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Sikhs extend financial help to Nepalese

Staff Reporter – 

Scores of religious, social and community organisations have been involved in raising funds for the unfortunate victims of the devastating earthquakes that have rocked Nepal over the past two months.

Indian Newslink is coordinating efforts with New Zealand Police National Ethnic Advisor Inspector Rakesh Naidoo and a number of Indian organisations in this connection and we hope to inform our readers of the progress in our next issue.

Meanwhile, the following is a report filed by Raj Bedi, Secretary of the Auckland Sikh Society, which owns and manages Sri Dasmesh Darbar Gurdwara at 166 Kolmar Road in the South Auckland suburb of Papatoetoe:

For Web Edition-Sikhs extend financial help-A resident of Barpak Village- Picture by Bikram Rai“The Sikh community at Sri Dasmesh Darbar contributed $5100 to support the victims of the earthquakes in Nepal. We presented a cheque for the amount to Claire Yu, New Zealand Red Cross Auckland Fund Raising Coordinator. National List MP Dr Parmjeet Parmar, who was present at the event, lauded the Sikh community for its humanitarian approach and rising to the occasion to help those affected by the natural calamity.

As reported in our June 1, 2015 issue, the Society also honoured Harmanpreet Singh, an international student from India who saved the life of a young boy hurt by a speeding car.

The following is an extract of an article written in Nepali Times by its Associate Editor Tsering Dolker Gurung:

The first thought that comes to mind as one approaches the village of Barpak, a month after the earthquake is that things do not look as bad as portrayed in the media.

The houses seem intact, collapsed roofs have been replaced with tarpaulin sheets, and there is no rubble. But that is only from a distance.

Nearly all of Barpak’s 1400 homes were destroyed in the quake: six of the seven schools collapsed. The VDC office, a health post, and the tourism centre were all levelled. A 130 kilowatt micro-hydro plant and a telecommunication tower were also damaged.

Nothing much remains of this picturesque and prosperous hilltop town situated at 1900 metres and commanding a sweeping view of mountains on the northern horizon.

A visionary

Gorkha’s ‘model village’ is now just an example of what being on top of the epicentre of a 7.8 quake can do to a settlement.

The architect of Barpak’s past, and of its future, is Bir Bahadur Ghale, the visionary who has channelled the energy and international exposure of a town, made up mostly of families of Gurkha soldiers in the British and Indian Armies into development over the past 30 years.

“We have all learnt important lessons from this disaster,” he said, surveying the ruins of what used to be his hometown. The goal is to make an even better Barpak and not repeat the blunders of our ancestors,” he said.

Ghale is now working with the ‘Help Barpak’ team, a group of ex-Gurkha servicemen and entrepreneurs to steer reconstruction with earthquake resistant houses and schools that also reflect the village’s heritage. The quake also underlined the importance of open spaces, since ten people were killed in fires, during the earthquake, in the densely-packed town with narrow cobblestone alleys.

“Keeping future disasters in mind, we want to have wider roads so rescue vehicles can reach any part of the town,” Ghale said.

He is keen to revive tourism that was one of Barpak’s main sources of income after remittances.

Nearly half of the village population works overseas, as soldiers in the British or Indian Army, or in Malaysia and the Gulf countries. Many have returned following the quake.

Mukunda Ghale (‘Robin’) is a restaurant manager from Hong Kong who collected funds from friends and came to Barpak with relief material and rescue gear last week. The father of two led a volunteer initiative to clear ruins, clean the rivers and build temporary toilets.

“You could not walk on these streets until few days ago. The spirit of the people has been amazing,” Mukunda who gathered 160 volunteers on the first day and today has 600 people turning up to help, said.

Editor’s Note: A related report appears in this Section.

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