On Tuesday, March 29, 2016 Maria Santangelo, Senior Director of Villager Services and former Peace Corps Volunteer, presented powerful images of her two week trip to Nepal last September, a few months after Nepal was rocked by a devastating earthquake that left more than 8,000 people dead and entire communities in crumbled heaps. Maria began to prepare for the relief journey as soon as word spread through her Peace Corps network about the 7.3 magnitude quake that traumatized the Nepali people.
With the help of Peace Corps contacts in Nepal, Maria mapped out a route to reach remote areas affected around Kathmandu and she compiled a list of supplies she might carry with her to provide humanitarian relief. With the help of Chris Garges, Housekeeping Director, she sourced 110 personal water filters, called Life Straws, which remove waterborne bacteria, to pack in her luggage. Pine Run Villagers and Associates also responded compassionately with donations to provide individual backpacks – filled with pencils, notebooks, and other educational tools – for a school of 90 children. Tee-shirts and bandanas were also included in the Pine Run care package. The school was in the epicenter of the April 25 earthquake. Maria’s photographs showed children and families grateful to receive the provisions. They were surprised and delighted when she exchanged greetings in their language!
On the final segment of her journey, Maria joined a team from Habitat for Humanity to build a house for a pre-qualified family. According to Habitat for Humanity, soaring land prices and increasing rural migration makes it difficult for the poor to afford decent housing. Nepal promotes the use of cost-effective materials such as bamboo and sun-dried bricks in building houses that are more disaster resilient and easier to maintain. Long sleeves, hats, and gloves were donned by the Habitat Team for a week of construction in the oppressive heat. The husband of the family, a skilled mason, trained the band of Habitat volunteers as they worked. The Nepalese family hosted a festive party for the volunteers when the modest house, complete with a porch, was almost completed. Happily, the family keeps in touch with members of the construction crew through Facebook!