VSO volunteers and staff responding to Nepal earthquake

VSO volunteers and staff responding to Nepal earthquake

 Following Saturday’s earthquake in Nepal, VSO is working closely with volunteers, staff

Security personnel and volunteers rescuing victims after the earthquake in Kathmandu on Saturday,  Photo: Prajwal Shrestha

Monday 27th April, 2015:  Following Saturday’s earthquake in Nepal, VSO is working closely with volunteers, staff and partner organisations to provide support to those most affected.

Purna Kumar Shrestha is Lead Education Adviser at VSO and comes from the district of Makawanpur in Nepal. He has family in Sindhupalchok District, the epicentre of the biggest aftershock yesterday of 6.7 magnitude.

“This has devastated my village and District.  My family and friends were able to contact me to tell me that their homes have been severely damaged and they are sleeping outdoors. They are traumatised by the experience and the ongoing aftershocks. This will be a huge setback for the progress we have made in this area in recent times.   As well as the urgent need for rescue operations, my people need psycho-social support.  Local voluntary actions also need to be supported now in order to help them rebuild and recover as quickly as possible,” said Purna.

Ann Marcer is a British VSO volunteer in Nepal on placement at the moment as a teacher and she has blogged about her experience of the quake and the effect on her community in the aftermath.  (see below)

“....the whole building was shaking vigorously and I could hear crashes as things fell.’ she wrote in her blog.   “It’s difficult to predict how long it will take for Nepal to get back to normal. This is a huge tragedy for such a poor nation, already struggling to bring itself into the twenty-first century, and develop an infrastructure in such a difficult terrain. The foreign aid promised will be of great help so please donate to help the victims of this calamity,” she added.

VSO has 67 international volunteers in Nepal at the moment, of which roughly half are from the International Citizen Service UK youth volunteering programme and the others are long term international volunteers from several countries (breakdown below).  VSO has 22 country office staff members.

VSO has been working in Nepal for over 50 years during which time it has sent over 800 volunteers to work on projects in health, education, livelihoods and gender equality. This work covers remote districts across Nepal including Lumjung, Banglung and Surkhet and a base also in Kathmandu.

VSO’s Chief Executive, Philip Goodwin is in contact with the teams on the ground and said;

“Our thoughts are with those affected by the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal at the weekend. At this time we can confirm that our staff and volunteers are safe and well but we continue to monitor the situation closely, although connectivity is limited. VSO is experienced in mobilising and managing volunteer actions and remains one hundred percent committed to supporting the people of Nepal in whatever way they need in the days, weeks and months ahead.”

For more information or to request an interview, contact Ciara O’Sullivan at the VSO Press Office on + 44 [0]20 8780 7230  Mobile + 44 7753 10 34 60 and ciara.osullivan@vsoint.org or out of hours mobile 07500918478 

Potential interviewees: VSO Staff member from Nepal:  Purna Shrestha, VSO Lead Education Adviser, VSO.  Nepalese born Purna has family directly affected by the earthquake.  His nephew Pratik was part of the direct relief effort in Kathmandu, digging out victims with his hands in the aftermath.  Purna is now very active in the UK Nepalese Diaspora response under the coordination of the Nepal Embassy in the UK. His Huff Post Blog

Ann Marcer is a retired teacher from Devon in the UK. She volunteers with VSO in Nepal working on a project to encourage more girls to attend and stay at school. She works with 12 very remote schools, some more than 8 hours travelling time from Besisahar.  Read Ann's blog here 

VSO is accepting donations to the cause of Nepal via the website - donate here. Anyone worried about a friend or family member volunteering or working with VSO is encouraged to call +44 (0)7827 980 612.

Editor's notes

VSO is the world’s leading independent international development organisation that works through volunteers to fight poverty in developing countries. VSO's high-impact approach involves bringing people together to share skills, build capabilities, promote international understanding and action, and change lives to make the world a fairer place for all.

VSO ICS is funded by the UK government’s Department for International Development, giving UK 18 – 25 year olds the opportunity to live overseas for 12 weeks, and work on impactful development programmes. UK volunteers work with local volunteers on a range of projects based on five core areas: youth employment, education, youth leadership, health awareness raising or climate change

Volunteers in Nepal

33 Long term volunteers- 7 from VSO Philippines, 1 VSO Ireland, 1 VSO Kenya, 4 VSO Netherlands, 15 VSO UK and 5 others

34 UK ICS volunteers, including 4 team leaders. 11 of those are scheduled to be evacuated from Kathmandu this week, the rest remain safe and well in the community with their host families for now.