Nepal Australia Friendship Association Qld (NAFA)
This report was submitted at the AGM held on 3 April 2012
The Big Picture, NAFA’s focus and guarantee to donors
In 2011, NAFA allocated $127,900 to 31 ongoing programs and one-off projects in Nepal, spanning the range of NAFA priorities, with 12 allocated to education projects, 11 allocated to health/disability projects and 8 to other community based development-related projects, including child care and remote village electricity infrastructure.
NAFA continued to have success in 2011 attracting generous donors willing to either support important one-off projects such as the micro-hydro project in Lumsa or make regular donations towards NAFA’s twelve ongoing programs in health and education. These donations, at times topped up from NAFA’s general funds, continue to make a real difference in particular to the lives of people living in remote villages.
Women, children and remote communities remain NAFA’s priority target groups. Our efforts are focussed on the remote districts of Dhading, Solu Khumbu and Okhaldunga, as well as villages that can be accessed within one day’s bus travel from Kathmandu. We also support programs in the pottery town of Thimi near Kathmandu and two child care centres in the regional town of Pokhara.
All NAFA projects are locally managed and NAFA expects the local community to make a contribution towards each new infrastructure-related project, for example by undertaking volunteer labour to bring materials to the site and to help in construction.
NAFA executive officers also visit all projects (at their own expense) at least once a year to ensure funds allocated are used in accordance with the approved purpose and the project has been successfully completed. NAFA also guarantees that 100% of donations to NAFA go directly to Nepal, without any administration expense taken off.
A closer look at NAFA’s projects in Nepal
As has been the case since NAFA’s inception, NAFA sponsored a remote eye screening and cataract surgery clinic run by the Tilganga Eye Centre. This year’s two day clinic was held in the remote village of Sindhuli, with a total of 1,235 adults and children screened and 136 patients undergoing successful cataract surgery. Over the years, these clinics have restored the eyesight of thousands of cataract patients living in remote villages who could not afford to travel to Kathmandu for their operation.
Since co-funding (with AusAid) the construction of the health clinic over ten years ago, NAFA continues to subsidise the salaries of three health workers at the Tawal health centre, which provides primary health care to over 4,000 people living in Tawal and 4 other nearby villages. In 2011, NAFA supported blood-testing training for the health clinic Coordinator, Beg, who with Ausaid Kathmandu support with blood-testing equipment, can now test for typhoid, TB, sugar levels, hemoglobins etc. Patients from the area now do not have to travel a day’s trip away to Dhading to have their blood tested.
NAFA also funded the first ever eye screening for 12 schools and villages around Tawal in the Dhading District. The 5.5 day eye camp was conducted by Dr Detlev Gueck, a German eye doctor who has been working with monks from Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu, conducting eye camps in India and Nepal for many years. Nearly 1,100 people registered for the camp (then going next door to hearing camp conducted at the same time), with Dr Gueck assessing a person’s vision, treating infection and prescribing/fitting 250-300 sets of glasses which he brought over with him from Germany.
After first supporting the program in 2010, NAFA continued to be proud supporters of the HearingNepal Program, developed and conducted through the dedicated volunteer work and financial generosity of Lew and Sue Tuck from Whitsunday Hearing. Consistent with Lew and Sue’s philosophy of Nepalese helping Nepalese, NAFA’s support for the HearingNepal Program includes support to a small primary ear care service based in Kirtipur, Kathmandu, the Nepalese Association of Hard of Hearing (NAHOH).
Lew and Sue work in partnership with Keshab Dangol from NAHOH and monks from the Kopan Monastery to provide ear screening and treatment to people in Nepal. In 2011, funds were used to purchase dry aid kits, ear moulds, hearing aids, batteries and equipment donated to NAHOH. NAFA also supported a 5.5 day hearing clinic in Tawal (in conjunction with an eye clinic conducted simultaneously), to which 12 schools in the area were invited to attend. In 2011 NAFA also supported NAHOH directly by helping the service move to better premises in Kirtipur with some funds for fit-out and rental support. NAFA support for hearing screening and treatment complements nicely NAFA’s longstanding support of eye care through its support of Tilganga’s eye screening and cataract surgery remote clinics.
