking for the financial support they’ll need in that regard.

What I can and will say here though is that just-one does need urgent help to keep more than 70 children safe and well while we continue to support them and their families during this period of uncertainty… We’ll need support to help them and their families to start getting their lives back on track again… This is over 30 families who were already struggling against the chronic poverty which saw their respective children come to our attention in the first place… Long after Nepal’s current trauma has faded from the global news headlines and the wider public conscience,  just-one will need continued support to keep doing all we do for the ever-growing family of children we work with and for…

So, while we can’t offer to help heal the immediate and massive trauma which hundreds and indeed thousands in Nepal are suffering right now, we do nevertheless provide a very real and meaningful channel for anyone who’d like to see their donation having an equally real and meaningful impact upon the lives of grass-roots beneficiaries desperately in need of and so totally deserving of support at this tragic time. Whether it’s a once off donation or a preferred monthly contribution in support of just-one‘s work, you’ll find all the required details here and can rest assured too that it’ll be put to the very best use in support of the incredibly brave and resilient gang of kids we’re so privileged to work with in Nepal.

a photo of a recent gathering of children at just-one's centre in Kathmandu

Half of the children we support pictured here at our centre last month.