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Nepal needed help before the earthquake

To the editor: In 2010, I spent a summer volunteering in Nepal with a nonprofit organization that supported malnourished women and children. Before the earthquake, the humanitarian and infrastructure needs of this country were overwhelming; now, the urgency of need is incomprehensible. ("Nepal's government ill-equipped to handle earthquake disaster," April 27)

I am a registered dietitian, and while in Nepal I visited a children's hospital with no sheets, rusted dirty bed frames, dank hallways and patients required to bring their own food. There is no transportation network, and a five-mile bus ride can take longer than an hour. A bus ride to another town 75 miles away takes eight hours. There are few paved roads in the country, and most villages are accessible via dirt paths.

Not only are the governmental social safety nets for the poor and homeless nonexistent, but so are programs such as Medicare, Social Security, health insurance and unemployment benefits. What is available is accomplished via international and national non-governmental organizations, which the resilient, hardworking and intelligent Nepalese would like to move away from.

The answers are difficult, and a natural disaster heightens the urgency for appropriate and targeted relief — not only now but long after the crisis is over.

Jennie Dillon, Rancho Santa Margarita

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To the editor: My heart goes out to the people of Nepal and surrounding areas devastated by the huge earthquake. I also feel for those on Mt. Everest or its base camp whose lives were lost or marred by this tragedy — less so, however, because anyone on or near that mountain knows climbing it is a risky endeavor.

I'm somewhat troubled that the young Google executive who perished has received more attention than all the other lost souls. And I sincerely hope that all the expeditions on the mountain will remove 100% of their gear, now mostly trash.

Our planet's beautiful crown has increasingly become an unsightly dump for rich explorers, and that needs to stop. Now would be a good time.

Crista Worthy, Boise, Idaho

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