NAFA also continues to subsidise health clinics funded to be held monthly at a carpet factory in Thimi. This subsidisation includes free medicine for families who otherwise would not be able to afford the medication. A second doctor provided by the local Rotary branch in Thimi has strengthened the effectiveness of the clinics for poor families who work in the carpet factory. 38 children from this carpet factory are sponsored by NAFA to attend VSN school in Thimi.
In support of people with disabilities NAFA provided funds to purchase a music system, music CDs, a T.V., books and an inverter for electricity to help a disability home in Jorpati, Kathmandu better cope with electricity load-shedding that is part of everyday life in Nepal. NAFA also funded the purchase of 37 blankets for people with a mental illness who are housed as inmates of Dhulikel jail.
Finally, it was another busy year for distributing jumpers and beanies knitted by approximately 80 women in Brisbane. In 2011, thanks to these wonderful 80 or so women knitters, the generosity of Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways who provide 10 Kg excess baggage allowance for NAFA supporters who bring the bags of jumpers over to Nepal, approximately 1376 jumpers and beanies were distributed in 3 rural villages, Patale in Solu Khumbu Sinke in Kavre, Shyama in Ramechap. Another 686 jumpers were distributed to the 3 Butterfly crèches, Thimi crèches and health clinic, old age and disabled children’s shelters in the Kathmandu valley.
Highlights for 2011 in NAFA’s support for education projects in Nepal include an increase in funding allocated under NAFA’s Further Education and Training (FEAT) program and the replacement/upgrade of classrooms in remote villages.
NAFA has two child sponsorship programs at Prisoners Assistance (PA) Nepal in Sankhu and Vinayak Shiksha Niketan (VSN) School in Thimi, with the number of children sponsored for education by NAFA up to Grade 10 now totalling 90 children, with $39,300 sent over to support their education. Over the years we have seen what a big difference this program has made to the children and their families.
NAFA’s focus now is beyond the student’s success in passing the national exams held at the end of Class 10 to obtain their School Leaving Certificate (SLC). They face enormous disadvantages from their backgrounds to continue past this minimum academic qualification. In the case of VSN sponsored children are from poor families in this pottery/farming town, with many of the sponsored children’s families working and living in a local carpet factory. Most of the children in PA Nepal have parents who are in prison or have either been abandoned by their parents or are orphans. Children at Tawal come from poor subsistence farming backgrounds.
NAFA’s Further Education and Training (FEAT) program aims to partner with child sponsors and families to provide opportunities for young people involved in NAFA and Joy Foundation Nepal supported projects to undertake vocational training or post Grade 10 (college years 11 and 12) and Grade 12 (Bachelor) study to improve their employment chances. In 2011, $11,400 was allocated through the FEAT program to support 29 students in post Grade 10 study or vocational training.
Through the program, NAFA is now supporting young people in PA Nepal study Pharmacology, Hotel Management and Management and graduates from VSN school study Nursing (5 students), Environmental Science and Chartered Accountancy. NAFA has also supported a second young man from Tawal undertake training in electrical wiring that has provided skills critical to the success of the micro-hydro project there.
In addition to continuing to sponsor two teachers at the school in Tawal and a teacher at Gamauli, NAFA also provided funding in 2011 for a number of school-based projects to replace or build classrooms, toilets and roofing in the Solu Khumbu (Narjing and Bhir Kharka) district in the Everest region, Jatdeni in Sindhulpalchok district, Mahakali in Kavre district and other villages (Gamauli and Manthali). Child care NAFA continued its financial support to two child care centres operated by the Butterfly Foundation in Pokhara. These centres support low-caste families who have moved to Pokhara from villages in search of casual day labour work. In addition, NAFA funded the establishment of a child care crèche for carpet factory families in Thimi in response to an evaluation of the health clinic and child sponsorship programs in Thimi the previous year.
