Coca-Cola sent two employees and seven bloggers and journalists to Kathmandu to get a first-hand look at the response, action and stories of the Coca-Cola system and partners following last year’s devastating earthquake in Nepal. Follow the stories here on Coca-Cola Journey and on social media via #NepalNow.

Day 1

Our plane landed at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu on the morning of Sunday, Sept 11. Across the runway from the row of aircrafts sat an antique, rusted airplane. Behind it, wisps of fog dipped below a layered mountain backdrop. The air was heavy, but carried with it a subtle breeze, which we gladly accepted after our last stop in the sweltering heat of Doha, Qatar.

Our team, so far, consisted of four social development and travel bloggers and two associates from The Coca-Cola Company's Public Affairs and Communications function. Two more bloggers and an international development journalist from Devex were waiting for us at our hotel in the city center. After filling out our visas on arrival in the mostly empty airport and grabbing our luggage from a jam-packed baggage claim, we met our local team members outside and began our hour-long drive to the hotel.

Operating an automobile in Kathmandu could make any average American a stellar motorist. Our driver wove through the bumpy roads toward the city center, dodging cyclists and walkers who shoot through any gap that opens up for more than a second. A few minutes on the street confirmed that the perennial symphony of car horns is probably less of a reflection of the impatience of frustrated civilians and more of each individual motorist’s absolutely necessary PSA to the five or six vehicles/humans around it that “I know the chances of you seeing me are slim—just want to let you know I currently exist in this space of road.”

Along the edges of the streets—in, around, and above the shops lining the roads—was a steady stream of Coca-Cola signs, ads and products. Crates of Coca-Cola were stacked up against the walls of convenience stores. Overhanging the shops were the same “Taste the Feeling” ads that rotate through my computer desktop in Atlanta. In India, Nepal’s neighbors to the south, Coca-Cola competes with Thums Up (another Coca-Cola brand), a cola similar to Coke, with a little more spice. In Nepal, it was clear that there’s no such equivalent. People here like Coke. At times, it seemed the company’s signage was practically guiding us at every turn. Right off the bat, the impact of Coca-Cola in Nepal was clear.

From Their Perspective

Read the personal accounts from journalists on the trip as they write about our trek by searching #NepalNow on social media and by checking out their stories below:

Amy Bellgardt, Mom Spark

Mary Edwards, Go Adventure Mom

Leanette Fernandez, Funtastic Life

Jennifer Howze, Brit Mums

Jennifer James, Social Good Moms

Adva Saldinger, Devex Impact

Christine Young, From Dates to Diapers

Nepal Now 1

Founded in 1979, Bottlers Nepal Limited has two plants in Nepal – Kathmandu Valley and Bharatpur. During the #NepalNow trip, we visited the Kathmandu Valley bottling plant.

Coca-Cola has had a presence in Nepal since 1979, but it has had a particularly powerful impact in the country over the last 17 months. For the next few days, we’ll be getting an inside look at the influence that Coca-Cola’s local bottler, Bottler Nepal Limited, has had in the country.

On April 25, 2015, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit the Gorkha district hard, just 75 kilometers northwest of Kathmandu. The effects were felt across 39 of Nepal’s 75 districts, and intense repercussions shook the whole of the Kathmandu valley. More than 8,000 people died, and over 21,000 were injured. All in all, 8 million people were affected by what was the biggest disaster in the country since 1934.

As the rest of the world watched disaster unfold in Nepal, many speculated, correctly, that the country would take a lont time to recover. The Nepali monarchy had been abolished just seven years prior to the earthquake, and the splintered factions that characterized the country’s political scene made it nearly impossible for swift progress to be made. Earthquake relief funds that poured in from the outside world often hit a dead end as soon as they entered the country. In short, no one was prepared—not the government, not NGOs, not Bottlers Nepal Limited.

But over the last year and a half, Bottlers Nepal Limited has become a source of resilient strength at the core of Kathmandu. The company has taken a holistic approach in empowering the people in and around it, reviving the Nepali community that involves working with the right partners, empowering villagers with building skills, teaching women retail owners better business skills, and strengthening the core of their own associates. Through steady, intelligent process, the bottler has given confidence and hope to a lot of people who lost it last April.

We came to Nepal to see and hear those stories—from the strategies of project managers creating an organized system out of remote villagers trying to rebuild their lives, to the personal stories of those who suffered painful loss.

We will be in Kathmandu for three full days, reporting, writing, and posting about the experiences we’ve witnessed and the people we’ve encountered. Over the coming weeks, we’ll continue to follow-up with the Bottlers Nepal Limited team so that we continue to tell these stories. We invite you to follow us on our journey to discover the challenges that people, companies, and organizations in Nepal have experienced, and the impact that our partners in Kathmandu have had on the lives of the Nepali people.

Stay tuned for daily #NepalNow updates.