In April 2015 an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale hit Nepal and caused widespread devastation. Just a couple of weeks later the country was hit by a second earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale just northeast of Kathmandu. In total close to 9,000 people were killed, there were 22,000 injured and hundreds of thousands whose homes were destroyed or damaged.
Israel has a proud tradition of being among the first countries to respond to international disasters and in the case of Nepal it was one of the first to send humanitarian aid in many forms. Israel’s involvement following the earthquakes was so significant that the Nepalese soon came to see Israel as a source of inspiration.
There was help from the Israeli government, military and various NGOs with a wide range of activities such as searching for survivors, delivering babies, treating the injured, teaching resilience techniques, rebuilding villages and more.
To this day there are still Israeli NGOs helping in Nepal and they are expected to remain there for some time to come. One of these NGOs is Tevel b’Tzedek (The Earth in Justice) and those of you who choose the Aardvark International program will have the chance to travel to Nepal and help the organisation with its work.
Tevel b’Tzedek has actually been working in Nepal since 2007 and when the earthquakes hit it sent volunteers to help a huge number of affected communities. Thanks to its continued presence in Nepal, Tevel b’Tzedek was also able to help the other agencies that arrived after the quakes.
For instance the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, one of Tevel b’Tzedek’s donors, arrived the day after the earthquakes with a huge amount of disaster relief work and experience behind it. However, the organisation was unfamiliar with Nepal and Tevel b’Tzedek was able to join forces with them and make sure that they were as effective as possible.
Tevel b’Tzedek was also able to help an Israeli medical team from Natan International Humanitarian Aid with logistics following the earthquake and they also worked with Magen David Adom on a project to distribute building supplies and food to families in need.
The Aardvark Nepal Cultural Exchange program is run together with Tevel b’Tzedek and gives you the chance to help the still struggling country in a variety of ways. The trip includes seminars in Kathmandu on the Nepalese language and culture and tours of various parts of the county. You will also travel to stay with a Nepalese family in a rural village and aid them in their day to day tasks. On the trip you will gain a better understanding of what it is like to live below the poverty line and experience first-hand the vital work that organisations such as Tevel b’Tzedek carry out.