Kenbo Project;Glenn Kowta Committee Member, Tim Yoshinaga Committee Member, James Lee Treasurer, Rei Umekubo Secretary, Riki Umekubo President, Mari Umekubo Web and Graphic Designer
Connecting people throughout the world by helping those in need of financial assistance with their education

Building New Shelters and Bringing Hope

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Nepal Earthquake Relief

Dear friends,

We were planning to launch Kenbo Project on my brother Ken's birthday, April 25th, when the terrible earthquake disaster struck in Nepal. Our goal was and still is to provide scholarships for students in the US and Nepal, but for now we want to focus on raising funds for the disaster recovery and rebuilding efforts in Nepal. I visited areas throughout the Kathmandu Valley that have been destroyed and families are living in makeshift shelters. With funding we can help them rebuild their homes and schools. Any funds remaining can go towards the scholarship programs. Donations for the relief efforts can be submitted through our International Scholarship Project. I would appreciate it if you could please forward this message to your family and friends. Thank you for being a part of this endeavor!

Thank you,

Riki

Update from Riki — April 25, 2016

One year has passed since the earthquake and although there has been some progress, the recovery has been slow. With families yet to receive funding for rebuilding their homes many are still living in makeshift shelters. Of the shelters that Kenbo Project provided for families and schools, approximately 90% are still in use. We foresee that most likely these shelters that were originally meant to be temporary will be used long term and perhaps for several years. We will continue to check in with these families and schools to see how they are doing and assess what further assistance they may need, but the foremost priority is still permanent housing and classrooms. Thank you again to all of our donors, without your support our projects would not be possible.

We also would like to wish our brother Ken a Happy Birthday! Ken would have been 50 today. 

Update from Riki — October 25, 2015

For the past couple of weeks we have been unable to build more shelters due to the lack of petrol, which is affecting all means of transportation and the supply chain. Even though the ban on private vehicles receiving petrol has been lifted, it is of no use since there is no petrol available at the petrol stations. Drivers are abandoning their vehicles and motorbikes in the queue for days in the hopes that when petrol is available at the pumps they will return to their vehicles. Until this crisis is resolved and the situation normalizes our shelter project is postponed. 

The photos posted below are of the abandoned vehicles and motorbikes left in the petrol queue, which extends for about a half mile in each direction of the petrol station.

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Update from Riki — October 6, 2015

The border tension between India and Nepal has not been resolved, so petrol tankers are still not able to make it past the border. The petrol shortage has now become a full blown crisis here in Nepal and from what we are hearing the government is only allowing essential vehicles to fuel up at the petrol stations. If the ban is lifted and private vehicles are allowed to fuel up, I can imagine hours long wait, if not a whole day long wait in a queue to get a few liters of petrol. If this situation continues for much longer and transportation becomes more problematic than it is now, we may unfortunately have to postpone our shelter project.

Here are some photos from today's project. I want to thank my friend Sanubhai Poudel for coming from the opposite side of Kathmandu to help me build this shelter.

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Update from Riki — September 30, 2015

For the past week supplies from India have not been getting through to Nepal. Both countries accuse each other for the disruption and blockade of Indian cargo trucks entering Nepal. Just ten days ago, Nepal finally passed a new constitution, which was decades in the making. Some parties in the bordering region with India are not happy with the new constitution and have staged protests. This is the reason cited by India that is causing the stoppage of Indian cargo trucks entering Nepal due to security issues. On the other hand, Nepal states that the protests and unrest in the bordering region has been ongoing for months and that India deliberately chose to impose a blockade right after Nepal's new constitution was passed because of their criticism towards it.

Nepal relies heavily upon India delivering essential goods across the border and this disruption is causing severe shortages of every day supplies such as salt, sugar, cooking gas and petrol. In addition, the vast majority of tin that we use to build shelters is supplied from India. Furthermore, due to the shortage of petrol, a restriction on operating vehicles has been implemented in Kathmandu and throughout all major cities of Nepal. Kenbo Project will continue to do the best that we can to move forward with the shelter project during this time.

