• Our Vision

Our Vision

PHPI’s vision is to provide resources to communities in need and to empower people to maximize potential and improve lives.

Our Mission

PHPI is a registered US non-governmental organization committed to fostering the sustainable development of communities worldwide.

Our Values

PHPI’s core values include:

Collaboration: We partner with local communities and organizations to ensure that community members support our projects and are involved in the discussion about the needs of their localities. Collaboration gives us the most relevant information and allows organizers to respect and preserve local culture, heritage and traditions in the areas we serve.

Environmental Consciousness: Organizers plan projects with consideration of impact on local environmental resources. Our programs reduce resource consumption as much as possible.

Accountability: We hold ourselves accountable to global communities and to supporters by operating on the principle of transparency. Information on our structure, procedures, projects, and spending is published online and available to everyone.

Creativity: PHPI’s projects evolve as organizers develop new solutions and procedures based on the specific needs of specific communities.

These values guide PHPI organizers as we identify problems and opportunities to empower less fortunate people with the resources they need to improve their lives. Our collective responsibility to the global community makes it necessary for us together, with friends and partners, to act now.

  • What We Do

Our Approach

PHPI’s approach entails development and implementation of creative solutions that diminish hardship and improve lives. We act fast. We empower people by providing them with resources to rebuild communities.

Our Process

The flexibility and efficiency of PHPI coordinated efforts administered aid to over 30,000 people in the immediate aftermath of the Nepal earthquake. PHPI’s humanitarian process is effective and transferable to communities around the global suffering from the effects of natural disaster. Learn about the four pillars of our work below.

1. GATHERING INFORMATION

PHPI’s field team travels to remote regions and assesses the primary needs in communities struggling in the wake of natural disaster. These regions are generally inaccessible by traditional means of relief transportation, which include trucks and other vehicles. Because our field team consists of experienced international and Nepali trekkers, we are able to hike in relative safety and comprehensively survey regions from which litter accurate information is often communicated.

Partnerships with trusted local village collectives to gather information and identify needs ensure that PHPI organizers have relevant understandings of necessity in widespread regions. We start by understanding the real state of affairs on the ground.

2. FAST RESOURCE ACQUISITION

Next, we work with the local business owners in affected regions to organize supplies (food, medical, etc.); services (construction of schools and monsoon shelters, water sanitation projects); and other resources promptly for remote regions to which government and other relief organizations have restricted access.

By organizing from within affected areas, PHPI reduces transportation time for relief to get where it needs to go. By driving and participating in local exchange, our strategy also spearheads economic reactivation in areas where tourism levels drop after a major natural disaster.

3. UNCONVENTIONAL DISTRIBUTION

After transporting goods as far as roads allow, our field team takes over and delivers resources on foot with the generous aid of local communities, who provide humanpower along with donkeys and other pack animals for carrying goods.

While the PHPI field team manages distribution routes, we are beholden to the generosity of Nepali people, without whose compassion and constructive support, we would not be able to reach as many underserved people in remote places.

4. SUSTAINABLE RECONSTRUCTION

PHPI’s long-term rebuilding objectives incorporate advancing technologies for sustainable community development. The breadth of experience and the diverse professional backgrounds of PHPI organizers afford our organization with unique kill sets to senvision and implement international relief aid that will strengthen communities and guide them towards self-sufficiency. By helping villages come together to build solar power grids, earthquake-proof health clinics, and clean water programs, PHPI organizers empower people to live successfully and prevent future collapse in the face of natural disasters.

  • Our Story

On 25 April 2015, an earthquake measuring 7.8 magnitude on the Richter scale struck Nepal, killing over 9,000 people and injuring more than 23,000. Avalanches slid, landslides buried, and homes collapsed. The effects were catastrophic. The earthquake triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, killing 19 climbers and Nepali support staff. That day was the deadliest on Mount Everest in history. The earthquake triggered another massive avalanche in the Langtang valley, where 250 people were reported missing and most were never found.

