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Kelowna  

Local aid for Nepal

Kelowna resident Kevin Edgecombe was set to travel to Nepal in May to finish building a women’s vocational centre, but now he and a group of volunteers will be helping to rebuild a country.

After Saturday’s devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake, Edgecombe realized he would have to put the build on hold and help out the friends he has grown close to over the last five years.

Edgecombe and his wife travelled to Nepal in 2009. They discovered what he called "brutal school facilities."

Since then, he has built several classrooms through his Kelowna charity, Intercultural Woman’s Education Network, which increases awareness and access to education for marginalized females by funding education programs in Nepal, Canada and elsewhere.

Edgecombe has returned to Nepal every year and says it has become a significant part of his life.

“I spoke with our country director for IWEN, who said they just got their power back on in their area of Kathmandu this morning. They had been out of water, which makes it very difficult for food and sanitation,” he said.

“They are all sleeping outside, under tarps because of the numerous aftershocks. People are scared to go back in their homes.”

Everyone directly involved with IWEN is accounted for, and all are safe.

“There is one friend who I haven’t heard from, and he is believed to be at the basecamp of Everest, so hopefully he is safe," said Edgecombe.

With plans set in motion, he and 19 volunteers are hoping to fly to Kathmandu on May 16 and assist in whatever ways they are needed.

“Our volunteer team seems to be willing to do whatever it takes, whether that be clean up, humanitarian work, setting up and bringing tents.

“If we bring two tents each in our luggage, then distribute them, there will be a need for that.”

He has been told many roads are out of service, leaving those in villages north of Kathmandu stranded.

“I expect the death toll to continue to rise, as many of the villages aren’t even accessible unless by a helicopter."

Through IWEN, Edgecombe hopes to raise funds that will go 100 per cent to aid and relief in Nepal. This Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., volunteers will hold a bottle drive at Western Star Trucks for earthquake relief.

To find out how you can get involved, check out IWENCanada. com or on Facebook.

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