A call to action

June 1, 2015 admin

Those of you who have been in or around the institutional real estate investment community long enough will remember Barbara Cambon, the founder of Institutional Property Consultants, one of the leading real estate consulting firms of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Barbara helped shape the landscape of the investment management community of which most of you today are a part, working with Steve Roulac and others on the development and refinement of the time-weighted return methodology that many of you today employ when reporting core and core-plus type returns, and working with Bob Zerbst to publish some of the original casework supporting the inclusion of real estate in an institutional mixed asset portfolio. To say that most of us would not be employed in the kind of work in which we’re currently employed were it not for Barbara’s pioneering efforts is hardly an understatement.

Barbara’s not entirely gone from the scene, however. She is still active in the leadership of the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries, and, with her colleague Bill Ramseyer, another leading consultant from the early 1980s era, serves as a roving ambassador for NCREIF.

What you may not know is that for the past 14 years, Barbara and her daughter Megan have been spending a good deal of their time in the tiny Himalayan country of Nepal. Barbara and Megan were visiting Nepal when the earthquakes struck at the end of April, and experienced firsthand the devastation, death and destruction these events have wrought on the lives of the Nepalese. And, of course, despite the fact that you aren’t seeing much anymore on the front page of your newspaper, it’s not yet over for the people of Nepal — not by a long shot. Far from it.

Like me, you may have been wondering how you can help. So I asked Barbara to write something up to personally explain what she’s been doing over there, and how you all can get involved and make a real difference. Here’s what she provided:

“Our first trip to Nepal was in 2004. We trekked in the villages and the mountains, met a remarkable trekking guide, experienced the exhilaration of climbing a tall peak, and found a peace and tranquility that escaped me during my decades of dashing madly from one meeting and airport to the next.

Fast forward, our trekking guide, KP Kafle, was (and is) the executive director of a nonprofit organization called Nepal SEEDS. This organization is focused on grassroots efforts to help mountain village communities build and staff better schools, while providing villagers with better access to clean water and more modern sanitation, as well as healthcare and other support services.

I became a member of the board of directors for Nepal SEEDS about 10 years ago and continue my role of director as well as serving as the organization’s treasurer. More specifically, Nepal SEEDS is a U.S.-based 501c(3) nonprofit corporation. We focus on areas of need where KP and his team can work together with local community members to achieve the community goals. These project activities are perhaps best summarized in our mission statement: “To work with local communities to create lasting solutions to improve and sustain their schools, water, health and environment.”

While this has always been an important mission, it has become absolutely critical in the wake of the recent tragedies.

You should know I was on the trail to Everest Base Camp with my daughter and KP when the earthquake struck. Rocks rained down on us, lodges around us collapsed, trails became impassable, but, luckily, we were only shaken but unharmed.

Unfortunately, thousands of others were not so fortunate. As you may be aware, the death toll now exceeds 8,000. Countless more are homeless and without adequate essential life-sustaining supplies of food, blankets and water.

We personally witnessed the destructive force of these quakes not only in the mountains, but in the capital city of Kathmandu, as well as the hundreds of photos and damage assessments that have come in from our local project monitors.

The bottom line here is that the villages where we work have been devastated. Many of our schools, clinics and homes have been badly damaged or destroyed.

To help provide relief — and relief is needed immediately — we have established an Earthquake Relief Fund to focus on the rebuilding efforts. Because our Kathmandu staff is quite expert at navigating the current conditions and difficult transport logistics, we continue to assist with the provision and delivery of emergency supplies.

While we have been immensely gratified by concern shown by so many, so much more help is badly needed. Every day of delay will mean the difference between life and death for many.

Please be assured we are an all-volunteer organization in the U.S. and are committed to putting every dollar to work immediately.

I just spoke with KP this evening (his morning), and he was in the process of picking up the first load of tin for new roofs for the 257 houses that have been destroyed in the village of Bhorle in Rasuwa area, an area that was particularly hard hit and extensively damaged not only from the original 7.9 quake, but also by the 7.3 quake that struck two days later, along with the countless aftershocks that followed.

We also recently organized a caravan of essential supplies to the highest mountain villages in the Upper Gorkha district, delivered from the airport via a truck all the way to the end of the main road, then via jeeps on the dirt roads, and finally via mules up to the highest reaches of the mountain trail. (All other paths to the villages were impassible; blocked by landslides and rocks.) The caravan successfully delivered blankets, tarps and food to hundreds of families otherwise cut off from help. But we need to make many more of these kinds of excursions.

This poor country needs so much help during this time. We are accepting donations on our website. In addition, we are posting regular updates on our projects and people on our Facebook page. I have numerous photos from our villages. Here is one:

Bhorle Jor Lal Nepal

Thank you to all of you who know me, and all of you who don’t but are willing to help. You have no idea how much your donations can accomplish, and how many lives you can save and help.”

So there it is. I really urge all of you reading this to send something, no matter how small, to the emergency website Barbara’s organization has set up.

In Nepal, it’s a particularly whacky world. And they really do need your help.

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GeoffFinalv5forwebGeoffrey Dohrmann is president and CEO of Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

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