By Bill Rohs with contributions by Julia Burton, Neena Jain, and Alli Sarazen
A chill went through Colorado Saturday morning as it woke to the sun. Far away in the small country of Nepal a devastating earthquake wounded the nation and their pain was felt in Colorado.
Phones rang, emails flowed and social media lit up at the hands of people in Colorado desperate for news of family, friends and communities in Nepal.
The connection between the two places runs deep, stemming from mountaineers and trekkers, to nonprofit staff and immigrant Nepalese who expatriated to Colorado.
I work with a non-profit based in Golden, Colorado and I see Golden as a perfect example of the many connections Colorado has with Nepal. Our offices are located inside the American Mountaineering Center and the deep personal connections with Nepal begins with this adventuresome lot.
The high peaks and quiet beauty of Nepal are like sirens to the climbers of mountainous Colorado. Mountaineers, trekkers and adventurers travel to enjoy the amazing and spectacular wonders of “the Top of the World.” Prayer flags flap all over Golden as symbols of our connection with Nepal and their Tibetan kin. The flags now send their prayers back to Nepal through the wind.
Refugees from Nepal have been resettling in Colorado for years, most arriving in time of the Nepalese Maoist insurgency. Many Tibetan, Bhutanese and even Somali refugees are also here by way of Nepal, where they had been resettled or to which they had escaped from trouble in their homelands. Many now own and work in restaurants and businesses in Golden.
Because of these deep passionate ties to Nepal, many Colorado based nonprofits have sprung up to help meet the Nepalese needs. Supporting education, women’s empowerment and community needs, the NGOs work to help the strong people of Nepal achieve their goals. Their work is needed now more than ever as Nepal works to emerge, recover and rebuild.
Like the rest of Colorado, my non-profit’s team has a long standing history with—and love for—this remote mountain country. Our executive director, Neena Jain, was a member of an all-women climbing expedition in 2002. During that same year, I trekked up to meet her group in the Khumbu Valley. As a result of these trips, we were influenced to work for a small NGO in Colorado built around addressing communities’ needs. Several other Team and Board Members have spent significant time in Nepal playing, working, living and most of all connecting to this land.
My team and I are grateful for our international yet close ties and connections to Nepal. Due to decades of friendship and shared passion for Nepal’s human and natural beauty, we formulated a partnership-based response plan within 36 hours of the April 26 earthquake.
Our organization has emergency medical personnel en route to Nepal right now. We are partnering with other Colorado organizations as well, further deepening the ties between the Centennial State and Nepal.
The rebuilding efforts are critical and will go on after the cameras are turned off. We believe in working collaboratively to transform compassion into durable, meaningful impact for communities that help them emerge, recover and rebuild with the grace and strength we all recognize as Nepali. We need to keep this wonderful country and its people actively in our hearts so as a collective community we can share strength and compassion across mountains to mountains.
This article was kindly published in Elephant Journal.
Copyright emBOLDen Alliances, 2015.