Oscar-winning Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon today urged tourists to visit Nepal as the country has seen devastating earthquakes – on April 25 and May 12 – that has damaged heritage sites, the major tourist attractions.
“I will ask my fellow Americans to visit Nepal,” she said, she said today inaugurating a campaign to build 201 huts for villagers outside Kathmandu for those who lost their homes in the earthquakes.
The two powerful earthquakes last month killed thousands and hit the tourism industry that is expected to feel the heat.
“It is important to emphtress arise that by the fall, when monsoon ends, people should make their reservations now if they want to help and they want to come and visit because it is very, very important to keep all these jobs alive,” said the actress of Atlantic City and Dead Man Walking fame.
Sarandon joins a network of several hundred on-site Live to Love volunteers, a group that include Himalayan gender equality champions, the ‘Kung Fu Nuns’ of the Drukpa order.
“I think that would be the next wave to think of Nepal not as an ongoing disaster, but as a country that has found its way back and has many monuments that haven’t fallen and many beautiful areas that can be still safe to trek,” added Susan, who is in Nepal for five days. She is staying with the famed Kung-fu nuns in a Buddhist monastery and later in an orphanage that was damaged in one of the quakes.
A magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit Nepal on April 25, killing over 8,670. The second one of magnitude-7.3 quake on May 12 killed 158. According to the Home Moinistry, some 18,000 people were injured in the two temblors.
Nepal boasts eight of the world’s highest mountains that have been the centre of attraction for tourists. But the avalanche triggered by the earthquake of April 25 has sent the mountaineers back home, this year too. Last year also, the avalanche forced the mountaineers back home.
Sarandon arrived Nepal to join efforts with Live to Love International, a non-profit specialising in Himalayan humanitarian aid.
She today inaugurated the first two of 201 ‘Live to Love’ homes now being built across nine villages in Ramkot, a hard-hit region where countless homes collapsed during the earthquake and subsequent tremors. With a large population now homeless, and with monsoon season at an early start, these homes are being erected expeditiously with on-ground partners Panchakanya Group and Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Nepal (EON).
The current undertaking will house 1,000 villagers throughout the selected villages in Ramkot within the next two weeks. Designed by experts in accordance with UN approved guidelines, all of the homes are being built in collaboration with the individuals and families who will occupy the structures, ensuring that the indigenous culture can permeate the work of engineers and aid workers on the ground.
“It’s tragic to see the levels of devastation in Nepal, and yet is both moving and heartening to see the efforts of Live to Love and their partner groups in helping people under the most difficult circumstances,” Sarandon added.
She will continue surveying other earthquake-affected areas with Live to Love, assessing both short and long-term rebuilding needs.
Earlier in the month, Live to Love Global Ambassador Michelle Yeoh inaugurated the first of eight prefabricated community halls that are being built throughout several different villages. When completed, the halls will shelter over 2,000 homeless Nepalis from the monsoon rains.
The Gyalwang Drukpa – founder of the Live to Love, environmentalist, and United Nations MDG Honoree – said that the disaster has been a painful but crucial wake up call for the rest of the world. “All our efforts must be concentrated at delivering relief in a manner that it not only provides victims immediate succor but also that a sustainable future is created for them, “ he said, appealing organisations and individuals from around the world to come together and collaborate in the long-term reconstruction of Nepal.

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