Terry Mikeska, San Angelo

This month I am traveling to Nepal, to fulfill one of my bucket-list adventures to help others in need since the devastating earthquake.

This was a mission I was going to take on myself financially, along with the students I host in Nepal, but as word spread among my friends, businesses, churches and social media, more than 200 folks and businesses have donated.

When I asked why my mission was important to them, over hundreds of others throughout the U.S., they said “Because we know every penny we give you, Terry, will end up helping these folks with no office space to rent, no administration to pay and no salaries.” I have lived in San Angelo my entire life and can’t say enough about its generosity. More than $12,000 has come in through the mail and giveforward.com website I have set up for this mission.

During the Nepal earthquake, I, like many others, could not believe the destruction that occurred in Kathmandu and the surrounding villages. In the time thereafter I was overwhelmed by how people did their very best to pull through this tragedy, including the students I host.

I watched the stacks of bodies burn every day, on government orders, to avoid disease. ATMs, Western Union and MoneyGram outlets were down for weeks, so I could not even send $100 to help the kids get home on their 14-hour bus ride to their families.

For years these kids have been wanting me to visit, but because of the 35-hour travel time I have hesitated, until now. When talking to many of the students, I said that if I come to visit I want to come make a difference, even if it’s a small one, so I asked the students what type of help they most desperately need now.

They told me the help is needed in the outlying villages since most of the volunteers and support from around the world was being focused on Kathmandu. The most immediate need was a way to cook food because they all had lost the rice pots they typically cooked with when they lost their homes made out of stone, mud and tin. Many were sorting through trash cans just to find an empty can to cook some rice for the family.

This touched my heart and I have decided to spearhead a project to help a village of about 100 families, a total of 504 folks, get a new rice pot, plenty of rice to cook, vegetables from a local farmers market and metal plates to eat from.

The students I help have taken a leading role in helping me secure a supplier so this project can become a reality. We have a source who can supply the families with the rice pot, the rice and the plates for only $26 per family.

In addition, I want to assist in rebuilding their library, which had major damage, as well as help three orphanages on the east side of Nepal that are in desperate need of rice for the children who lost parents and siblings in the earthquake. We also want to provide at least another change of warm clothing, jackets and blankets for the coming winter months.

The orphanages also need families to adopt the children and request prayers in completing this task.

Another small school in the valley outside of Kathmandu needs school supplies and books for the students so it can take on the additional children who were affected by the disaster.

As I posted my vision for these folks on social media, many of my friends said that they wanted to help. With the use of giveforward.com and the “Fill the Rice Pot” campaign, the project has taken off. If you would like to help electronically, the link to the project on giveforward.com is http://gfwd.at/1OvhU5P. A contribution by check, large or small, can be made out to Mikeska Inc. and sent to Terry Mikeska, 2197 Club House Lane, San Angelo, Texas 76904. Please write “Nepal Mission” in the check memo.

Again, I want to thank the folks, businesses and churches in San Angelo and surrounding area for the support and prayers toward this mission and I hope to share hundreds of photos and videos through the media mid-November when I return. Keep me in your prayers as I will be staying with these folks in the villages, dressing like them, eating what they eat and even helping with the October rice harvest cutting by hand, milking cows and living experiencing the culture.

Terry Mikeska lives in San Angelo and sponsors some students in Nepal.