After news broke that a massive earthquake had devastated the people of Nepal, nearly 8,000 miles away, the board members of Hands in Nepal got together to think of how they could help.
The tiny nonprofit based out of Santa Margarita—it’s so small that the nonprofit database GuideStar lists its income as $0—has built schools in remote, mountainous regions of Nepal since 2010. More recently, Hands in Nepal began bringing small, solar-powered LED lamps to those same villages.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF HANDS IN NEPAL
With an operation dubbed “1,000 Lights for Nepal,” the organization is accepting donations to specifically get more illumination for the country. A $10 donation is enough for Hands in Nepal to buy one light provided by another nonprofit, Unite to Light, based in Goleta.
Hands in Nepal Director Jan Sprague returned from the country in mid April, a few weeks before the 7.9-magnitude earthquake that struck on April 25. Sprague was visiting to coordinate Hands in Nepal’s fifth school project, but since the earthquake, she said it’s become difficult to get information out of some of the areas where the nonprofit typically builds schools.
“We have to find the most remote and the poorest people; that’s our mission statement,” she said.
But those are also the people worst affected by the earthquake, and Sprague expects the death toll to climb sharply as relief workers make their way to villages that are difficult to access. Many of those villages are literally built on the sides of mountains, with terraces dug into the steep slopes of areas that can only be accessed by foot.
“And we still don’t know if our schools are OK; if our friends are alive,” Sprague said.
As of press time, Hands in Nepal had received enough donations to fund about 300 solar lights. To make a donation, visit the Hands in Nepal website, handsinnepal.org.
The nonprofit is also planning a fundraising event for May 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Santa Margarita Community Center. The group is asking for a $20 donation, enough to provide two lights.
“Please don’t give up on Nepal,” Sprague said. “They need it more than ever.”