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Update from Riki — September 16, 2015

The past few weeks have been difficult getting around to our project sites due to the Singhaasta Mela festival in Godawari. This festival only takes place once every 12 years, so you can imagine the traffic and congestion. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from across Nepal and India descended upon the peaceful and serene landscapes of Godawari to bathe in its sacred spring in hopes that their sins are forgiven and to gain spiritual merit. The month long festival will end tomorrow, so we won't have to worry about all this traffic again until the year 2027!

Here are photos from today's project. This woman in the photo below lives alone. Her house looks fine from the outside, however like many other homes, fell apart from the inside and are unsafe to live in due to collapsed ceilings and interior walls. This shelter will be her new home for now.

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Nepal Earthquake Victim 2015

 

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Update from Riki — September 4, 2015

Today we received some volunteer workers from the Nepal Volunteer Helping Organization (NEVHO). They are an NGO based in Godawari and my friend Achyut KC is one of the leaders of this organization. NEVHO hosts volunteers from around the globe that are interested in volunteering their time in orphanages and schools as well as helping rebuild Nepal. NEVHO volunteers Andrew Clarke and Kathleen Sherrin from Australia helped us build this shelter and I want to thank them and Achyut KC for all their hard work and effort today!

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Update from Riki — September 1, 2015

Photos of some of our latest project sites...

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Update from Riki — August 28, 2015

Our shelter project is coming along well and I want to again thank all of our donors for their generosity and willingness to help the people of Nepal. The families we are assisting are so very grateful for your help. It seems that these shelters, which were originally intended to be temporary are now becoming long term and possibly permanent housing for many of these families. A concrete plan for rebuilding homes throughout Nepal just does not exist at the moment so these shelters are providing a much needed semblance of a permanent foundation.

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Update from Riki — August 18, 2015

After a long break and a couple of bhanda's, we are ready to build more shelters. Bhanda's are general strikes that can occur at any moment and are usually caused when various political parties or groups are dissatisfied with the government. When a bhanda is imposed offices, schools, shops and businesses are shut down. Transportation is also affected as buses, taxi's and even private vehicles are forbidden on the roads. This makes it nearly impossible for us to purchase and transport building materials to the villages. With the bhanda's finished for now, we will start up again this weekend.

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Update from Riki — August 1, 2015

Kenbo Project completed three more shelters. We have been lucky that so far this monsoon season has been lighter than in the past few years. We typically start work very early in the morning and are usually finished by noon. Fortunately the weather has been nice most days and it doesn’t start to rain heavily until the afternoon.

Interestingly, college (Grades 11 & 12) is beginning already…. Some colleges are already open! We plan to sponsor students that are in financial need to pay for their yearly fees. There are three public colleges in the Godawari region and I have already visited with administrators of two of them. I will visit the third soon and will work out details of organizing scholarship programs with their respective colleges.

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Update from Riki — July 29, 2015

Kenbo Project was informed of an elderly disabled woman living alone underneath a tarpaulin, with barely enough room for a bed, small table and chair. This woman and others like her in similar situations are the most in need. We are so glad to have been able to build her a new shelter. Thank you to Harisaran Giri and his neighbors for helping us with this project!

Update from Riki — July 25, 2015

Three months after the earthquakes that rocked Nepal, many families are still living under tarpaulins. Kenbo Project continues to receive requests for temporary shelters. We have to assess each request and location, order all the necessary materials and arrange for delivery to each project site. This should be done within the next few days, then we will be able to start building the next set of shelters.

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Update from Riki — July 21, 2015

Today we completed the remaining two temporary classrooms. We were able to build two today because of our returning helpers from yesterday and thankfully Harisaran Giri, who is a master technician and craftsman showed up! The time goes by so quickly when you have a lot of help! We were able to put these two up in about 5 hours. Thank you to all of them and especially to Kenbo Project Volunteer, Pankaj Gauchan, for all his hard work and dedication to our projects!

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Godawari youth Volunteer Organization
Pankaj Gauchan, Harichandra Silwal, Sarada Silwal, Narad Silwal, Harisaran Giri, Shankar Karki

 

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Update from Riki — July 20, 2015

We completed the second temporary classroom and it was great to get some helping hands today! Thank you to Harichandra Silwal, Narad Silwal, Sarada Silwal, who are employees of this school and Shankar Karki, the Principal.

