In Kashmir, where a devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake on Oct. 8 killed at least 79,000 people, injured 80,000 others and rendered more than 3 million survivors homeless, GlobalGiving quickly mobilized its partners in the region to make relief and recovery projects available for donation on www.globalgiving.com. Projects currently available for funding range from those providing short-term emergency relief -- food, shelter and medical care -- to others focused on longer-term recovery -- rebuilding homes and schools, and providing financial assistance for economic development efforts.
Now, as winter approaches, the situation is becoming increasingly urgent for those left homeless, including 28,000 expectant mothers.
"Sunday morning at the Richards' houseâ€¦ coffee, waffles, sunshine pouring in, trees in full fall color and a Mac truck. The Mac truck comes in the form of the newspaper. Actually in the form of page 3B in the Sunday Boulder Daily Camera which describes the desperate, desperate situation in Pakistan," Gareth Richards of Mountainsmith wrote to SNEWSÂ® shortly after the earthquake.
Even then he knew, as we all did, that with winter coming on, the crux of the disaster was quite simply going to be the lack of shelter available. And despite efforts, relief was not getting into the devastated areas in any kind of meaningful level, largely due to logistical challenges -- not enough transport, flights full of medical supplies and food with no room for other equipment, high-altitude hazards, avalanche hazards, political instability and more.
"We have begged for tents from relief workers, but they say there are no more," said Rehamatullah, a 70-year-old man who hiked to Balakot from a nearby village looking for supplies, in a quote published in the online news service, the Pakistan Times. (Click here to read.)
Joe Flannery, vice president of marketing for The North Face, told SNEWSÂ®, "Our athletes were pulling their hair out with frustration as this region was a place they have traveled to hundreds of times for expeditions. It is a region that has given so much to this industry and the climbers over the years that it became a mission for our athletes to find a way to provide support."
Fortunately, GlobalGiving and TNF have an existing international philanthropy program that supports projects in communities where TNF's athletes explore. And it is this existing relationship that opened the doors to a relief effort that TNF and its athletes hope will generate a flood of needed equipment into the Kashmir region.
First, GlobalGiving connected TNF with a group of credible organizations with an established ground presence already in Kashmir, such as K.E.R (www.kashmirrelief.org). K.E.R. was founded by U.S. citizens of Kashmir descent and it is focused entirely on providing aid to the region.
Utilizing TNF retail stores as collection centers the companies have partnered to conduct a nationwide gear drop from Nov. 18-23. Gear will be picked up by GlobalGiving representatives and sent to a collection center in Los Angeles and will then be sent on and delivered to those in most need. TNF athletes will be accompanying the first shipments.
Willie Benegas will lead TNF's athlete team, including Renan Ozturk, Cedar Wright and Patrick Kenny, a colleague of Benegas, to the Utar Padesh region to survey damage, assess avalanche danger to relief camps, and deliver gear to the hardest hit villages. Benegas, a member of the team for seven years, has frequented this region since 1993 and took the lead on this expedition to give back to the region that inspires this group of mountaineers to continue to explore.
"Our athlete team has been given permission by the Indian government to go into the neutral zone around the Line of Control. They will survey the land by helicopter and assess avalanche dangers to refugee camps that, unfortunately, have frequently been set up right in the most hazardous zones," Flannery told us.
"Willie has also organized a ground team of experienced Pakistani and Indian guides who know the mountains very well and will, after the avalanche assessment has been completed, help to carry the needed equipment up to the highest villages. Once there, they will work with the refugee camps to move them to safer zones," he added.
Ace Kvale, renowned photographer and a partner of TNF, will accompany the athletes on their trip to chronicle the expedition, the needs and the impact of the relief efforts.
The donation needs are very specific. Donations must be clean and functional and limited to: three and four-season tents, tarps, sleeping bags, pads, packs, waterproof and/or insulated jackets, and insulated tops or layering pieces (i.e. fleece, wool). More details are available at: www.thenorthface.com.
Donate between Nov. 18-23 at any of TNF's retail stores:
The North Face - San Francisco
180 Post St.
San Francisco, CA 94108
The North Face Outlet - Berkeley
1238 5th St.
Berkeley, CA 94710
The North Face - Palo Alto
217 Alma St.
Palo Alto, CA 94301
The North Face - Seattle
1023 1st Ave.
Seattle, WA 98104
The North Face - Boulder
629-K So. Broadway
Boulder, CO 80303
The North Face - Chicago
875 No. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
The North Face - Beverly Hills
423 North Beverly Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
The North Face - Boston
326 Newbury St.
Boston, MA 02115
The North Face - New York
New York, NY 10023
The North Face - Portland
1202 N.W. Davis St.
Portland, OR 97209
The North Face - Tyson's Corner
7870L Tyson's Corner Center
McLean, VA 22102
For those who are unable to visit a local TNF retail store, donations of gear are still possible and welcome. Please ship your equipment donations to: Kashmir Earthquake Relief, 1835 Apex Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90026. Call 323-660-5400 if you have questions.
About TNF's relationship with GlobalGiving
TNF and GlobalGiving teamed up in 2004 to create an international philanthropy program that funds community-based projects where TNF athletes explore. GlobalGiving sources and vets high-impact, locally-run projects for TNF and its athletes to support. One of the first projects TNF supported through GlobalGiving was a women's microfinance fund called Kashf in the Kashmir region of Pakistan.
GlobalGiving has a number of partners in addition to Kashf who were already working in the Kashmir region when the earthquake hit. Many of them have shifted their focus to help with relief efforts. GlobalGiving and TNF are working to raise awareness and funding for their relief and rehabilitation work in the region.
GlobalGiving was founded by two former World Bank executives who led the team that created the World Bank Development Marketplace, at which social entrepreneurs from around the world compete for grants. GlobalGiving's mission is to build a highly efficient marketplace where individuals, corporations and other institutions can find and fund projects around the world. Since GlobalGiving launched in 2002, it has facilitated the flow of $2.6 million to over 400 projects. GlobalGiving's major funding partners include the Skoll Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, Omidyar Network, USAID and the Sall Family Foundation. Additional funding has been provided by the WK Kellogg Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and HP.