This article is the first in a series of articles based on sustainable projects completed in Nepal by Thrive Project.
On April 25, 2015, the country of Nepal was hit by an immense 7.6 magnitude earthquake, named Gorkha after the district of Kathmandu that marked its epicenter. Following Gorkha, consequential aftershocks, landslides, the sudden collapse of infrastructure and buildings, and even several avalanches on Mt. Everest, took the lives of over 8,000 people, injured more than 21,000 and left over 8 million displaced and in need of aid. When news of the devastation spread across the globe, international aid was quick to come, including Thrive Project founder, Brian Kam.
Within days of the initial quake, Kam was in Kathmandu, and despite having plans to stay in the country for only a few weeks, he found himself extending his mission to three months, making it back to Central New York just in time for his senior year at Syracuse University. Upon his return, however, Kam could not escape the experience he had in Nepal. As a United States Marine Corps Veteran, he felt compelled to return to a people and a culture that he had come to love. Therefore, Kam decided that it was time to share his experiences with others in an effort to spread awareness of the situation in Nepal and to build a team that could return with more than just the handouts that aid so often becomes. He wanted to return with a long term solution.
Kam contacted his mentor, a UC Santa Barbara computer scientist named Dany Illand, to discuss a kiosk they had put together with parts found in Kathmandu. This kiosk, a solar powered battery, could then be used to help rebuild the lives of the Nepali people and others around the world. With the help of two fellow Syracuse University students, Joshua Moon and Ryan Brinkerhoff, he decided that it was time to take the project into the next phase. Together they founded Thrive Project, a non-profit organization that provides sustainable solutions, via the newly named S.P.A.R.K. Systems (Solar Powered Auxiliary Relief Kiosk), and empowers communities in need through sustainable energy education.
Today, after many months of fundraising, numerous sleepless nights and the invaluable help of their advisors, the Thrive team has reached nearly $15,000, won numerous awards as part of the New York Business Plan Competition and has finally returned to Nepal to carry out Kam’s original mission.