On April 25, 2015, a massive, magnitude 7.8 earthquake near Kathmandu demolished vast regions of the small Himalayan nation of Nepal. Nearly 9,000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were left without shelter in the worst natural disaster to hit the nation in nearly a century. More than 20 people were killed on Mount Everest itself, marking the deadliest day ever for the mountain. The earthquake struck with such force that the entirety of Mount Everest actually moved over an inch southwest in a matter of seconds. A magnitude 7.3 aftershock struck on May 12, compounding the damage.
On May 28th, Pacific College of Oriental Medicine’s Chicago campus collaborated with the Chicago-based Himalaya Project for a benefit to raise disaster relief funds for Karuna-Shechen, a trusted International Non-Governmental Organization (INGO) working to provide disaster relief in Nepal. Himalaya Project is a Chicago-based non-profit organization consisting of volunteer board members who seek to provide education and public health to an entire district of Nepal. Himalaya Project seeks to preserve Tibetan Buddhism, its culture, and its medical practices. In its usual line of work, the project seeks to directly benefit the under-served district of Dolpo by providing a 5-year school for Tibetan medicine and, in the process, keep its medical traditions from being lost.
The fundraising event included acupuncture and bodywork provided by PCOM faculty and alumni and Nepali momos (dumplings) provided by Curry House. The central feature, however, was the Nepali Bazaar sale with Buddhist art, Tibetan incense, books about Nepal, and one of Honora Lee Wolfe's beautiful watercolor paintings.
In total we raised $2500, all going directly to Karuna-Shechen. As of early June, Karuna-Shechen had reached and helped nearly 150,000 people in 375 villages spread across a dozen of the most affected districts, in particular focusing on those areas not being helped by other INGOs due to their isolation. The organization also put in place a special program for pregnant women and new mothers, providing iron, calcium, and vitamin B supplements in addition to normal food rations. On behalf of Himalaya Project, Pacific College of Oriental Medicine-Chicago, and Karuna-Shechen, thank you to all who attended, donated, volunteered and participated.
The Himalaya Project is, of course, not the only organization providing relief to Nepal: another is Acupuncturists Without Borders, which is currently providing trauma relief support in Kathmandu and surrounding areas with a team of volunteer acupuncturists. AWB is also sponsoring a World Healing Exchange to Nepal in October, which will give US practitioners an opportunity to support AWB's Nepali partners and clinics, who will continue to need help far into the future.
Resources are still needed: Nepal is still only beginning to recover from this catastrophe. For more information about donating to the Himalaya Project or AWB, please visit the Himalaya Project or Acupuncturists Without Borders.