Stories of Nepal, an initiative created by street photographer Jay Poudyal and inspired by Humans of New York, has just raised US$26,000 in donations from the community to distribute across nine regions in Nepal for individuals who have been significantly affected by the coronavirus lockdown. As the annual monsoon season approaches in August, the organisers of the relief fund fear the combined impact of coronavirus and climate-induced food shortages and flooding on already marginalised communities.
Founded in 2013, Stories of Nepal, a platform sharing the stories and portraits of everyday Nepalis quickly rose in prominence to become an online community with over 430,000 followers. Amidst the coronavirus, the initiative pivoted to divert resources and funds to the most needy and vulnerable communities in the country.
After launching a relief crowdfunder campaign in early April, the Stories of Nepal community rallied together to raise US$26,000, which far exceeded its original goal of US$5,000. The support shown to the call for donations enabled Stories of Nepal to kickoff a grassroots movement to channel financial support directly to communities most vulnerable to the coronavirus and its socioeconomic impact, such as daily wage earners, Dalit communities, domestic violence survivors and single mothers.
“With the return of both domestic and international daily wage workers to home villages, halted supply chains and ceased remittances, many regions are experiencing food shortages now and others are predicting food shortages within the coming weeks and months,” Stories of Nepal wrote in a statement.
“Monsoon season is approaching with the risks of devastating flooding a near certainty.”
Over the course of the last two months, local partners were able to distribute and allocate funds rapidly across different regions in Nepal. More than 1,400 hot meals and 750 food parcels have been sent to individuals in need, while 21 families received financial support to keep them afloat during the economic downturn. With the monsoon season to arrive in a matter of weeks, hardships are likely to continue or even worsen.
Stories of Nepal also organised public service announcements in 7 districts in Bajhang and Doti with the aim of sharing accurate and credible information about the coronavirus and social distancing measures in place.
Jay Pouydal, the founder of Stories of Nepal, said that the support that the campaign has garnered represents a message of hope.
“Time and time again I am blown away by the overwhelming generosity of the Nepali community,” said Pouydal.
“Their unwavering support, love and commitment to their Nepali brethren is beautiful. Whether it be the 2015 earthquake, the Terai floods of 2016, or individuals I meet who are in need of hospital care, the Stories of Nepal community shows up, donates, and supports every single time without hesitation,” he added. “There is power in that.”
Read our earlier news coverage of Covid-19 here.
All images courtesy of Jay Poudyal / Stories of Nepal.