By Nantini Krishnan, Ili Aqilah & Tan Mei Kuan
The devastating earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday, April 25 2015 caused huge loss of lives and properties in Nepal. While the world focused on Nepal itself, what of the Nepalis who are foreign workers on Malaysian soil, worried sick about their families back home and doing their best to send meagre funds back home in an effort to alleviate the suffering from the devastation that ensued? Ipoh Echo sent their reporters to find out.
“A man’s true wealth is the good he does in this world”
700,000 Nepalese in Malaysia
Malaysian Digest reported in their article “Nepalese Workers Are Sent Back To Slave Era After Arriving In Malaysia – Nepali Ambassador To Malaysia” published on Wednesday, December 31, 2014 that, Malaysia employs the highest number of Nepali workers abroad. Recent statistics from the Department of Labour and Employment, shows that about 700,000 Nepalese are currently working in Malaysia.
With major parts of Kathmandu reduced to rubble, including many World Heritage sites, the quakes killed at least 8000 people, and left many in desperate need of shelter, medical help, food and other aid. The people of Nepal are still trying to recover from the two major earthquakes and countless aftershocks.
Earthquakes are not new to Nepal, but the scale of this disaster is unprecedented. Badly damaged roads and landslides have cut off access to remote parts of the country where the impact is unknown. Nepal is an impoverished country, and the buildings do not follow any earthquake safety codes. As a result, the concrete buildings were reduced to rubble, trapping people underneath. Residents in the capital Kathmandu, are sleeping out in the open, fearing aftershocks. Many historic structures such as palaces and temples have been irreparably damaged as well. Each day is a struggle in many parts of the country and naturally the Nepali workers here, while their physical safety remains unscathed, are helpless in the face of the hardships faced by their families back home.
Ipoh Echo sat with a group of Nepali workers who were shaken by the tragedy and worried about the future of their country. These devoted Nepalis working as waiters, staff and security guards for Meru Valley Resort, Insight Alliance Security Service, Microtech Security Sdn Bhd and Citrus Wine & Dine Restaurant have been working hard to support their families.
Nepalese in Ipoh
The number of Nepali workers in Meru Valley is 5 staff from The Dome Restaurant. They also outsource their 22 security staff from Insight Alliance Security Service and 10 staff from Microtech Security Sdn Bhd. The total number of Nepali workers in Citrus Wine & Dine is five. We spoke to them and asked how the tragedy had impacted them and their families back home.
For Mahesh Bahadur, 29, who works at the Dome in Meru Valley Resort, it was a relief to know that his family were not affected by the earthquake but he can still remember the first few hours after the news broke and he couldn’t get in touch with them.
“As soon as I saw the news, immediately I called my family but they were unreachable due to the earthquake. I was beyond worried, thinking about my beloved family and friends.”
It was a different story for Hark Raj, 28, from the district of Okhaladunga, who also works at the Dome. The tragedy took his aunt and cousin’s life and Hark wished he could be there to comfort the family.
“I cried when I heard the news and since I’m staying here I couldn’t do anything except send prayers, and wish for my family to stay strong and embrace the dark situation,” said Hark to Ipoh Echo.
When Rajendra who works as a security guard, aged 31, from Kathmandu read the news on his social media site, he cried, knowing his family was in danger. He soon received a call from his family, informing him that his son was severely injured by the quake and had been taken to the hospital for further treatment. Unfortunately for him, his house had collapsed, leaving his family homeless and staying temporarily in the camp centre provided by the government.
Govinda Timalsina, 32, also works at Meru Valley, from district of Kavrepalanchok, and before who has been living in Malaysia for two years, collapsed when he read the news. He was crazed knowing that his family house was destroyed by the massive 7.8 Richter scale earthquake.
“I didn’t lose anyone in the tragedy but we don’t have a house anymore. Although I do send money to my family, building a house from scratch is not cheap. However, I am working as hard as I can to support them in any way possible,” said Ram Kumar, 26, from Kathmandu who has been working as a waiter at Citrus restaurant for three years.
“The best I can do to help my family is to send them what I earn so they can rebuild the house. Although it is not much, knowing that I can offer something, comforts me,” he added. The same sentiment was expressed by Mahesh. Although he cannot do much from here, he’s determined that once he returns to Nepal, he will donate as much as he can, including adopting kids from an orphanage.
