Four Years on From the Gorkha Earthquake: Renewing Our Promise to Nepal

On Saturday April 25, 2015 at around midday local time, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck near the city of Kathmandu.

The Nepal earthquake, sometimes called the Gorkha earthquake, reduced parts of Kathmandu and surrounding villages to ruble. An estimated 9,000 people lost their lives and countless more were injured. Life changed in an instant for many thousands of Nepali, who suddenly found themselves without a home, without a source of income—and sometimes without hope.

Raising funds for the Patan Hospital Earthquake Disaster Relief Fund

Laundromat’s 20-plus-year relationship with Nepal and the people of the Kathmandu Valley meant that the earthquake hit very close to home for us. On hearing the news, our first thoughts were with our suppliers and artisans, their families and friends. In the days following the earthquake, we immediately sprang into action, raising money for the Patan Hospital Earthquake Disaster Relief Fund.

Stationed in Patan, one of the three cities that make up the greater Kathmandu area, Patan Hospital staff were among the first responders to the earthquake and the devastating aftershocks and landslides that followed. Within the first few days, the hospital was providing primary trauma care to more than 1000 people.

During this period, Laundromat made the decision to donate all profits from our knitwear sales to the hospital’s Disaster Relief Fund. This was our way of supporting the relief effort and providing an avenue for our caring customers in Canada and the US to chip in as well.   

Our decision to donate to this particular fund was carefully considered. We felt confident in supporting Patan for several reasons. Moneys raised could only be withdrawn following consensus from the hospital board, which ensured that all funds were used appropriately. Secondly, the hospital was and continues to be managed and staffed by locals who best understand the needs of the Nepali people. The money raised by Laundromat and other generous givers across the globe was put to good use, financing the purchase of new medical supplies as well as fresh water and food for patients and their families.

Supporting the Red Cross

In the wake of the Nepal earthquake, dozens of new fundraisers and crowd funding appeals appeared overnight. Many of our customers and supporters wanted to donate, but weren’t sure how they could best put their money to use. In the aftermath of such a disaster, the priority is on sending money to where it is most desperately needed through channels that are extremely rapid and completely reliable.

After consulting with our partners and colleagues in Nepal and abroad, we decided to recommend the Red Cross. For a period, all donations to Nepal made through the Canadian Red Cross were matched by the Canadian Government. With your generosity, the Red Cross provided essential medical attention to more than 56,000 people, and supplied 360,000 people with earthquake relief kits.

Four years on: Laundromat’s promise to Nepal

Four years later, the Gorkha earthquake feels to many like a distant memory. But it’s not over for Nepal. While the earthquake was a hot topic in the media, help came from all over the world. Yet just a few months later, most of the foreign workers were gone. Pretty soon, the money started to dry up. Now more than ever, the Nepalese people are in need of sustainable solutions to help them recover from the events of 2015 and safeguard their families against future natural disasters.

As a small Fair Trade company, Laundromat does business directly with Nepal. Standing alongside our Nepali supplies and artisans, we have weathered many storms together—from political uprisings, to strikes, to rolling blackouts. The 2015 earthquake may have changed things in Nepal, but it didn’t change our unwavering commitment to this nation’s development.

Now as always, Laundromat is dedicated to continuing our Fair Trade work. In concrete terms, that means helping our suppliers and their employees in any way we can in the short term. Over the long term, it means continuing to supply them with work and wages so that they may continue to heal, grow and become self-reliant.

Sustainable trade with artisans from small communities is crucial to the reconstruction of this beautiful country. And we couldn’t do it without you, our loyal customers and retailers. Whenever you welcome a Laundromat knit into your store or bring one of our items home to your closet, you’re helping us to provide jobs to hundreds of Nepali people, all of them survivors of the 2015 earthquake.

On behalf of our partners and artisans in Nepal, we thank you for your support.

Learn more about Laundromat’s artisan partnerships.