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Sudan Gurung: Drawing strength from teamwork

Sudan Gurung: Drawing strength from teamwork
Thirty-six-year-old Sudan Gurung is the president of Hami Nepal, which  has been providing assistance during emergency response programs and in post-earthquake rehabilitation projects. The organization that was (unofficially) established in 2015 conducts rescue operations, blood donation campaigns, and various awareness programs. Before Hami Nepal, Gurung’s life was mostly about partying and clubbing. He worked in event management. But the 2015 earthquakes forced him to confront the darker, sadder side of life, and vow to do something about it. “A child died in my arms. I’ll never forget that moment,” he says. He called for volunteers through his social media accounts and around 200 people came forward. They lacked the professional know-how and expertise but together they did whatever they could to help those in need. They mostly assisted at hospitals that were so inundated with victims that they found themselves to be short-staffed.

Gurung realized that Nepal lacked an effective emergency response team and felt he could do something about it. Hami Nepal was born out of that need. The organization was officially registered in 2020 and currently has over 1600 members. “You can do anything as long as you have the will power,” says Gurung.

Hami Nepal was one of the many frontline groups that was actively working during the Covid-19 outbreak. Despite lacking in resources, experience, and little to no finances, Gurung says they were able to do a lot as family and friends supported them. They eventually managed to secure enough funds to donate oxygen cylinders and beds to Bir Hospital and National Trauma Center. But it wasn’t easy, says Gurung. The government, he laments, has always been oblivious to people’s sufferings and the Covid-19 pandemic further hammered in that point for him. He says organizations like Hami Nepal had to step in to do all that they could and more to save lives. Hami Nepal distributed 520 oxygen cylinders to different hospitals across the country. Gurung says they didn’t keep aside even one for themselves. Having dealt with such difficult times, Gurung says he now feels he is capable of handling any obstacle that life throws his way. Hami Nepal provided pregnant women and children with food and other supplies like tents, blankets and warm clothes during the Manang and Sindhupalchowk floods. During the recent earthquake in Turkey, Hami Nepal sent supplies worth Rs 15m for the victims. Since Turkey was one of the first nations to send aid to Nepal during the 2015 earthquake, Gurung felt it was his duty to do something to help them during their hour of need. What upsets the go-getter is the fact that the Nepal government and those in power choose to stay silent or do as little as possible in desperate times. It’s appalling that politicians only think about themselves and their close ones once they have secured their coveted positions. Their promises during election time mean nothing, he says. He is also not satisfied with the laws and regulations that are in place. Most of them, he says, create a lot of bureaucratic loopholes and hurdles. “It’s time the new generation steps up and challenges the old ways of running the country,” he says. Hami Nepal stands for a generation that is not to be toyed with. They are a generation of youths who hold the power to bring about the much-needed change, he says. This is the reason why it organizes various protests time and again. Their protests are result-oriented. They are not just about raising their voices. For instance, their seven-month long Ghopa camp protest in Dharan in eastern Nepal led to every home in the area becoming aware about the importance of transparency in the BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences and shed light on the need to improve the medical services there. “We have the ability to challenge the authorities and bring about change. We can’t run away from the problems. We have to work on the solutions,” he says, adding there is a lot of strength in working as a team. He believes that activism must be followed through with action, implementation and impact which is why Hami Nepal gives its 100 percent to every cause or program they work on. However, the non-profit organization doesn’t solicit cash donations. Instead, it asks for items/products and services. For instance, they collaborate with companies and ask them to support their campaign in cases where there is a need for supplies, transportation, or aid. Transparency is important at Hami Nepal and so they update details of donations and where they went on their website. Hami Nepal has received various awards for its selfless service and contribution to society, including the ‘360 Impact Award’ in 2022, and ‘Barbara Foundation Covid-19 Barista Samman Award’. The awards matter, it motivates them to do better but Gurung envisions Hami Nepal working selflessly, without looking for any kind of return.