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Dear Friends

We hope all is going well with you all.

As you are aware from previous emails, we have been very busy at the galleries working hard to keep the gardens stunning as always and getting great comfort and pride from the many comments made by "woo-ooed" visitors.

Business has been good and our Fund-Raising events for The Nepal Fund have gone extremely well.

Moneys raised so far, thanks to your generosity, make up a fantastic £48,000 towards our target of £95,000.

This is wonderful as I will now be able to get the works organised for our Community Centre building project in Etay village. As soon as I arrive in Nepal on 14th September we will get together with architects and Community Leaders and will start digging as soon as the dreaded monsoon is over in October.

The funds we have so far at our disposal will enable us to cover the heavy and costly reinforced concrete raft on which the community hall will be built and should see us some way up towards getting the pillar system essential to make up a safe usable ground floor.

But much still has to be done.

Nepal has been out of the news for some time despite the mostly daily tremors of between 3.5 and 4 points. Sunday's 23 August was 5.1 point.

The dreaded major earthquake the scientists have predicted since last July should apparently hit Nepal sometime in December... I so wish our building could be ready in time.

As many dwellings have already gone or have been damaged making them un-inhabitable because of the two main quakes of a few months ago, people in the areas most affected (like most of our dear friends) are in pretty much the same situation as in the beginning. They haven't  got used to living under plastic sheets and sleeping in damp blankets. Who would?
Monsoon should be the happiest time of the year, especially for the rural communities who rely on it for planting rice. This year it is hard for everyone with the fear of more landslides.

Many are being eaten by mosquitoes, living amongst rats and getting affected by pneumonia, especially the very young and the elderly. Typhoid is endemic as water is polluted and TB is on the rise which is not at all surprising living in such terrible conditions.

It has been and still is very taxing both physically and mentally for all ages.

Not having the security of solid walls and a door for protection, people are left extremely vulnerable to robberies. This has been the case recently for our Raju's relatives who have had the family's wealth that would have seen the complete rebuilding of the farm, taken from them.

I keep in touch with all our friends and they keep reassuring us that, so far, they are coping well. They are all so grateful that we (and this includes you) are thinking about them in their hours of need. To them this has no price. So thank you all for your support that I always pass on.

As I mentioned earlier, I will be flying to Nepal Sunday 13th September, the day after my next Galleries Evening Talk about Thangka Paintings on the 12th.

As usual, to Tom's horror, l will probably be packing my bags on the same day trying to cram in as many children's clothes and toys as possible from the mountain we have bought and have been given over the past few months.

Amongst many other items, I bought 5kgs of Lego pieces, just under 60 small soft toys and just over 50 small Matchbox metal cars for the school's Kinder Garden. These, if l am not arrested before, will travel with me, no doubt making me look like a pack mule on arrival !

I will be staying two whole months working for the galleries with the marvellous craftsmen and women we know so well and who desperately need the work. Many businesses in Nepal have been completely flattened and have folded.

I will of course be doing my tours of the projects and families and especially the children we sponsor. This time will be particularly tough. I have been warned. There is a difference between seeing photographs and being there, but I am ready for it

So far The Alain Rouveure Nepal Fund cares for fourteen children.

Sanish, the little boy who had heart surgery aged seven is now seventeen with a change of gear this year as he is attending his first year at college.

All the others are also in full education thanks to the Fund.

I personally closely follow and keep track of the children's progress both academic and mental as some of them have lost a parent/parents.

Something has recently been brought to my attention that is disturbing me immensely.

Namo Buddha School, the small school we sponsor in the rural community of Etay, has been faced with difficult cases of neglect as some poor parents simply cannot look after their children and abandon them before vanishing without a trace.

The wonderful Director and Principal, Satya Narayan and Subarna Shrestha have never mentioned this predicament to me before.
They, with the staff, do their very best to provide a safe and secure environment for all the children in their care, however, unforeseen circumstances such as these put big pressure on the already financially stretched establishment.

When I challenged them as to why they had never told me about the abandoned children in their care, they simply told me that they did not feel it was right to ask for anything as l was already doing much.

When pressed for more details they reluctantly explained the circumstances. My heart sank.

Roshan Lama is the 11 years old son of Padam Lama and Basanti Tamang coming from East Nepal. The father did not tell the whole truth when he admitted his son to Namo Buddha School a couple of years ago with one month deposit for the tuition.
 

He never came back to visit his son nor pay for his studies since.
 

We know that Padam has a serious drink problem and that he used to regularly beat his wife and son. Since Roshan's mother left home and now lives somewhere unknown, the father is incapable of looking after the small boy. The school does not have the heart to turn the child away and so has quietly been looking after him since then.

Puja Thapa, 8 years old, is the daughter of Rajendra and Rita Thapa from North East Nepal. Last year they admitted Puja as a boarder in Namo Buddha School paying the first month of tuition. The parents have never come back to visit their daughter since that day and have moved.
 

Puja's grand mother lives alone in Kathmandu. She is poor and in poor health and is unable to look after the child. She pleaded with the directors to keep her safe at the school.                                  

Sujal Adhikari, the 8 years old son of Shyam and Sabina Adhikari, comes from a rural area about five hours from the school. The parents admitted Sujal as a boarder two years ago in similar circumstances to Puja with a small deposit for school fees.

They have never returned.

Many efforts have been made to contact the parents without success. The address given is no longer the family's home and no-one, including the small child, knows where the parents could possibly be.

As Social Services do not exist in Nepal, only the worse can be expected for abandoned children.

It is no good getting angry about what is happening.

With the recent traumatic events that struck Nepal, there will no doubt be more cases like these.

As our lovely and wise Marilyn said to me, "at least the parents of these three children cared enough to leave them in a safe environment rather than abandon them on the streets of the capital" where they would become street children vulnerable to child trafficking. And this is a sad fact. A recent article in The Sunday Times Magazine (Aug 23) exposed the reality of bogus orphanages "cash cows", something that l have talked about for years.

I just feel more determined than ever to stay positive and do whatever we can to make a difference to as many as we can, bearing very much in mind that the help offered has to be sustained and is sustainable.  

The more money we raise in donations, the more we can do to help. I would like to personally thank those generous souls who are supporting us in our endeavour.

If you would like to help make a real difference to more children in Nepal, here are some ways you and your friends can assist.

A child's education as a Boarder Student including all books, notebooks and pencils costs £650 per year (a standing order of £54 per month )

A child's education as a Day Student including all books, notebooks and pencils costs £500 per year (a standing order of £42 per month )

A set of "bunk Beds" for two boarders including mattresses, pillows, 2 sets of linen and a blanket each costs £120

A school bench and writing desk set for four students costs £65

Two sets of uniforms for one child including sport gear costs £60 per year

To repaint a whole classroom costs £45

Small £5 monthly donations collectively will make a huge difference to many children.

These ideas of costs are based on children attending Namo Buddha School in Etay.

Fees in other schools in different parts of Nepal are substantially more.

ALAIN ROUVEURE RELIEF FUND
LLOYDS TSB 30 95 75
Account 22238 668

IBAN GB43LOYD 3095 7522 238 668
BIC/SWIFT LOYDGB21385

 

Thank you again for your interest, for your care and for your generosity.

All my very best wishes,