Electricity for the three remote villages of Tawal, Tawal Besi and Lumsa NAFA was very pleased to see two micro-hydro systems that it supported in 2011 completed and opened. The two systems (20 KW for Tawal/Tawal Besi and 12 KW for Lumsa in the Solu Khumbu are now providing electricity to approximately 350 households (1,750 villagers), 3 schools and a health clinic. Access to electricity will also have economic, health, education, environmental, recreation and social benefits for people in those three remote villages.
NAFA executive officers visited the two micro-hydro sites and were very impressed with the volunteer labour and cash contributions made by local villagers that brought both projects to completion in line with projected timelines and very close to their projected budgets.
A look to 2012
NAFA will continue to support projects that achieve positive and sustainable health, education and other development-oriented outcomes for disadvantaged communities and individuals in Nepal. These projects will include continued support of NAFA’s twelve ongoing health, education and child care programs, as well as support for one-off project projects of merit.
NAFA will also continue to seek to work in partnership with other like-minded donors such as Joy Foundation Nepal, Smile Back to Me Spain and Nepaleducaid (Austria) to improve the wellbeing of the Nepalese people, particularly those living in remote communities.
In 2012, NAFA will again review its portfolio of projects and its current mix between ongoing and one-off projects and will continue to draw it’s loyal support network for donations that support NAFA’s existing project portfolio, as well as any new projects considered for approval. I am confident this support will enable NAFA to continue its good work in Nepal for years to come.
Thank you for supporting NAFA
Although NAFA is a small association, its projects are making a real difference in improving the lives of particularly disadvantaged children, families and communities in Nepal. However, these improvements wouldn’t be realised without the commitment and plain hard work of volunteers here in Australia and in Nepal.
There is the NAFA management committee and other members who come to meetings every month, make decisions and who very competently undertake administrative and organising tasks in a volunteer capacity throughout the year. Ujjwal Gautam, NAFA’s Treasurer and Helen Zada, NAFA’s Child Sponsorship and FEAT Coordinator are two examples of volunteers that NAFA relies on in managing our small volunteer NGO and overseas development-related programs. I would also like to acknowledge in particular the work that Kim Herringe (Red-Creative) did in the year to develop a new website platform for NAFA and to Brenda Hazelwood who has put in hours of work populating it with new articles. I would also like to thank Jim Drapes at Backtrack who as NAFA’s Website Coordinator in recent years patiently and competently worked alongside Kim in the previous version of the website that is so important to an Association trying to tell outsiders who we are and what we do.
Other NAFA management committee members help with NAFA’s main fundraising events. I would like to make particular mention this year of Peter Brockett and Stewart Jones who stepped up and applied their organising and creative skills in tasks associated with NAFA’s two main fundraising events, the Nepalese New Years fundraising dinner in May and Nepal in the Park in September.
The Committee is blessed to be supported by a large number of volunteers who help with these events. These include the distinguished “Red Shirts” who are visible at the Nepalese New Years Dinner and Nepal in the Park. Pat Le Gros is an example of someone who over many years has organised and donated prizes to the raffle at NAFA’s annual fundraising dinner.
I would like to express particular appreciation to the Nepalese community in Brisbane who generously support both NAFA and the Nepalese Association of Queensland (NAQ). We could not do either of our two major fundraising events without their support. Apart from the critical role that the Nepalese community in Brisbane plays in supporting NAFA’s main fundraising events, In the past two years they have also raised approximately $4,500 in each year towards specific education projects in Nepal. I would like to thank Rajan Koirala for coordinating this additional and inspiring effort.
NAFA also values the role that the Nepalese community in Brisbane plays in providing advice on projects NAFA supports in Nepal. This is done through membership on NAFA’s management committee (Nirmala Pandeya, Dipak Paudyal, Kalpana Kaphle and Mana Ranjit in 2011) and through providing advice on specific projects. The expert advice that Kamalayan Shrestha provided in relation to two NAFA supported micro-hydro projects played a major role in providing the confidence needed by the Committee to approve those two important initiatives for the villages of Tawal, Tawal Besi and Lumsa.
