Photo:  Santosh Rai

I was thinking of using a meaningful remark to introduce NCRR,but was more than delighted to know that its full form spoke for itself: Nepal Cyclist Ride to Rescue. NCRR is one among the few good things that happened to Nepal after the earthquake. It was born on the day of the devastating earthquake of April 25, 2015, when a group of cyclists were out training for the upcoming National Championship Mountain Bike Race, originally to be held on May2, 2015,but since cancelled. When the earthquake hit, the cyclists were in Chobar, approximately 10 km north of Kathmandu.

The earthquake dazed the team like it did every Nepali citizen, but they chose to be selfless instead of being selfish. The team rescued a woman and a child buried alive with nothing but their hands and valor. This story was captured by CNN News India, and soon went viral on social media; as a result, donations came flooding in to assist with NCRR’s pledge to continue with their rescue and aid efforts. The funding came through the cyclists’ many connections in the worldwidemountain biking community established through participation in the internationally renowned race, Yak Attack, and other international mountain bike races, as well as through working in the mountain bike tourism industry with companies like MTB Nepal and Himalayan Single Track.Funding not only came from abroad, local cycling networks like Kathmandu Kora, as well as Smart Pani and other small NGOs and local cyclists, also jumped in to help support NCRR and their projects.NCRR has since been established as an officially registered NGO with its head office in Kathmandu. Since then, NCRR has been working on several projects, the earthquake relief project beingits first.

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, NCRR rode through SikharBesi, a small VDC located 100 km outside of Kathmandu, at the base of Langtang Lugri in the Himalayas in the district of Nuwakot. Approximately 80% of the homes in SikharBesi are only accessible by bike, or on foot, due to the rocky terrain. Upon reaching them, NCRR witnessed first-hand the overwhelming challenges most aid organizations face in delivering relief to over 3,100 people, or 940 households. NCRR filled this void by delivering food, medical supplies, and temporary shelters for the schools ofSikharBesi in the first month following the earthquake.

In course of delivering aid and assistance during the earthquake relief campaigns in SikharBesi, the NCRR team realized what they were doing was deficient in addressing the long-termproblems there, as a consequence of which, they came up with the conclusion of rebuilding one secondary and six primary schools in SikharBesi (from December 2015 to January 2016) that would be earthquake-resistant and sustainable, providing safe, long-term learning environments for the students. This project, named Seven Schools in Seven Weeks, has been receiving financial aid from several donors from within and outside the country. 

Working in a geographically challenging place is tough, especially when it is about working in an earthquake affected area where you have to start from level zero. Nepal has a beautiful, yet challenging, landscape for infrastructure to reach. NCRR went through the same challenges, but made strenuous efforts to outreach and address all obstacles. The aftershocks that shook the nation for one whole year, followed by India’s border blockade, stranded essential supplies needed to proceed with the Seven Schools project. The chilling winter is also a tough climate to work in, but NCRR has made sure to take all the challenges as the path to success, rather than obstacles. The completion of six schools among seven is proof of NCRR’s determination and dedication to the project. With the assistance and appreciation of donors, well-wishers, cyclist and non-cyclist team members, and local level support,NCRR has brought changes to several lives in the remotest and most troubled places of Nepal, and aims to change  many more lives and futures in the days to come.