This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Bishnu Adhikari leads the Nepali efforts of CHOICE Humanitarian, a nonprofit that seeks to end extreme poverty around the world. Since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 25 and the major aftershock of 7.3 magnitude today, CHOICE has been refocusing its short-term energy on emergency relief. Adhikari’s story was told in 2014 in a feature film called Meet the Mormons.
The tragedy in Nepal has a personal feel to me. In March, I visited Nepal and spent several days in a remote village with Adhikari helping village families install clean, wood-burning stoves in their homes to replace their open indoor fire pits. I have been worried about those people ever since. I reported on my trip here. Two weeks ago, I did a piece about the work of Effect.org in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and last week did a story about ShelterBox providing relief to victims who’ve lost their homes.
Adhikari is philosophical about the tragedy in his homeland, “It’s a difficult situation but I am not discouraged. I know life has ups and downs. Sometimes we go through these situations for our personal learning. I am grateful I am here and will do whatever I can in my capacity. There are so many things to be grateful for.”
The ongoing work in Nepal will continue, Adhikari explains, “Nepal LIFE is an initiative by CHOICE Humanitarian to end extreme poverty in a designated area that can be replicated worldwide. It’s both exciting and humbling to be part of this effort.”
He celebrates the success of the program to date, “There are so many wonderful stories about individuals and families we have worked with that are no longer living on $1.25 a day.”
On Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at noon Eastern, Adhikari will join me for a live interview to further discuss the crisis, the people in the village where I volunteered with him, the relief efforts and the ongoing work of CHOICE Humanitarian in Nepal. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about CHOICE Humanitarian:
CHOICE Humanitarian – ‘The Center for Humanitarian Outreach and Inter-Cultural Exchange’, is a strategic non-governmental agency (NGO) currently working in five countries, Kenya, Nepal, Bolivia, Guatemala and Mexico. Our overriding goal is to end extreme poverty and improve quality of life through a bottom-up, self-developing village-centered approach.
Bishnu Adhikari has been the voice of CHOICE in Nepal since the beginning of operations there in 1999.
Bishnu grew up in a small mountain village high in the Himalayas. Despite arduous work in the fields and hours of commute to school, Bishnu excelled in his education and earned numerous scholarships. Hard work and determination led him to Russia where he earned a master’s degree in engineering.
Following this life-changing transition, Bishnu returned to his Nepalese village and made the commitment to help others improve their quality of life. He began working on development projects for The World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and USAID. In 1999, Bishnu discovered CHOICE Humanitarian and joined as a staff member. He later returned to school and earned a second master’s degree in international environmental policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
Bishnu has provided the leadership necessary to bring the CHOICE model of sustainable development to hundreds of villages in Nepal. He has developed a series of income-generating programs that have helped thousands of Nepalese see a means to economic freedom like eco trekking, hydropower, biogas, buffalo keeping, and Jatropha oil.
Bishnu has received numerous certifications of appreciation from high ranking government officials in Nepal for his humanitarian work.
Bishnu and his wife, Mangala, have three children: Smina, Rebecca, and Jeev.