Update from Riki — July 19, 2015

Today Pankaj and I completed the first temporary classroom located at the lower section of the primary school grounds. It didn’t take us very long to build it because the soil is very soft here. It was very easy to dig all the holes for the bamboo pillars. At some of the other past project sites, the soil was extremely hard and compounded with stones, so it took so much extra time just to dig the holes. When the soil is soft like a garden, it’s a welcoming sight! We plan to build three more temporary classrooms at the upper section of the grounds for a total of four for this school.

Update from Riki — July 18, 2015

Building the Caretakers' Temporary Shelter

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Update from Riki — July 16, 2015

We delivered tin and bamboo to a local primary school. Thanks to Pankaj Gauchan for assisting with logistics and with the heavy lifting uphill to the school. Also thanks to Laxman Silwal for helping us unload the truck.

Update from Riki — July 13, 2015

Another primary school has requested Kenbo Project to build temporary classes for their facility so we will verify the damage to their school and assess areas where construction can take place. Thanks to Achyut KC for helping us coordinate this project. Kenbo Project also plans to build a temporary shelter for a family that are caretakers of a local temple. Their house was heavily damaged in the earthquake and is not safe to live in. They are currently sharing a shelter with another family. We will deliver building materials for both of these projects within the next few days and begin work this weekend.

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Update from Riki — July 7, 2015

Mika and Pankaj building one more temporary classroom for the school. I am very grateful for their motivation to help with these projects. The principal of the school is also very happy that each class now has its own room and no longer has to worry about being exposed to the monsoon rains.

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Godawari youth Volunteer Organization
Pankaj and Mika

 

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Update from Riki — July 4, 2015

This week we completed two more temporary classrooms for the school. Thank you to Mika Shrestha, Bhupendra Raut, Pankaj Gauchan and Harisaran Giri for volunteering their time and effort to build these temporary classrooms. I especially would like to acknowledge and thank Kenbo Project volunteer, Mika Shrestha for her hard work and dedication to all the shelter projects. It would have been very difficult managing these projects without her.

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Nepal Earthquake Shelters 2015
Harisaran Giri, Bhupendra Raut, Pankaj Gauchan and Mika Shrestha

 

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Update from Riki — June 29, 2015

Building Temporary Classrooms

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Mika and I were able to build the first temporary classroom in a day and a half.

 

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Update from Riki — June 26, 2015

We acquired more tin and bamboo and completed another shelter for a family. We also plan to build shelters for a local school that lost one of its buildings in the earthquake. Currently some of their classes are being held outside underneath tarpaulins. The shelters we build will be used as temporary classrooms until the school can receive funding to rebuild permanent classrooms.

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Update from Riki — June 20, 2015

We purchased more tin, but only 12’ pieces were available. The 12’ pieces are the perfect size for the roof of a shelter. With villages now starting to tear down their destroyed homes, old materials and items from these homes such as brick, wood, doors and windows can be reused. Many families have requested that only tin be provided to them so that they can build a shelter from their old materials and use the new tin for the roof. We rented a truck and passed out these 12’ tins to some of these families.

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Update from Riki — June 17, 2015

We have been searching for more tin but could not find any. Shortages are becoming worse. Tin shops are receiving limited shipments and upon arrival, new shipments sell out quickly. Tin sizes come in 6’, 7’, 8’, 9’, 10’ and 12’, however vendors are not receiving all of these various sizes. Without these options it is difficult to build a tin shelter, as different lengths of tin are necessary from one shelter to another. Also the bamboo that is now being sold in the markets are smaller in girth, which makes building a bamboo shelter more costly and time consuming as more pieces of bamboo will have to be cut and flattened out to complete the walls of the shelter.

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Update from Riki — June 13, 2015

The regular work week and school week in Nepal is Sunday through Friday, so Saturday is the only day off. Since today is a Saturday, most people were free and many villagers came out to see our next project. Curious to know what was going on, many of them ended up helping us build this shelter. It was nice to have all these extra helping hands as bamboo shelters take much longer to build than tin shelters.

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Nepal Earthquake 2015 Loading bamboo for shelters

 

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Update from Riki — June 12, 2015

Although we do not have a formal organized work crew, Kenbo Project started back up building shelters today. We welcome individuals who would like to volunteer their time to help. Only three of us today and we managed to finish most of the shelter in one day. We will return and complete it in a few hours.