“I pity the kids whose parents died in the tragedy. The least I can do is to adopt some and raise them once I’m back in my hometown even though I don’t make much money,” he added.
Basic Amenities Needed
For most of the Nepali workers, they cannot afford to go back to Nepal and help their families as their livelihood is dependent on their jobs here. Hence they expressed the wish for Malaysia to work together with the Nepali government to re-establish a place that used to be a beautiful country.
“Malaysia has become my second home for the past two years. It broke my heart to see what is happening to Nepal. Hopefully, more funds will be raised to rebuild what once used to be a magnificent place,” added Govinda.
“Kathmandu is beautiful city, the people are warm and the food was the best,” said Janga Karki, 28, from Kathmandu, currently working as a security guard in Meru Valley.
“I hope my family, especially my kids, stay strong and keep their spirits up. This tragedy is a test to strengthen our bond. I can’t wait to be back with them,” said Prabat Kambang, 28, from the district of Panchthar who has been working as a waiter at Citrus.
Survivors of the tragedy are currently in need of basic amenities like clothes and food. Although donations have been made all over the country, there is still plenty to be done to help them.
Ipoh Corporations Donate
True to the quote “a man’s true wealth is the good he does in this world”, Kinta Properties Holdings Sdn Bhd (KPH) which is synonymous with property development within Perak for more than 40 years, and its sister company, the Meru Valley Resort Bhd (MVRB) have pledged RM10,000 each to relieve the grieving and struggling Nepalese via the Soroptimist International Ipoh’s Nepal Earthquake Fund.
Ipoh Echo will be continuing this fundraising effort by appealing for donations in the newspaper for a period of two months starting Monday, June 15. Similarly, Meru Valley would reach out to its members for donations to the fund.
Fundraising Through Soroptimist International Ipoh
All monetary donations would go directly to Soroptimist International Ipoh (SI Ipoh) while some of the monies raised by Meru Valley would be channelled directly to its staff with families affected back in Nepal. Through SI Ipoh, the funds raised both from the general public and from the Meru membership, would be 100% redirected to Soroptimist International Kathmandu for the distribution of necessities like relief materials, tents, floor mats, rice, dry food, biscuits to various districts and to be used to help the people in the village of Sudal, a mere 20-minute bus ride from Kathmandu, for building temporary homes and schools.
SI Ipoh is a registered NGO and part of a global volunteer movement with a network of around 80,000 club members in 130 countries working at local and international level to transform the lives of women and children.
Immediate Response Time and Quick Action SI Ipoh
The reasons for MVRB and KPH selecting SI Ipoh to be the recipient instead of other relief agencies for the donations are the immediate response time for transfer of funds and the quick action on the ground from the local chapter of Soroptimist in Nepal in disbursement of funds for rebuilding damaged homes and schools, providing food and shelter, without incurring any administrative costs.
No administrative costs
Said Jean Chai, President of SI Ipoh on the news of the generous donation from MVRB and KPH and the efforts MVRB is making in soliciting donations from its membership, “We are so touched by the generosity of spirit from these corporations in helping the Nepalis in their hour of need. On our part, Soroptimists are comprised of volunteers who incur no administrative costs in ensuring that every cent donated is channeled to doing the rehabilitation work that Nepal needs right now.”
SI Ipoh Most funds Raised
“SI Ipoh has so far, out of all the 15 clubs in Malaysia, raised the most funds for the Nepal Earthquake fund. It would be so heartening for more companies to rise to the occasion and follow the lead set by MVRB and KPH”, she added.
It is heart-warming to see all the inspiring hearts and minds unite to help the victims going through the darkest time of their nation. Indeed, we cannot help everyone but…everyone can help someone. With the seed money provided by Meru Valley Resort Berhad and Kinta Properties Sdn Bhd, it is hoped that everyone will also be forthcoming in donating to a worthwhile and noble cause.
Where to Donate
Please send your donations made out to Soroptimist International Ipoh marked on the back with: FOR NEPAL EARTHQUAKE FUND. You will be issued a receipt for your donation provided you put in your return address. Please send them to:Soroptimist International Ipoh 52 Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, 31400 Ipoh. Attn: SI Ipoh Treasurer Yip Siew Keen Tel: 012 521 2480