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Lokvani Talks To Shamisha Joshi LaMeyer

Nirmala Garimella

(This article is sponsored by New England Shirdi Sai Temple)

 At 3:00AM, Boston time, Saturday April 25th Samisha Joshi LaMeyer, a resident of Arlington and originally from Nepal woke up to the news that a massive earthquake had just devastated Nepal. As a stay-at-home with two girls, aged three and five the news was devastating.

Desperate to reach her 73 year old mother, Gauri Rana Joshi, who ran a school for low income students near the heart of Kathmandu, it was six hours before she finally heard her mother's voice. There had already been over a dozen aftershocks and there would be dozens more. 

“When my mother refused to come here, my sister, Maneesha Joshi Giri, and I began a fund raiser immediately, just hoping to raise enough funds to help the victims taking refuge in the school".

"As the numbers rose, I decided to go to Nepal and help my mother. My local community in Arlington (Boston) came together to provide relief supplies and help my husband care for our children while I was in Nepal. By word of mouth, an extended international community had donated funds and helped me coordinate travel. A doctor friend in Arlington had provided some basic medical necessities, predominately sanitary supplies. Another friend in the community donated a large number of small solar lamps. My husband purchased portable phone chargers, a solar flashlight, a rechargeable LED lantern, a portable water 4 liter water filter, and emergency blankets. I bought a lot more medical supplies and baby care supplies for mothers. I was able to get an additional 300lbs of luggage allowance on the fights.

Says Samisha “I have no words to describe the pain.  When I saw Nepal after 8 years, from the helicopter it looks like someone bombed the country. On reaching Nepal we drove through Kathmandu  it felt like I'd entered a funeral service. Everyone and everything was quiet. The only sound I heard were the dogs barking and planes flying. In the morning, my mother and I took our medical supplies to an emergency clinic that had been setup in Kathmandu by Dr. Neil Pande".

"We heard that Gorkha was extremely bad. I loaded two vans with the remainder of my supplies and some other relief supplies that we could gather, and drove to Gorkha with my mother. The only operating hospital in Gorkha had a single room with one hospital bed and literally almost nothing for supplies. I showed them how to use hand sanitizers, alcohol wipes, protein bars, juices, Drip Drops, masks, pads etc. We heard that there were dozens of villages that were destroyed, and the roads were wiped out. People had walked for days to Gorkha seeking help. It was upsetting as even though relief was available there was no proper distribution channel to reach the people affected."

With a lot of challenges that involved hiring a private helicopter and making multiple trips in a single day to drop food and supplies , Samisha returned back to Boston last week determined to keep the relief going.But more sad news was to come. On the day of this interview, one of the pilots that helped in the effort was killed in a plane crash. Samisha tells me that she needs to focus on the effort even while feeling numb with shock and overcome with sadnes

With sheer grit she is on the phone talking to the CDO in Nepal . She says, “ I got back on the laptop to coordinate more relief to Gorkha. Have spent six hours working already. I have set up an IT team. Can't disclose all the details but we are working on information sharing site for the CDO of Gorkha".

She acknowleges that she returned to Nepal after 8 years and even though " I don’t know many people, everyone came together Pasang Lamu, Neil Pandey, Max Khatri, Navin Shrestha, Dr. Upendra Devokota. Bikash Rani. Many people whom I have to make a list. Above all my husband Michael LaMeyer and my sister Maneesha Joshi who helped with this. She is on the ground with my mother Gauri Rana Joshi helping people who are again taking shelter".

To help in the effort please make a contribution to donation site https://www.globalfundforwomen.org/donate-to-tewa

Please let her know when donations are made through email samisha@gmail.com or Facebook Samisha Joshi LaMeyer

On Sunday, June 7th, a fundraiser wlill be help at the Arlington Center for the Arts. 41 Foster Street, 5:30-8:30 pm. Music, food, and dedicated activists will speak and share their stories about the devastation. 

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