NAFA QLD President’s Report 2008
This report was submitted by the President, Mr Rod Setterlund at the AGM on Tuesday 03 April 2009
2008 was another very big year for NAFA.
NAFA’s projects in Nepal
Over $107,000 was allocated to projects in Nepal. Over $44,000 was allocated to two significant infrastructure projects, a new children’s home for the older boys who are cared for by Prisoners Assistance (PA) Nepal on their land at Sankhu, and construction of a multipurpose room (library, science lab and eventual computer lab) for the school in the remote village of Tawal.
NAFA’s portfolio of ongoing projects continues to focus on health and education, with women and children being the priority target groups.
The child sponsorship programs for PA Nepal and Vinayak Shiksha Niketan (VSN) School in Thimi continued to grow in 2008 of children sponsored by the end of year totalling just over one hundred (100) children. The year was a particularly rewarding year for VSN School. One of its students, Silvia Bajracharya, attained the highest School Leaving Certificate (SLC) percentage (93.3%) in all of Nepal, which is a great honour for her and the school. The Principal, Mr Surendra Prajapati subsequently received a national education award in recognition of his vision, dedication and hard work since he established the school nearly twenty years ago. One of NAFA’s sponsored students attained the fourth highest percentage (over 88%), which is again a remarkable achievement for a child whose parents work and live in the nearby carpet factory.
In 2008, NAFA also helped PA Nepal achieve their dream of building a new children’s home at Sankhu, a town located an hour outside Kathmandu. This home, which was officially opened by the Australian Ambassador to Nepal in May 2008, now provides accommodation to approximately fifty children whose parents are in prison or who have died. My wife, Deborah and I, along with NAFA executive officers Ross and Brenda Hazelwood and other NAFA supporters who visited the home in 2008 have all been very impressed with the quality of the home. PA Nepal children are also rightly very proud of their home, contributing to the realisation of their dream by carrying bricks and sand after school and during school holidays prior to construction and then helping feed the builders and their labourers in their rostered cooking days during construction.
There are over twenty older boys being cared for at PA Nepal. The Chairprerson, Indira Magar Rana, had identified the need for a second home on the site to house these older boys. All the proceeds from very successful “Build a Home in One Night” concert held in October at Churchie and the remainder of the proceeds held over from the 2007 Christmas appeal have been transferred to PA Nepal to commence construction on the older boy’s home in early 2009.
Another highlight in the year was the development and initial implementation of a new NAFA program. This joint program with NAFA’s Nepali partner, Joy Foundation Nepal, provides Further Education and Training (FEAT) opportunities for young people involved in NAFA and Joy supported projects in Nepal. The overall aim is to improve their employment chances through a range of strategies. Those strategies piloted in 2008 included: leadership training; work place and vocational training centre visits; and work experience.
Our two health-related projects continue to support people in remote areas. As has been the case since NAFA’s inception, NAFA sponsored a remote eye screening and cataract surgery clinic in November run by the Tilganga Eye Centre. 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 eight 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.
NAFA also continued it’s 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.
It was a particular busy year for distributing jumpers and beanies that are knitted by approximately eighty (80) “Nifty knitters” in Brisbane. NAFA distributed nearly 600 jumpers and beanies to orphans at Snowlands School Kathmandu, disabled children at four centres in Kathmandu and Thimi, children at the two Butterfly Foundation child care centres at Pokhara, carpet factory children at Thimi and to children in remote villages in the lower Solu Khumbu region.
NAFA supports both one-off and ongoing projects with financial assistance. In assessing potential one-off projects, NAFA aims to collaborate with other like-minded international non-government organisations (NGOs) and funding agencies. In addition to the new children’s home for PA Nepal, NAFA also co-funded the replacement of a dark, overcrowded, dilapidated seven classroom school in Tawal with Ausaid, Anglican Church Grammar Preparatory School (Churchie) in Brisbane and Nepaleducaid, an Austrian NGO. In February 2008, I was honoured to officially open the new school that looks great and is the result of a wonderful partnership between funding donors, the local NGO which coordinated the project (Hilly Region Development Cub) and the local community that donated many volunteer hours to clear the site for the foundation, carry sand two hours up from the river and carry roofing iron eight hours from the nearest road access.
A look to 2009
2009 will be the year to recognise and celebrate 20 years of development aid achievements since NAFA was established in 1989. The theme for the year will be “Celebrating 20 years of making a difference to people’s lives in Nepal”. The focus in fundraising will be “Sustainable Rural Education and Development”
NAFA will aim to make people better aware of it’s portfolio of development projects in Nepal. For the 20th anniversary year, there will also be a return to prioritising rural based projects for the 20th anniversary year, which were an original priority for NAFA in the early 1990s.
These projects will include a number of education and development projects already planned or being assessed by NAFA for 2009 in the Tawal and Solu Khumbu areas. Examples include: construction and extension of new schools; repair and installation of water infrastructure; income generation; and hydro-electricity.
The reference to “sustainability” in the focus statement communicates NAFA’s underlying belief that people 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 and for the ongoing challenge of a volunteer-managed non-profit association in Brisbane.
As always new projects will come along and we welcome the contribution of all those wonderful people, past and present who have helped NAFA achieve its mission of supporting small health, education and community development projects in Nepal.
Thank you for supporting NAFA
Although NAFA is a small association, it’s 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 and administrative tasks associated with its fundraising efforts here in Brisbane as well as volunteer support, assessment and monitoring of NAFA-funded projects 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 in April and the Hike for Help in July. But it also includes many others, including: the local Nepalese community who together comprise Nepal Association of Queensland and who give their time, expertise and even the venue for our Committee meetings that support NAFA’s activities; the Nifty knitters and those who willingly agree to take their knitted jumpers and beanies to Nepal for distribution; and those volunteers who help raise funds through the market stalls, sale of goods, soliciting of donations, raffles and dinners.
Supporters do this volunteer work without recompense and in fact incur costs personally because they believe in the work that NAFA is doing in Nepal. This allows NAFA to realise its promise to those making tax deductible donations that every $ donated will be spent directly on projects in Nepal.
I would also like to thank the staff and Board of Joy Foundation Nepal in Kathmandu for helping to assess and monitor 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 new FEAT program, in doing so opening up its businesses to students on work visits and seeking work experience opportunities.
Thank all of you for supporting NAFA in 2008 and I look forward to continuing to a successful 20th year of NAFA making a difference to people’s lives in Nepal.
Nepal Australia Friendship Association