News

EGFA activities since the earthquakes August 26 2015

  • Assisted a nurse friend (with 15 years experience in trauma counselling for children) to volunteer for a month at the medical clinic in our TEAM Nepal children’s home in Talamarang village where 90+ per cent of the houses were destroyed, many people died, and there are many injuries and medical problems. Kazz raised over $5000 from tin rattling but paid her own expenses. Kazz’s friends were worried about her safety at the children’s home; and whether it was a legitimate orphanage. So we edited a short video about EGFA’s recent visit to the home two weeks before the quake: https://vimeo.com/128363763

  • Yadav, the Manager of the HLF, EGFA’s solar partner in Nepal, freighted 50 tents to the village, Dura, where EGFA was installing solar lights in a health post and monastery at the start of April. Both buildings are damaged and most people are homeless.

  • EGFA fundraised for our payment to the children’s home for their annual running costs.

  • GOOD NEWS: we had confirmation that none of the solar lighting systems installed by EGFA in 36 villages over the past eight years was damaged.

  • EGFA is now ready to assist Dura village with rebuilding, and will then resume raising funds for other needy village health posts.

     


Rebuilding Nepal June 01 2015

The 25 April earthquake in Nepal is the greatest setback for Nepal since the Maoist civil war claimed 15,000 lives from 1996-2006.  The Earth Garden Foundation (EGFA) began working in Nepal in September 2008.  Since then, nearly US$200,000 in project funds have been invested in Nepal by the Earth Garden Foundation.  We focus on two activities: installing solar lighting in remote village health posts via our local partner, the Himalayan Light Foundation; and paying the annual running costs of an inspiring orphanage for 20 children run by our local partner TEAM Nepal.

EGFA's focus now is to assess its 36 existing Nepali project sites to determine which need repair or reconstruction.  We are fundraising to ensure that all villages with EGFA-funded solar lighting systems are fully operational.  Then we will press on with our annual funding commitment to the children;s home in July.

Help us rebuild Nepal! Earth Garden magazine has absorbed all the administration costs of EGFA from day one and will continue to do so.


