Susan Marshall isn’t sure if she returned home from her semiannual trip Nepal just in time or too soon.
Marshall, who founded the Nepal Education Fund in 2004, got back to Duncan earlier this month, not long before a disastrous magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck the Himalayan nation on April 25. Being home means she is safe and can support relief efforts from here, but if she was in Nepal, she could be more involved.
"I just got back a week or so ago," Marshall said on Monday night. "I guess it was a good thing, but I just think I should be there."
Marshall has been on her computer nearly constantly since the earthquake, trying to stay in touch with her friends and employees in Nepal, and coordinating fundraising efforts here.
"We’re raising money, which is great," Marshall said. "I managed to get some money there today, but the banks [in Nepal] aren’t open yet."
Marshall first visited Nepal in 2001 when she went trekking with her daughter.
"We were blown away by the poverty," she recalled.
She immediately started helping a village school. Not long after her daughter adopted a Nepali girl in 2004, Marshall started the NEF, and now, with the help of donors from around the world, she assists about 160 children in Nepal’s two largest cities, Kathmandu and Pokhara, and surrounding villages.
At least two children sponsored by NEF lost their homes, Marshall said. She and her employees have virtually no idea what has happened to the children in Kathmandu, a city of nearly one mil-lion inhabitants that has borne the brunt of the quake.
Marshall does know that all her employees are safe. Her main employee, Mann BK, was on his way to Pokhara with a sponsor from New Zealand when the quake struck. As of Monday night, they were on their way back with food, tarps and blankets. "I hope they make it back," Marshall said.
It is very difficult for Marshall to sit at home in Duncan and wonder what is happening in
Nepal and how the children she supports are doing.
"I’ve been working there so many years, it’s like my second home," she said. "Some of the kids we’ve had since 2005; they’re young men and women now. You get very attached."
Information on how to donate to NEF is available at www.nepaledfund.ca There is also a crowdfunding campaign for earthquake relief at www.GoFundMe. com/NEFEarthquake