Kathmandu, October 5, 2015: Sumana Shrestha, initiator of Carpool Kathmandu says, “Positivity and problem solving attitude binds us a lot stronger, than any negative emotion ever can. The community has really proved this. It has come together to help each other out and we believe it can really go beyond what is dictated by the needs of fuel crisis”.
Carpool Kathmandu groupÂ objective is to help match people who can offer rides to people who needs rides in a safe manner by vetting through mutual friends at this crucial time of petrol crisis through the social media platform. The team isÂ targeting to create a big enough network to get a critical mass so that a high percentage of requests are being matched by the community.It was started on Sept 28th, and within 3 days, it has attracted over thirty thousand people and over 40 thousand online posting. They areÂ developing an app so that it is more convenient and optimizes the asks and requests to increase the matches.
The members of Carpool Kathmandu are Sumana Shrestha, Anish Bajracharya, Manish Shrestha â€“ from Kazi studios, Anish Shrestha . Sumana got to know Manish when she was working in relief remotely in May. Anish Shrestha reached out to mention he is thinking of working on a website for carpooling – which was really nice given how other people have been trying to develop similar platforms. She found both Manish and Anish Shrestha online. Finally she thought this concept can go lot farther beyond those dictated by necessity.
The team has a vision on how to take it beyond the petrol crisis. They are working on an app to help the community grow beyond facebook and make it efficient for the community to find matches and looking forward to trying out their ideas on building and continuing this community.
She says, “Initially, I started the facebook page for this group on Sept 28th, the day I had to walk everywhere that I got blisters on my feet. While I couldnâ€™t find a taxi or a public vehicle to hop in, I saw there were many cars that had only one person in it or scooter and bikes with no pillion. I really wanted to ask for a ride, but I hesitated a bit. It is not a common practice in Kathmandu to ask for lifts. There are always concerns about safety, cultural thing about not talking to strangers – there are just so many things that prevents us from asking for a ride. I thought if I could just reduce those risks, the fear of â€œnot knowing the personâ€, perhaps I could get a ride.”
In her past experience, she used social media and coordinated to send tents over to Sindhupalchowk wen she was in DC. She further says,”The concept of carpooling really drew up on me from various experience â€“ from frustration and blisters because of having to walk everywhere, from my inability to be complacent, and from my past experience of how risk can be mitigated via social media.”
What is more interesting and humbling is that it has really morphed into a living platform, there is a lot of interaction, lots of personal stories carpooling and lots of picture updates. Moreover, the concept of carpooling and helping each other seems to have really penetrated the psyche of Kathmandu folks, they are offering rides to stranger â€“ to quote one of the carpoolers Tshering Lama â€“ â€œThank you Carpool Kathmandu, for encouraging so many of us to not hesitate when it comes to giving lifts.â€
It is a social platform that matches people – it only works when there is a critical mass and only when people believe they are part of the community. The way for people to join hands with this initiative is to share it as much as they can, to add their friends who they think will benefit from this platform, to be part of the community – self monitor the posts that do not follow the rules of engagement, flag the posts that are non-relevant to the platform and be an active member of the community.