Christie Bradley, Auburn University alumna, and resident of Nepal for the past 14 months experienced the massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake that ripped through Nepal on Saturday, April 25, the day before her birthday.
Bradley, a public relations graduate, is utilizing the skills she learned in her major to help gain support for the people of Nepal. Bradley created a GoFundMe fundraising website where she hopes to pool as much money as possible to provide relief for individuals and their families. The site has already raised $1,140 in two days.
"There are millions of dollars in aid being funneled into the country and it's easy to feel small in the difference we make when multiple countries are funding large organizations," Bradley said. "My hope is, if we can help give even three or four families their lives back, they will be able to pay it forward in Nepal by contributing to the relief effort."
One of Bradley's biggest concerns beyond shelter and food is sanitation. According to Bradley, there are approximately 7,000 people camping outside the Kathmandu airport waiting to get flights out. Thousands of families are camping in Ratna Park where there are only two toilets. Bradley said a severe shortage of toilets and clean drinking water raises fears of large outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and dysentery.
Bradley works with an organization in Nepal known as International Development Enterprises (iDE). One of the main activities iDE is trying to organize is getting more toilets installed for public use as well as properly educating families about the risks of water and food borne illnesses.
Bradley maintains a positive and thankful attitude throughout her communication. A true representation of the Auburn Creed, Bradley makes the Auburn Family proud. Even in Nepal, she finds joy in sharing a War Eagle with a fellow Alabamian.
"On my way to the U.S. Embassy last night I stopped to ask the woman checking me in where she was from, hearing a twang in her accent. After learning she was from Florida and her daughter attends the University of Alabama, I was happy that I could leave her with a big WAR EAGLE!"
The following is Bradley's story in her own words:
Five years ago when I walked across the stage to get my diploma as an Auburn University public relations graduate, I never would have imagined that 4 years later I would be living in a developing country working as a sales consultant to an organization that sells toilets: but that’s what I am doing.
And it’s a crappy job, but someone has to do it. Pun intended.
Actually, I love what I do, and there’s a little more to it than selling toilets. I actually get to facilitate and lead entrepreneurial training for rural people in Nepal, Cambodia and Tanzania through Whitten and Roy Partnership, a Consultancy based in London. The products that we sell in Nepal and Cambodia are latrines, aka squatty potties, and the product in Tanzania is solar power systems.
The local people that are hired to work in our programs are trained on how to run a business and manage their attitude, competency and execution to build the life that they want. Pretty cool, I think.
The reason it is surprising to some that I am a sales adviser in the developing world is the way I landed the job. Believe it or not, my job is quite coveted among my group of multinational friends, and I always tell them about how I paid my dues in college.
While others were out partying in the summers by the beach, or landing the “big wig gigs” in the big city (grunt work internships in my opinion), I took a rather interesting route. For 3 summers during college and for 2 years post-college, I sold books door-to-door, 80 hours a week for Publishing Company called Southwestern Advantage. I got to run my own business, learn how to deal with rejection and move across the country every summer.
I also recruited and trained about 47 other students to do it in those 5 years. Long story short, the owner of the consultancy I work with also sold books, along with 95% of my co-workers. It’s a huge network of extremely successful people that landed me my dream job.
Fast-forward to Saturday at around noon while I’m waiting for an elevator in my hotel in Janakpur, Nepal, near the border of India. I was thinking to myself about all of the things I needed to do in my meeting the next morning, along with the occasional thought of, “Wow, I’ve been living in Nepal now for 14 months. My birthday last year was in Cambodia, and this year (the next day) it will be in Nepal. I wonder where it will be next year…”
As the elevator came down, the floor started shaking and I thought, “That’s one strong elevator.” It only took about 2 seconds to realize it wasn’t the elevator and I was experiencing what is now the largest earthquake to hit Nepal since the 30s.
