Among the 8,800 people killed by the April 25 earthquake in Nepal was the father of ManKumari Ghale – a Harrisonburg resident and member of Harrisonburg Mennonite Church. ManKumari’s mother, grandmother and siblings, as well as her husband Dhanraj’s immediate family, lost their homes in the disaster. When their close friend Janet Hostetter, director of the Shenandoah Valley Childrens’ Choir (SVCC), heard of the Ghales’ loss, she wanted to help.
The choir hosts a benefit concert June 22, 7:30 p.m., at Emmanuel Episcopal Church. A freewill offering will be taken during the event, which features 10 selections from the choir and a presentation about Nepal.
The Ghales’ hometown is Barpak, a mountain village formerly of 1,200 houses. Ninety percent of those homes were destroyed, as the town was the epicenter of the earthquake. Barpak residents are now staying under tarps and in temporary shelters; rebuilding awaits resources and the passing of the monsoon season.
Most Barpak residents are subsistence farmers, and have little savings with which to rebuild. Donations will go to construction materials, and the villagers can provide their own labor. “They are very dependable people,” says Dhanraj, “hard workers.”
When Hostetter visited the Ghales’ Harrisonburg home after the earthquake, she suggested a benefit concert to assist fundraising efforts.
Esther Ghale, who recently graduated from Eastern Mennonite High School, has raised $5,000 thus far from a gofundme.com campaign and fellow students and faculty. The Barpak school, in the center of the village, was completely destroyed. Esther hopes the funds she has raised can help rebuild the school.
“We are very blessed and appreciative of the way the community … is supporting us,” says Dhanraj. The family will travel to Nepal for three weeks in October to meet with village leaders. The country’s damaged roads will require a four or five days’ Jeep ride from the capital, Kathmandu. The Ghales will take tents to stay in during their visit.
“My goal in presenting this concert is to help members of SVCC make a tangible difference in the world,” says Hostetter. “My desire is to see SVCC succeed, not only musically, but socially as well.”