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North Vancouver couple behind Nepali based “Jackets for Jasper” project turns attention to earthquake relief

Little Jasper at two years old.
Little Jasper at two years old.

A North Vancouver couple who were helping sponsor two Nepali children by selling Nepali-made down jackets in Canada have now turned their attention to provide earthquake emergency relief for the affected families.

Global BC spoke with Liz Leboe and Lenard Reid last December.

WATCH: Jackets for Jasper: Local charity funds schooling for kids in Nepal

The couple went on a trek to Nepal in 2011 and fell in love with the country, their guide Kamal and his family.

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Liz and Len started their “Jackets for Jasper” business three years ago to help support Kamal’s newborn son Jasper.

They are also putting Kamal’s young relative Resmi through school.

Liz and Len sell Nepali-made down jackets here in Canada and 100 per cent of the profits go to cover the children’s education costs.

But their world has been shattered by the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake that claimed thousands of lives in Nepal this weekend, reducing the entire country to rubble.

IN PHOTOS: Powerful images from the Nepal earthquake

Thankfully, Kamal’s family is safe and their home is still standing.

Their manufacturer’s family is also ok. Their factory is damaged, but standing.

But many of their factory workers are now homeless.

“Everyone is currently living and sleeping outdoors for fear of aftershocks. And it is raining, to add insult to injury,” says Leboe.

She says the Monsoon season starts in just a few weeks, meaning all those people who have lost their homes will be living outside in pouring rain.

The manufacturer has been able to make a tarp for 20 people to sleep under overnight, but there is no long-term solution.

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There is no power and limited water and food.

The couple still has no information on Resmi’s school or her family.

Leboe says the children, their families and the manufacturer have become their family and their hearts are breaking for them.

She says their primary concern has shifted overnight from making jackets to supporting those families for the long term, especially those that are now homeless.

This year’s first cargo shipment was readied to ship out of Nepal the morning of the earthquake. It now remains at the manufacturer’s factory. Leboe says while their operations in Nepal took a major hit, they still harbour hope things can turn around.

“The Nepali people are really resilient. I don’t know about in the face of absolute disaster like this, but just faced with their daily lives of lack of resources, they are so resilient. It would not surprise me in the least if [our manufacturer] phoned me next week and said he has found a way to make jackets again. It would not surprise me, but I am not holding my breath,” says Leboe.

Liz and Len are asking people to donate to their charity on behalf of the families they are supporting or donate to any of the charities and aid groups rushing to mobilize emergency responses.

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READ MORE: How Canadians can help the victims of the Nepal earthquake

For information on how to donate, go here.

For more information on the “Jackets for Jasper” project, go here.