This post is an attempt to share with folks in the “Civilized West,” how much more of an impact Corona has had in Nepal than the first world.  Ideally, I would have travelled there, talked to people and taken pictures to tell a story.  Instead, I must do this through the people whom I have known and loved for 30+ years.

In the States and Europe, we are experiencing events with no precedent in the current generation.  In the West, we have negotiated public safety and protection of the health care system ahead of our economies and traditional relationships.  Regardless of your individual position on our governments’ choices to follow medical and social opinion, we all have experienced loss.  We have limited social interaction and shut down segments of our economies that we think represent the greatest risk.  History uniquely will let us know if we made the right choices or not.

Yet, we have no problems when compared to Nepal.  They have experienced similar impacts that I will not document: social distancing, economic shutdown and productivity hits.  I want to speak about what is uniquely different in Nepal, compared to the West:

  1. Nearly 30% of Nepal’s GDP comes from migrant workers remitting their money to families back home in the Himalayan kingdom.  Typically, those fit enough and emotionally strong enough to live away from family and friends for up to 18 months at a time get migrant worker visas to travel to the Middle East, Russia and other parts of Asia to work in menial jobs at wages below what we would call “minimum wage.”  The Nepalis whom I have met work for a month at a time and get $600 for that month.  They typically live together in large groups, saving on rent and utilities, and they send home as much of their earnings as possible, as their pay supports their families back home.  It is common place for a single Nepali migrant worker’s earnings to support up to three families.  Since the pandemic has started, Nepali migrant worker have been sent home en masse, shutting down a large source of the country’s GDP.
  2. Tourism and trekking are the other two primary sources of income for their economy.  Both have been shut down since the pandemic started.  In about a month, the monsoon is expected to shut down this economy, as it usually does; however, many Nepalis are uncertain if there will be trekking again in the fall, once the monsoon has ended.
  3. Downtown Kathmandu looks like a ghost town, in the middle of the day.

    Many Kathmandu residents are fleeing Kathmandu and returning to their mountain villages.  Historically, this would be a normal and seasonal event.  However, with the proliferation of buses and airports, most Nepalis took it for granted that fast and low cost access would be available to them.  For example, travel to Pokhara from Kathmandu typically takes less than a day by bus, or less than an hour, on an airplane.  There is currently no motorized traffic allowed other than emergency services on any roads in the country, and the path is about 150 miles. Many have resorted to walking to their home villages, as food and resource scarcity impacts the Kathmandu valley.  I have read tales of a group of people walking day and night, for two weeks, to get home.

  4. Australia has long been a destination of the best Nepali students.  Before the pandemic, there were over 100,000 students studying there.  The Prime Minister of Australia announced that those staying on visitor or work VISAs from Nepal who cannot support themselves have no alternative but to return.  That meant that an additional mass exodus of Nepali citizens returning to a country already in crisis.

For The Nepal Project, our school construction projects and teacher training projects remain in our plans.  When the the pandemic restrictions are eased, we want to resume our efforts as fast as we can.  I hear about the ever growing list of needs almost daily.  For now, our short term focus is sharp.  We have one school that is open yet unfinished.  That school’s current projects include a fence around the school compound and railings on the third floor of the school-both for safety.  These projects combined will be a bit less than $2000.  We also need to finish inside wiring and put in a solar panel system-another $2000.  If you would consider supporting any of these efforts, it will matter greatly.  Times are tough globally, and the need for people in Nepal is real.  All donations that you give go directly to our projects, with no middle entity other than our bank.

Please pray for the people of Nepal, especially those impacted by the quarantine.  Nepal has reported only a few dozen confirmed diagnoses associated with Corona, but the loss to their economy is much greater in scope and impact than what we are experiencing.  I have yet to see anyone in America walking two weeks to get something to eat.

Thanks, in advance, for staying with us through these tough times.