Filipino travelers share #HugsForNepal
By now we have all heard of the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, claiming the lives of more than 8,000 people and injuring over 19,000. It was officially the worst natural disaster in Nepal in over 70 years, destroying entire villages, towns, historical buildings, and even UNESCO World Heritage sites. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Helping Nepal)
On May 12, as residents and rescue workers were trying to restore some kind of order, another earthquake struck again, killing and injuring more people.
Shortly after the tragic events, a group of Filipino travelers from the Two Monkeys Travel Forum, known as the Kaladkarins, came up with an inspiring idea to raise funds for the victims of the disaster, to help them rebuild their lives in any way that they can.
The foundation of this fundraiser was to invite people to come and join the event, where they could donate any amount of money they wanted, in exchange for a hug from one of the Kaladkarins.
"Hugs for Nepal" events were organized in Manila, Cebu, and Davao on May 16 and 17. It attracted around 150 people and raised over P12,500 in donations, all of which was collected by the World Vision to be used in upcoming Nepal relief projects. Plans for another hugging event are being discussed.
In a recent online post, one member of the group gave their reasons for wanting to support the "Hugs for Nepal" event:
"As travelers, we enjoy all that these countries have to offer and take away experiences that stay with us forever, changing who we are and how we see the world, for the better. However, the poorest countries are often the ones we benefit from the most, while they are also the ones which suffer the worst in natural and man-made disasters.
"As travelers, it's time for us to give back to the world that has given to us, in whatever way we can."
One surprising and moving result of the number of dedications that started to flood in from around the world: photos of travelers, from as far as Europe and the Middle East, holding signs that read #HugsForNepal. We never thought that from a simple idea between friends online, it could spread around the world!
The Philippines itself plagued by natural disasters – typhoons, hurricanes, and floods happen almost all year 'round. That is why it was so humbling and uplifting to see Filipinos sharing their solidarity with a people so far away and whom they will most likely never meet. – with reports from Cai Dominguez and Marjorie Gavan / Rappler.com
Jonathan Howe is the British traveler and writer behind twomonkeystravelgroup.com, working his way around the world finding new and interesting ways to support a life of long-term travel. He and Kach are the founders of the Two Monkey Travel Forum. He loves tropical beaches, surfing, hiking, the outdoors, yoga, adventure sports and motorbikes. Follow him at facebook.com/twomonkeystravel