This past weekend, Nepal was devastated by a massive earthquake that killed thousands—and the number is growing. In addition to the huge loss of life, the earthquake also crushed buildings and infrastructure, shut down travel, and cut people off from food and water.  All this in a nation that was already at the bottom of many development indicators and had just started to recover from a ten year civil war. Catastrophic is the only word that comes to mind when I think of what has happened to a nation that is very close to my heart.

For me personally, Nepal is a special place where I lived for six months with my Nepalese family.  It is a tiny nation (about the size of Tennessee) but represents a colorful cultural merge of Hinduism and Buddhism.  The scenery is spectacular and varied with the world’s highest peaks as its backdrop and also verdant jungles in the south.  But, it is the people of this nation who I believe represent its greatness.  On the whole, the Nepalese are warmhearted, welcoming, deeply spiritual, and truly fun-loving people.  My family there welcomed me into their home and happily hosted me, an American, in their home despite a lack of running water or modern appliances like stoves or a refrigerator. It is heartbreaking to me to think that my Nepalese family likely suffered the loss of family members, their home, food, and water.

Nepal is in need of help and as global citizens who are part of a global community, it is our responsibility to help the Nepalese people who are in need.  If you are looking for a charity to donate to for relief efforts, I have complied a list of charities that I believe would be good choices. These charities are organizations that had operations in Nepal prior to the earthquake so they have an existing understanding of the culture which is extremely important when doing humanitarian aid work.  These organizations will likely bring in additional staff and resources, but they are more likely to get up to speed quickly with an existing knowledge base of the culture.  In addition, I am recommending charities that I know have dealt with international relief efforts before; these organizations are familiar with crisis management and have plans in place to guide their actions; they are not “just shooting from the hip” so to say.  They are also all large well-established organizations with strong reputations internationally. Finally, I am only recommending organizations that I personally have worked with directly or have had some exposure to their inner workings, and I believe to be well-run.  Here is my list of recommendations in no particular order:

If you are looking for more options, The Boston Foundation has also complied a broader list that can be found here.

While it is important to support the immediate relief efforts in Nepal, it is also important to remember that the country will continue to need support for months and years.  Long after the TV cameras and international press depart, Nepal will need international aid to recover from the devastation caused by the earthquake.  Please consider not only making a one-time donation, but remember your support is needed far beyond to help Nepal develop its economy, improve its healthcare, improve its education system, and rebuild its infrastructure. Please consider helping longer term to rebuild this unique nation of people who deserve far more than what they have been dealt.