By Kevin Nimmock
Pat and Baiba Morrow of Wilmer have dedicated their lives to exploration and environmental activism. Because of their travels to the far reaches of the world and Mr. Morrows experience climbing Mount Everest, the two have become attached to the country of Nepal and its people over the years.
After the recent earthquake on April 25th and subsequent second major quake on May 12th, the Morrows took the opportunity to make a difference by catalyzing fundraising efforts in the Columbia Valley.
Prior to their Heart of the Himalaya Wings Over The Rockies presentation on Friday, May 8th, the Morrows were told by the festivals board of directors that all of the money collected at the gate for their talk would be donated to the Red Cross. The Morrows then asked their audience to consider donating more.
I find the generous donations to be a really good community contribution to another mountain community over in the Himalayas, Mr. Morrow said.
Days later, the Morrows travelled to Kimberley to give a similar presentation, this time organized by people who had been in Nepal during the first earthquake. Between the two presentations, the Morrows helped raise just over $10,000 for relief in Nepal, which will be doubled by the Canadian Government after being donated to the Red Cross.
It is especially critical that the hill people get food and medical supplies, as well as some shelter, Mr. Morrow said. All the focus has been on the Kathmandu Valley. In fact, up in the hill country around Everest and many other valleys, there are many villages where 75 per cent of the houses are uninhabitable.
According to Mr. Morrow, the Red Cross will be focusing its efforts on helping those in more remote areas, like in the hills. Mr. Morrow said he and his wife feel a close connection with Nepali people because of how they treat foreigners.
If you hike on the trails in Nepal, the trails take you right through the backyards of the people, Mr. Morrow said. We represent economic wealth and they represent spiritual wealth, but though there is this big financial divide, they warmly accept you into their lives.
Mr. Morrow said the way Nepali people treat strangers is a big reason why so many people who have travelled to Nepal are so passionate about helping with relief efforts.
Following the Morrows presentation on Friday night, another local, Deanna Empey, told the story of her experience in Nepal after the earthquake (her story and photos also ran in last weeks Pioneer on page 12).
Her heartfelt appreciation for how the Nepali were willing to help her even under duress came through loud and clear, and added a sense of urgency to the relief efforts, Mr. Morrow said.
Ms. Empey echoed Mr. Morrows concerns that aid may still not be getting to the people who need it most.
There are villages like the one Pravin, one of my guides, lives in that still have nothing, she said. Through a GoFindMe.com campaign, he was able to raise money to buy medicine. It is frustrating to use some large charities, because it is unclear where the money goes.
Ms. Empey said one of her biggest observations from her time in Nepal was how quickly the people she met came together to help each other.
On the Monday already we were dealing with putting food rations together, and that night there was a candlelight vigil and local people were giving money and clothes, she said. These are people that have nothing. We should recognize that these people are the same as us, but they need more right now.
To continue to help out as much as they can, the Morrows are giving away their ebook, Heart of the Himalaya, for free until the end of May to anymore who donates $10 or more to any charity that will help in Nepal. And to help Pravin rebuild his village, visit www.gofundme.com/tvdha8.