Nepal Earthquake Update April 29 2015


To members and supporters of the Earth Garden Foundation Australia

The tragedy of the Nepal Earthquake has come as a shock to us all.  My family returned from Nepal ten days before the earthquake struck.
EGFA has been in contact with our partner organisations in Nepal: the Himalayan Light Foundation, who co-ordinate all our solar lighting projects; and TEAM Nepal who run the children’s home we support. 
Initially, it was impossible to get through to anyone in Nepal.  By Sunday night we had made contact with most of our friends, colleagues and partners. The good news is as follows.
Yadav Gurung, Manager of the Himalayan Light Foundation (see Yadav’s story in the autumn 2015 issue of EG) survived the earthquake.
On Sunday 26th, the day after the initial quake, when I finally made contact with Yadav by text, he replied as follows:  “Thank you so much. We are not alone, there are hundreds of other families living together under tent and trying to support each other with whatever resources we all have and praying for the safety and long life. I will try to be in touch with much possibilities."
He and his family are still camped in a tent in the street near their home.  As of Wednesday afternoon, 29 April, Yadav advised by text that there were still aftershocks taking place in Kathmandu and he was not prepared to move his family back into their home yet.   He says his challenge is to make sure he and his family can keep getting clean water and food.
On Monday 27th, after many attempts, I finally made contact with the Founder of TEAM Nepal, Neel Bahadur Shahi, one of the most remarkable people I have ever met.  Neel was very agitated but able to confirm that he and his family all survived the quakes, and also that all the children and staff at the children’s home in Talamarang village in Sindhupalchowk district (about 80 km north-east of Kathmandu) have also survived.  Neel hopes to travel to the home this week to assess the damage and report back to me on what help EGFA might be able to offer the home and surrounding village.  
The bad news is that Neel says 90%+ of the homes in Talamarang village have been flattened, and 20 to 25 village people have died in this one village.  The roof of the brand-new volunteer’s building at the children's home has subsided but Neel pointed out that this is a small matter compared to the loss of life in the village where he has funded and built the high school for 700 students.  Sindhupalchowk district is one of the 11 most-affected of the 75 districts in Nepal, as is Ramechaap - the district from which my family have just returned after installing solar lighting in a health post and monastery.
Remarkably, it is entirely due to the superhuman energy and foresight of Neel in creating a brand-new, purpose-built, quake-proof home, that the 20 children and staff were moved from a rickety old stone farmhouse on a steep hillside just three months ago, into the solid new home on a flat hilltop above the village.  I have no doubt there would have been loss of life if they had still been in the old rented home.
I spoke to Neel again on Tuesday 28th April.  He was much calmer.  He said that people in Kathmandu are all calmer because the aftershocks are decreasing in frequency from once every hour to once every four hours or so.  Like Yadav, he stated that the challenge in coming days will be for people in Kathmandu to maintain access to clean water and food.
On Sunday night 26th April I also spoke to Tashi Tenzing, a longtime Nepali friend and grandson of Tenzing Norgay. Tashi, his family, and trekking company staff - whom my family have depended on for many, many years when completing projects in Nepal - all survived.  Tashi and his family are camped out in their garden next to their home.  Unfortunately, three school children and a teacher have died in the village of Nuwarkot where Tashi and his family have built three schools and maintain a coffee farm to help local village people with employment to avoid sending their children off to work in other countries.
On Wednesday 29th April I finally got through to Pasang, our Mountain Guide, who has led our trekking teams on two solar projects into remote areas of Nepal.  My family returned from installing solar lighting in a health post and monastery just ten days before the quakes, and Pasang was our guide again.  Pasang and his family survived the quake but their home is "broken”, he told me.  Pasang and his family live in a one-room apartment on the ground floor of a multi-storey building in suburban Kathmandu.  They are now camped in a tent in nearby Army barracks grounds.  Pasang said they are all well and happy to be alive.
It is still too early to fully assess the full impact of the earthquakes.  As rescue teams reach remote villages the death toll will undoubtedly climb rapidly because, in a country with no building standards, it is the old, poorly-made buildings that have collapsed, killing people, whereas the newer buildings in city areas have mainly survived.  Pasang pointed out to me that it is not just the roads that are ruined - the bridges will mostly be destroyed too.  Many people in remote villages have had their food stores crushed under collapsed buildings.  Neel remarked that it was extremely fortunate that the quake struck around midday: most Nepalis were outside working at this time of day.  International aid teams are now piling into Nepal and the situation should rapidly improve in some areas accessible by helicopter.
Over the past seven years EGFA has installed solar lighting systems in health posts and schools in 36 villages throughout remote parts of Nepal ranging from Dullu and Dolpo in the far West to the Solukhumbu in the East.  It is too early to know how many of these systems and buildings have survived.  If they have survived, their importance is magnified now that the health posts will be working around the clock to treat sick and injured villagers.
In the days, weeks and months ahead EGFA will be slowly assessing the ways we can do our small part to help the remarkable Nepali people recover from yet another setback.  Poor Nepal.  They have nearly recovered from the disastrous ten year civil war started by the so-called Maoists.  This disaster will set them back many years - perhaps ten or even 20 years.  We will update members and supporters as soon as we know the best way to help.
In the meantime, if people wish to donate money to help people in Nepal, it seems to me that three choices stand out.
1.  The UNICEF Nepal Earthquake Appeal (they are very good and happened to have an international earthquake rescue/relief team meeting in Kathmandu a few days before the quake).
http://www.unicef.org.au
2.  Or Oxfam’s appeal - they are great too.
https://www.oxfam.org.au
3. Our own little Foundation is not set up for disaster relief but soon we’ll be asking people to donate, or join EGFA to help rebuild the village where our orphanage is located; and/or help repair/reinstate any existing EGFA solar power systems or health posts damaged by the earthquake.  Joining or donating to EGFA will help Nepal because we have no admin fees - all money donated goes to Nepal.
www.egfa.org.au
Alan Gray
Chairman
Earth Garden Foundation Australia Ltd

Next 3 Projects Completed! March 01 2015

...from the pages of Earth Garden #171

Since the summer issue of EG went to press three more remote Nepali villages have had solar lighting systems installed in community buildings: one health post in the okhaldhunga district village of Shreechaur on 29th November 2014, another health post in the village of Daduwa in Lamjung district in early January.  EGFA is now fundraising for it's 36th village project.