I quickly turned around and looked expectantly to the concierge for him to tell me what to do, and he just stood there frozen. Of course it felt like an eternity before we actually made a decision about what to do, but I think we were running out the door in about five seconds. It was an extremely odd feeling, like being inside of a massive vibration, then on a swaying boat going back and forth. Not pleasant, to say the least.
The next 3 days were a series of waiting outside, going back in, only to have another round of aftershock that would send us running again. I think total there have been over 65 small quakes, aftershocks, since the initial big one.
Fortunately and unfortunately, I think my story is a little different than most people experienced. Because I was so far from the epicenter, what we felt was very mild, scary, but mild, in comparison to what the other parts of Nepal experienced. I was also in the country with a lot of wide-open spaces, which was much safer than the capital Kathmandu, home to over 2.5 million, including myself. The hardest part about this for me personally, was sitting and doing nothing for 3 days, knowing that all of my friends and colleagues were camping outside in the streets, and rain that came soon after.
There are around 7,000 people camping outside of the airport right now, expats, trekkers, Nepalese and travelers, all waiting to get flights out.
There are also representatives from at least seven countries sending planes with aid and relief efforts, including the U.S. I have never felt so proud to be an American as I have throughout this whole experience.
Not only is there a massive outpouring of aid and relief happening, but also the U.S. Embassy here is banning together to take care of their people at all cost. Amidst the chaos, walking into the embassy has been a peaceful experience. Seeing the efforts being delivered gives us so much pride and makes me feel like I am at home.
The biggest challenge right now, among the obvious of shelter, food and water, is sanitation. While the aftershocks are wearing off, everyone is still terrified to go home because of how unstable the buildings are in the city.
There are approximately thousands of families camping in Ratna Park inside Kathmandu. There are two toilets in the park. Families are displaced everywhere, in medians of the roads, on the sides of the roads and in large fields. Anywhere there is grass, there are families sleeping. There is a severe lack of toilets everywhere and clean drinking water, which can and will bring on large outbreaks of Cholera, Typhoid and Dysentery.
The organization that I work with here in Nepal, International Development Enterprises (iDE), sent out about $2,500 worth in tarps and water today and there are more activities being organized.
One of the major activities our organization, and others, is trying to organize is getting toilets put in over the next week, for public use. We also want to make sure that families are getting proper information about risks of water and food borne illnesses.
It’s a strange feeling to be sitting in my standing office right now even, writing this letter. Every thought is consumed with, “What can I do next? How can I help?”
I started a GoFundMe account knowing that relief efforts are just beginning. There have been several disasters in history, around the world, and so much to learn about what to do and not do in times like these.
The goal with this account that I’ve started it to pool as much money as possible and to be able to effectively give the money to specific individuals through friends and their families.
There are millions of dollars in aid being funneled into the country and it’s easy to feel small in the difference we make when multiple countries are funding large organizations. My hope is, if we can help give even three or four families their lives back, they will begin to also be able to pay it forward in Nepal by contributing to the relief effort.
As the dust settles in the next few weeks, I will work with my staff and friends with the United Nations to find a place to have the biggest impact.
Thank you in advanced for all of you driven to donate and share our GoFundMe account. The thoughts and prayers from home are truly a spirit lifter in such grim times for the people of Nepal.
On my way in to the U.S. Embassy last night I stopped to ask the woman checking me in where she was from, hearing a twang in her accent. After learning she was from Florida and her daughter attends the University of Alabama, I was happy that I could leave her with a big WAR EAGLE!
Editor's Note: Christie also suggests reading this article from Jason Burke in The Guardian: Nepal earthquake: what the thousands of victims share is that they .... Nepal Video from Alan Logston on Facebook. Nepal Earthquake 2015 w/ Drone footage. Posted by Alan Logston Music on Monday, April 27, 2015. Photos are from Christie's Facebook page, her GoFundMe page, a screen capture from Alan Logston's video and Christie's profile photo here on Auburn Family.
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