NEPAL: Barpak Radio Fund

Intro from Jay Allison: Transom has strong connections to Nepal and we have been looking for ways to help post-earthquakes. Since our mission is tied to public radio and community, that’s the arena where our support makes sense, and we have found a worthy project: “The Barpak Radio Fund.”

We first met Madhu Acharya when he organized a successful Nepali version of our series, “This I Believe.” Later, I traveled to Khatmandu to teach storytelling to a group of radio makers from around the country. Madhu has traveled and worked in radio in the U.S. and was a Knight Fellow at Stanford.

Madhu and his wife Jaya Luintel are idealistic and important media makers in Nepal, but like everyone else in Kathmandu, their lives were upended by the earthquake. They were fortunate to have a shipping container in which to sleep during the aftershocks. Quickly, their attention turned to helping others.

Madhu is now focusing on the Barpak region at the epicenter of the earthquake, where he and his team carried their Doko (Suitcase) Radio project and first introduced the villages to radio transmission. We have a feature about this on Transom.

Now, The Barpak Radio Fund wants to create service to the region, build a community center around the station, and make sure everyone is connected by radio — a source of support, information, and comfort in a time like this.

With your help, this will begin happening right now. Seed funds are already in hand. Madhu will come back to Transom later and report on how it worked, and hopefully create a template for similar efforts in future disaster scenarios. Read Madhu’s plan and donate. The plan is to have donors' names carved in a stone plaque on the building. Thank you.

Donate Now ***Under instructions please mention Barpak Radio Fund for channeling the funds to this project.***

The Earthquake

The death toll from the April 25 quake in Nepal and aftershocks has killed as many as 8,500 and injured over 20,000 people in Central and Western Nepal. Over 200,00 houses have been destroyed and thousands are living outdoors. The epicenter of this earthquake was Barpak — of the Gorkha district in the western part of Nepal. The districts of Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk have been the worst affected. As of now, over 240 aftershocks have been felt in Nepal.

At this moment, according to U.N. officials, millions of people remain in need of basic humanitarian assistance including shelter and food. The monsoon season is imminent, which is the biggest threat to an already paralyzed transportation network and online aid/relief work.

We in Nepal have started discussions on how we can begin rebuilding. With our combined efforts we can bring smiles to those who have lost their near and dear ones, their homes and property, their stock food, livestock, and everything else, and are now living under the open skies.

Also, we want to bring them radio, a lifeline and companion.

We’re asking for your help.

Why Barpak, Gorkha?

The epicenter of the 25th April 2015 Earthquake was the tiny vibrant village of Barpak, in the Gorkha District, with over 1,200 homes. In 2008 I trekked for a day and a half to reach Barpak from its nearest bus stop. These days you can hop on a bus to get there.

Barpak, pre-earthquake 2008
Barpak, pre-earthquake 2008

I was working at Antenna Foundation Nepal when I traveled to Barpak with a team to operate Backpack Doko Radio (a mobile radio station in a suitcase). It was the first time the people of Barpak experienced hearing their own voices on the radio.

Now we would like to help rebuild Barpak by supporting a permanent community center with a Community Radio Station, Children’s Library and a multipurpose Community Hall for women to run cultural activities.

Multi-Purpose Community Building

We will seek community support and contributions to design and construct a multi-purpose earthquake resistant building to house the radio station and library. The multipurpose hall will be used to generate income through cultural shows for the women’s group in Barpak. The women’s group also runs a home-stay program, arranging for travelers to stay at local people’s home for a more authentic experience of local life. Locally available stones, tiles and wood, contributed by the community, will be used to build the building. Local people will be mobilized to construct the building.

Barpak, post earthquake 2015
Barpak, post earthquake 2015

Fundraising target for building contribution: $10,000 USD

Community Radio

A community radio station will be established and run by young men and women who decided not to leave their village for the most common ways to earn money — by joining the Indian or British army, or working as labor migrants in the Middle East or Malaysia. Community radio will play a pivotal role in the rebuilding process, mobilizing people for community development and alertness for future natural disasters. Radio will also play a crucial role in helping to preserve local culture.

Listen to “NEPAL: Barpak Radio Fund”

Fundraising target Community radio station: $20,000 USD — this includes the cost of equipment, radio operational training. Fixed funds of $5,000 USD will be set aside to cover the minimum operation of the station.

Doko Radio in Barpak, Gorkha
Doko Radio in Barpak, Gorkha 2008

Children’s Library and Learning Center

Books are extinct in Barpak — they were buried in the rubble of collapsed buildings. It will be very difficult, if not impossible for children to find books for their coursework and other reading. Parents will have little access to books and stories. Children must not grow up without knowledge of their family’s heritage and local culture.

The goal of the Children’s Library and Learning Center is to build a collection of books that represents outstanding historical and contemporary work from throughout the world, including Nepal’s own history.  This library will also provide an opportunity for children to experience the enjoyment of reading, the excitement of discovering knowledge and the power of the imagination.

This library will support the process of learning to read, and will promote books and other media for children. The ultimate goal of the Children’s Library and Learning Center is to provide children with open access to all recourses and media, to encourage children to be confident and competent people with learning opportunities.

Children and their parents will be taught how to make the best use of a library and how to develop skills in the use of printed and electronic media through the community radio. Special events for children, such as storytelling and activities related to the library’s services and resources will be aired live through the radio station as well.

Distribution of Radio Receivers

Each household in Barpak will receive a radio receiver to be able to listen to all local content as well as content from district headquarters and Kathmandu. We will distribute a total of 1,200 radio receivers in Barpak. Radio receivers will also be distributed to adjoining villages so they will be able to listen to Barpak Community Radio and connect and collaborate in regional level development activities and cultural exchange. A total of 3,000 receivers will be distributed in the Barpak region.

Fundraising target for 3,000 radio sets: $15,000 USD

Total Target: $45,000 USD

How To Donate

Donate Now

***Under “Instructions”: mention Barpak Radio Fund to channel the funds to this project.***

SEBS-NA stands for the “Society of Ex-Budhanilkantha Students — North America.” Formed in July 2000 as a non-profit organization, we are the alumni and friends of Budhanilkantha School, Kathmandu, Nepal, located in different parts of North America. The IRS recognizes us under section 501(c)(3) code, as a tax exempt organization. We are a volunteer-based organization dedicated to: 1) providing assistance to our members in North America, 2) conducting social service programs in Nepal and North America, 3) helping Budhanilkantha School to meet its educational objectives and 4) being an organization dedicated to better coordination and leadership among various Nepal-related associations in North America. I am a member of the SEBS alumni network.

Madhu Acharya

Madhu Acharya

Madhu Acharya began his journalism/media career in the mid-1990s as a producer for Radio Sagarmatha, South Asia’s first independent community radio. He worked at Radio Sagarmatha for five years and led News Department as Senior Producer between 2000-2001. In 2001, he became senior radio producer for the BBC World Service Trust’s Trachoma Media Campaign in Nepal. That same year, he co-founded the Antenna Foundation, and served as its executive director from 2006 to 2010. Antenna (est. 2002) is a vibrant production and training facility catering local and community radio stations in Nepal. Madhu’s pioneering work includes introducing mobile radio-Doko Radio into remotes villages of Nepal. He co-authored a book about the country’s community radio movement; his idea for mobile, or “backpack,” radio stations has spread to almost a third of the country. Over 2010-2011, Madhu participated as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. Madhu, as a Knight Fellow 2010-11 at Stanford University was researching on share-casting, two-way radio broadcasting, as a tool for development and democracy.

More by Madhu Acharya

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