NAFA QLD President’s Report 2009-2010
Submitted at the AGM held on the 4th May 2010 by NAFA president Rod Setterlund
2009 was another very big year for NAFA, celebrating 20 years of development aid achievements since being established in 1989. It was big both in terms of the total amount of funds allocated to projects in Nepal and in terms of the breadth of NAFA’s project portfolio.
NAFA’s projects in Nepal
Nearly $100,000 was allocated to projects in Nepal. However, unlike the previous year, when over $44,000 was allocated to two significant infrastructure projects, the breadth of the projects to which funds were allocated was a significant feature of NAFA’s support this past year. A total of 27 projects are listed in the 2009 audited financial statements as being supported through the generosity of NAFA supporters.
NAFA’s portfolio of ongoing projects continues to focus on health, education and rural development, with women, children and remote communities being the priority target groups. All NAFA projects are locally managed and undertaken. NAFA also expects that the localcommunity makes a contribution towards the project, for example, volunteer labour to bring materials to the site. NAFA executive officers also try and visit all projects to assess the need and also revisit the project to confirm completion of the project.
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 clinic was in the Kavre district, with 1,053 local residents screened and 163 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 approximately 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 this village and other villages nearby in this hilly region area near the Ganesh Himal.
In 2009, NAFA also subsidised monthly health clinics conducted at a carpet factory in Thimi. This subsidisation includes free or subsidised medicine for families who cannot afford the medication.
It was a particular busy year for distributing jumpers and beanies that are knitted by approximately 80 knitters in Brisbane. In 2009, thanks to these knitters, Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines and NAFA supporters who bring the bags of jumpers over to Nepal as excess baggage, over 900 jumpers and 900 beanies were distributed. Students, orphans and young children in schools and child care centres at Kophu, Patale, Lapsephedi, Pokhara and the very remote and cold district of Dolpa now have jumpers to help keep them warm in the Nepal winter.
Finally, NAFA provided funds towards the establishment of the Thimi Elderly Care Centre to provide social, recreation and health support to older people in Thimi who do not have extended family in the town.
I can’t imagine how we are ever going to be able to match the breadth of education-related projects that NAFA supported this past year.
NAFA has two child sponsorship programs at Prisoners Assistance (PA) Nepal in Kathmandu/Sankhu and Vinayak Shiksha Niketan (VSN) School in Thimi, with the number of children sponsored for education by NAFA donors now totalling 112 children, representing almost $35,000 or 35% of NAFA’s total allocations to projects in 2009. 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 successful completion of their school leaving
Class 10. They face enormous disadvantages from their backgrounds. in the case of VSN the families are poor with most working and living in a local carpet factory. Children in PA Nepal either do not have a family outside the children’s home or their parent(s) are in prison. Children at Tawal come from poor subsistence farming backgrounds and have had to attend Grades 9 and 10 that involves over 2 hours of walking a day getting to and from a school. In Tawal, there are no computers and few opportunities to practice one of the core subjects, English.
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 supported projects to undertake vocational training or post Grade 10 study to improve their employment chances. Through the program, NAFA is now supporting young people in PA Nepal study Pharmacology and in VSN school Nursing and Business. NAFA has also supported a young man from Tawal complete anelectrical wiring course who has gone back to Tawal to set up a shop and apply his trade in the community.
In 2009, a second home on PA Nepal’s Sankhu site was completed from NAFA and private funds to house the older boys. A significant part of the $26,000 funds from NAFA was raised in the successful “Build a Home in One Night” concert held in October 2008 at Churchie and the generosity of the musicians, artists, and NAFA supporters helped make this part of PA Nepal’s Executive Director, Indira Magar vision a reality.
NAFA also supported the VSN school at Thimi in ways other than through the child sponsorship program. In 2009 funds were provided to purchase science equipment for the school and tents for the scout troupe based at the school.
NAFA also provided the funding to construct two classrooms in the lower secondary school at Kophu, a village in the Solu Khumbu district in the Everest region of Nepal. This funding was raised by Kylie Gilbert in her Climb for Nepal Children (Mt Cooroora) challenge in September 2009 and she later visited the school in February 2010 with other NAFA executive members to officially open the two classrooms.
NAFA partnered with another international aid organisation based in Austria on two rural school projects that replaced two lower secondary schools (four classroom) at Ladap and Kutal, neighbouring villages of Tawal. NAFA also provided the funds for roofing materials in the construction of classrooms at Patale in the Okhaldunga district in the Everest region.
NAFA continues to sponsor two teachers at the school in Tawal. It also supported the start-up ofadult literacy classes in four villages in the Tawal area, paying for the installation of solar panels for the evening classes and the salaries of the adult literacy teachers. These classes were very well attended and the program has since received financial support from the Nepalese Government.
NAFA also funded and organised, in conjunction with VSN Thimi school, a very successful teacher training program for 20 primary school teachers, 10 teachers from remote villages in Ganesh Himal ,Solu Khumbu, Okhaldunga and Lapsaphedi as well as 10 VSN teachers. This training was initially commissioned for remote teachers who traditionally have little or no teacher training. We decided that it would be good for the remote teachers to mix and train with city teachers for the exchange of ideas and skills. The training covered experiential learning, teaching through rhymes and songs, the psychology of learning and class management as well as stimulating classroom decoration. Written evaluation feedback from the teachers received at the end of the course was all positive.
A follow up on all the rural teachers was achieved when NAFA executive members trekked through the remote areas in January and February 2010. The members were pleased to note that most teachers had already implemented the course ideas and additional resources brought for the teachers would help the others apply the additional knowledge and skills they had learned at the program.
