#StillBeautiful #StillNepal

Manish Building

Posted on: 6th July, 2015

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

Having established just-one in 2004, Declan Murphy of Clonakilty now lives and works in Kathmandu, Nepal where, with the kind support of the people of West Cork, just-one’s operation continues to go from strength to strength. Further information on this grass-roots organisation and its valuable work can be found at www.just-one.org. Much needed donations can be made via the web-site or, preferably, directly to the just-one’s Irish bank account (# 87135118 / Sort Code 90-26-10). Declan is always happy to field individual and specific enquiries about the project and can be easily contacted by email (declan@just-one.org).

Over two months have passed now since the earthquake of April 25 rocked Nepal to its very core and the endless aftershocks and tremors which followed seem to be finally coming to a slow but certain end. I’ve been back in Kathmandu for just over a month now myself I’m happy to report that the devastation hasn’t been nearly as total as the initial media coverage suggested and am very relieved too that my belief that the death-toll would continue to spiral well past ten if not twenty thousand has since shown to be unfounded. With almost 9,000 confirmed deaths though and many thousands more injured, it has certainly been a truly catastrophic event in an already troubled country that could have done without it — but the general consensus here amongst locals of the most indomitable spirit seems to be that it could also have been so much worse.

Having experienced all that transpired during what were somewhat long and anxious weeks at home before I finally returned here at the end of May, I can say with absolute certainty that this incredible indomitability of the Nepali spirit has been very well matched by the phenomenal generosity shown by the people of West Cork for the various fundraising events held there in support of just-one’s unexpectedly increased work and responsibilities here. I simply can’t risk the potential insult of unintentionally omitting even a single supporter so would rather share my most sincere and heartfelt thanks here with each and every individual who played any part whatsoever in the truly staggering fundraising endeavours which unfolded in the wake of this disaster.

Your support allowed us to provide immediate food and shelter to families directly affected by the earthquake, and also to plan for the medium to longer term needs that have already begun to emerge. In this regard we’ve managed to lease a plot of land on the outskirts of the city, large enough to house 10 families and farm a small vegetable patch that will help these families generate the additional funds they now need to get their lives back on track. With them still managing under the tarpaulin shelters we first provided, despite the arrival of the monsoon rains, they’re as anxious as the rest of us that all goes to plan and they’ll be happily re-housed within the first week of July.

The support has also allowed us to reach out to the various schools attended by children supported by the organisation and offer any additional assistance they require. In one case this was to provide school bags, books and uniforms to a few dozen students who’d seen theirs lost in collapsed buildings. Another was the financial assistance required to rebuild the school toilet block destroyed by the second earthquake. It’s allowing us to provide educational support to children of some of the new families we’ve come in contact with through our relief efforts. In short, it’s empowering us to continue doing what we’ve always done here in providing assistance to some of those who need it most and is something I hope our supporters will continue to take great pride in being part of.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 11 years already but as I’ve often said (and repeated again from more pulpits than I ever imagined I’d have spoken from while I was home, absolutely none of what we’ve achieved here to date would have been even remotely possible was not for the endlessly generous support we’ve been so fortunate to have received since our earliest days — particularly from my home community in West Cork. Hard to believe or not though, July 5 marks the dawn of just-one’s 12th year of operation here in Nepal and I remain ever (and cheekily) hopeful that some will kindly consider using the occasion to join ranks with those who’ve already signed up to the months donations, however small, that bring much needed stability and sustainability to our ongoing and important work here.

Work that we’re really looking forward to showing the group we’ve got participating in our fundraising trip here in November. Aside from the direct benefit their participation promises to lend to our own operation here, we’re also hopeful that the act of simply visiting itself will see them contribute to a much greater and crucially important effort to see Nepal’s entire tourism industry rescued from the brink of the very dark abyss it currently faces in light of the general perception of utter devastation created by the sensationalist media frenzy in the few short days the earthquake was newsworthy. While this undoubtedly helped greatly in terms of the hugely important fundraising efforts in aid of emergency relief, what’s become clear now is that the country stands to lose tenfold what it’s been gifted if the autumn’s trekking season falls foul to folks being afraid to travel. Therein lies the hash-tag title I gave this piece – an recently started social media campaign I’m anxious to support in an effort to help convince potential visitors that despite all that’s gone on here in recent months that it’s #StillBeautiful, #StillNepal and most definitely worth a visit!

Anyway, for now I’d best be working on through a monsoon-soaked Monday here, making sure that good ship just-one keeps sailing in the right direction and weathers this current storm. The next task of my day (before visiting our plot of land is to check the progress of the building of the temporary shelters) is to start off the visa application process for the two visitors who, again kind compliments of Etihad Airways, will be accompanying me on my annual trip around West Cork and beyond during September and October. In addition to the return of Bimal Gurung who took part in last year’s trip, I’m delighted to share that a certain mountain biking champion who we’re very proud of has also kindly agreed to join us on this year’s visit and come share his thanks with the incredible community back there that’s helped make a dream of his come true! Watch this space as we may well be looking to borrow a decent bike for the duration of the trip to help ensure Aayman maintains the fitness he’ll for this year’s Yak Attack upon his return.

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Dr John Borgonovo is a lecturer in the School of History at UCC. His publications include Spies, Informers, and the 'Anti-Sinn Féin' Society: The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920-1921; The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918; Exercising a close vigilance over their daughters: Cork women, American sailors, and Catholic vigilantes, 1917-18; Something in the Nature of a Massacre: The Bandon Valley Killings Revisited (with Andy Bielenberg). His latest publication (with co-authors John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy) is the highly acclaimed and magnificient Atlas of the Irish Revolution. In July of this year, he organised a very successful conference on Winning the Western Approaches - Unrestricted Submarine Warfare and the US Navy in Ireland 1917-1918.
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