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Making an Impact: The Relief Efforts in Nepal

By Joe Speicher, Executive Director, Autodesk Foundation

The death and destruction in Kathmandu this month is appalling and heartbreaking. The global response however, has been incredibly heartening. The US government has already committed US$10 million, telecoms companies are offering free calls to Nepal and the US Air Force has deployed over 100 troops to Kathmandu, including urban search-and-rescue teams.

All charitable organizations—including the Autodesk Foundation—are looking for ways to help. Technology companies are focusing their charitable efforts to leverage their specific expertise. Google and Facebook are using their huge global customer base to confirm the safety of individuals within Nepal. Paypal, with a base over 150 million active users, is underwriting costs and facilitating donations through their platform.

We believe that expertise in design and the built environment can have the most impact in the reconstruction efforts of Kathmandu—which is why we look for organizations aligned with Autodesk’s mission.

The Design Opportunity

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Once supplies are deployed, temporary homes are built, and the rubble has been cleared, the hard part starts—rebuilding the infrastructure, homes and commercial properties to return to normalcy. Too often, this aspect of post-disaster recovery is overlooked and mismanaged. Fortunately, some of our Foundation grantees have been involved in this work for years.

One example is Build Change, a Foundation partner and nonprofit organization with over a decade of experience building homes and schools in post-disaster areas. By working with local governments, the organization helps to create, implement and enforce seismically safe building codes, and then works with local contractors to demonstrate how such buildings can be cost-effectively built. We received an email a day after the earthquake that they are building a Nepal response team. We encourage all of you who believe that good design can change the world to support this organization as well.

How to Help

Everyone is eager to help and have asked us how they can contribute to make a real impact. Here are our recommendations:

  1. Donate to Build Change – We believe that this is the most impactful      donation you can make that will lead to lasting change in Nepal
  1. Utilize the Creative Market Community– For the month of May, nearly 500 Creative Market shops are contributing up to 100 percent of their earnings toward Nepal disaster relief. With support from the Autodesk Foundation, Creative Market will match the first $20,000 in donations. All money raised will go to All Hands, a non-profit organization that addresses immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters. Visit Creative Market’s blog for more information.
  1. Share Images from the Pixlr Challenge– With help from the Autodesk Foundation, this month Pixlr will donate $20,000 to Build Change. Additionally, the weekly challenge in early May was dedicated to this cause, encouraging users to post and share photos on the theme, “Message for Nepal.” For more on the challenge, visit the Pixlr blog.

Autodesk is committed to supporting the rebuilding efforts in Nepal, from our work with partners like Build Change to our own employees who are donating and organizing volunteer events to help the response efforts. We can have an incredible and lasting impact – and make life safer for future generations of Nepalis. We will unfortunately continue to experience natural disasters throughout our lifetimes, and building a safer and more secure future is in everyone’s interest.