Local efforts help Nepali earthquake victims

Student at the orphanage in Kathmandu. Photo by Joshua Phillips

In the last week, Josh Phillips has stumbled into both disaster and the opportunity to help those in need. Known around Asheville for his performances with the Josh Phillips Folk Festival and Yo Mamma’s Big Fat Booty Band, Phillips happened to be visiting Kathmandu in the central region of Nepal this weekend when tragedy struck.

Phillips had gone to Nepal for a meditation workshop and personal spiritual growth. A week after he arrived, “I was on the moped,” Josh explains, “when the earthquake hit. It started tossing me around. I thought my tire popped, then I thought tornado, then I thought, oh f***, this is an earthquake.”

Destroyed home at the orphanage Photo by Joshua Phillips
Destroyed home at the orphanage. Photo by Joshua Phillips

Within moments of the earthquake, an orphanage had been thrust into Josh’s life. The Triratna Avashiya Vidyalaya, part of the Triple Gem educational foundation, is a school and orphanage with two houses on its grounds that provide a home to 22 kids, plus staff. Both houses collapsed. Fortunately, most of the residents were out of the houses when the earthquake came, but not all. One brave boy picked up his bleeding friend and ran out into the street where he found Josh on his motor scooter. The boys climbed on and Josh took them to the hospital. The two boys recovered, but, tragically, one child at the orphanage died in the disaster.

Josh went on to describe the earthquake. “It felt like the world was going to end. People were screaming everywhere. But then it stopped, and everything was fine near me.” After the fear passed, at first, he thought it hadn’t been serious, that the neighborhood was spared. But once back on his scooter, he found that “everything was chaos. Buildings down, bloody people,” and then, the boys from the orphanage appeared in need of help.

Josh is now camping under a big tent at the United States Mission, and the denizens of the orphanage are camping under tents near their facility. Josh has begun a direct-giving effort for the orphanage. The manager of Triratna Avashiya Vidyalaya will use the money raised for clothes and blankets to replace what was buried under the rubble. He will also contribute some to the neighbors in need of aid. Any remaining amount will go toward rebuilding the houses for the children. You can donate to Josh’s fund for the orphanage here. If successful, Josh is also encouraging donations to a small relief fund set up by another musician, from Charlotte, JB Lawrence, who is currently in Kathmandu.

Sushila and Manoj Lama, Asheville community members and owners of Himalayas Import and Kathmandu Cafe, are raising money to help their families and relations in Kathmandu. Sushila is from Trishuli, Newacot, where her family home was destroyed in the quake. Her sister-in-law lost two close family members in the disaster. Manoj was born in Palung, Makwanpur, also hard-hit by the quake. The couple are collecting cash donations in their store at 6 Battery Park Ave. and restaurant at 90 Patton Ave. Relief-minded community members can stop in and donate at either location. The money will be collected at end of the week and taken by either Sushila or Manoj to their families in Kathmandu, where it will pay for food and supplies for their large extended family.  To donate online, email manoj186@hotmail.com.

Josh on left with boys and staff of, photo by Joshua Phillips
Josh on left with boys and staff of Triratna Avashiya Vidyalaya. Photo courtesy of Joshua Phillips

Another way to help the Nepalis is to attend a  “Love in Action” fundraiser for Nepal, organized by local healing-arts practitioners. The event takes place on Sunday, May 3, at the New Mountain Theater. The schedule includes healing arts activities from 2pm-6pm and music from 6pm-10pm. Proceeds will be divided between the family fund of Manoj and Sushila Lama, the Karuna- Shechen clinic and monastery, and Nepal Orphans Home.

Already  ahead of the rush, Chai Pani held a fundraiser on Tuesday from which they donated a percentage of their total sales for the day from both their Asheville and their Atlanta locations. Between that and additional donations collected through the day, they raised almost $2,000 to help Nepal. All of the money went directly to the Nepal Earthquake relief fund spearheaded by Global Giving. Restaurant co-owner Molly Irani chose the aid organization on the advice of her old friends who survived the earthquake in Nepal.  In light of the fact that recovery will be long and hard in Nepal, Chai Pani partner, Michael Files stated “we wish to continue to help raise money as much as we can, and our “Donation Station” will continue to be set-up for as long as we can swing it in the restaurant. We encourage patrons to come by and drop a couple dollars in the jar, or jump on our computer and donate directly.”  The restaurant is also open to participating in other local fundraising efforts and is encouraging others in the service industry to take up the cause.



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About Able Allen
Able studied political science and history at Warren Wilson College. He enjoys travel, dance, games, theater, blacksmithing and the great outdoors. Follow me @AbleLAllen

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