In 2011, creative fundraising ideas included Sunsuper’s Dream competition. Kylie Gilbert coordinated the email drive that resulted in NAFA receiving the most votes for its dream and winning a $5,000 donation to build two classrooms in the remote village of Mahakali.. Helen Zada coordinated a second Challenge Yourself fundraiser, which raised $3,600 to help two other disadvantaged students who had graduated from VSN Thimi fulfil their life-long dream to study nursing.
NAFA market stalls have also become a consistent fundraiser for NAFA. In the past five years $40,000 has been raised through NAFA market stalls ($9,400 in 2011) and it is great credit to those involved in purchasing the items and organising the market stalls, including Brenda Hazelwood, Debbie Leigh, Megan Richardson and others.
Executive members, including in particular Ross and Brenda Hazelwood also spend five months each year in Nepal, at their own expense, identifying and assessing new applications, visiting and assisting with all of NAFA’s projects and inspecting completed projects. Ross also updates the child profiles of children sponsored at PA Nepal and Brenda continued with her weekly (where possible) craft sessions with the children there.
In addition, Brenda coordinates not only the distribution of jumpers and beanies in Nepal, but also the purchase of goods for sale at NAFA market stalls back in Australia. Brenda also sources beads and material from retail shops in Kathmandu to create jewellery, felt items and other saleable items for the markets. In 2011 Ross and Brenda received the Friend of Nepal award from the Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA), which I know Ross and Brenda were very proud and honoured to receive. I would like to again congratulate them on receiving this prestigious national award.
In 2011, other NAFA executive members and supporters also spent significant time in Nepal. Lew and Sue Tuck consolidated and expanded their HearingNepal Program, spending a lot of their own time and funds in 2011 ensuring the sustainability of the program through their own efforts and by strengthening further their partnership with the Nepal Association of Hard of Hearing (NAHOH) and Kopan Monastery.
Helen Zada spend significant time in Thimi working on the the child sponsorship and FEAT programs as well as doing volunteer teaching at the school. She and Eb Moll then joined us on our visit to Tawal to undertake a range of activities that included English practice teaching and volunteering in the eye camp. John and Megan Croese made the effort to join Ross and Brenda on their annual trip to the Solu Khumbu to visit NAFA supported projects and assess new proposals. Other NAFA supporters visited and volunteered their time and expertise in NAFA projects. A special mention to Nepalese NAFA committee members and supporters who visited and volunteered their time and expertise in NAFA projects, including Kiran Shrestha, Nirmala and Khilraj Pandeya and their daughters Neha and Sneha Thanks all.
I would also like to thank all the individual and corporate donors who support NAFA. It isn’t easy trying to decide which of the many worthy aid and other charitable organisations to support and we very much appreciate those who in many cases continue to loyally support NAFA year after year. We also appreciate those individuals and businesses who have donated prizes which help make our fundraising events successful.
In Nepal, our Project Coordinators volunteer their time to help their communities: Phurba Sherpa for the Solu Khumbu/Okhaldunga districts; Chandra Tamang and Kanchha Tamang for the Tawal area; Surendra Prajjapati for Thimi; Indira Rana Magar for PA Nepal children’s home and Govinda Pahari for Butterfly Foundation’s child care centres. NAFA’s success in Nepal relies on the commitment and wisdom of these Coordinators.
NAFA would also like to thank the staff (Ramita, Pradip, Tenzin and Karmala) and board members of Joy Foundation Nepal under the leadership of Mr Raju Shrestha for supporting NAFA’s work in Nepal. Joy jointly funds a number of projects, provides office and storage space for NAFA executive members and NAFA projects. Joy staff also support NAFA in assessing and monitoring projects, including help with translation, culture and program-related advice, community work, student placement supervision, finance and other general administration.
In completing my fifth year as President of NAFA I would like to thank all of you for supporting NAFA in 2011. Deborah and I look forward to continuing to make a small contribution to helping NAFA achieve its mission of making a real difference to people’s lives in Nepal.
Rod Setterlund President April 2012