Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Giving Relief to Nepal; Grafton Doctor Calling for Community to Raise Funds

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Giving Relief to Nepal; Grafton Doctor Calling for Community to Raise Funds

Article excerpt

Byline: Clair Morton clair.morton@dailyexaminer.com.au

IT HAS been close to two months since the earthquake which struck the heart of Nepal, but for survivors the recovery effort is only just beginning.

One of Grafton Base Hospital's newest junior medical officers, Dr Arpana Sharma, knows just how long the road ahead is.

She grew up in Kathmandu and the city is still home to most of her family.

The day the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit, her brother and sister were hiking near the epicentre at Pokhara and her mum and grandmother were alone in their homes.

"The first 12 hours was agony, I couldn't reach anybody," she said.

"My sister got in touch with me to let me know she and my father were okay... but I didn't know where my mum was, and my cousins couldn't get in touch with her.

"I was pacing and not knowing and crying. It was very bad."

Dr Sharma later found out her mother was fine and just happened to be outside when the natural disaster happened.

Her grandmother wasn't so lucky, and slipped and fell while trying to rush out of her house. The fall broke her hip.

"After the disaster it's been very tough," she said.

"I wanted to jump on a plane and just go, but my colleagues at work advised me that because I'm not a trained trauma person I wouldn't be able to help at the beginning of the relief efforts, which made sense later on."

Dr Sharma is now planning to leave for Kathmandu at the end of July, but wants to raise some funds before she goes.

She hopes to be able to pass those funds directly to a not-for-profit organisation started by her younger sister two years ago, called Kalyani.

The NGO was started to empower Nepalese women's' health, but since the earthquake its focus has shifted towards emergency relief.

They are now making and distributing hygiene kits, designed to last a family for four weeks, to areas of devastation. Each kit contains a water purifier, antiseptic soap, toothbrushes, facemasks and sanitary pads.

"I think it's genius because it is the first step in trying to prevent epidemics which are going to happen," Dr Sharma said.

"Hygiene and sanitation is not something that's given importance at these times. …

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