“Embassy behind the scenes: We just had a Weapon of Mass Destruction exercise at the Embassy, where everyone got to test their gas masks. Security is something we take seriously, but there’s no reason not to smile while practicing our routines.”
Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom meets with community members in Boera, Papua New Guinea, on September 10, 2015, to learn about climate change impacts on the community and to join them in celebrating with Motuan cultural songs, dances, and history. Earlier in the day, Deputy Secretary Higginbottom launched a USAID Coastal Community Adaptation Project (C-CAP), which will build the resilience of vulnerable coastal communities in the Pacific region to withstand more intense and frequent weather events and ecosystem degradation in the short term and sea level rise in the long term. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]
The impact of the 25 April and 12 May earthquakes resulted in over two million people in Nepal losing their houses due to damage. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, during September and October this year, population movements are expected to increase, particularly with the mass outflux from the Kathmandu Valley to districts before the Dashain festival beginning in late October. On a smaller scale, with the end of the monsoon, the majority of those residing in spontaneous settlement and those relocated due to landslide risks will likely return to their original residence. Ensuring comprehensive returns will also depend on the availability of support for shelter reconstruction.
In the aftermath of the earthquake, Derek wanted to document Nepalis helping Nepalis, and reached out to his friend Pawan Shakya whom he’d first met in 2013. Pawan who runs a small family publishing business from Durbar Square, the historic center of Kathmand has already embarked on self-funded relief projects aimed at some of the neediest villages following the earthquake. Derek realized that he could help in the planning, funding and execution of Pawan’s projects. He brought in Tyler Driscoll, a graphic designer he knew from San Francisco and together they put up a GoFundMe fundraising to help rebuild a small corner of Nepal.
The relief effort is intended to improve the lives of over 500 earthquake-stricken Nepali villagers in 2 villages. They picked the village of Chhap, 3.5 hours northeast of Kathmandu. Of 250 houses in the area, only 1 remained inhabitable after the earthquakes. The other location Ranipauwa Village is roughly 1.5 hours drive northwest of Kathmandu, and was almost totally destroyed by the earthquake, with essentially none of the houses inhabitable or even repairable.
The villages were selected based on need, the ability of villagers to help each other, and their ability to help themselves. Very importantly, one young man from each village works for Pawan’s family business. Having a person from inside each community not only provides valuable insight into issues and opportunities, but it also facilitates ongoing communication and monitoring that can help avoid all sorts of missteps.
They plan not only to build bamboo relief houses, they also plan to fund chicken farms, replace livestock and provide improved seeds for future plantings in the two villages.
Derek says that neither Pawan nor him will be taking any compensation at any point–Pawan is doing the calendar printing at cost and there will be no charge for Derek’s images. The GFM campaign provides other rewards that do carry cost like mugs, t-shirts, large prints, so do let them know if you do not want them. They have raised about $11K so far in the last two months of their GFM campaign. If you are able to help, check out their GFM campaign: http://www.gofundme.com/nepaltogether.
Below is a photo of a mother and child washing hair in a creek in Nepal, one of our favorites from Derek’s collection. What a lovely smile! Check out the rest of his photos on Facebook and Tumblr. धन्यवाद
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry examines a portrait – made of tiny colored stones, and commemorating the 20th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam – which was presented to him on August 7, 2015, after he held a bilateral meeting with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh at the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Guesthouse in Hanoi, Vietnam. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]
A U.S. Marine with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa emplaces a machine gun on the roof of a notional American Embassy during a training exercise in the urban training facility in Baumholder, Germany, July 6, 2015. More than 78 Marines and sailors conducted the full-mission rehearsal, which demonstrated the unit’s ability to rapidly deploy and conduct embassy reinforcement. (Photo from marines.mil)
U.S. Marines and sailors with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa (SPMAGTF) from Sigonella, Italy, conducted a training exercise at an Army training facility in Baumholder, Germany serving as a simulated American Embassy on July 6-9, 2015.
According to marines.mil, the full-mission rehearsal demonstrated the unit’s ability to deploy to conduct embassy reinforcement and validate the communications capability of the platoon. More than 78 members of the SPMAGTF patrolled the urban training facility, and set up communication and defenses to protect the notional American personnel and assets.
“This is the type of mission is what we’ve been training to since before we deployed to Sigonella,” said Staff Sgt. Edward Erdmann, the platoon sergeant. “The training was a good test for the Marines because they didn’t know what to expect, and the unexpected is what we need to train to.” A team of Army Green Berets provided the opposing force for the Marines securing the embassy.
The photo was released by the State Department with the following caption: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks on June 9, 2015, with National Security Adviser Susan Rice from his room at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, where he is recovering from surgery to repair a broken right femur he suffered during a biking accident in France. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]
Who’s missing from the picture? Tom Sullivan. He was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff on April 20, 2015 but his bio was not up at state.gov when we blogged about these appointments in May. The official bio is now up:
Tom Sullivan serves as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy at the U.S. Department of State. Most recently, he was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs.
Prior to joining the Department of State in August 2012, he worked for U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar from 2007-2012, serving as her Deputy Chief of Staff.
He previously worked at the Council on Foreign Relations as a Research Associate to President Emeritus Leslie Gelb from 2003-2005.
A native of Minneapolis, MN, Tom holds a M.A. in International Affairs from the University of Chicago and a B.A. from Yale University.