United to help those in need: Stories from Nepal

Press time:2020-05-08Number of views:154

Kathmandu during COVID-19 pandemic

At a time when the Novel Corona virus disease (COVID-19) has been the worst enemy of the human kind, individuals and communities who never had time for each other has come together to help the ones in need.

When the entire world is on hold and calm, the daily activities of human being are highly affected. There is a huge part of the population that’s been worst hit by this disease mostly because they were depended on daily wage to earn their living. The government of Nepal announced the nation-wide lockdown on March 24 after a 19- year old girl who returned from France via Qatar was diagnosed positive with COVID-19. This was the second case on the Nepalese territory. The first case was a 32- year old doctoral student from the Wuhan University of Technology who came to Nepal in first week of January.

After the lockdown continued to extend, since it was first imposed on March 24, many people on social media came with the idea of helping those who are badly hit by the government decision, specially the vulnerable ones who could not manage food to eat.  Due to the lockdown, many even though interested could not come out of their houses to help those in need. However, later individuals in the communities gathered together and started cooking and distributing food in their area following all the hygiene measures and maintaining physical distances as recommended by World Health Organization.

Different organizations in coordination with the Municipalities have been serving food for the needy and underprivileged ones who have been starving after the lockdown began. Several people, groups and organizations around the capital and outside the capital are showing the best example of humanity ensuring that the most vulnerable and needy ones are not deprived of food during this time of global crisis. Individuals who could not go out for the support have been supporting the organization and communities in whatever way they can such as providing the required materials and cash. Below are some exemplary stories done by the community.

Cooking for those who are starving

Lily Thapa, founder of Chhahari, an organization that works for single women is found busy packing food for the ones in need. The organization started to cook and distribute food to the people they know who were unable to cook food like the elderly ones in their community from April 13. Later, many single women with kids, daily wage workers, students from village living in the capital came to ask if they could provide food for them. As the number of people who need food increased, the organization started collecting funds online and many people within the country and abroad started supporting the organization. With the help of volunteers, and fund collected through online platforms the organization now has been preparing dinner for around 1,200 people on daily basis.

In a courtyard inside Lagankhel, located near the capital, the local committee members of Lagankhel Samaj are busy cooking and distributing the food to the people who come to eat.  Since April 5, the committee has been serving 150 people in the area who were sleeping with empty stomachs. The committee members were touched seeing the people sleeping empty stomach and decided to provide free lunch. They provide the staple rice, lentils, vegetables and sometimes chicken. They have made the makeshift kitchen following the safety protocols, maintaining hygiene and ensuring physical distance while distributing the food.

local committee members  distributing the food

Likewise, Geshe Sonam Wangchen, a monk, with the donation received from individuals and some non-profit organization is providing meals for around 1000 people twice a day. With the help of 30 volunteers he provides meal at 9 a.m. in the morning and 4 p.m. in the evening. Everyone who is in need can go there and enjoy freshly cooked meals.

Many people who cannot cook on their own and are deprived of buying food either due to lack of enough savings or other reasons are happy with the individuals and organizations serving them food.

Reaching destitute households to distribute the vegetables and food

A group of young people in Sundar Haraicha, Biratnagar, around 400 kilometers west of the capital, is distributing free seasonal vegetables to around 50 needy households in the area. As the local farmers were having problems of not being able to sell their produce, the initiative by these young people has benefitted both the farmers and those in need. Besides, distributing the vegetables to the needy ones for free, they have also been buying the organic vegetables from different vendors and farmers and selling it at the doorstep of the individuals at a cheaper price.

A group of youth in Ombahal in the capital started distributing packaged foods like biscuits, noodles and water to the daily wage workers in the surrounding communities immediately after the lockdown. But soon they realized that what they were distributing was not enough. They then hired few cooks in their own area and started making fried rice and distributing at the doorstep of the daily wage workers using the motorbikes. The District Administration Office issues special passes for those who have to commute during the lockdown.

Providing shoes and water for those walking back to villages

Trapped by the lockdown and running out of saving, many daily laborers, mostly construction workers and vegetable and fruit vendors walked back to their villages. Ignoring the scorching heat and rain, many people were seen on the highway walking back to their villages which took them almost 2 to 5 days.

 Workers walking back to villages after lockdown policy issued

After, the news sparked in the media that many workers were walking barefoot to the village, the locals in the Dhulikhel area, the major section of the highway, voluntarily collected used slippers and shoes and kept alongside the roads so that those in need could take them. Many workers walking along the highway benefitted from this and they were happy to get the shoes for free. The locals in the area also provided drinking water at various places on the highway.

In a bid to control the spread of COVID-19, Nepal is still under lockdown till midnight of May 7. The domestic and international flights are suspended until May 15. As of April May 7, a total of 101 people has been tested positive for the disease of which 22 people have been discharged from the hospital after being fully recovered.

COVID-19 is definitely hitting badly the poor around the globe. According to the Carolina Sanchez-Paramo’s blog of, published on the World Bank website: many of the new poor will likely be found in cities, while rural areas, which tend to be poorer to start with, will experience a deterioration in living conditions and a deepening of poverty. While the government, health workers and the security personnel are working hard to prevent the disease, the effort put forward by the generous individuals and organizations are preventing the population from starvation.  

Global Humanitarian Support

The good examples of compassion, humanitarian and social support have been noticed not only in communities of Nepal, but during this pandemic such good practices has been witnesses in different countries where the governments have supported their citizens with some financial assistance and foods to the needy. Hong Kong gave around 1,280 $ for about 7 million people above the age of 18.  Likewise, United States is providing $ 1,000 checks to all Americans. Other countries like Japan, Pakistan and Namibia also provided financial assistance to its citizens to help them during the crisis.

The humanitarian support extended to the global level as well with the government of one country supporting others by providing necessary medical equipment’s, sharing knowledge and sending medics to control and combat the pandemic. During the initial days when the virus was spread only in China, the government of Nepal on February handed over 100,000 units of protective masks to Chinese government to help protect its citizens from the disease. Likewise, European Union also provided medical equipment to China.

Later as China moved towards recovery and was able to contain the spread, it provided support to different countries. Sichuan Province, Chinese embassy, Alibaba Foundation and Jack Ma Foundation donated masks, thermometers, medicines, protective clothing and portable ventilators to Nepal. China also donated testing kits to Cambodia, provided masks, ventilators and medics to Italy and France, deployed medics in Iran and Iraq and pledged to help countries like Nepal, Philippines, Spain and many others. Similarly, Cuba has also sent its medical team to Italy. These are just few examples and in this time of crisis nothing could be better than communities helping each other, governments taking care of its citizens and countries helping each other.

   For Chinese translation version, view: http://icsf.cuc.edu.cn/2020/0917/c5607a173048/page.htm

   Writer: Kriti Bhuju

   Pictures: Dipesh Shrestha