Aiding peace in post-earthquake Nepal

Last week, International Alert hosted a special fundraising night and Peace Talks on ‘Aiding peace in post-earthquake Nepal’. The event raised £2,500, which will all go towards supporting our peacebuilding work in Nepal, in particular our efforts to ensure post-earthquake reconstruction in the country is fair and contributes to peace.

It was a hugely entertaining evening. A fascinating discussion was followed by Nepali food and music, as well as a raffle and even an impromptu auction. This photostory shows some of the highlights.

The event took place in London at 15Hatfields, who generously offered us the whole of their spacious venue for free for the occasion.

The event was sold out, with over 100 people in attendance.

Our Secretary General Dan Smith (far left) chaired the discussion, with (left to right) Premila van Ommen (co-founder of London-based Himalayan arts collective Satsang), Elizabeth Drew (Nepal Country Representative, Alert), Mark Segal (Senior Conflict Advisor, UK Department for International Development) and Bhagirath Yogi (Producer, BBC Nepali Service) on the panel. You can watch the debate in full here.

Premila van Ommen emphasised the important role Nepali diaspora communities are playing in providing more trusted and immediate sources of relief to earthquake victims.

Elizabeth Drew (right), who flew in from Kathmandu for the event, also highlighted that big international aid agencies have struggled to gain the trust of many Nepalis, who feel they haven’t reached the right people or places.

Drew is co-author of our report, Peace Audit: Nepal, launched at the event, which assesses the opportunities and challenges of building sustainable peace in the country. She explained why the key issues of political interference and gender-based violence that the report focusses on are now more relevant than ever following the earthquakes.

Mark Segal argued that migration is the major force that is currently driving social change in Nepal and predicts this will be exacerbated by the earthquakes, with more young Nepalis moving to urban areas to support their rural families.

Bhagirath Yogi spoke about how all political parties in Nepal have been criticised for being too slow to react to the earthquakes, which had been anticipated for some 50 years. He cited a lack of government accountability and resources as the main reasons why the country was insufficiently prepared to respond to the disasters.

As is usual in our Peace Talks, the discussion was followed by a lively Q&A, where audience members shared their own comments with the panel.

After the discussion, Premila switched from panellist to caterer to serve some delicious Newari food, provided through her food collective Yak Bites. People had the chance to mingle and pick up copies of our Peace Audit report.

Musical entertainment was provided throughout the evening by wonderful singers Shreya Rai (top) and Jerusha Rai (bottom).

As the music continued, our slideshows gave people a glimpse of the devastation caused by the earthquakes and explained more about our peacebuilding efforts in Nepal, where we’ve been working for nearly 15 years. The stage was also set for our raffle, which contained a number of great prizes donated for the evening, from a painting and ballet tickets to BFI membership and dining vouchers.

Our Secretary General (top) announced the lucky raffle winners. The draw took an unexpected twist when one of our Board of Trustees, award-winning photojournalist Carol Allen-Storey (bottom), decided to auction off the prizes she won – a late fundraising rally that helped us reach our total of £2,500.

You can watch the Peace Talks discussion in full here and read our Peace Audit: Nepal here. Find out more about our work in Nepal at www.international-alert.org/nepal

Photos: Pascal Mirza