BAR HARBOR — Surya Karki will share his visions for Nepal, along with his community-building experiences during and after the April earthquake there, at COA’s Human Ecology Forum in the McCormick Lecture Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 4:10 p.m.
Karki, a student at College of the Atlantic, has a vision for his home country of Nepal that is akin to the phoenix rising from the ashes. He believes that the devastating spring earthquake there could and should serve as the galvanizing factor for a country that has long been impoverished and under the thumb of a corrupt government. And he is doing everything in his power to make that vision a reality.
“The earthquake is usually seen as more of a negative thing than a positive thing,” Karki said. “But what I see is that it is rather an opportunity for a country like Nepal to gather up and become a force. I believe it’s time for us to build a nation in a way that’s planned, fair and lawful.”
Karki was already setting his community development plans into action in Nepal when the earthquake hit. He’d arrived back in the country in March, with several projects in mind. One was to start a business as part of the work he was doing at COA’s sustainable business incubator, the Diana Davis Spencer Hatchery. Another was the launch of a foundation tied to his work as Nepalese country director for the international organization United World Schools. This foundation, in turn, would focus on building schools in rural areas.
Those plans would be significantly delayed on April 25.
“That was not the first time I felt an earthquake, but that was the first time I felt like the world was going to end. Because it shook like you could never believe,” Karki said.
Surrounded by devastation, Karki quickly decided to shift directions. Within days, he was tapping his international connections to bring relief supplies to some of the hardest-hit areas. Working with the Manaram Foundation, Karki provided food, water and other essentials to earthquake victims who found themselves suddenly homeless and without the means to survive.
“The most important thing that happened was the overwhelming support I got from people at COA, people in the U.S. and people in other parts of the world,” Karki said. “The amount of support that I got really encouraged me to do things that were different from what I originally planned to do in Nepal.”
These things would come to include creation of a tea business and the launching of a cooperative farm. Both ventures were designed to bring self-sufficiency to earthquake victims, and both continue to thrive. Karki proudly states that he’s created nearly 100 jobs in areas where resources are scarce.
Amazingly, Karki would still go on to launch his school construction project, through which he is expecting to see the creation of 40 schools within the next three years.
“You just have to be ready for whatever uncertainty is coming up, and I think being at COA, I learned that uncertainties are many,” he said. “Now is the time to make right the opportunities that exist for all of us.”
The Human Ecology Forum is a weekly speaker series based on the work of the academic community, which also draws on artists, poets, political and religious leaders from around the world. The forum is open to the public and meets Tuesdays at 4:10 p.m. during the school term in the McCormick Lecture Hall.