Hundreds of thousands of people were made homeless as the earthquake flattened entire villages across many parts of the country. Centuries-old buildings–including some at UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley–were destroyed. On 12 May, a major aftershock followed the 25 April earthquake, killing more than 200 people and injuring over 2,500.

In the days after the initial earthquake, most foreigners in Nepal evacuated back to their home countries. However, a group of like-minded and determined individuals met at a communal guest house in Pokhara to find a way to stay in Nepal and help people rebuild their communities. These are the founders of People Helping People International. Although each founder brings a diverse set of skills and strengths to the organization, we are common in our compassion for the people of Nepal and for those in global communities threatened by natural disaster. We share the sense of responsibility afforded to us by our unique skill sets and mobilize them to rebuild disadvantaged areas across the globe.

In Pokhara, we coordinated to assess the needs of the communities reaching out to us for help and devised an action plan. We started by pooling our money and sending teams out into the city’s streets to collect donations from travelers or tourists who could contribute before being evacuated. With that funding, we worked with local Nepalis to bring immediate relief to villages that needed it the most by organizing food drops and by transporting building and medical supplies to areas without access to roads and other infrastructure. These early efforts aided over 30,000 people in over 5,000 families.

After exhausting our private funds and local donations, PHPI organizers each developed crowdfunding pages in our respective countries to raise money for extending our operations. The support we generated from families, friends, and strangers was momentous, and we raised over $50,000 through crowdfunding alone. We were able to extend our efforts until the June monsoon season forced some PHPI organizers from Nepal. However, our work there is not over. After returning to our home countries, PHPI founders have been working to establish our strategies and objectives within the structure of an international non-governmental organization in order to implement our effective responses to disaster in Nepal and around the world.

Though we barely knew one another before the tragic earthquake, PHPI organizers rallied together and became united by the generosity, kindness, and determination of the Nepalese people. Today, we honor our gratitude to the people of Nepal by working to not only rebuild regions affected by disaster but also to design efficient aid programs that will preemptively improve future rebuilding efforts at community development and restoration.

More needs to be done. Let’s do it together.

  • Our Team

Meet the people who keep the work going. We are all dedicated volunteers, working from near and far to organize and provide access to necessary resources in diverse parts of the world. Our collective effort is based on our recognition of our responsibility as members of a global community to reduce the negative consequences of natural disaster.

Claudia Hernandez

Co-Founder & President

Claudia Hernandez is President and a member of the board of People Helping People International. She holds a Master of Business Administration from Texas A&M, where she specialized in finance and economics. Her diverse experience includes conducting economic research for think tanks; implementing process and control analysis; expediting the responses of international investment banks to government agencies; facilitating operations at a forensic economic consulting firm; launching a reputable economic blog; and executing launch parties for business startups. The breadth of her professional history enables Hernandez to develop innovative solutions to the complex problems of community reconstruction. A native of Austin, Texas, she was preparing to trek the Annapurna Circuit when the 25 April earthquake struck. Since then, she has been working to help rebuild the remote villages most seriously damaged by the quake and its aftershocks. Hernandez can be reached at Claudia@phpinternational.org.

Kenny Quinn

Vice President

With over eighteen years of experience in sustainable building, Kenny Quinn is a renowned United States natural building expert. His expertise covers numerous alternative building techniques, including earthbag, rammed earth, adobe, straw bale. An inspirational leader, Quinn teaches these methods to students throughout the globe and makes the building experience memorable and enjoyable.

Quinn has generously donated his time to lead earthbag building workshops in partnership with PHPI to advocate and educate people about this sustainable and inexpensive building method. His engaging, hands-on teaching style will help spread the word in the international community about this seismic-resistant, low-impact, low-cost method of building that can be easily replicated throughout Nepal and the world.

Magdalena Bokowa

Co-Founder & Vice President

Magdalena Bokowa is Vice President and a member of the board of PHPI, where she coordinates volunteer, fundraising, and media programs. As a student of political science at Queen’s University in Canada, her interest international relations led to a directorship of operations in London. Traveling in Southeast Asia and Australia, Bokowa became a certified scuba diving instructor and has logged over 700 dives. Her work instructing both scuba and yoga in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Australia affords Bokowa a valuable depth of experience working with people to meet difficult objectives. She was nearing Annapurna’s base camp when the 25 April 2015 earthquake hit and has been actively aiding in relief and rebuilding efforts ever since. You can reach her at Magdalena@PHPInternational.org.

