Russell agreed to participate in our project prior to her
last trip to Nepal, and the soil from that unique land was
sent and is in our hands. This is an interim description of
her work and challenges in helping the villagers in Nepal,
taken from the local Laguna
Beach Independent newspaper of 2.29.08. The journal entry
of the collection details to follow."
Unrest Hinder Goat Lady's Mission
Notes from Nepal
By JENNIFER ERICKSON
Laguna's "goat lady" Rosalind Russell, currently
in Nepal on a mission to deliver goats and monitor her ongoing
projects, is experiencing first-hand the turmoil of a third-world
nation, but continues to press on despite the unforeseen obstacles.
"You wouldn't believe the lack of safety
here," she said in a Feb. 18 e-mail, which describes
food shortages, fuel theft and hours-long gasoline lines due
to a blocked supply route.
Within days of Russell's missive, the U.S.
State Department on Feb. 25 also advised against non-essential
travel in Nepal. Describing the current situation, the department's
website says that "increased agitation by political groups
have made the supply of basic services in Kathmandu tenuous."
A strike in the region bordering India has shut a border crossing
that is a supply route to the capital.
Not only are fuel supplies at a critical level,
the website warns, but sporadic demonstrations to protest
the lack of fuel and rising food prices have erupted throughout
Russell, who is based in Kathmandu, has been
in Nepal since the end of January, and the going has only
Obtaining fuel is a crucial component to her
mission, necessary for delivering goats to the women in three
mountain villages, for traveling to monitor the programs already
begun in other villages, and for the transportation of materials
to complete the school her R Star Foundation has started.
Many Laguna Beach residents have supported her efforts with
She and Rabin, her informally adopted Nepalese
son and assistant, get on line for fuel every chance they
get. Russell described waiting on line for six hours to receive
four liters of rationed fuel.
Using preciously hoarded fuel, they travel
over jolting terrain by motorbike. She has managed visits
to the villages several times, with another trip planned this
weekend. So far they delivered 56 goats to women, who "beamed
delight and happiness," Russell said.
The shortage of supplies and fuel has halted
progress on the nearly complete school Russell is building.
In Kathmandu lack of fuel has grounded school buses forcing
the schools to close, public transportation has suffered a
similar fate and taxi rates have spiraled up 400 percent.
"At no time can we leave the bike alone
for the reason of theft of our fuel," said Russell, a
victim of one fuel theft.
Supply shortages also mean temples, where
bodies are traditionally cremated, no longer have wood or
fuel to perform their services. Clients are asked to supply
their own, a virtual impossibility for most. Russell says
hospitals are literally running out of oxygen, among other
Communicating by e-mail has its own set of
complications for Russell as electricity is rationed 40 hours
a week. Though a schedule is provided, compliance is spotty.
Sporadic electricity is also degrading the food supply. Russell
felt poisoned after eating in a restaurant, served food that
had apparently spoiled.
is a wild ride to be here, and I mean other than on the motorcycle!"