Natasha with Sangsangai co-founder BIbek K. Pandit and engineers Dharma Waiba and Bijay Shrestha

Natasha with Sangsangai co-founder BIbek K. Pandit and engineers Dharma Waiba and Bijay Shrestha

SAngsangai-together for nepal

A large part of my artistic sensibility was formed by the time I spent in Nepal as a University of Wisconsin student, and later as a Fulbright scholar. I studied with the traditional artisans of the Kathmandu Valley, the Newars, and formed a deep bond with several familes.

Naturally, when the 2015 earthquake struck, I was distraught and I used my connections there to find out how to help. I partnered with Bibek K. Pandit, whom I had met when I was 19 and he was 4. We started with relief supplies, and eventually rebuilt the village of Rainaskot, a mountain village that had been damaged by the earthquake. Now our organization is working to create sustainable economies in several villages in Nepal.

Sangsangai means "together" in Nepali and is a registered 501(c)3 in the US and a registered NGO in Nepal.

 
 
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The Homes

The village of Rainaskot is home to 15 newly rebuilt homes on top of a mountain. 

The homes were constructed in a way that maintained certain traditional features, such as the porch where family and neighbors gather, while incorporating earthquake-safe building techniques. The homes were honored with a prize from UNDP for post-earthquake design.

Funding was provided by individuals from across the US as well as the efforts of several US-based Nepali organizations. 

Since October 2017, the village has been host to well over 1000 paid guests. Each villager has a guest room, which allows to generate income while staying in their close-knit community.

 


The villagers

Since October 2017, the village has been host to well over 1000 paid guests. Each villager has a guest room, which allows to generate income while staying in their close-knit community.

The village is home to the Gurung ethnic group, and they live in a traditional way, farming their own food, and maintaining their language and cultural practices.

 Rainaskot resident Bimala Bhujel shows off her new kitchen.

Rainaskot resident Bimala Bhujel shows off her new kitchen.


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Future plans

Sangsangai has begun planning other initiatives in various areas of Nepal that were affected by the earthquake. We seek to address the core problems of proper housing, education and health through the development of sustainable economic opportunities. Once livelihood is provided for, the villagers are able to invest in these areas as they see fit.

Plans include:

-Training for employment at our newly-constructed community center in Barbandi, Kavre, along with construction of guest rooms that the villagers can use to host to visitors to the nearby temple.

-A partnership with the fair trade felt producer, Everest Fashions, to build a felt work shop in the economically disadvantaged Majhi community in Ramechhap district, providing them with income for years to come.

-Agricultural training and marketing support for a Chepang village in Dhading. The Chepangs are one of the most marginalized groups in all of Nepal.