Two Volunteer Army team responders heading to Nepal

Sam Johnson heading to Nepal to assist in aid work after the fatal Himalayan earthquake

University of Canterbury’s Sam Johnson, who led the Student Volunteer Army after the Christchurch earthquakes, flies to Nepal tonight to assist in the urgent aid work after Saturday’s 7.8 fatal earthquake.

This is following a string of international work Johnson and a wider international team have been involved with including the United Nations Strategy for Disasters in the last year. Sam and original team member, and CEO of the White Elephant Trust Nathan Durkin will spend 1-2 weeks working with young Nepalese training them on how to effectively respond to their own disaster. 

More than 3200 people are dead and tens of thousands are in shock, sleeping in the streets in villages in the Himalayan nation. Johnson says he accepted an urgent invitation to go to Kathmandu on behalf of the Student Volunteer Army from the Global Peace Foundation and Nepalese Ministry of Youth who work closely with the Asia Pacific Peace and Development Service Alliance. Johnson is a co-chair of the alliance.

“We will be working with the Nepalese people if offering support and strategies. I have been briefed on the best ways to work in Nepal by Nepalese community leaders here in Christchurch and other disaster responders in New Zealand.

“We will help train local youth leaders who attended our Alliance conference in Nepal last month on mobilising volunteers for disaster response.

“We will share with government and youth leaders our methods and skills for engaging youth, specifically with their Minister of Youth and his networks who have reached out for support. I hope to meet the minister during my visit.

“The team on the ground hopes to will establish a Student Volunteer Army or another appropriately named group to serve as a youth driven distribution network to assist aid agencies with their important work. I am confident we can have a positive impact given the support received already and indication from locals that this would be helpful.

“After the earthquakes we worked closely with the New Zealand Government in setting up a youth volunteer army to support low risk projects. We knocked on doors, helped elderly clean up their homes and offered moral support. We mobilised 11,000 young people and got to work in the clean up on the streets and suburbs.

“We have about 50 young people in our network in Nepal who have been asking for advice on what to do, together with the large international community wanting to help. We are willing and able to do whatever is needed, provided its safe and we take care of the volunteers,” Johnson says.

The University of Canterbury’s Student Volunteer Army is helping with the Nepal New Zealand Friendship Society’s fundraising effort for Nepal and they have already raised thousands of dollars for the campaign. See: