By Julie McCay Turner
Bedford’s connection to Nepal and its recent earthquake is closer than you might imagine, and residents have a choice of at least three locally-connected ways to help: Sunday’s international “We Support Nepal” fundraiser on Bedford Common, as well as contributions to Rotary International or the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.
We Support Nepal – A fundraiser on Bedford Common, Sunday afternoon
In collaboration with multiple Bedford and Boston area Nepali families, Peter Colgan and Ralph Hammond have, in a flash, created “We Support Nepal,“ a fundraiser on Bedford Common from 1:30 to 4 pm on Sunday afternoon, May 3.
In a Tuesday afternoon email Colgan wrote, “I’m writing to put an idea out there to those of us in Bedford who feel the pain of our neighbors in Nepal who are hurting due to the recent earthquake. I think it would be great if we joined together to create a fundraising event. What do you think?” He went on to ask interested individuals to step forward to participate or take a leadership role in organizing the event.
Colgan and his family have visited Kathmandu, and Ralph Hammond has made 14 trips to Nepal through Rotary International. Hammond and his wife Jean also sponsored a Nepali student who has returned to her homeland as a US-trained and certified dental assistant. But Bedford’s Nepali connection is not limited to members of Bedford’s Rotary Club.
Sumitra and Ashim Joshi moved to Bedford several years ago and retain close ties to Nepal. Ashhim’s family operates Martyrs Memorial High School, and it is still standing in Gyaneshor Kathmandu. Indeed Gauri Rana Joshi, Ashim’s mother, has been active in earthquake relief this past week, cooking by flashlight, preparing hot meals for the mostly women and children sheltering in the school’s compound.
Response to Bedford’s “Flash Fundraiser” has been swift and enthusiastic. Boston-area restaurants – Kathmandu Spice, Tasty Momo and the Himalayan Bistro – have donated a total of 1,000 Nepali dumplings known as Momos to be sold during the fundraiser. And Bedford’s newest restaurant, Holi, is supplying tea and vegetable samosas. There will also be custom-brewed chai and soft drinks on the menu. Members of Temple Shalom Emeth and their Rabbi Susan Abramson plan to donate desserts. Click Menu to see the festival menu.
A silent auction includes a splendid Nepali carpet, a 2-day sojourn in the Mad River Vally, gift certificates and other treasures including an authentic singing bowl.
According to Colgan “Definitive plans are still being formed as to how the funds being raised [during the Flash Fundraiser] will be distributed. The team has deep insight into ‘how things work’ in Nepal, and knows that many NGOs are extremely inefficient ways to get support to where it’s needed. Quite possibly a team member will fly directly to Nepal with proceeds for use in Katmandu.
There is a Facebook page where the most up-to-date event information can be found, https://www.facebook.com/events/867405816653636/. Interested individuals are invited to their friends.
Rotary International Foundation
Ralph Hammond is bringing a Shelter Box Tent (https://www.shelterboxusa.org) to the fundraiser and will set up its tent on Bedford Common. Rotary International is supporting donations to ShelterBox as the organization’s suggested response to the disaster. According to Hammond several ShelterBox shipments have already arrived in Nepal, and more are underway.
On Friday morning Hammond received an email message from a Rotary colleague in Nepal, Kumar Singh, the coordinator of rapid disaster relief for the Rotary Club of Damauli, noting the massive need for help and showing how Rotary International help is already being distributed. Click Photographs from Rotarians in Nepal to see images emailed early on Friday morning.
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
First Parish in Bedford has joined with the Unitarian Universalist Association and the UU Service Committee (UUSC) to raise funds for a human rights-based approach to Nepali relief, and nearly $100,000 has already been contributed. Bedford’s First Parish Social Responsibility Council has offered to match local contributions to the UUSC, dollar-for-dollar. According to senior minister John Gibbons, “As always, our focus will be on those groups most likely to fall through the cracks of traditional rescue and relief efforts:
- Women and girls will be at grave risk of gender-based violence and discrimination, issues that are already prevalent in Nepal.
- The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities will be especially vulnerable to discrimination.
- Dalits and indigenous groups that are traditionally the target of appalling social discrimination are likely to be cast aside as relief supplies and services begin arriving in-country.
- Roughly 4 million people who live in Nepal without recognized citizenship will have difficulty getting the help they desperately need.
- The elderly and people living with disabilities and HIV/AIDS are also likely targets for discrimination and abuse.”
“We welcome contributions through the First Parish website (uubedford.org) or https://www.uusc.org/updates/tragedy-in-nepal,” Gibbons continued. “Checks may be made out to First Parish with “Nepali Relief” on the memo line.”