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Nepal Earthquake 2015 Loading bamboo for shelters

 

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Update from Riki — June 7, 2015

The Kenbo Project shelter-construction is still “on hold”, but we have learned that several families may be able to build their own shelters if materials such as tin and bamboo are provided to them. Some families have already started building their own shelters with salvaged materials from their destroyed home by using a mixture of old bricks, wood and tin, but need additional tin to complete their shelters. So we have provided tin and bamboo to some of these families and will continue to do so as needed.

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Update from Riki — May 31, 2015

We are placing a hold on our shelter projects, because I recently found out that the Youth Volunteer Organization of the Godawari Municipality may have a political agenda and the majority of their volunteer work team belongs to the same political party. Kenbo Project is not and will not be affiliated with any political party. Kenbo Project’s only goal is to provide help to those in need and has no political bias. Until we can sort this matter out or find another work crew, we will have a delay. In the meantime, we will continue to try to acquire more tin and bamboo.

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Update from Riki — May 29, 2015

We heard new shipments of tin and bamboo came in and we were lucky that we arrived at the markets in time to purchase enough materials for a few more shelters. The big tin merchants are located in the city so we rented a truck to transport the tin and bamboo to the villages.

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Nepal Earthquake 2015 Loading bamboo for shelters
Metal shop workers load our tin.
The racks of tin empty quickly.
We count our order of bamboo.

 

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Update from Riki — May 26, 2015

We built two more shelters. As we try to locate the most ideal materials to work with, progress is coming along fine. We have to consider what is available due to shortages in the markets as well as the amount of time each shelter takes to build, family size and durability of the material so that the shelter can be used long term.

Below are some photos of our current project. In this project, the main material we are using is bamboo for the frame and body of the shelter and tin sheeting for the roof, lower back wall and door.

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Godawari youth Volunteer Organization
Kenbo Project Volunteer, Mika Shrestha, with a recipient of one of our shelters.

 

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Update from Riki — May 23, 2015

We built the first shelter today! It took 4 hours to complete, but I think as we continue to build more shelters, the completion time will be quicker. Many thanks to all the volunteers of the Godawari Youth Volunteer Organization and their dedication to this project! Special thanks to Bikram Lama, Harisaran Giri, Bashistha Adhikari and Mika Shrestha for all their hard work with planning, coordination and logistics! Finally, thank you to all our Kenbo Project donors who with their generosity and caring hearts are making these shelters for the people of Nepal possible!

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Godawari youth Volunteer Organization
Bashistha Adakhari, Ramesh Bista, Bikram Lama, Sanobhai Nepali, Bijaya Silwal, Ramesh Silwal, Mangal Tamang of the Youth Volunteer Organization of Godwari Municipality and Mika Shrestha of Kenbo Project.

 

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Update from Riki — May 22, 2015

Though we were assured by merchants that new shipments will be arriving soon, due to shortages of material, we could only buy enough bamboo, plastic and tin to build three shelters. We will begin building the first shelter tomorrow.

Update from Riki — May 21, 2015

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Nepal Earthquake 2015 Loading bamboo for shelters
Kenbo Project Volunteer, Mika Shrestha, negotiates a price for bamboo. Bamboo will be used for the frame and body of the shelter.
Harisaran Giri and Bikram Lama of the Godawari Youth Volunteer Organization help load the bamboo for transport to the village.
At the plastic factory Mika, Harisaran and Bikram buy plastic sheets to be used in the construction of shelter walls. The sheets are to be intertwined with bamboo poles.

 

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Update from Riki — May 20, 2015

The realization that constructing new permanent homes may not start for quite some time are wearing heavily upon those living under tarpaulins. These tarpaulins may not last through the summer months of the monsoon season. Although Kenbo Project will still give tarpaulins to those that may need them, Kenbo Project has made the decision to start building more secure shelters which can possibly last for several years. These stronger shelters are made out of bamboo and tin or a combination of bamboo/heavy plastic and tin. These materials are in short supply right now so we will use what we can acquire. Our aim is to build these shelters for families that are in most need. The Youth Volunteer Organization of Godawari Municipality has offered their services of free labor to help Kenbo Project build these shelters. This volunteer work crew consists of locals that live in villages throughout the Godawari Municipality. We plan to acquire the necessary materials and build the first shelter within the next two or three days.

