Camp Hope is giving survivors of the Nepal earthquake a beacon of light and symbol of recovery. A single square kilometer compound in Jorpati, Kathmandu, Camp Hope is composed of innumerable tents that house 330 families who once lived in five villages north of Kathmandu. Eighty-eight percent of these families had no houses to return to after the earthquake—they were utterly destroyed. This tight community is representative of the broader 500,000 Nepalese who were displaced after the earthquake last April, which shook hilly terrain that once served as housing foundations into rubble.
However, Camp Hope is permeated with a sense of, well, hope. Children laugh in the open spaces between their temporary houses, people relax in the line for the water pump, the elderly bask in the sun amid clucking chickens. Set up by owner of boutique hotel chain Dwarika, the camp is full of people of all ages strengthening a community that will one day serve as a launch pad for rebuilding and recovery. Sangeeta Shrestha, founder of the camp, describes how she came to acquire the land for the camp when a local youth club donated their soccer field.
“I am lucky to have my hotel team of engineers and technicians whom I could call on to help set up the camp,” she said. The resources offered by the hotel have certainly come a long way in making the camp what it is. A kitchen tent run by the Dwarika offers residents three meals a day that often include chicken and eggs. Beyond basic medical services, housing and meals, the camp also offers its residents emotional solace. There are prayer tents, job training facilities and field trips for the 83 children enrolled in the local school.
Beyond being an awe-inspiring emblem of growth after disaster, Camp Hope also serves as a prime example of the benefits that come when public and private partnerships cooperate to further a cause. USAID stepped in to provide heavy plastic shelters that would sustain heavy rains during monsoon season. Additionally, the organization provided shelter to 310,000 families across affected regions.
There’s clearly more to be done, both within Camp Hope and beyond its walls. At the recent International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction, USAID pledged emergency relief and early recovery assistance totaling $130 million, with promises of more funding in the coming years. The U.S. government has also committed to helping rebuild Nepal through a number of programs, including:
- Training Nepalis to build earthquake-sustainable houses;
- Establishing approximately 1,000 Temporary Learning Centers for displaced children;
- Distributing cash to the most at-risk families to help them immediately begin to reestablish their lives and strengthen the country’s agricultural system, which supports 75% of its population;
- Protecting those who are vulnerable to human trafficking and other breaching of human rights; and
- Planning and organizing groups that can efficiently tackle future natural disasters.
Despite the immense amount of work that lies ahead, the work of USAID in partnership with local groups such as Dwarika demonstrate how shared work between the private and public sectors can bring international resources to help build sustainable growth in at-risk communities. These efforts, like Camp Hope, are a source of inspiration for all.
– Jenny Wheeler