Nepal Australia Friendship Association Qld (NAFA)
This report was submitted at the AGM held on 9 April 2013
The Big Picture, NAFA’s focus and guarantee to donors
In 2012, NAFA allocated $117,752 to 31 ongoing programs and one-off projects in Nepal, spanning the range of NAFA priorities, with 15 allocated to education projects, 7 allocated to health/disability projects and 9 to other community based development-related projects, including child care and remote village electricity and bio-gas infrastructure.
NAFA continued to have success in 2012 attracting generous donors willing to either support important one-off projects such as school and bio-gas infrastructure in the Solu Khumbu/Okhaldunga districts or make regular donations towards NAFA’s twelve ongoing health and education programs. 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 fromKathmandu. We also support programs in the pottery town ofThimi near Kathmandu and two child care centres in the regional town ofPokhara.
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.
NAFA project highlights in 2012:
- 7 health & disability projects, including remote health, ear, primary and cataract surgery eye clinics
- 10 school projects in remote villages for replacement of classrooms, toilets and roofing
- Education sponsorship of approximately 85 children up to Grade 10
- Sponsorship of 40 students for college (Grades 11 and 12), Bachelor level or vocational study
- Financial support to 3 child care centres for poor families.
- Salary support for 3 teachers and 3 health workers in two remote villages
- Support for a bio-gas project in a remote village
- Completion of two micro-hydro projects providing electricity to three remote villages
A closer look at NAFA’s projects in Nepal
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 3,000 people living in Tawal and 4 other nearby villages. During NAFA executive officer’s latest visit to Tawal in November 2012, a small scale social and health survey of Tawal villagers was carried out by Ms Bimila Prajapati, a NAFA sponsored child sponsorship and Further Education and Training (FEAT) student who had completed her SLC at VSN Thimi. Bimila had completed her final exams in a health assistant course and volunteered to accompany NAFA members to Tawal to gain some direct experience of community life in a remote area village.
The survey of 40 households in Tawal focussed on: traditional stove use and wood collecting practices; and the impact on villagers of the availability of electricity from the NAFA supported micro-hydro electricity plant now established at Tawal. The results of the survey will be used to further evaluate the impact of a proposed NAFA project to introduce improved cooking stoves to households in approximately 12 villages within Ri VDC (in which Tawal is located) in 2013.
Since 2010, NAFA has been a proud supporter 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 (rental of office space) 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 2012, funds were used to purchase hearing related equipment donated to NAHOH. NAFA also supported primary hearing clinics in Tawal and Sertung in the Dhading district attended by over 1,000 villagers, in conjunction with an eye clinic conducted by Dr Detlev Gueck, a German eye doctor and Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu.
NAFA support for hearing screening and treatment complements nicely NAFA’s support of eye care through its long standing support of Tilganga’s eye screening and cataract surgery remote clinics. This year’s two day clinic was held in November 2012 at Dudhauli, Sindhuli with nearly 1,000 adults and children screened and 172 patients undergoing successful cataract surgery. Over the years, the NAFA/JOY Foundation Nepal sponsored clinics have restored the eyesight of 4,600 cataract patients living in remote villages who could not afford to travel to Kathmandu for their operation. As the invoice for this project was not received until February 2013, the project will be reflected in the 2013 financial statements.
NAFA also continues to subsidise health clinics conducted monthly or bi-monthly at a carpet factory in Thimi where poor families who have not been able to survive in their villages work and live. Approximately 25 children from this carpet factory are sponsored by NAFA to attend VSN school in Thimi. NAFA support for the health clinics 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. A new focus on follow-up treatment between clinics is planned for 2013.
During the year, NAFA also provided funds to the Disability Support Association (DSA) in Kathmandu to employ three young teachers from the music conservatory in Kathmandu to teach the (primarily) blind children at the home the tabla, harmonium and flute.
Finally, it was another busy year for distributing jumpers and beanies knitted by approximately 80 women in Brisbane. In 2012, 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, 1257 jumpers and beanies were distributed in 8 rural villages, 525 in Ladap, Tawal Besi, Kutal, Richet and Kharsha in the Dhading district, 732 in Solu Khumbu villages Shyama, Kophu and Dhupisurke. Another 538 jumpers and beanies were distributed to 4 disabled children’s shelters, an orphanage, a children’s hospital and a creche in the Kathmandu valley.
Highlights for 2012 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 approximately 85 children, with over $43,000 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 Thimi, 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. NAFA also provides post Grade 10 FEAT support to students from a number of villages who attend the school at Tawal. These students are from poor subsistence farming backgrounds.
NAFA’s 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 2012, $8,400 was allocated through the FEAT program to support approximately 40 students in post Grade 10 study or vocational training.
Through the program, NAFA is now supporting young people from VSN, PA Nepal or Tawal to study pharmacology, nursing, architecture technical studies, education, computer studies, electrical engineering, lab technician and chartered accountancy.
In addition to continuing to sponsor two teachers at the school in Tawal and a teacher at Gamauli, NAFA also provided funding in 2012 for a number of school-based infrastructure projects:, Dhupisurke and Shyama in the Solu Khumbu and Okhaldunga districts in the Everest region; Kutal and Kharsa in the Dhading district; as well as school-based projects in four other villages (Kadambas, Jalkeni, Gamauli and Manthali).
