Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Sowing Hope in the Midst of the Horror

Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Sowing Hope in the Midst of the Horror

Article excerpt

IT REALLY was dreadful - the horror of it all when the unspeakable struck on April 25 this year, that 7.8 Richter scale earthquake that devastated much of Nepal in the Himalayas.

The earth shook for 59 seconds - long enough to destroy 5-star hotels and priceless World Heritage listed monuments that had stood the test of time for centuries.

Some 11,000 lay dead. Numbness, despair everywhere. My friends and I were asked, please help us, please help! In the face of unspeakable agony for so many, it's hard to say no. I know that too many people in Asia are looking for help from Asia Focus Australia (AFA), our Australia-wide, Gympie-based organisation.

I wrote emails to our supporters. That's all we did. No big appeal. But within a few weeks we had collected $102,000 for Nepal - and we sent over the lot. We had no costs, no overheads, no office, no payments. We just loved to help.

I have never been in Nepal and never intended to go there but now I had to - at a time when thousands cancelled their planned holiday to this poor but amazing country with Mt Everest as the crown jewel. I just had to go, to see for myself on the ground what was really happening and how our money was spent.

I must frankly admit that after one day in Nepal in early June 2015 - after seeing the ruins, the devastation, the shattered lives - I was ready to fly home immediately. You can only take so much.

I saw pieces of clothing still sticking out of the piles of debris - rubble, rocks, bricks, collapsed buildings under which so many people had been crushed to death. I saw the tent cities that had sprung up.

I saw world relief in action - World Food Program, Red Cross, World Vision etc. They all did their best - but it would never be enough. Untold suffering is lingering still, and will be for a long time.

We were fortunate to be able to work with Transformation Nepal, a church-based group with experience and expertise that can draw on many volunteers who serve for nothing. No payments except a food-pack for lunch, simply Nepalese people inspired to serve their fellow Nepalese - from 6am to late at night, on many a day.

Was it worth it?

No doubt about it!

"Your support was life-saving," said one woman later on.

Thousands felt similarly.

When victims talked about the relief they had received from AFA through TRN the word 'hope' figured prominently - phrases like, 'we have new hope now'.

We were able to support some 10,000 people.

As a Christian group, close to the Lutheran Church but working independently with all churches, we made sure that the small minority of Christians in Nepal was not forgotten but we served Hindus and Buddhists equally. Christians however are often discriminated against, even when it comes to receiving aid. …

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