Tag Archives: Kathmandu Valley

Christen ~ Nepal, after the earthquakes, working towards short term needs and long term recovery.

To the Side-2

Have any of you been feeling like “Okay! We get it! You hiked some [censored] mountains! Can we move on now?!!” Because I have been feeling that way for a long while. I am so ready for the next adventure, you have no idea.

I am not accustomed to talking about what I am doing in public. Even after a year of doing this, I still do not like it. I like my privacy. A lot. I prefer that the only part of my personal life that surfaces in public is the photography I decide to share. There have been many times over the course of this last year that I have reminded myself of the people of Nepal for whom I am doing this. Most often, it is the children that run through my mind.

©Christen Babb
©Christen Babb
©Christen Babb
©Christen Babb
©Christen Babb
©Christen Babb
©Christen Babb
©Christen Babb

Photo from Ayusha Swar 1

I have lived with the people we met in Nepal in my heart and in my head for over a year now. With approximately 200 hours of footage and all of the photography captured, they are living breathing people in front of me every day. They make me smile and laugh and they pull me through when I get worn out from the long hours and no pay. Yes, okay, maybe we let our hearts get ahead of our finances when we agreed to do this film project. (There have been so many meals of cheap tacos or food made in the toaster this year.) Who knew it cost so much to do this?! Certainly not I. But, then, I did not even know I could not hike in jeans. (I know, I know, thank goodness I did not die.)

Nepal is one of the poorest nations in the world. The goal of the Karma Documentary was to move beyond empathy for their struggles and to support them in their desire to empower themselves, so they can work towards providing for their own communities with their own profits. I have never regretted starting on this project, not even when I was hanging upside down in a rabbit trap [chuckle], and where I grew up you finish what you start. We were just beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, when…

On April 25th, 2015, the earthquakes began, the worst natural disaster to hit Nepal in over 80 years. Thousands of people died, and hundreds of thousands of people are now homeless. It was centered around where we stayed for my time after the trek. Most of the homes and businesses of the people we came to know in that village (as well as throughout Kathmandu Valley and beyond), were destroyed. The aftershocks continued to hit them for days to come.

We had no idea what to do. My first thought was, “How can I get there?” (I know, but when I know people that are hurting, it is always my first thought.) It quickly sank in that my going there would do nothing to help and only take away from their resources. Besides, knowing the people we know there, they would turn around and be trying to take care of me, rather than the other way around. Instead, we just sat here feeling helpless, watched the death toll climb, and held our breaths while we waited for the people we know to check in as safe. 4,000 dead. Now over 5,000 dead. Believed to be over 6,000 dead. They finally settled on over 8,000 dead and more than 19,000 injured.

©Josh Saam
©Josh Saam

It never occurred to me during those first days that we would continue making the film. I just kept seeing the people I knew in my mind and picturing them now living on the streets outside of their collapsed homes, and feeling lost as to how to help them. It was not until it was made very clear to us from many different directions that, not only did we need to finish the film, but that now it was even more important to their long term recovery that we finish it. It was not until this was pounded into my head repeatedly, that I could even bring myself to watch actual footage from the earthquake.

Just when I had finally gotten my head wrapped around the importance of continuing with the film, because they still want and need their stories to be told, May 12th, 2015 arrived. Another earthquake, almost as big as the first, hit Nepal. This time its center was where we had been trekking. There is no one that I met during my time in Nepal that has not been affected by the earthquakes.

We have started a campaign to raise 125K to accomplish both the completion of the film and immediate relief for people in the communities we know, because we know how to get the money directly into the hands of those communities. We do not have to wonder if we gave it to the right organization. (Seriously, how do companies working in disaster relief profit so greatly? Nevermind. That is a rant for another day. Focusing on what is important right now.)

Nepali Relief and Karma Documentary from Luke Mislinski on Vimeo.


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