In May of 2015 we were in the process of convincing family, school officials, and others, that we weren’t crazy going to Nepal to assist in the earthquake aftermath. Fortunately, the original Nepal Project is delivering more than envisioned with six mini-documentaries so far (only three were planned) leading to a feature length "Piles of Bricks" doc in 2016. A big reason for trip #2 is to get more footage, more music, Kathmandu graphic artists, etc.--and as no one was seriously injured, there is no such shock this time.
So back to Nepal to revisit to our “Piles of Bricks” documentary. We are going back to the places and people we met last year to see how things are coming with their earthquake recovery.
The world has pledged more than $4 billion for the effort and amazing progress is being made by individuals to get their houses rebuilt. But not with the $4 billion. That money seems to be in the clouds. We’ve met no one, no organization, no municipality that points to any of those funds as being significant to their rebuilding (aside from $150 given to homeowners shortly after the quakes in early 2015).
Homes, monuments, temples and the like are being rebuilt from the ground up by homeowners and independent organizations like the Kathmandu Preservation Trust out of New York City. TheoEco’s director Amit Nepali’s family has completely rebuilt a temporary version of their home complete with brick and plaster walls, a new bathroom, four bedrooms, a new kitchen, a living room, a recording studio, and so on. All with no insurance and virtually no government assistance. Not sure the building code is exactly up to spec but when you have 12 family members close to living in the streets during monsoons, you get moving apparently. This is the story we hear all over – people doing for themselves as we show in the film.
There were many surprises the first go-around during Nepal 1, including the fuel shortage, unofficial Indian blockade, and inability to find a steady supply of cat litter (cats stay home this time). But the relationships with the Anglicans, the National Theological College, and others are more than worth the effort. While our documentaries are the most visible aspect of what TheoEco is doing, just as importantly is our research--including upcoming work related to human trafficking, clean water, and energy, both in the U.S and Nepal.
Our emphasis on the Himalayan region is, in part, due to the Yale Himalaya Initiative, which fosters a sharing to assist and learn from each other. There’s a closeness between us—sort of like a good friend or family you haven’t seen for a long time; “moral sentiments” if you will. Maybe it’s the
Bob Seger song Kathmandu, or Nepal’s perpetual underdog status squeezed between giants India and China, or even Mount Everest’s hold on our imaginations. Or perhaps it is the legendary Gurkhas, the fierce Nepalese soldiers that have fought and died alongside American and Allied troops since World War I including Iraq and Afghanistan.
TheoEco is committed to paying for its activities through its ventures and establishing Employee Owned Companies in areas we touch like our blossoming Production Company in Kathmandu headed by one of our Institute’s directors, Amit Nepali. Nobel prize winner Muhammad Yunus’ recent remarks at Babson’s commencement speaks to using Capitalism to help less developed countries. We agree. But a new and improved version. Capitalism that even Christ Himself could be proud of.
We are also shooting a new documentary before the summer concerning a big problem in Nepal: human trafficking. We are doing our first interviews in Sindupalchowk where we will be able to interview parents, victims, and others involved so that we can relate some of the realities of what is happening from here. Another documentary due in 2017 is on the water situation here, including the drinking water situation in Kathmandu, its almost boundless hydroelectric power potential, and the spiritual uses of the water whether it be Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, or other
All of this is TheoEco’s Nepal Project 2…