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Journeys International & Earth Preservation Fund Expand Nepal Earthquake Relief

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$50,000 grant from Philadelphia Foundation Peat Fund Boosts On-the-Ground Efforts


Journeys International, an Ann Arbor-based adventure tour operator, is expanding its efforts to aid Nepal earthquake victims, thanks to a $50,000 grant by The Peat Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation. This grant, along with additional funds donated by Journeys clients and supporters, enables the Earth Preservation Fund (EPF), the nonprofit arm of Journeys, to provide critical and urgent support where it is most needed.

Journeys got its start in Nepal in 1978, and continues to operate a Journeys Nepal office. The staff of Journeys Nepal is directing on-the-ground recovery efforts in communities where Journeys groups have visited in previous years. Facebook has been a key tool in coordinating relief work, as well as updating donors and past travelers and encouraging additional support.

Funds from the EPF are supporting the purchase and distribution of food, water, blankets, mattresses, tarps, tents, and medical supplies to areas outside of Kathmandu, which are underserved by major relief organizations. Also, in cooperation with local medical groups, Journeys organized health clinics to provide medical assistance for both untreated injuries as well as those that only received rudimentary first-aid after the earthquake. Anticipated projects include rebuilding homes, schools, and libraries.

Journeys’ Kathmandu-based Managing Director, Narayan Shrestha, is supervising Journeys Nepal relief efforts. He posts regular updates on Facebook, including this:  “I cry when I see these places, where houses are gone and families are dead. But I am so happy [that] because of the Journeys family I am able to help some victims. Wherever I go to help it gives me peace. My family is helping me, and my wife and daughter are encouraging me to continue this relief work.”

Continuing aftershocks and the increasing frequency of pre-monsoon rains are compounding the misery of many victims and stalling rebuilding efforts. The government of Nepal has not effectively addressed problems despite its pleas that aid be directed through government ministries. Lacking a constitution and clear political leadership, corruption of aid-focused contributions has been a concern of donors large and small. Because of this, many donors have chosen the Earth Preservation Fund knowing that donations are being sent directly to the Journeys Nepal office, providing immediate and critical relief and bypassing roadblocks that many larger NGOs have to navigate.

“Our focus remains on helping the Nepalese people who need help the most, many of whom are villagers in remote areas that were closest to the epicenter of the earthquake,” said Robin Weber Pollak, President of Journeys International. “Soon, we hope to switch our relief efforts to two equally important projects. First, we will focus on helping to rebuild Nepal’s structures and villages. And second, with all Nepal treks and tours suspended through this summer and Nepal’s economy depending heavily on tourism, we will encourage our clients to put Nepal on their 2016 travel list.”

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