RAWCS – Nepal Covid 19 Community Relief Fund.
After being part of a number of RAWCS construction projects in Nepal you build up relationships, make great friends and feel a sense of association with the country. Unfortunately, it is one of those countries who regularly feel the brunt of nature – floods, earthquakes and this year to compound matters the viral disease of coronavirus has struck. Our fellow Rotarian, Suresh Singh, RC of Kathmandu, recently emailed me. “COVID 19 cases are increasing in Nepal and Kathmandu is the worst. Everyday about 1000+ new cases and death 10+ are recorded. So not very good news. Right now, again we are in lockdown and extended one more week.” Luckily, health authorities in Australia have been able to “flatten the curve” and the number of cases is reducing to a manageable level – Nepal is the opposite, case numbers have increased to 59,573 and rising quickly. The Nepal Public Health Advisor Dr. Suresh Tiwari recently said, “Nepal has entered the phase of community transmission in 12 Districts including the capital Kathmandu”.
Following the lead by Rotary Club of Albury, a number of Clubs have banded together to raise funds in partnership with RC of Kathmandu to help finance community assistance programs including –
· Purchase and distribution of medical PPE
· Installation of foot operated "wash stations"
· Distribution of food to disadvantaged people, homeless, families who have lost employment.
· Provide education and public awareness about the COVID-19 pandemic.
At present, COVID-19 has spread all over Nepal, with a rapid increase in the number of new cases and deaths, which is alarming in a low-income country with an inadequate healthcare system like Nepal. Although the government implemented early school closure and lockdown, the management to contain COVID-19 does not appear to be adequate. During the lock down depression has rapidly increased and 1200 suicide cases have been recorded. Kathmandu Rotary Club have developed a video focusing on mental health, depression and suicide prevention to help those affected in this coronavirus pandemic.
Further to this the Club has been running online training session for schoolteachers to enable E-Classes to be run while schools are closed. Suresh said “At this pandemic situation this e-learning is the only tool to give education and reach with the students. And the best part is it doesn't cost and be popular and effective”. With the pandemic worsening in Nepal donations are sought and can be made through the RAWCS project online: donations.rawcs.com.au/134-2019-20.
The RAWCS project has raised just under $20,000AUS which has greatly assisted the RC of Kathmandu in its efforts to assist the local community. Providing food, medical PPE and wash stations help minimise the spread of the contagious coronavirus. In addition to these valuable programs funding from the RC of North Sydney went directly into a hospital renovation project to convert a disused section of the Kathmandu maternity hospital into a covid testing and isolation ward.
The fund raising is ongoing with support from a number of Clubs – Wagga, The Entrance, North Sydney, Preston and Alice Springs. In addition, DAA – Disaster Aid Australia have generously contributed towards the community covid programs. The government has commenced a covid vaccine roll out ahead of us here in Australia, but it faces many more hurdles due to remote locations, access to facilities to administer the shots, cost and availability of sufficient quantities of the doses.