32nd Project Completed, 33rd Approved December 01 2014

...from the pages of Earth Garden #170
A stunning quarter of activity for EGFA, since the spring issue went to press, has seen our most ambitious project successfully completed. The Dullu Hospital is an important regional facillity for 150,000 people spread over ten villages in far western Nepal. The hospital’s broken down solar powered system was completely renovated by EGFA with new wiring, batteries and inverters, And EGFA’s 33rd project, at the Shreechaur health post in the Okhaldhunga district, has been approved y the board of directors, so now we can start fundraising for Project 34.

 

 

Dull hospital management committee members gathered for welcoming and thanks giving ceremony.

 


30th and 31st Projects Completed September 01 2014

...from the pages of EG #169
Since the June issue went to press EGFA has had another successful three month period of fundraising and project installation. Solar lighting systems have been installed in health posts in the villages of Adheri and Palapu. Adheri is a village in the Okhaldhunga district with a health post and birthing centre, receiveing 15 to 20 patients a day. Palapu village received it’s solar lighting system on 9th July 2014 to light its health post with 16 new LED lights. EGFA is now fundraising for it’s most ambitious project yet - more details next issue.

The above is a picture of the Adheri Community Development and Health Post Building.

The following is an excerpt from a letter from Yadav, the leader of the Himalayan Light Foundation referring to the installation in Palapu.

"Today we installed the solar lighting system, the health post staff was conducting two days training for the adolescent girls and mothers on child and mother care during pregnancy and after delivery.  There are seven staff at the health post and everyone seems quite busy conducting training and providing health service..as per the health post record 21 deliveries has been made so far since January 2014."

Women in child care class.

View of Sunkoshi river from Palapu village

Palapu village women with new solar panels


27th, 28th and 29th Projects Completed June 01 2014

... from the pages of EG #168
Since the March issue went to press EGFA has had huge success, funded it’s 27th, 28th and 29th projects installing solar lighting systems in health posts in the remote villages of Mithukram, Rakuwa and Balekhu. EGFA is now raising funds for it’s 30th project in the village of Adheri in Eastern Nepal.

Rakuwa village Health Post staff with new lights.

 


26th Project Completed March 01 2014

 ...from the pages of Earth Garden # 167

"EGFA was off to a flying start in 2014 when the first of the year’s projects was completed on the 11th Januray. 15 lights were installed in a vital health post in the remote village of Aishulakharka: this 3kg baby girl was born just after the lights were switched on for the first time. After a record number of installations in 2013 EGFA is fundraising for it’s 27th village."

 

 Below is a letter from Yada, the director of the Himalayan Light Foundation describing the project.

"Dear Alan,

 Aishulakharka Health Post of Khotang district Solar Instillation is the first project of 2014 of Earth Garden Foundation Australia.  Hiking to Aishulakharka village is the hardest walk I have ever done. Its straight down to river for 3 hours then about 6.5 hours straight up to Aishulakharka. We reach Aishulakharka at around 5 in the afternoon complete exhausted.

 Next day, we walked to the Health Center and start our installation work. We have installed two 60 watt solar panels with 15 lights. The health post staff helped us to install the system. The villagers and the health post management committee visited us while we were working.

We found the health post very busy. One patient was brought to the health post who fell from the tree while cutting the branches, another came with dental problem and another was delivery case. This time the lights was inaugurated by a new born baby it was a coincident that we have completed the installation and was about to test the light, when we put on the light on the same time a baby was born, she weight around 3 KG.( Please see the pictures).