NAFA also started to become involve in improving the libraries of disadvantaged schools in Nepal. In 2009, NAFA supported a project that built shelving and purchased books for a school library at Lapsephedi, a rural village near Sankhu.
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. NAFA also provided funds to purchase equipment for the Balkumari child care centre at Thimi.
Water and electricity infrastructure
NAFA supported a number of remote water infrastructure projects in 2009. This included repairing 10 year old water infrastructure constructed with NAFA funds in Tawal as well as repairing and extending water infrastructure for the village of Dushene near Tawal. NAFA also provided the funds for a water infrastructure project at Patale in the Okhaldunga District of eastern Nepal. In all these cases, it saves families many hours a day from having to cart water from their nearest water source.
NAFA also provided the funds to install solar panels to 13 houses in Patale, as well as repair the generator used to provide lighting in the village of Mulkarka. Finally, NAFA provided funds for engineers to undertake a feasibility study for a hydro-electric project at Tawal that would provide electricity to the school, health clinic and to villagers. Electricity is an economic, education, health, recreation and general communication issue for people in remote villages. It saves money that would need to be spent on kerosene. It is a safety issue that enables families to cook with light. It provides light for evening study. It also connects families with the outside world, from listening to the evening news on the radio to the charging of mobiles so that family members in the remote villages can connect with family members in Kathmandu.
A look to 2010
Our theme for 2010 is: – Achieving positive outcomes for disadvantaged communities and individuals in Nepal and the focus for fundraising will be – “Sustainable health, education and development projects in Nepal”.
These projects will include a new Nepal Hearing Project established through the efforts of Sue and Lew Tuck, two committed NAFA supporters who operate Whitsunday Hearing in Airlie Beach. Projects will also include other health, education and water infrastructure projects already planned or being assessed by NAFA for 2010 in the Tawal, Solu Khumbu and Okhaldunga areas.
The reference to “sustainable” in the focus statement communicates NAFA’s underlying belief thatpeople in the key services of health and education are as important as buildings and other infrastructure. It also promotes the need for ongoing financial support of some of NAFA’s core projects that involve ongoing expenses such as salaries (teachers, health workers and child care assistant), rent (child care centre) or commitments for an annual sponsorship (remote cataract eye surgery clinic).
NAFA had some successes in 2009 in attracting a number of new donors who have make generous commitments to make regular donations towards NAFA’s health projects in particular. While this does not cover all NAFA commitments, they are a significant contribution towards those core projects that are so important to the lives of remote villagers in Nepal. In 2010 we will continue to seek regular donors towards the salaries of two teachers that NAFA has supported in Tawal, to add to regular, generous donations from existing NAFA supporters.
In addition to an increase in regular donors, 2009 also provided, through Kylie Gilbert’s efforts, what a committed NAFA supporter can achieve in conjunction with the broader support network that NAFA provides. Kylie will be involved in another challenge with Ray Baker, on Mt Glorious in June. In addition, our Child Sponsorship Coordinator, Helen Zada, is planning a fundraiser in July and August 2010 where she will be inviting individuals and groups of people to participate in their own personal challenge, raising funds for NAFA’s projects in Nepal at the same time. These innovative fundraising ideas and others, along with all those NAFA supporters who make regular donations or one-off donations will help provide the funding base for NAFA to continue to send over significant resources for health, education and development projects in Nepal in 2010 and beyond.
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 dedication, commitment and plain hard work of volunteers here in Australia and some very competent and committed staff and volunteer boards that comprise our Nepali partners in Nepal.
There is the NAFA executive and other Committee members who come to meetings every month, make decisions and undertake management, administrative and organising tasks associated with our fundraising efforts and for example, NAFA’s child sponsorship program that continues to make such a difference to the lives of children and their families in Nepal.
Executive members, in particular Ross and Brenda Hazelwood, also spend significant time 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 to ensure each $ donated in Australia is used wisely and as intended in Nepal.
This Committee is supported by a large number of volunteers who help with events and other fundraising efforts. These include the distinguished “Red Shirts” that are visible at the Nepalese New Years Dinner and Hike for Help Nepal.
But it also includes many others, including: those wonderful women who knit jumpers and beanies and NAFA supporters who willingly agree to take their knitted jumpers and beanies to Nepal for distribution; those Committee members and volunteers who help raise funds through the market stalls, the sale of chocolates and other fundraising ideas such as raffles, dinners and information talks to community groups.
Supporters do this volunteer work without recompense and in fact incur costs personally because they believe in NAFA’s mission. This allows NAFA to realise its promise to those making tax deductible donations that every $ donated will be spent directly on projects in Nepal.
NAFA has a 21 year history and there are many who have contributed over the years to its success. However, this year, there is one Nepali supporter whom I would like to specifically acknowledge as he has indicated an intention to step back in the next few years from his volunteer commitments and that wonderful person is Hari Khadka.
Hari, with support from his wife Rajani, has been supporting NAFA for over 12 years, including many years in the role as Vice President and the main contact person between NAFA and the local Nepalese community. Over the years, Hari has demonstrated an enormous commitment to supporting newly arrived Nepalese and giving back to his home country through NAFA and I would like to formally thank him for all those efforts.
In Nepal, our Project Coordinators volunteer their time to help their communities. I would also like to thank the staff (Ramita and Pradip) and board members of Joy Foundation Nepal in Kathmandufor helping to assess, monitor and provide cultural advice on NAFA projects in Nepal, again without any recompense. Joy provides NAFA executive members and volunteers with office space. It also is a joint-funder of the annual remote cataract surgery eye clinics and the FEAT program.
In completing my third year as President of NAFA I would like to thank all of you for supporting NAFA in 2009. 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.