It’s confronting to see families living under a plastic sheet. It’s heartbreaking to see children trying to learn in buildings that are falling apart.
Linda Harwood knows these images too well. They are forever etched in her mind.
The Maitland woman spends five months of the year in Nepal trying to help communities rebuild after the country was torn apart in the 2015 earthquake.
Ms Harwood, who founded Umbrella Foundation Australia, needs to raise $50,000 to finish repairing a secondary school near Kathmandu where 252 students learn in four classrooms.
It’s the first big project the small charity has undertaken. It has enacted the help of the Nepal River Community Trust to make the project possible.
The community has put its weight behind the venture and promised to donate their labor to perform the repairs.
“One hundred percent of everything goes where it needs to go,” Ms Harwood said.
“If we raise $50,000 it will finish the school; we are also trying to organise training for rural teachers.
“We need more people to help.“They are still reeling from the earthquake, people are doing it very tough.”
The foundation is hoping to raise the money through the sale of commemorative bricks which will form a wall of acknowledgement at the school. Anyone who buys a brick will be able to visit the school and see their contribution.
“We’ve made them really affordable; they are $10 for a brick, $30 for a family brick and $100 for a business brick,” Ms Harwood said.
She shared her knowledge of Nepal with NSW Country Womens’ Association members in Maitland on Wednesday. The Maitland branch have been studying the country in recent months and were given a glimpse of popular dishes over there with a traditional lunch.
She told them of the dangers children faced as they learned, and how many of them have to walk up to two hours to school. She also spoke of the resilient Nepal community who focus on the positive things in life to keep them going.
“Speaking was an opportunity to share the culture, we have a lot compared to what they have,” Ms Harwood said.
“There are still tremors, and the school is not structurally sound.
“We all have a place that affects us and for me that’s Nepal, and I found it by accident.”
Ms Harwood is also involved with a program that helps improve hygiene for women and girls, and a program to reintegrate children, who have been trafficked, with their family.
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