After completing the work we handed over the system to Health Post Management Committee who were very happy with the support.  The health post In-charge informed us that they receive number of patients everyday and one to two delivery cases almost every alternate day some time they have to spend whole night at the health post and this light is very helpful for them so that they can check the patients under the clean solar lights . He and his staff were so happy with the support and gave a big thanks to EGFA and HLF.

I must thank EGFA for their continuous support and each support they have provided helped hundreds of people in the remote village to receive health services under the clean solar lights.

Warm Regards,

Yadav"

Outside the facility with the new panels - check out the view!

Caring for a patient under new lights on left.

Aishulakarka Village


19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd & 23rd Projects All Finished December 01 2013

- from the pages of Earth Garden #166
EGFA’s most successful six months in its five year history have seen five projects completed by late october 2012. Our AGM on 26th October was a chance to celebrate these successes and discuss plans for the next year. We now install LED lights instead of CFL and this gives us far greater illumination per dollar.

Below is an image of the Thulachap Health Post which received lighting from EGFA's 23rd installation project.


18th Project Finished September 01 2013

 ... from the pages of Earth Garden #165
EGFA’s projects keep rolling along.  Our 18th project, at Kaku village - five hours walk from the nearest hospital - was completed on 3 june 2013 with 25 LED lights installed in the health post. EGFA’s 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd projects have now all been approved by the EGFA board of Directors and will begin in the next few months as the monsoon season passes and transport in Nepal becomes easier.

Installing solar panels on the roof of the Kaku village health post.

 

Gathering of village members to celebrate and give thanks for the new lights.

 


15th Nearly Done, 16th & 17th Done, 18th Project Underway June 01 2013

... from the pages of EG #164

Wow. Another stunning three months has seen EGFA’s 16th project at Gairi Goan completed, the $30,000 15th project nearly constructed, our 17th finished at Salle, and our 18th underway as we go to press. EGFA’s 18th project: solar-lighting at the 18 rooms of a health post in the remote village of Kaku, five hours walk from the nearest hospital.

Carrying the new solar panel onto the roof of the Gairi Goan Girls Hostel (project 16)

Installing the solar panel on the roof of the Salle Sub Health Post (project 17)


13th, 14th, 15th and 16th Solar Lighting Projects... March 13 2013

...from the pages of Earth Garden #163

Another great three months of fundraising has seen EGFA's 13th & 14th projects - solar lighting in two village health posts at Necha Batas and Gairi Goan - both completed by December 2012.  EGFA has already started it's 15th & 16th projects: solar-lighting purpose-built classrooms at a high school at Kangel, and also installing 34 lights for a girls' student hostel at Gairi Goan.

Above is an image of the new solar panel installed on the roof of the Gairi Goan health post for the 14th EGFA project.


12th Solar Lighting Project Completed December 02 2012


... from the pages of Earth Garden #162
EGFA’s 12th project - solar lighting in a mothers' group community building for four villages in the Lamjung district of Nepal was completed on 7th September 2012.  EGFA has already raised enough funds for its 13th project, which is underway as we go to press: 15 solar lights installed in the Necha Batase Health Post, which is in the Necha village two days walk from the nearest fully-equipped hospital at Phaplu.

Above is a picture of Gilung Village, where the installation of EGFA's 12th project took place.

 

Here is the mothers group being briefed on how to use the new lighting system in the community building.

A view of Mount Lamjung from the village of Gilung 

 


Eleventh Solar Lighting Project Underway September 13 2012

...from the pages of Earth Garden #161

EGFA’s 11th project began in July of 2012. Solar lighting is being installed in three buildings (with six rooms each) in a health post in the village of Sotang in the Solukhumbu Valley district. As EG went to press the equipment was being porterd to the village. EGFA has already raised enough funds for its 12th project: solar lighting for a mothers group community building in the remote village of Lamjung that services womens groups from five nearby villages.

Above is an image of the solar panels being prepared for installation on the roof of the Sotang community health building.

 

While the installation was underway a boy was brought to the centre for medical help via basket! He had injured his leg rather badly and required stitches.

