Where govt lacks, youths reaching there with help

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KATHMANDU, MAY 07 – While the government continues to face flak for its delayed and inadequate post-earthquake response more than a week after the Great Earthquake, youths from across the country have shown an overwhelming enthusiasm in reaching out to the affected areas and providing assistance to the victims.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, thousands of youths have voluntarily involved themselves in search and rescue and relief distribution operations going in different parts of the country. And while some of them are working under various NGOs and INGOs, a majority of them are going to the affected areas with relief materials that they have collected, either in small groups or individually.

Mohit Jung Pande and his friends from Mangalpur, Chitwan, went to Phinam and Choprak, in Gorkha, with trucks loaded with relief material. Pande, along with other youths from his village, formed the Mangalpur Helping Hands, a volunteer group, to help the people of the neighbouring district. They not just distributed food and tents, but also donated blood and tried to help the victims in every possible way.

“Gorkha has been hit worse by the earthquake. Those villagers need our help,” Pande, who had returned home on Sunday from the district after four days of volunteering, told the Post.

Santosh Pandey and Nishma Shrestha, aged 15 and 19, along with their friends, have been volunteering to keep records of the relief distribution initiative undertaken by the Himalayan Disaster Relief Volunteer Group.

“We have been volunteering in the group for five days. It feels good to be useful for the people out there who are in need of the relief material. All of the people we know have been volunteering,” says Shrestha.

Along with the traditional approach, relief distribution throughout  the country has also benefited from digital volunteerism.

Thousand of digital volunteers from Nepal and abroad have contributed not just in mapping the affected regions, but also in assessing the damage and facilitating the relief distribution process.

Nama Raj Budhathoki, executive director of the Kathmandu Living Labs, a non-profit organisation that works on crisis informatics, says, “People on the ground, including villagers, feed us with information about the affected areas, the number of people affected and the requirement of relief material. We verify the information and publish it on our site, Quakemap.org.

The information is then used by those working in the disaster-hit areas, including the Nepal Army, various NGOs and INGOs and

individual volunteers, to manage the rescue and relief operations.”