A SEISMIC EFFORT
Remember the Nepal earthquake? It was only 5 months ago. The people of Britain have been incredibly generous in their response to the need for disaster relief and reconstruction in this very poor country. But now the focus has switched to those desperately sad images of a dead child on a beach in Turkey and the awful and massive migrant problem that is facing Europe. And so it should, and yet … Nepal has not yet recovered – this will take many years and further major earthquakes are predicted.
More resources are desperately needed to prevent starvation and disease making things far worse, and to start important rebuilding projects. In this part of Yorkshire the needs of Nepal have not been forgotten and, through a unique series of partnerships, the generosity of local individuals and businesses is being harnessed to help where the need is greatest in a most cost effective and efficient way. Let me explain, with this health warning: if you are allergic to good news stories do not read on.
We have reported before in these pages about the links developed by Harrogate Brigantes Rotary Club in Nepal, about Brigantes’ amazingly successful literacy and economic regeneration project in the Panchamul Valley, headed by Rotarian Barry Pollard and run in partnership with the Rotary Club of the Himalayan Gurkhas. It is on the foundation of working successfully together on that project that much of the success of the Yorkshire Rotary earthquake relief work has been grounded. We have also reported about Brigantes’ Kids Aloud concert in the Royal Hall in May that raised approximately £9000 for disaster relief in Nepal, but this is only part of a Yorkshire-wide effort by Rotary to help Nepal that has so far seen over £44,000 raised. This money has been given to two partner clubs in Nepal - the Himalayan Gurkhas and Pokhara Fishtail. Rotary takes no cut of any of this and does not charge any administrative fee, so all the money gets to where it is needed. By transferring funds directly to local clubs even the normal 10% Nepalese government tax on imported money is avoided. By working with local Rotarians we can also guard against corruption and misuse of funds and ensure that the money has the maximum impact.
Our fellow Rotarians in Nepal develop partnerships with local communities to ensure that the funds are not just seen as handouts, but rather become the drivers of self-help schemes. For instance, in one area the earthquake had altered the underground water flow and dried up the spring, depriving the village of its water supply. A new water source had to be located and then pipes lain from it to the village and storage tanks constructed. So our Rotary partners in Nepal came to an agreement with the villagers. Money raised in Yorkshire would be used to pay a professional water engineer to find a new source and design a new pipe system and to purchase the necessary materials, provided that one person from each household in the village agreed to give four days unpaid labour to lay the pipes and construct the tanks. The new system has been working now for almost three months. The money saved by using village labour has been used to help others, elsewhere, to start rebuilding their lives, and the focus of all this effort has been on the more remote, rural areas where government support and assistance from other major charities has been slowest to arrive.
So, you can be assured that the money raised here is being well spent, and is being made to deliver as much relief and support as it possibly can. But the needs are great and the money raised so far will not last long or go very far. Therefore, with the focus of public concern now firmly elsewhere, we must continue to find ways to generate more funds for our partners in Nepal to use wisely and well in their time of greatest need. For the time being in Harrogate we have turned to the business community for help. The Crown Hotel a hosted a black-tie dinner on the evening of 19 September to raise money for the continuing Rotary Nepal Earthquake Appeal. There was a talk by guest of honour Major Lil Gurung MBE of the Himalayan Gurkhas Rotary Club, a charity auction and a raffle (for which many local businesses have kindly donated prizes, including hotel and holiday home stays, dinners, afternoon teas and football corporate hospitality packages). The hotel is donating all the staffing, and the food, drink and prizes have all been given by local firms, meaning that every single pound raised on the evening will go to Nepal where it will be wisely and well spent to do the most good possible. Our thanks go to all of those who have given so generously. Such has been the scale of this generosity that it is impossible here to name everyone who has given, but we are truly grateful. Kids Aloud, (Ocean World) school children, who gave an outstanding concert at the Royal Hall, Harrogate in May 2015 raised in the region of £7,000 for the Nepal Earthquake Disaster.
This is an example of what in modern business-speak is called Corporate Social Responsibility – local businesses working within their communities to give something back us. We old timers used to call it philanthropy. The name doesn’t matter, what does is that it works. It can help good causes like this one and in the process, helps the businesses develop critical good will. A few years ago, in an attempt to reconnect with the local business community, Harrogate Brigantes Rotary Club established a business networking group (the Catalysts) within the Club. This took us back to the roots of Rotary as a networking group established both to improve the business performance of members and to raise money for good causes and do good works. It is the Catalysts and the Crown Hotel who have galvanised the massive local business support which includes Contract Natural Gas, Enid Taylor Printers, and Harrogate Football Club, that we received for this dinner. It is a fine example of what the combination of local business commitment and international Rotary organisation can achieve in aid of a good cause. And, remember, every penny raised will get to Nepal and be used efficiently and effectively by those who know where the needs are greatest.
If you would like to help, you can make a donation by following this link: http://bit.ly/Nepal-Dinner-Donations. Thanks to you all.
PRESIDENT HARROGATE BRIGANTES ROTARY CLUB
STOP PRESS: WE ARE DELIGHTED TO ANNOUNCE THAT THE NEPAL FUNDRAISING DINNER HAS RAISED £10,000. THIS MONEY WILL BE SENT DIRECTLY TO OUR PARTNER CLUB IN NEPAL, ROTARY CLUB OF THE HIMALAYAN GURKHAS, TO HELP THOSE AFFECTED BY APRIL'S DEVASTATING EARTHQUAKE.