Kathmandu: On her maiden trip to quake-hit Nepal, Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon is keen to lend her celebrity status to promote rehabilitation and tourism in the Himalayan country which is struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.
The 68-year-old star, who is on a week-long visit to the country as the ambassador of Live to Love foundation run by Gyalwang Drukpa, said the notion about the current condition of Nepal should change. The "Dead Men Walking" star said she would love to visit the country later this year with her kids and encourage people to come here with their families too.
"General perception about the current condition in Nepal is not true. Buildings made just before quake are still standing. If I can help in that way then also it is important to say that I will be back when the rain stops and maybe with my kids," Sarandon told PTI in an interview here. The earthquake last month that claimed nearly 9000 lives has also hit the 10 billion-rupee tourism industry - the country's main forex earner.
The industry is fearing cancellation of over two lakh international visitors in the next four months. The once crowded markets stand desolate without tourists. "There is an impression that there is no historic site standing anymore but you do not really know what's happening in terms of rebuilding and rehabilitation and spirit of the people.
Many beautiful historical sites are still standing after the quake." Sarandon, however, cautioned people to check the authenticity of organisations before making donations. "It is important that money is sent to places which need it. People are open-hearted but are not diligent enough to see that if the stuff they are sending is actually needed.
I have seen some groups here who are actually accomplishing things so I can help with that." During her stay here, Sarandon unveiled two earthquake and wind resistant houses in Ramkot, one of the worst affected regions of the disaster, to protect the survivors from the upcoming monsoon season.
"It was very heartful to feel the urgency before the monsoon for the houses to be built by Live to Love and the thought has been to give a personal familiarity to the houses. "I have seen this in New Orleans and New York, that you want to help people but with their dignity intact and find their personal objects and the things they have lost.
So they still have a sense of place and home. They are not constantly having things thrown at them and they participate." The actress said people come together after a disaster and Nepal will slowly recover from the tragedy. "New York never was more New York than after 9/11.
Everybody bonded together, the spirit of who was a New Yorker was so moving, so beautiful to see people helping each other and talking to each other. "Disaster can do that, can really make you feel you are a part of the place... as horrible it is but it can bring people together. At least what happened in Nepal was not an act of
terror so I am hoping people come together here too," Sarandon said.