Pivot point: The pandemic
The seismic shifts that have occurred due to our current, once-in-a-hundred-years pandemic have certainly tested our stability as a country, as communities, as families, and as individuals. As we have experienced here in the United States, the foundations of our society are not structurally sound, and we all have a long road ahead as we build a seismically-responsive infrastructure that works to erase disparities and build resilience within ourselves and our communities.
In order to build anew, we will need to shift in our approaches, paradigms, and direction. To that end, front porch is excited to share that we are exploring new horizons as well. When we began our journey as front porch in 2018, we set out with the intention of being highly involved in low-income countries’ rural communities—specifically in Nepal at the time. However, with the continuing COVI-19 climate, international travel seems to be a long way off; thus, developing projects overseas is less likely for us in 2021.
With unexpected downtime on our hands, we took pause to consider the possibilities of diversifying front porch while remaining true to our cause. Thus, what we see as a natural shift for us is to concentrate our efforts on rural communities here in the United States. We’ve been exploring areas that align with our mission, strengths, creativity, and skills. Although there are far more communities with resource gaps than we could ever address, the need is here in front porch’s own backyard. We have re-committed to do our part in helping build resilient communities while connecting the underserved to resources worldwide, wherever that may take us.
In the spirit of resilience, front porch board member Walt Cudnohufsky has weathered the COVID storm quite well. Local to our front porch, Walt has taken this time of physical distance to explore his own resourcefulness, appreciate his ability to stay active and engaged, and produce wonderful art, which are featured in this newsletter. In Walt’s own words:
“Long past sane retirement age, I continue to practice landscape architecture and find that it is a focusing agent and gift. A devoted/addicted problem solver, I need to keep my brain active. It has proved to be a godsend when so many of the quality of life activities have been severely curtailed or eliminated with COVID. The work gets tedious and overwhelming at times, but overall it is a welcomed gift.
The heavy work load is based on the more widespread discovery of something we have long known, rural living has distinct advantages. For those who own property or those just purchasing, we are making permanent living possible for a number of clients in COVID retreat. We do our best for energy efficient, environmentally respectful design solutions.
I paint watercolor avidly, and while cherished teaching has also been curtailed, I paint consistently. I have taken in early December to posting a daily watercolor and associated commentary. It is an additional engaging and fun project.
COVID life features garden and woodland work, nature walks, painting and writing. We are doing the cautious and challenging work of staying healthy. We live in a beautiful and life enhancing place and are aware of and thankful for it.”
We appreciate Walt and his expertise and perspective, and our board is that much more well-rounded with his direction. He continues to encourage and support our mission; without Walt and the rest of our amazing team, we would not be able to continue our engagement with the recent beneficiary of front porch’s 2020 fundraisers: Kevin Rohan Memorial Eco Foundation (KRMEF).
With Krishna Gurung leading the way, KRMEF has been able to continue supporting the local community of Kahare during the COVID-19 pandemic through fundraising and volunteer efforts, albeit at a significantly reduced scale. KRMEF’s pre-COVID streams of income have slowed to a trickle, as their onsite café, while recently re-opened, has had little business.
As the coronavirus has begun to surge again in Nepal and its surrounding countries, reports of a new lockdown have emerged, which would again negatively impact KRMEF and its surrounding community. This lockdown, of course, will halt the slow progress the community has made in recovering from the country’s first 120-day lockdown. Like most other nations in the world, many people in Nepal have lost their jobs—and with the country likely to come to a standstill again, the measure of hope that had begun to emerge has begun to fade away.
Bright spots do exist in KRMEF’s community, however: KRMEF’s health clinic is open and treats a steady stream of patients; they have been able to continue rebuilding homes that were lost in the 2015 earthquake. To date, fourteen homes have been constructed, with three more in progress. In addition, the school’s building continues to progress. KRMEF repeatedly expresses gratitude that they are able to support families in need.
We feel privileged to be able to assist Krishna and his charitable endeavors, and we again thank our donors for their support of KRMEF. This foundation’s sustainably designed programs and tireless efforts are inspiring—this is resilience in practice! And yet, the people of Nepal remain faced with new surges of the novel coronavirus: According to the Reuters COVID-19 Tracker, to date there have been 283,658 infections and 3,075 COVID-19-related deaths in Nepal. Confirmed coronavirus cases have been on the rise in recent weeks, with an average of 561 new cases being reported each day. Just 3% of Nepal’s 28.6 million residents have been given the COVID-19 vaccine; at the current rate of administering 5,836 doses each day, it would take approximately 973 more days to vaccinate another 10% of the population. Infection rates in neighboring India have peaked each day and are still rising. With India’s increased need and the region’s limited supply of vaccines, Nepal’s hope of receiving further help from India remains in flux. Even given China’s donation of 800,000 doses, Nepal’s population will likely continue to struggle in its fight against COVID-19.
We at front porch extend our wishes for a safe and healthy spring to each of you. Thank you again for your support in connecting resources to those in need. Stay tuned as we develop our foci for our US-based projects.
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