Three years ago, a deadly earthquake shook the country of Nepal. Most of the affected people were either at home or in public places since it was a Saturday, and most of the Christians were worshiping in their churches. This devastating natural disaster killed nearly nine thousand people, injured twenty thousand, and made several hundred thousand more homeless. Our ministry, despite not having knowledge and experience with disaster relief, but fueled by the passion to be involved in God’s work through this. We helped ten thousand people with immediate relief materials such as tarpaulin, blankets, lamps, rice, daal, oil, salt and dry spices in ten different villages, and partnered with groups to help more than five hundred more families.
After running a needs assessment, we opted to build 180 houses for the marginalized families in one of the most affected areas. These people are poor and lived in houses that were poorly built, and were subsequently ruined by the disaster. This same area was more recently affected by flooding during a monsoon last summer. Most of the victims of the flooding were poor, marginalized outcasts of the Muslim community. We brought relief to them once more, distributing mattresses, bed sheets, water filters, and mosquito nets to sixty families, which helped them to sleep more comfortably and safely, as well as to have safe and clean drinking water.
In the same area we repaired a damaged irrigation dam, which helped twenty-five families to better irrigate their fields, and provided drinking water for their cattle and household. We also constructed a community/church hall, which provided a place to worship for Christians, but also a place for children’s education, and some extracurricular activities for children from other faith backgrounds. The building is also used for social gatherings and self-help group meetings.
Most recently in this area, we have started a new project for these marginalized people to receive better education, and to fund their businesses through microloans. Since parents aren’t able to afford proper education, most of the children here drop out of school. Many of these parents also struggle with alcoholism, which is the source of many of their financial struggles. They depend on daily labor work and small vegetable gardens for their livelihood, and as outcasts from the Muslim community, they are deprived of many privileges that the country offers to the rest of its citizens.
We are hoping that micro-finance will help them to rise up economically as they invest the money into their small businesses. Since self-help groups have been formed, they will have accountability for paying back the loans. Ten families will directly benefit from this micro-finance project, with more hopefully being added in the future. The money will rotate, and next year more families will be benefited. We would like to see financial sustainability in these ten families as a direct result.
We started the project initially by meeting with three women’s self-help groups in this area. From there, around fifty women attended our orientation meeting in the newly built community/church hall. Women were excited to come together and learn from one another.