Founder’s Diary- 2 Years of Empowerment
Thoughts from THNA Founder Jody Dontje
2 years ago, on the 25th of April 2015, I was having a joyous day, celebrating my birthday with my loving parents and sister. It was my last year of University, and it had been 4 months since I returned from my life-changing experience volunteering in Nepal.
I thought about Nepal often, if not everyday, since I had left the country that became engrained in my identity, in who I was. On this day, the 25th of April 2015, though, my thoughts were on spending time with my family, in our cozy little home. It was early in the morning, and though Nepal did come into my mind at times, with birthday messages coming in from my Nepali friends, I was concentrating on being immersed by birthday hugs from my family. I had a smile on my face all morning. However, that soon changed.
I would never have anticipated what would happen next. Within minutes, birthday messages started to change. I no longer received images of my squished face with the faces of the happy Nepali people I had met in Nepal in true selfie style. No longer did I receive photos as a reminder of our incredible times together. No, the images dreadfully changed into pictures of destruction, of tears pouring down fearful faces, hurtful faces, sadness. Messages of friendly birthday well wishes recapping moments of happiness shared, became cries for help and stories of family members missing and chaotic fear rising in children, men and women.
On the 25th of April 2015, Nepal has hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that ripped from the epicenter 48 miles (77 km) Northwest of Kathmandu right throughout Nepal. Two large aftershocks, with magnitudes 6.6 and 6.7, shook the region within one hour of the main quake. Buildings were destroyed, schools shattered, lives were stolen, and some people lost everything but hope, that resilient hope that Nepali people inspirationally possess.
I didn’t sleep properly for 3 nights; I could only see the images of the destruction, the faces full of fear, the messages crying out for help. On the 3rd night after the earthquake, that was it. Yes I had full-time university, yes I had numerous volunteering commitments in my community, yes I had work so that I could survive, but no I wasn’t going to use my already packed schedule as an excuse.
On the 28th of April 2015, I hurriedly ran into my university, into the offices of university staff with a mission, a desire, a hope. I didn’t have any idea about how I was going to do it, but I knew I was going to support Nepal. With 2 weeks, we raised over $1500. In what felt like overnight, I started what would become my life mission, a mission I would dedicate countless nights and days to, a mission I would completely immerse my life into, that would take me around the world; at the end of April 2015, ‘The Help Nepal Appeal’ was born.
Earthquake Statistics: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Nepal-earthquake-of-2015
It is now 2 years on, and THNA has become something I could only have dreamed of. THNA is now about empowerment, about supporting struggling children, men and women throughout Nepal with a sustainable approach, and about being transparent in this process and sharing our story and the story of others with the world.
April 25th 2016 – April 25th 2017
This is a transparent overview about our journey this year:
– 15 International Volunteers
– 9 New THNA Members
– 7 New Business Affiliations
– 8 New Charity/NGO Affiliations
– 7 New Launched Programs
– 6 Districts (Kavre, Tanahun, Kaski, KTM, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur)
– $5442.93 Fundraised
~ Hundreds of people helped, empowered, and given opportunities to flourish.
Dhanyabad (thank-you) to all of those who have been a part of our journey, who have made the empowerment of hundreds of Nepali people possible over this past year.
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“I could not think of a single thing I would have done differently over the past year, even over the past several years [of my life]- Each of those things had led me to this moment- This was where I belonged” (p. 131) – Conor Grennan, Little Princes (2010).