When Justin Cava-Jones began his descent on Mount Everest in April this year, he had no idea he was about to witness the deadliest day in the mountain’s history. Feeling lucky to have survived the devastating earthquake which destroyed thousands of lives and homes, he set up The Acts of Kindness Collective, an organisation to support victims and help lift the beautiful country and its people out of extreme poverty.
In April earlier this year I found myself in a vibrant and bustling Kathmandu, about to embark on a 17-day trek that would take me through the Himalayas to Everest Base Camp. I knew very little about Nepal before this trip and was immediately struck by the open and friendly locals who smiled at every given moment.
So on April 25, having left Base Camp fatigued but elated, as we descended a thin mountain path the last thing I expected was to be hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that turned the earth into jelly with such power that Everest was moved an inch lower – permanently.
Witnessing a country crumble and sway with such violent force, as thousands lost their lives and many thousands more lost everything else, I was deeply moved. Feeling ‘survivors guilt’, and feeling lucky to have had a life of privilege, I felt inspired to be of service to these beautiful people that now had nothing but the rubble of their lives.
Witnessing death and destruction everywhere I knew I needed to stay and be of service so I started an organisation called The Acts of Kindness Collective (AOKC) to coordinate volunteers and receive donations from friends, families, and strangers who wanted to help but didn’t know how. We started by buying rice and tents and delivering them out into villages that had been completely destroyed leaving locals with nothing.
This grew as we added medical supplies, clothes, kids toys, and tarps, and we managed to serve 27 villages, 3 IDP camps (internally displaced persons), 2 schools and 1 orphanage, as well as set up 2 medical camps. We even managed to secure the use of an Indian army helicopter which we used to air drop 132 tons of rice and tarps to villages completely cut off 5 weeks after the quake!
Seeing the resilience awaken in victims when you give them desperately-needed supplies, or seeing smiles from the kids when you play with them or give them toys, or seeing hope return to those in despair as you start to clear the rubble of their homes, makes every step worth it in Nepal. We’re showing people there is a way to rebuild and together we can create a world with less suffering and more happiness.
AOKC recently benefited from global yoga events that were held in Hong Kong (watch the video below), Australia, and the UK, which raised over £1,700 to go towards helping Nepal. We will continue to fund raise through such events as well as via the direct donations. We have much work to do to help rebuild this beautiful country and help lift people out of extreme poverty.
You can also follow AOKC on Facebook.