Distressing news for Nepali community in Brisbane as supporters rally behind earthquake victims

 Members of a local Nepalese Brisbane charity have received distressing news from the communities they have been working in for the past 15 years, after a massive earthquake struck Nepal on 25 April.


For the past 15 years the Nepal Australian Friendship Association (NAFA), a Brisbane-based non-profit, totally volunteer-run organisation, has been supporting rural villages in Tawal.


Tawal is located just east of Gorkha, near the epicentre of the earthquake, and the people in the area are poor and are from the Tamang ethnic group whose livelihood is subsistence farming. It takes a three-hour walk straight up to reach the village from the end of the road-head.


NAFA President Rod Setterlund OAM received news on Friday 1 May from the NAFA co-ordinator based in Nepal that Tawal was decimated in the earthquake.


“All the houses in Tawal and nearby villages have collapsed. Many people have died, particularly the elderly and young children who were at home when the earthquake struck. One of NAFA’s sponsored students studying in Kathmandu, Mika Gole, lost her baby sister, Rachel, and both grandparents,’’ Mr Setterlund said.


“Survivors are now living in the open fields, away from their collapsed houses and their immediate concern is food as their food supplies of maize, millet, rice from the harvest seasons were all destroyed. This means they will have no food until at least October or November.


“They also urgently require temporary shelter since they are now all homeless and the monsoon season commences in four weeks time. Urgently needed items include 1000 bundles of roofing tin for shelter, rice and other food, seeds for replanting, medical supplies, warm clothing, and water purification tablets etc to prevent outbreak of diseases.


NAFA has spent the past 15 years building sustainable infrastructure in the area. This included building a nursery to grade 10 school, a local health clinic, water infrastructure and a micro-hydro power system to provide electricity.


“We received the news that we feared, all this infrastructure has been destroyed by the earthquake. These systems, with replacement costs, will be approximately $350,000 for Tawal alone,” he said.


NAFA has also funded four classrooms in nearby villages and says they will cost around $30,000 to re-build.


“Members of NAFA spend time in these communities every year. They are our people and we know right now they will be overwhelmed and paralysed with fear but they are also resilient,” Mr Setterlund said.


“We want to re-assure them that we will be there for them and that we will help re-build their communities. Once they get this news that we here in Brisbane and our supporters from around Australia are going to support them, I’m sure they will feel some sense of relief and hope despite all they’ve suffered.”


To donate to NAFA’s work, please make a tax-deductible donation at http://nafa.org.au/donations. Every dollar donated to NAFA will go to reconstruction and NAFA executive officers will visit Nepal at their own expense to ensure the funds are used as intended.


For interviews or to arrange a photo please contact Rod Setterlund setterlund@hotmail.com