The Pipal Tree Big Give emergency appeal for COVID relief in Nepal

Written by Philip Holmes on Thursday 13th May 2021

Big Give emergency appeal for COVID relief in Nepal

At noon today, the 14th May, we are launching a Big Give emergency appeal for relief to Nepal which is in the grip of a terrible COVID pandemic. It is currently rated as being the ninth most affected country in the world by COVID.

There has been an understandable huge amount of focus on the impact of the Indian variant in India itself. Less reported has been the situation in Nepal where a number of factors have combined to create a perfect storm. Here are some of them:

  • The Indian variant seems to be up to 60% more transmissible than previous variants. But Nepal is being hit by a triple whammy of this and the two previous viruses; the original COVID and the UK variant.
  • A mass return of Nepali workers from India - hundreds are crossing the border every day to get back home and the virus travels all too readily
  • Although flights have been suspended, bizarrely the Nepal authorities are maintaining twice-weekly flights to Delhi, of all places.
  • There has been complacency with the mistaken belief at the start of this year that Nepal had somehow come through the (first) pandemic with a degree of immunity and normal life could resume. Accordingly, social distancing and other precautions fell by the wayside.
  • Mass gatherings were held such as major religious festivals and political rallies. On a smaller scale, wedding gatherings continued. Spiritual and political leaders set a poor example, as did the former King and Queen when they were seen attending the massive Kumbh Mela Hindu festival in India, without wearing masks. The were diagnosed with COVID after their return to Nepal.
  • Vaccination rates remain low not helped by a reduced supply of vaccines and profiteering by middlemen.
  • Oxygen is also in short supply, with oxygen production plants at some hospitals non-operational through neglect.
  • Politicians have been focussed on a power struggle, with the Prime Minister subject to a no-confidence vote in parliament
  • Hospital capacity has long since been reached with seriously ill people now being managed in corridors and car parks - or turned away.

And so the list goes on. Normally, when there is a national disaster, Nepal can turn to India for support. But at present India has more than enough to deal with and there are no vaccines or oxygen to spare. In desperation, the Nepal Prime Minister has appealed to the UK for help, pointing out the deep historical bonds that exist between the two nations.

Pipal Tree and its UK registered charity partner Our Sansar are collaborating towards making a focussed and meaningful impact on the need. In many ways, we are better placed to respond than the larger charities, in spite of our resources being much smaller. That is because we are more agile and can deliver funds directly to the point of need within a couple of days. And, by virtue of being grassroots charities, through our local partners we have close knowledge of the communities that we support. Our colleagues in Nepal can identify where the genuine need lies and ensure that precious resources are deployed appropriately and cost-effectively. We leave the detail of those decisions entirely up to them, but the main thrust will be supporting individual families that are most hard-hit by loss of income or loved ones.

With our support, Our Sansar launched their own Big Give appeal last week, ending yesterday with a total of £14,410 raised. Of that £5,000 has already been sent to The Mithila Wildlife Trust - see the videos below for an idea of the impact.

Today it's our turn and we are launching our Big Give appeal to our supporters with £8,050 in pledges that will match anything donated online by early-bird donors. The minimum donation is £5 - which means that £5 will automatically become £10. To make a gift, use the button below. Many thanks!

Cover picture credit: Amit Machamasi / Nepali Times

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