SANTA FE, N.M. — “If you smile at me, I will understand,
‘Cause that is something everybody everywhere does
In the same language.”
Crosby, Stills, & Nash
To see the pictures breaks your heart, yet somehow their eyes are still twinkling in their leathery faces. Don-you-bot, God, for all my many blessings! Don-you-bot that my home and loved ones have not been destroyed, and I myself left homeless, destitute and bereft. Albeit imperfect, life in America is the best.
I like a nice warm house and cozy bed, and a hot bath. Good food and fresh water. (And, I must humbly admit, so much more, as necessities.)
Even these few basics, though, were all impossible dreams for residents of Nepal, whose cataclysmic earthquake last year tumbled their already impoverished villages and fragile structures into debris. A total of 650,000 homes just disappeared off the earth. Nine thousand human beings were lost. National heritage sites crumbled away. School was out for over a million children.
Then as the people waited for help to come, torrential rains hampered relief efforts.
Little was left. Rubble. People in the rubble. The images are gripping.
A limited edition of signed, hand-printed black and white art photographs chronicling the devastation and horror of the earthquake and its aftermath, and the beauty and resilience of the survivors, were available at a benefit on a recent Saturday evening at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design.
On one side of the room, photos of the effects of the Nepalese earthquake; on the other, images of the Syrian refugee crisis. Prior to the war, Syria was somewhat stable and 99 percent literate. Today, it’s in chaos, and half of the refugees exiting Syria are children.
Two hundred people attended the auction for The dZi Foundation, which is raising funds in Santa Fe by blending art with critical social issues. Middle Eastern friends of the board prepared delicious appetizers like homemade potstickers and hummus with crudités, as the crowd mingled among the moving and inspiring images.
Guests spent $40,000 buying the photographs, generating desperately needed money that will be used to rebuild The Himalayan Primary School in Sotang Nepal, and also to fund a program of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “No Lost Generation,” which aims to provide education for Syrian refugee children in the region. Also, counseling and social support will be provided for those suffering from trauma and social dislocation – well, who wouldn’t be?
Compassion for this people’s tragedy is overwhelming, and gratitude for our own blessings intense. Don-you-bot means thank you in Nepalese.
Ashley Margetson has a BA in English from UCLA, is a senior real estate broker with Sotheby’s International Realty and has a finger on the pulse of philanthropic activities in Santa Fe. To tell us about an upcoming event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photographer Tom Kelly and his wife, Carol.
Mayor Javier Gonzales accompanies Rachel Kelly.
Jim Novak, founder of the dZi Foundation, with Tim Van Camp.
Nancy Meem Wirth attends a benefit at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design.