The American Himalayan Foundations partners with locals for long-term recovery.
On April 25, Erica Stone and Norbu Tenzing Norgay were en route to Kathmandu, Nepal to visit hospitals, schools, and organizations that prevent the trafficking of young girls. It was a routine trip for the American Himalayan Foundation staffers, a chance to check in on humanitarian projects that have defined the nonprofit’s work for 34 years.
Then the earthquake struck. Measured at 7.8 in magnitude, it leveled entire sections of the capital city and triggered landslides and avalanches in the Himalaya. More than 4,300 people were killed; search and rescue operations are still underway. On Mount Everest, where climbing season was in full swing, at least 18 people died. It’s the most destructive earthquake to hit Nepal in 80 years. So far damages exceed $10 billion.
Stone and Norbu followed the news from Thailand, where their flight was delayed as the disaster unfolded. But instead of returning to AHF headquarters in San Francisco, the pair traveled to Kathmandu on April 27. They arrived with a wave of international rescue workers, whose efforts quickly received support from companies and individuals worldwide that share a connection to mountain culture. The Columbia Sportswear Company, which includes Mountain Hardwear and prAna, donated $50,000 to relief efforts. KEEN Footwear announced it would match donations up to $10,000 to help Mercy Corps, a disaster relief nonprofit.
And while emergency response organizations and rescuers do their jobs, Stone and Norbu are connecting with AHF’s local partners and making plans to support Nepal’s long-term recovery. The foundation has started an Earthquake Disaster Relief fund, with 100 percent of donations dedicated to rebuilding and helping the Nepalese people. “We’re concerned about the mountain villages, which are very remote even in normal situations,” says AHF spokesperson Amy Fowler. “Our focus has always been on helping people who need it most.” —Olivia Dwyer
Visit himalayan-foundation.org/nepalearthquake to donate and read updates from the AHF team in Kathmandu.