Mennonite Central Committee will begin its Nepal earthquake response by working with a local organization in the remote, eastern area of the country, providing food and other essential items to affected families.
Support for about 200 families in Okhaldhunga District will assist people whose homes are no longer safe for use and who have less than one week of food available. Priority will be given to female-led households, and households with disabled, injured or deceased family members.
This is the first disaster assistance project MCC is implementing in response to the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck an area between the capital, Kathmandu, and the city of Pokhara on April 25.
Further relief projects will be confirmed later. MCC has committed an initial $500,000 to the emergency response. The commitment will increase, if donations exceed that amount.
MCC is focusing its efforts in remote and rural areas where its partners are already working on projects, from agriculture and nutrition to education, health and peacebuilding.
Leah Reesor-Keller, an MCC representative in Nepal with her husband, Luke, said that up to 90 percent of homes in some rural areas are destroyed, according to reports from partners. The Reesor-Kellers are from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont.
“Often these homes are made of stone, clay, wood,” she said. “We’ve heard that many have just crumbled and are damaged to the point they are no longer livable.”
In Okhaldhunga District, families will receive enough food to last a household of five for three weeks. They will also receive emergency shelter materials, blankets and cooking supplies, flashlights, water treatment supplies and soap.
The supplies will be distributed through MCC’s current partner organization in the area, Group of Helping Hands Nepal.
Reesor-Keller said one of the biggest challenges right now is making contact with all partners in rural and remote areas to assess their needs.
“There are areas without good mobile phone access or road access, and we still haven’t heard from them,” Reesor-Keller said. “We are doing what we can to reach out to the most isolated and vulnerable.”
MCC has had an active presence in Nepal, through volunteers, since the 1950s. Currently MCC works with eight local partners in Nepal in 12 districts. Most of MCC’s work focuses on vulnerable families in rural areas. Many of these households include migrant laborers and families headed by women.
Donations can be made at mcc.org/nepal-earthquake or by calling 888-563-4676. Checks may be sent to MCC U.S., PO Box 500, Akron, PA 17501-0500.