Chadd Tullis

Co-Founder

A native of Bend, Oregon, Chadd Tullis grew up competitively ski-racing before enlisting in the United States Navy for a four-year stint in aviation. An interest in sustainable building and an inclination to solve problems led Tullis in 2014 to complete work as an assistant superintendent on a low income housing project. An outdoors and travel enthusiast, he is an avid gardener, surfer, and amateur film photographer. Chadd was trekking the Annapurna Base Camp trail when the 25 April 2015 earthquake struck and has been working within and for Nepal ever since. He organizes PHPI’s earthbag building program and coordinates volunteers, and can be reached at Chadd@PHPInternational.org.

Josh Edwards

Field Director

Growing up in Bend, Oregon, Josh Edwards has been involved in outdoor pursuits his whole life. A ski instructor for four years, he also pursued a five-month backcountry hike on the Pacific Crest Trail before heading to Nepal. Edwards was hiking a remote area on the Annapurna Circuit when the 25 April 2015 earthquake hit. After making it to safety, joined the PHPI initiative while it was still in its infancy in Pokhara. He was active in multiple immediate relief projects, including the construction of a temporary school and the development of the earthbag project. Edwards will manage team safety and oversee the PHPI basecamp. You can reach him at Josh@phpinternational.org

People Helping People International is committed to collaborating and coordinating efforts with local organizations to effectively, efficiently, and comprehensively help communities provide relief for victims of natural disasters. Our emphasis on working with local institutions gives us direct access to the needs of villages and towns diverse in geographic size and population. In addition, the flexibility and adjustability of our strategies for communication and resource management enable us to move supplies and information quickly so that people get the help they need as soon as they possibly can.

EARTH & SUN SUSTAINABLE BUILDERS

Earth and Sun Sustainable Builders coordinates the building of classic earthship type homes and other structures, including those which incorporate characteristics such as earth rammed tires, strawbale, earthbag, and adobe techniques. With services in Planning and Design and also Project Management, they help people build sustainable homes from start to finish. The company is directed by Kenny Quinn, who also shares his expertise in an Earth and Sun education program for future builders or sustainable homes.

GURUNG TEAM

The Gurung team have been hard at work in Nepal since the 25 April 2015 earthquake. As PHPI volunteers return home, our Nepali partnerships become more important in keeping relief efforts in progress. Increasing workloads in new areas make greater logistical support from local infrastructures in Nepal necessary, and the Gurung team helps PHPI organizers coordinate with other local and regional groups around the country to meet that task.

The Gurung team learned about significant need for food, medical supplies, and clean water in the Ree Guan District, one of the areas hit hardest by the earthquake. They collected personal funds, purchased as many resources as they could, and headed straight into Ree Guan without knowing what they were going to do or find once they arrived.

Once there, the situation was far worse than they ever expected. Entire villages were wiped away. No houses were left standing. Hungry and cold people waited desperately for aid they were told would come. The Gurung team found themselves with many other people wanting to help more but not knowing how to do so.

No one had any information about the state of extremely remote villages in the region.

As experienced trekkers, the Gurung team organized to methodically survey and assess need in every ward and village in Ree Guan. In spite the concern for avalanches and mudslides, they were determined to complete this initial assessment because they knew that the dangerous terrain would keep government and official resource providers out of the area.

The team rallied friends, family, and supporters to raise funds to cover the costs of supply distribution in this remote region, including resource acquisition, organization, and transportation. Gasoline is scarce in this region, and the off-road driving takes a hard toll on vehicles. Specifically, PHPI has verified that funding for one trip can exceed $1000 USD, depending on the frequency of trucks, the price of gasoline, and mechanical costs.  

Currently the Gurung team are raising funds to provide solar panels for the entire Ree Gaun District and to rebuild a school there. If you are interested in supporting their work, please refer to our projects page and donate to their cause.