The people of Britain have been incredibly generous in their response to the need for disaster relief and reconstruction in this very poor country. But now the focus has switched to those desperately sad images of a dead child on a beach in Turkey and the awful and massive migrant problem that is facing Europe. And so it should, and yet … Nepal has not yet recovered – this will take many years and further major earthquakes are predicted. More resources are desperately needed to prevent starvation and disease making things far worse, and to start important rebuilding projects.
In this part of Yorkshire the needs of Nepal have not been forgotten and, through a unique series of partnerships, the generosity of local individuals and businesses is being harnessed to help where the need is greatest in a most cost effective and efficient way.
We have reported before in these pages about the links developed by Harrogate Brigantes Rotary Club in Nepal, about Brigantes’ amazingly successful literacy and economic regeneration project in the Panchamul Valley, headed by Rotarian Barry Pollard and run in partnership with the Rotary Club of the Himalayan Gurkhas. It is on the foundation of working successfully together on that project that much of the success of the Yorkshire Rotary earthquake relief work has been grounded.
We have also reported about Brigantes’ Kids Aloud concert in the Royal Hall in May that raised approximately £9000 for disaster relief in Nepal, but this is only part of a county-wide effort by Rotary to help Nepal that has so far seen over £44,000 raised. This money has been given to two partner clubs in Nepal – the Himalayan Gurkhas and Pokhara Fishtail. Rotary takes no cut of any of this and does not charge any administrative fee, so all the money gets to where it is needed. By transferring funds directly to local clubs even the normal 10% Nepalese government tax on imported money is avoided.
By working with local Rotarians they also guard against corruption and misuse of funds and ensure that the money has the maximum impact. Their fellow Rotarians in Nepal develop partnerships with local communities to ensure that the funds are not just seen as handouts, but rather become the drivers of self-help schemes. For instance, in one area the earthquake had altered the underground water flow and dried up the spring, depriving the village of its water supply. A new water source had to be located and then pipes lain from it to the village and storage tanks constructed.
Rotary partners in Nepal came to an agreement with the villagers. Money raised in Yorkshire would be used to pay a professional water engineer to find a new source and design a new pipe system and to purchase the necessary materials, provided that one person from each household in the village agreed to give four days unpaid labour to lay the pipes and construct the tanks.
The new system has been working now for almost three months. The money saved by using village labour has been used to help others, elsewhere, to start rebuilding their lives, and the focus of all this effort has been on the more remote, rural areas where government support and assistance from other major charities has been slowest to arrive.
Local photographer, Charlotte Gale has committed a great deal of time to the cause. Charlotte recently spent time in the country on a photo-documentary tour and was also key to the success of a charity dinner that raised over £10,000.
Some of Charlotte’s photographs, along with a video are below. Thanks need to be given to Charlotte for allowing us to publish them here.