By David Kavanagh
A Perth-based humanitarian group working in Nepal is looking to radically expand its presence in the country’s underdeveloped remote Humla and Jumla regions.
Partnering with RIDS-Nepal, another social NGO operating directly in Nepal, Friends of Nepal, with the help of the Perth community, has raised around $25,000 since 2011 for a joint development initiative known as ‘Family of 4’.
Friends of Nepal’s Deepak Shakya said after four years of small-time fundraising, the time has finally come to expand.
“[RIDS-Nepal] are preparing this massive million dollar project because they want 19 more villages in Jumla to be incorporated,” Mr Shakya said.
“Villages are actually asking for the project… they are coming to [us] and saying we need it.”
This will be a substantial increase from the project’s initial limited focus on the two villages of Dopa and Kholapari in Humla.
Switzerland-born RIDS-Nepal co-founder and international advisor Alex Zahnd said Friends of Nepal’s fundraiser events have greatly helped the project.
Originally, the ‘Family of 4’ project focused on the construction of solar panels, smokeless stoves, pit latrines and sand water filters to improve health and hygiene conditions for villagers.
“Especially with the smokeless stoves, we can see the benefits of families not having to inhale smoke daily and leading healthy lives,” said Mr Shakya.
“We can actually see the difference that we’re making, that’s why we’re so passionate about it.”
The new ‘Family of 4 PLUS’ proposal expands on this, emphasising sustainable development by aiming to provide education and training for locals.
“Holistic community development is at the heart of what we do and we are increasingly convinced that this is the way forward for the poorest of the poor who never had the chance to go to school,” Mr Zahnd said.
“It is up to us who had these chances to participate in their struggle for better lives.”
Find out more about the Family of 4 initiative here.