Team Biruwa @ Bibeksheel Nepali
When the Mega-Earthquake hit at April 25th, 2015, Biruwa also contributed by sending out it’s team members to Bibeksheel Nepali to work on their earthquake relief and response task force. Anita Poudel, Shamir Upadhyay and Subuna Basnet from the Biruwa team did an exceptionally good job at Bibeksheel and we are very proud of the three. So here we have their experiences one by one down below:
Anita : Less than a week after the disastrous earthquake that hit Nepal on the 25th of April, I decided not to stay at home idly but to do something for thousands of people affected by the quake. As soon as I found out about Bibeksheel Nepali’s (BN) ongoing earthquake response effort, I didn’t think twice and jumped into it. My past involvement in BN has not only garnered trust to the institution, but has also developed a feeling of belonging towards it. Apart from myself, all the young new volunteers’ tireless, whole-hearted efforts in Bibeksheel Nepali’s earthquake response is a testimony to the good work they are doing. I am extremely thankful to Biruwa Advisors for giving me the opportunity to serve in Bibeksheel Nepali’s earthquake response task force for a month. These unseen helping hands deserve an equal respect.
Here are 11 things that I learned by getting involved in emergency response task force in BN:
Shamir:Relief efforts for the earthquake that struck Nepal on the 25th of April 2015 had begun almost immediately in a two-storied building situated a little off the Ring Road near Maharajgunj. The office belonged to Bibeksheel Nepali, a political party involved in developmental works. On the evening of April 29, I received a call from SubunaBasnet, my colleague from Biruwa Advisors, asking me to drop by and help out in whatever capacity I could; I arrived at 10:45 am the following day.
I remember the first word that came to my mind on my arrival- “chaos”. Both floors of the Bibeksheel Nepali office were bustling with volunteers handling the inflow and outflow of relief supplies. Most of them carried a pen and paper along with them, furiously jotting things down while performing their respective tasks.
I found Subuna among the sea of people, who told me about a major issue the organization was facing- calls were coming in left, right, and center, seeking help and relief supplies but the call receivers had no idea about what supplies were available and in what quantity. I knew what I had to do: communicate inventory levels from the ground to the communication team, situated on the first floor. I glanced at the laptops in front of me to see Google docs open on a few of them. “We have the internet. This shouldn’t be too difficult”, I thought.
I made my way to the ground floor to the Inventory department. Suraj Raj Pandey was the coordinator, and he looked extremely busy. I set up my laptop on a desk and proceeded to create a Google sheet to maintain an inventory database, records for which were being kept on pen and paper. In about an hour, the sheet was ready, and I began entering the data with the help of Suraj and his team. Soon enough, the people at the communications unit could see the inventory of Bibeksheel Nepali. The flow of communication had become somewhat smoother, and I was glad to have played my part.
The next day, a Mr. SurabhRijalhad created an online form for Goods In and Goods Out to help make data entry a tad simpler. He briefed me on how the data entered in the form was stored in the database, and gave me his number in case I had any queries. Data entry went without a hitch; I was more interested in duplicating the form and database in case I needed to create one myself; turns out, I did need to replicate it. In the second half of the day, the Medical Inventory team needed a similar form, and I was happy to create a form for them. I sat with the coordinator and explained the workings of the form and database.
On the third day, Subuna asked me to help out in a different department. After briefing a volunteer in the inventory department about data entry, I made my way to the first floor and into the documentation department. Mr. Simon Dhungana, an executive committee member of Bibeksheel Nepali, asked me to work hand in hand with Mr. SrijanRajbansi, who was coordinating data analysis. My task was to gather internal information, and analyze the impact of Bibeksheel Nepali’s efforts in relief delivery. Srijan was looking into various websites for whatever secondary data was available; I was looking into the various Google Sheets created by the different departments of Bibeksheel Nepali. By the end of the day, we had a “fact sheet” ready; all it needed was continuous update. Given that I had to return to Biruwa Advisors (and Srijan had to return to his office) the following day, we briefed two volunteers on our tasks and handed over our responsibility before leaving the Bibeksheel Nepali building.
Apparently, the volunteers whom we had briefed never turned up the next day. A phone call from Subuna and I was back at Bibeksheel Nepali’s office. Deciding to take on a more comprehensive approach, I began creating a database sheet in Google docs with information pertaining to volunteers (medical or non-medical) and supplies, along with the VDC/municipality reached. In other words, I was attempting to consolidate almost all information pertaining to Bibeksheel Nepali’s impact in its relief efforts.
It took me two whole days to create a structured format for the database. By then, I was working alongside Sabin Poudel, an MBA graduate of Tribhuvan University, in data entry. The time had come for me to report back at Biruwa Advisors’ office; I had to ensure that I handed over the task of database maintenance to someone. That someone was Sabin.
Today, when I look at the sheet I created, I see a detailed overview of Bibeksheel Nepali’s relief efforts- efforts that continue after a month since the quake. Many additions have been made to the database in order to give a better understanding of Bibekseel Nepali’s impact. I say, “Kudos Sabin and the Bibeksheel Nepali team”.And because none of this would have been possible had it not been for Biruwa Advisors, my heartfelt gratitude goes out to the entireBiruwa team for providing me with the opportunity of being a part of such an enriching experience.
Subuna : On April 25th I was on the way to Imadol, one of the earthquake affected villages in Lalitpur district, hoping to see my family. I witnessed houses falling, people crying, shouting and groaning all around me. I think I was just as scared and traumatized as everyone else. I spent one night on the carrier of a truck without any contact with my friends and colleagues.
Then I came to know about the scarcity of blood in hospitals; this news reached me through a neighbor spending the night in a tent next to us. As a blood volunteer myself, I decided to go to a hospital; I asked for a ride on a Nepal Police Force Vehicle and reached Teaching Hospital to find friends from Bibeksheel Nepali helping in the management of patients and casualties. And thus began my post-earthquake volunteering journey at Bibeksheel Nepali.
First, I started by managing an overwhelming number of volunteers looking to help out in any way they could. Once the system started working well, I helped establish several departments- social media, helpline service, data analysis, inventory, and documentation- to name a few. After one week of 24-7 involvement, I concluded that the office functions were set up, and decided to visit earthquake affected areas.
Along with the field relief team, I headed to Listikot VDC of Sindhupalchowk district, near the China border. I helped the villagers prepare dinner for our team of 75, and we camped at Barhabise on the first night.
Early in the morning the next day, we headed to a village uphill, called Listikot. It was very beautiful, but equally dangerous to venture at that time. We were challenged by big landslides on the way- huge rocks were falling almost everywhere from the tall, rocky hills. We collaborated with a local organization to help open the road with a bull dozer.
Our destination was a remote village on top of a hill near China but along the way, we observed that people living downhill (near the Votekoshi River) were not getting anything to eat up to that point of time. One of the villagers told us that very few organizations arrived with very little relief material. We met injured women, children, and elderly people unable to carry relief materials to their villages from the distribution point downtown. They were deprived of medical support, food, shelter and, clothing relief.
Some villagers even tried to loot all the relief materials that we were carrying. Some blocked the roads while others threatened our lives. We had to deal with the crisis with great courage and empathy.
Finally, we reached uphill and found out that the situation was much worse than what we expected. We tried our best to support them with medical, food, clothing and shelter relief as per our capacity, and return to our office at 1am on the 12th of May.
And I continued with the relief again. For the first time in my life, I realized I was asking God to help me be able to help the people in need. I think this made all the difference.