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, after funding its establishment in 2011, NAFA continued to support the operation of a child care crèche for carpet factory families in Thimi that was in response to an evaluation of the health clinic and child sponsorship programs in Thimi in 2010.
Other infrastructure and economic development projects
During the year, the village of Kophu in the Solu Khumbu was approved funding to build bio-gas plants in each house hold while a grinding mill was approved for the village of Patale in Okhaldunga. An irrigation project was also supported in the village of Lapsephedi.
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 has provided economic, health, education, environmental, recreation and social benefits for people in those three remote villages.
A brief look ahead to 2013
NAFA will continue to support projects that achieve positive and sustainable health, education and other development-oriented outcomes for disadvantaged individuals and communities 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 projects of merit in NAFA’s targeted geographical areas.
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, Nepaleducaid (Austria) and Namaste-enfants-dhimalaya (France) to improve the wellbeing of the Nepalese people, particularly those living in remote communities.
As in recent years, in 2013 NAFA will again review its portfolio of projects and current mix between ongoing and one-off projects and will continue to draw on it’s loyal support network for donations that support NAFA’s existing project portfolio, as well as any new projects of merit considered for approval. I am confident this support will enable NAFA to continue its good work inNepal for years to come.
There will also be a review of the child sponsorship and FEAT programs to ensure the sustainability of these two important NAFA programs over the coming years.
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 inNepal. 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 the important financial administration tasks of our small volunteer NGO, as well as tasks associated with the child sponsorship and FEAT programs, the largest programs that NAFA funds year in, year out in Nepal.
Ross and Brenda Hazelwood 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 activities 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 2012 new challenges arose from older students participating in NAFA’s FEAT program and I would like to particularly thank Ross and Brenda Hazelwood, Helen Zada and Deborah Setterlund for the time and expertise that they applied in working through those challenges to the benefit of FEAT supported students in Nepal.
NAFA also values the role that the Nepalese community in Brisbane plays both in relation to NAFA’s management committee and more broadly in so very strongly supporting NAFA’s fundraising efforts. On the management side, in addition to Ujjwal’s role as Treasurer, NAFA is very lucky to have Nirmala Pandeya and Mana Ranjit on its management committee, providing advice on specific projects as well as strong coordinating support on NAFA’s fundraising activities.
The broader Nepalese community in Brisbane was again actively involved in 2012, generously supporting 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 and making individual donations to NAFA on specific programs, such as the child sponsorship and FEAT programs, members of the community again responded to the soft selling but effective requests from the President of NAQ, Mr Rajan Koirala to raise funds towards a specific school based project in Nepal.
I would also like to thank Punam Howard and her staff at Tibetan Kitchen who have done such a great job in catering for NAFA’s annual fundraising dinner.
Other NAFA management committee members help with NAFA’s main fundraising events and with other important management and administrative tasks. I would like to again this year make particular mention this year of Peter Brockett and Stewart Jones for their expertise and good cheer in undertaking important tasks associated with NAFA’s two main fundraising events, the Nepalese New Years fundraising dinner in May and Nepal in the Park in September.
NAFA market stalls have also become a consistent fundraiser for NAFA, with nearly $15,000 raised in 2012. It is great credit to those involved in purchasing the items and organising the market stalls, including Brenda Hazelwood, Debbie Leigh, Megan Richardson, Wendy Eastwell, Betty Harris, Megan Croese and others. These dedicated supporters also undertake other important administrative and fundraising tasks that help make NAFA run smoothly over the year.
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. As has been the case over a number of years, Backtrack again provided great support to NAFA during the year, including printing and photocopying as well as selling tickets for the dinner.
In 2012, creative fundraising ideas outside dinner and Nepal in the Park included a dinner organised by Helen Zada and Eb Moll to fundraise for a small school in Kharsa and Parmalat’s Collect-a-Cap fundraiser organised by Betty Harris.
In addition, NAFA published its first calendar for 2013 and I would like to thank Peter Brockett, Stewart Jones and Fiona Clark in particular for the major roles they played in that successful fundraising venture. The calendar has attracted very good feedback which is a great credit to Fiona in particular who provided the design advice and coordinated its publication.
I would also like to thank June Wilkins (and Kylie Gilbert) for their help with publishing NAFA’s 4 newsletters published to date.
In 2012, Lew and Sue Tuck, long time NAFA supporters, continued their consolidation and expansion of their HearingNepal Program through their own efforts and by strengthening further their partnership with the Nepal Association of Hard of Hearing (NAHOH) and Kopan Monastery. They are an inspiration to us all.
I would also like to again 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 inNepal relies on the commitment and wisdom of these Coordinators.
NAFA would also like to thank the staff (Pradip 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, finance and other general administration.
In completing my sixth year as President of NAFA I would like to thank all of you for supporting NAFA in 2012. During my time as President it has been an honour to try and provide leadership but also to listen to at times divergent views and support the development of a collective view that is always richer than that of any of us individually. We have a wonderful group that shows up month to month and together I know we are well and truly achieving our aim of making a real difference to people’s lives in Nepal.