The April 25 earthquake in Nepal was heartbreaking, with devastating loss of life and vast destruction of monuments, villages, and infrastructure. But Nepal has a unique situation among developing nations -- thousands of foreigners visit the country yearly and, through teahouse trekking, have come to deeply love the remote villages, people and culture of this very special place. Since many of these visitors carry cameras, a vast wealth of memories has been captured of a world that for some communities, now no longer exists.
No area in Nepal was more tragically affected than Langtang Valley where an avalanche wiped out the entire Langtang Village, killing hundreds. Many people, Nepalis and foreign trekkers alike, are still missing. The entire valley (approximately 4,500 people) was evacuated due to ongoing landslides, and most of these mountain villagers are now living in tents in Internally Displaced Camps in Kathmandu to wait out the monsoon season, with no certainty about when (or if) they will be allowed to return home to rebuild.
Immediately after the earthquake, our partners at Sustainable Steps Nepal began collecting photos from Langtang trekkers as a way to help memorialize those who were killed or missing. Langtang Photo Album aims to expand this database through crowdsourcing, and will set up portable (solarpowered) photo printer stations where displaced villagers can select donated photos of their loved ones (and their villages, treasured landscapes, neighbors, etc.), make prints, and create photo albums of their own to cherish past lives as they build new ones. We’ll also create a small photo studio to make current individual and family portraits to ensure Langtang citizens have a portrait of their own.
In addition, we will produce a short documentary video about the project, the people of Langtang, and the efforts to rebuild to help raise awareness about the situation in Nepal and encourage global community involvement in making Nepal whole once more.
In the “Global North,” during times of disaster, the vast majority of us claim that our most precious possessions (and the items we most care about saving) are our photo albums. Allowing people who have lost everything an opportunity to create their own albums is deeply meaningful in a time of terrible loss and tragedy. It’s also a unique, but emotionally significant way for foreigners to contribute to Nepal and show our gratitude and deep appreciation for their past generosity and hospitality. In short, this project is a way to embrace our shared humanity and help Nepalis actively feel that the world has not forgotten them