The aftermath of Saturday’s earthquake in Nepal has been devastating.
The current death toll is over 4,600. Twice as many have been injured by the disaster, and the U.N. estimates that 8 million people across Nepal have been affected by the quake.
For those watching the coverage of the disaster from around the world, it can be hard to know how best to help. We talked to Amy Parodi, who is on staff with World Vision, about the current situation, needs in the country and what Christians around the world can do to help—both now and in the long-term.
There’s a lot of information about what’s going on in Nepal right now. Can you give a brief summary about the current situation?
The situation right now is still very much in the early stages of a disaster. Search and rescue efforts are still going on, people are still in need of the really basic supplies. It’s really typical after a disaster, right after it strikes. People need food, people need clean water, people need shelter, and that’s where we are right now. We still don’t know the full extent of the damage, we still don’t know the full extent of the injuries and the deaths. It’s still very early on.
Even the organizations that are reporting [the death toll] are qualifying it and saying, “We still haven’t gotten out to the rural areas, we still don’t know how many more are out there that we just haven’t been able to confirm.” So in the early stages, the numbers are always going to be kind of fluctuating a little bit. It will be days, maybe even weeks before they can get out to all the rural areas and really see the full extent of the damage.
What are the most urgent needs for people right now?
The urgent needs for the people who are affected are really the basics. A lot of people have lost their homes, so they are sleeping outside. They don’t feel safe going into any structures. Even if their home survived, they don’t feel safe in them. Many people are sleeping outside. The weather forecast is for rain. They live up in the mountains and so the temperatures are very extreme. It gets very hot in the daytime and it gets very cold at night. The terrain is not friendly at all. Even just a roof over people’s heads is a very basic need.
Also, in the rural areas, which are really the hardest hit, a lot of people stored their long-term food in their homes, and so if they lost their homes they also lost their food storage. And so basic food and clean water, the really essentially things are the greatest needs right now.
What can we in the Western world do to help?
The best thing that people can do is donate cash to a reputable organization that’s working over there. It’s really tempting to want to go over and volunteer, to want to collect blankets or collect food and send those things over. But really the best thing that people can do is resource professional aid workers who are over there, who know how to run programs like this, who know how to move supplies in large quantities into the areas that are affected the most. Cash really allows organizations like that to do that work most efficiently.
How can Christians be praying specifically for this situation?
Obviously prayers for people who have lost family members, who are trying to deal with a very physical situation, the need for food, the need for shelter alongside grief if they’ve lost family members. So just prayer for people who are suffering on a number of different levels. Prayer for aid workers who are coming into a devastating situation and are needing to move quickly, needing to move efficiently without all of the logistical systems that help.
You have to find a solution, you have to do it fast and you have to do it efficiently even when you don’t have things like fully functioning airports. So they’re needing to be creative, they’re needing to be very smart about their work and they’re needing to move quickly. So wisdom, discernment, resources are all great needs that people can be praying for.
From our perspective, you can certainly be praying for our staff. We had 200 staff members who were there. Fortunately all of them survived, but many of them lost their homes. These are people who are responsible for responding to a disaster, and yet at the same time they’ve survived the disaster themselves and they are sort of reeling from their own experiences. Please be praying for our staff in Nepal and their families, their communities that are all affected by this quake.
You can always donate to World Vision, you can donate to the website at worldvision.org. We also have a text to give option, you can text the word Nepal to 777444 and that will make an automatic $10 donation to the response in Nepal.
Thinking a little bit more long-term, what can people do to help as Nepal tries to rebuild after all of this?
I think the biggest thing is: Don’t forget about Nepal. Disasters like this, the news is covering that and it’s really easy for that to be at the top of everyone’s mind in the first days of a disaster, but it’s going to be months, years before these communities are back on their feet.
So I think one of the biggest things is just don’t forget about them. Continue to donate, continue to pay attention, continue to pray for these people who, in many cases, their whole lives have been changed. Their lives will never be the same. The quick response, the quick donations are hugely helpful, but three months from now, six months from now, a year from now, those prayers and those resources and just being knowledgeable about what’s going on is still going be really helpful.