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Update from Riki — May 17, 2015

Those that have lost their homes realize that tarp shelters will not last very long and with the monsoon season approaching quickly, something more secure is needed. Shelters made from bamboo and tin are now popping up. This type of shelter will be secure enough to last through the summer months of the monsoon. Unfortunately, no one knows if and when financial aid from the government for rebuilding homes will reach all those in need.

After talking with some of the village leaders in the Godawari region, we have learned that their plan is to get through the monsoon with these shelters and hopefully by then the government will have a confirmed financial aid program in place to help them build permanent housing. Currently, however, what we are hearing is that financial aid from the government will only be a fraction of what is needed to build a new house. This is where we are planning for funds from the Kenbo Project to assist and help fill in the gaps.

Update from Riki — May 13, 2015

Another big earthquake struck Nepal yesterday making matters worse than they already are. Many homes that were partially damaged, but still habitable after the April 25th earthquake, are no longer habitable. More people are now living in tarp and temporary makeshift shelters and it is common to see clusters of “tent cities” throughout the Kathmandu Valley. Schools are still closed and will tentatively remain closed for another two weeks. Continuous aftershocks day after day keep everyone on edge.

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Update from Riki — May 10, 2015

Kenbo Project has been coordinating with Mulpani village in Ward 2 of the Godawari Municipality to distribute more tarps so that individual families can have their own temporary shelter rather than sharing with another family. According to Mulpani leaders, that need has now been fulfilled with our help. We have also just recently learned that the area of Sankhu has been heavily damaged with many families in need of tarp shelters, so we will be traveling there to distribute tarps and supplies. Tarps are in short supply and difficult to find. To secure some, requires that you immediately rush over to the shop as soon as you hear ( by word of mouth ) that they are available as they will most likely be gone within a few hours. I think families will be living in tarp and makeshift shelters for quite some time as the process of rebuilding homes will be slow. The government is requiring that each family file an application with their local ward office. The application is for approval to tear down what remains of their destroyed home and permission to build a new one. This approval process moves up the chain from ward office to municipality office to district office and is necessary if families wish to receive financial aid from the government. The problem with this is that no one knows how long it will take and how much financial aid, if any, will be given to each family.

Update from Riki — May 5, 2015

For the past few days I have been walking through some of the local villages to assess the situation and gather more information. Seems like most families in the area have the basic necessities, tarp shelter, food and water. The Godawari region of the Kathmandu Valley, where Kenbo Project is located is abundant of natural water resources so water is not a concern. Food is also grown in these villages so most families have enough. Those however who are short of food, are being helped by neighboring families and individual donors. Tarp shelters are in short supply and not every family has their own. Multiple families are sharing tarps so it is common to see ten or a dozen people living under one 8'x12' tarp. So even though families have food, water and tarp shelters, the current situation is not a long-term solution. I also met with Village Development Committee (VDC) representatives, as they are the links to NGO's and the government. Its looks like rebuilding will be a slow process because each VDC must submit data to the government, similar to that of a census — population of villages, number in each household, number of deaths caused by the earthquake and a damage assessment of each house. Once all this data is gathered, the VDC will then submit this information to the government. A government representative will visit each village to confirm the VDC's assessment and categorize each house into three different levels of condition. Each house will be marked using a tag that will indicate the level of damage and a decision is made regarding order in which the homes will be rebuilt. From what the VDC is telling me, until all this is completed, the rebuilding of homes cannot start. So this is what we know so far, but information from the government can change from day to day.

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Update from Riki — May 1, 2015

There are thousands of homes destroyed… Just in one small village near my house 27 out of 40 houses are destroyed and in another nearby village only a few houses remain. Most families do not have the financial means to rebuild. The building materials of a new one level home is made out of brick, rebar and cement and is approximately 20'x20' or about 400sq ft. An estimated cost for each house, which would cover building materials and labor is $5,000. I plan to do an assessment to find out which families in my area cannot afford to rebuild their house. Once we select the families in most need, we can post pictures of the project of each house we build. We also may be able to help some schools rebuild, if enough funds are not provided by the government, but more importantly people need to get back into their homes.

Photos from Nepal