Aldershot Town will present a cheque for £25,000 to Nepalese community leaders on Wednesday night, as The Shots adopt two projects to rebuild village schools in the wake of April’s devastating earthquake.
The cheque will be presented to Sahara UK and the Buddhist Community Centre UK at half-time in the Vanarama National League game against Forest Green Rovers, which is broadcast live on BT Sport. Aldershot Town will then raise a further £5,000 in the next six months, taking the Club’s total fundraising to £30,000.
Sahara UK and BCCUK will co-ordinate the relief work using the funds from several Club initiatives, including the proceeds of Chelsea Academy’s match against Liverpool in May, a dinner and auction organised in conjunction with the Woking Asian Business Forum, Woking Borough Council and Sharaz Homes, and bucket collections amongst Shots fans.
The Club have adopted the Bamti Bhandar Sherpa School, in the Ramechhap district of north-eastern Nepal, which educated over 340 children up to the age of 12, and the 150-pupil Shree Ganesh Primary School of Ghairung village, which is in the western Gorkha district and near the epicentre of the 7.9 magnitude earthquake.
Consisting of nine classrooms, Shree Ganesh was the hub of a community of 250 houses and 1900 people, but all 150 students were displaced following the earthquake. 65 of those children, from an indigenous, lower-caste background, are yet to find alternative places to continue their studies and are currently using a makeshift Temporary Learning Centre as a classroom. In the face of the total devastation suffered by the entire area, and with the community struggling to resurrect their lives, the village is desperate to rebuild its school, but is unable to do so without outside help.
Initially approaching the renowned Sahara Nepal charity, the most successful charity in Nepal, Sahara UK, BBCUK and Aldershot Town have agreed to adopt these projects. It is expected that, once rebuilt, the schools can welcome even higher numbers of students into their classrooms and once again become beacons of hope for their communities. The projects are expected to take up to 12 months to complete.
Kaji Sherpa, Chairman of BCCUK, explained: “The Bamti Bhandar Sherpa School, which teaches under-privileged and orphaned children, is privately-funded and receives no government subsidy. Aldershot Town’s support will be an immense help to these children, particular in the construction of a sports hall which will be named after the Club. Our relationship with Aldershot Town grows stronger every day, and we are very grateful for their support.”
“It’s great that we are all coming together on this project, in Aldershot, our home in Britain, to help our remote corner of the world,” said Aldershot Town Director Meg Gurung. “The re-building of our country will take years, we know this is a long-term project and that there will be no quick fix in Nepal. But the country is much more stable now, even though small tremors continue – people just don’t notice them anymore as they are so used to them! People are slowly getting their lives back together, and the work is only now able to begin.
“We are really grateful to the people of Aldershot, and our well-wishers throughout the area. We hope to show what we can achieve with this fundraising, and we felt that it was vital to focus on schools, as the heart of every community. They are a place to share ideas and solve problems, and have a huge influence on everybody in that village.”
Aldershot Town Chairman, Shahid Azeem, said: “Our long-standing affiliation with both Sahara UK and BCCUK, with whom we are great neighbours, compelled us to help our friends in Nepal. Education is a vital part of any community and we felt that these two schools were the perfect projects for the Club to adopt. The UK’s response to any disaster is always fantastic, wherever they occur, and I have a particular personal interest in helping Nepal, after my own home country of Pakistan was hit by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake in 2005. I saw first-hand the devastation there, with over 100,000 lives lost and people still trying to rebuild their lives a decade later, and understand what Nepal is going through right now.
“I would like to thank Chelsea FC, for their kind donations of both gate receipts and auction items, both Farnborough and Guildford District Rotary Clubs, Woking Borough Council, Islamic Relief and Sharaz Homes. We are very grateful for their assistance and compassion.”
Sharaz Hussain, of Sharaz Homes, said: “We were delighted and honoured to support the event at the HG Wells Suite in Woking, and also pass our thanks to Woking Borough Council for use of their facilities. Like Shahid, I have personal memories of the earthquake in Pakistan, and how my country received great help from around the world, and we wanted to in some way return those favours. We want to help make a difference in Nepal, whether to 100 or 100,000 people.”
The 7.9 magnitude earthquake, which hit Nepal on 25 April, has killed 9000 people and injured over 23,000.
Pictured above: Shahid Azeem (Chairman, Aldershot Town), Kaji Sherpa (Chairman, Buddhist Community Centre UK), Meg Gurung (Sahara UK), Sangeeta Patel (Outreach Manager, Woking Asian Business Forum), Mark Butler (Commercial Manager, Aldershot Town), Harka Bahadur Gurung (Buddhist Community Centre UK), Sharaz Hussain (Sharaz Homes), Barry Smith (Manager, Aldershot Town)