 


Tenth Solar Lighting Project Completed June 01 2012

... from the pages of Earth Garden #160
EGFA’s tenth project - solar lighting in two health posts in the remote Tsum Valley district was completed on the 23rd April 2012.  EGFA has already raised enough funds for it’s 11th project, which may be solar lighting for a mother’s 
group community building in the remote village of Lamjung that services womens groups from five surrounding villages.

 

Above is a picture of Ani Chhering Doma and Yadav and below is his lively description of the project and working conditions!

"Its my great pleasure to write this email to you as we have completed Tsum project. It took us 12 days to complete the whole project. The village is hidden behind the Mountains the local calls it Mount Chumling. We hiked almost 9-12 hours a day and the trail is really adventurous. There were some trail which is only about two feet wide ( see the attached pictures). There were some trails that go through the edge of the cliff quite scary.  There were some bridges that was locally made which looks old and weak and would fall with two people's weight. At one place, our potter was not ready to cross the bridge he was so scared and nervous that he was ready to return back from that point.

We put the eight lights (80 watt panel) at Shen Phen Clinc of Tumje village. The clinic was run by Ani (nun) Kunjang and she is also taking care of eight young Ani's age between 11-16 who stays with her in the clinic. The young Ani's were from the surrounding villages. They were brought here by their parents and now they are learning all the rituals and culture of becoming an Ani.  The clinic was supported by village Gompa (Monastery). The young Ani's were so happy with the lights (see the attached pictures)."

Locally made bridge

School above Lama Gaun

Student 'Ani' girls with new lights.


Ninth Solar Lighting Project Completed March 01 2012

...from the pages of Earth Garden #159
EGFA’s ninth project - solar lighting in the 13 room health post building in the village of Basa in the Solukhambu ditrict, was completed on the 7th December 2011.  EGFA is now raising funds for its tenth project, which is likely to be traditional Tibetan-medicine style health posts in the remote Tsum Valley north of Kathmandu - one of Nepals poorest regions.

 

Trying out the new light switch for the first time.

 


Ninth Solar Lighting Project About to Start December 01 2011

 ... from the pages of Earth Garden #158
EGFA’s eighth project - solar lighting in the 15 rooms of the district head quater hospital in the town of Ramjatar in Eastern Nepal - was successfully completed on the 9th September 2012. EGFA’s next project is to install solar lighting in the new, 13 room health post building in the village of Basa in the Solikhumbu district. This health post serves five surrounding villages as will as the 4,500 people of Basa, who have been hoping for solar lighting assistance for many years. Join EGFA today: every cent of your memberhsip money goes to direct project support via groups like our prject parten the himalayan light foundation (www.hlf.org.np)

 

Ramjatar hospital staff caring for patient.

 


The beginnings of the Earth Garden Foundation Australia Ltd April 01 2009

In March 2008 Judith and Alan Gray visited Nepal to do a solar lighting instal­lation through the Himalayan Light Foundation (www.hlf.org.np). They paid for two small solar lighting systems and learned how to assemble these at a technical workshop in Kathmandu. Alan and Judith then trekked for three days to a remote village called Halesi and installed the systems.

During this trip Alan and Judith confirmed their ideas and plans to start a Foundation to fund many more such installations: 85% of Nepal’s population has no access to the national grid, and relies on dirty, smelly, expensive kerosene – or no lighting.

The key objective of EGFA is to commit every cent of money raised to fund many village-level solar lighting installations as well as the following;

a) The Foundation should be based around sustainability principles, with assistance provided to poor communities in a way that allows them to help themselves.

b)Local village people should be trained in whatever technology is installed in the village, and able to make the key decisions themselves about where lighting or other equipment should be installed.

c) The Foundation should work only with indigenous NGOs in Nepal.

Pictured are some of the happy recipients of the 6th solar lighting installation funded by the Earth Garden Foundation Australia, completed in September of 2011 in Dolpo, the mysterious and beautiful "hidden valley" far to the north of Kathmandu and bordering the Tibetan plateau.  It is the largest of Nepal's 75 districts but also the most sparsely populated with the average population density a mere 3.7 per square kilometre.