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An Earthshaking Experience for Maya

Maya Tsering Bhalla, BA in Psychology and Sociology, Maya (orange helmet) and her Deeds4Needs team in Nepal
Maya (orange helmet) and her Deeds4Needs team in Nepal

SHE IS passionate about human interest stories and current affairs. She wants to be involved in life, and write about it, even if the world is collapsing around her,

SIM GE graduate Maya Tsering Bhalla, 24, was in Nepal in early May 2015, leading a team from Singapore to bring aid and comfort to victims of the terrible earthquake that shook Nepal.

“Over the course of 10 whirlwind days, I assembled a team of seven people, myself included, booked the flights, gathered necessary items from over 25 willing people, and $10,000 in cash donations, and flew to Nepal,” she recalls.

“Social media proved to be a helpful tool. We managed to gather the necessary items, pack them according to a strict inventory and transport them collectively, and safely, to Nepal. This would not have been without the help and magnanimity of Nepal’s Consul General in Singapore, Gopal Patel. If it weren't for his quick action and writing of official letters, and his putting me in touch with the Rotary Club of Patan West, much of our efforts would have been in vain.”

Travelling to remote, near-inaccessible places is what Maya has done before. When she was still a student at SIM Global Education (State University of New York at Buffalo), she went to Siberia to teach for six weeks in a school for children. She graduated in end-2013 with a double major, BA in Psychology and Sociology. Maya’s parents were from India, although Maya herself was raised in Singapore.

In Nepal, her team went to four villages. “We specially picked these villages because no aid had yet reached them. My cousin-in-law, Tenzing Lama, who owns a small budget airline that flies to eastern Nepal, Makalu Air, made sure we had all the necessary permissions to get to these villages with our goods.

“We brought essentials such as medicine, water purifiers, tents, tarpaulin and non-perishable foods (stuff that were not readily available in Nepal) and helped over 850 people in 10 days. About a third of the money went towards building aluminium shelters to tide the poor over during the coming monsoon.

“We also established a 12-man strong team in Nepal, who have continued our work to the best of their capability. Raising funds since we left, however, has proved to be difficult, since we’re all holding full-time jobs.”

Maya expresses the hope to return to Nepal soon. She fears the situation there might be worse than it was before.

“In addition to the land transport blockade, people are starving,” she says. “The tourism industry is suffering acutely. If people truly want to help, just book a tour to Nepal and have a holiday there. Visiting as a tourist could mean contributing to the livelihood of a family.”

She says the strong desire to help other people was probably there when she was a child. In her university days on the SIM campus, she also explored issues on the poverty and suffering in countries like Nepal, and the apathy of affluent people elsewhere. She started the Deeds4Needs charity and Web site to help disaster victims and to highlight how ordinary folks can help.

Maya writes for several magazines, and looks forward to be a full-time journalist.

Maya Tsering Bhalla, BA in Psychology and Sociology, Nepalese families receiving aid from Maya’s team
Nepalese families receiving aid from Maya’s team

Updated on December 30, 2015