The floods that impacted the people of Sindhupalchok mid June resulted in loss of life, left many homeless, and devastated a community already struggling with the COVID pandemic. The situation worsened 1 August when another flood washed away more homes, shops, and the last bridge connecting Helambu to Kathmandu. The community became further isolated and the challenge to access medical and food supplies all the more difficult.
It was the work of a small non-government organisation situated in Sermathang, Helambu, Just Nepal Foundation (JNF), that led me to ask, “how can I help?”. I had visited the organisation in 2018, 2019, during my stay in Nepal, working at a social work college in Kathmandu. Accompanying me on this rural visit were two groups of Curtin University social work students, eager to learn about social work in Nepal and the work of JNF. A particular program of interest was one meeting the needs of youth in the region who wish to stay to develop their community, providing them with an alternative to going abroad for employment. We met inspiring young people who were running successful chicken and trout farms and upskilling their peers to do the same. Sadly, at times of disaster, such projects are put on hold and the businesses these young people have worked so hard to build are gone overnight.
I was fortunate to have engaged the help of Deepak Shakya, Secretary, Friends of Nepal, to organise a lunch to raise funds for JNF who continue to provide relief efforts to those impacted by this disaster. The lunch held at The Himalayan restaurant in Inglewood, 8th August, was a great success with 77 people attending. In addition to assisting with promotion, Deepak managed bookings and organised with The Himalayan Nepalese Restaurant & Cafe to hold the event. Thank you also to Deepak’s lovely wife, Puspa, who made delicious cakes for dessert! A surprise on the day was when representatives from Oceania Education and Visa Services (OEVS) announced that they would donate $2,000 to the cause! We are so grateful to them. This generous donation along with the donations via GoFundMe platform resulted in total funds raised on the day being AUD6054.92. These funds (100%) will go directly to JNF who are on the ground, assisting in the following areas: medicines, masks, sanitisers and temporary shelter.
A raffle held on the day contributed to the total raised. This was organised by Curtin social work students who accompanied me on the visit to Sermathang/JNF. We thank the following individuals and organisations who generously donated prizes:
Hamper of goodies from their gift shop that supports underprivileged children to access education in India (value $100). Also, two x $100 vouchers to spend at the gift shop.
The Nest Hair Boutique
Hair upstyle and full make up valued at $150
Phoebe from Project P.A (see Instagram for more detail) donated a gorgeous wool hat of her own design
The Himalayan Nepalese Restaurant & Cafe donated a dinner for two
Deepak Shakya, Secretary Friends of Nepal, donated wine
Thank you also to everyone who purchased raffle tickets on the day, the total raised was AUD642!
In addition to the raffle bringing smiles to the faces of winners, we were fortunate to hear from Sheila, Chairperson, Friends of Nepal. Sheila shared a little about the history of the organisation and the incredible projects undertaken by members over the years. If you are not currently a member, I strongly recommend that you join (only $15 annual fee) to support the incredible work they do. I learnt that many attending on the day were involved with the organisation in the early beginnings. Following Sheila’s presentation, I shared a brief video detailing the work of JNF and I was joined by students to share memories of our experience visiting Sermathang, Helambu, where the organisation is based. As I mentioned, one cannot come away from this community without feeling touched by the kindness and resilience of those we met. We ended our presentation with a brief video of the region following the floods. A sobering reminder of why we had all come together – a shared desire to provide some relief to those impacted.
While the event succeeded in raising much needed funds, everyone enjoyed a delicious Nepalese meal (some enjoying momos for the first time!) and it was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with old friends. New friendships were also made, and I spoke with many who expressed their enthusiasm to continue the momentum and arrange more events in the near future.
Given some were unable to attend on the day, a GoFundMe page was set up should others wish to donate. At the time of writing, this has raised $1,125. Thank you to everyone who has generously donated funds, every cent going to Just Nepal Foundation to help those on the ground.
To everyone who gave their time and opened their hearts to support the people of Sindhupalchok, thank you so much.
(a new Member of Friends of Nepal – Australia Inc!)
You can view the image gallery from the lunch on our Facebook page.