Last year I remember exactly where I was when the 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on April 25. I was on my way to Haiti to report on maternal health, and really good friends of mine from the International Reporting Project had been in Nepal for a very short time on a reporting trip when the quake hit. I remember tweeting them to see if everything was okay. Thankfully they were and wrote amazing, insightful articles from their harrowing experience on the ground. Even though I wasn’t in Nepal, knowing people who were and reported once the quake happened brought the crisis close to home.
The way in which countries respond to disasters varies. One thing is certain: governments cannot shoulder massive disaster relief alone. I learned this once I saw the coordinated one-year disaster relief in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan. Relief, I’ve learned, is always a combination of public and private partnerships that work in tandem to benefit citizens that have been hardest hit. Sometimes it is not easy and the coordination may be a bit slow-going, but the truth is private companies that have apositive, established footprint in countries with an excellent track record can benefit government and NGO partners with logistics support, private enterprise expertise, and most importantly finances.
On Friday, I am traveling with Coca-Cola to see the disaster relief efforts they assisted with immediately after the earthquake last year that killed thousands and caused hundreds of terrifying aftershocks. Some of the stories I have already read about Nepalese Coca-Cola workers and the relief they created for fellow employees and the local community are both selfless and phenomenal. Even now, I cannot wait to meet them next week and share their stories.
Additionally, I will see Coca-Cola’s #5by20 program that aims to empower five million women by 2020 across its supply chain. Whenever I am in Africa or East Asia, I often see women with Coca-Cola kiosks in rural areas. I never knew the process in which they built their businesses and I am interested to learn how Coca-Cola helps women build their own business, make money for their families, learn financial literacy, and become empowered in the process.
The trip begins officially on Monday, September 12 and I will be with a group of fellow bloggers and reporters while there. Follow us on Twitter at #NepalNow and #5by20. Additionally, follow Social Good Moms’ Twitter and Facebook posts as well as my personal Instagram, jenniferjames_.
Photo: United Nations
Disclosure: Coca-Cola will provide travel, accommodations, and all expenses when I am in Nepal.