Aldershot Town FC, in conjunction with the Woking Asian Business Forum, last week raised a further £12,000 for the Nepal earthquake relief fund.
The dinner, organised by Shots and WABF Chairman Shahid Azeem and held at the HG Wells Conference Centre in Woking, was attended by 250 of the region’s most prominent businessmen and women as well as Aldershot MP Sir Gerald Howarth and the Mayor of Rushmoor, Councillor Martin Tennant.
Auction items included four VIP hospitality tickets for The Shots’ 2015-16 home derby against Woking, which sold for £700, plus a Gareth Bale shirt signed by Tottenham Hotspur’s 2012-13 squad (£500), two tickets to a forthcoming Chelsea home match (£900) and a McLaren cap signed by Jensen Button (£500).
Guest speakers included Jehangir Malik OBE, the UK Director of Islamic Relief, and Dato Kim Tan, co-founder of the Transformational Business Network which promotes sustainable business opportunities to alleviate poverty in Africa and Asia.
With over 5000 dead and 10,000 injured, plus over 70,000 homes lost and a total of 8 million people affected by Nepal’s earthquakes, Malik explained: “I’ve seen the impact of natural disasters in too many countries over the last 20 years, and see two things: the indescribable tragedy unfolding before our eyes, and how the loss of everything can tear lives apart, but we also see an amazing response from the generosity of all communities. It is a testimony to the compassion and the humanity of people, regardless of ethnicity, religion or any other connection. We must reach out to all of humanity.”
“Our programme over the next three months aims to reach 10,000 families, which is about 50,000 individuals, with shelter, accommodation, water and supplies. Much of the beautiful country of Nepal, its peace and serenity, has been shattered. Nepal has opened its arms to the world for centuries, and now it is time for us to respond to the call in their time of need. I am very grateful that everybody has showed their compassion tonight by digging deep to help get aid and assistance to the communities who desperately need it.”
“To see real transformation amongst the poor, you need to do more than throw money – you need time and expertise as well as urgent humanitarian aid to help communities lift themselves out of poverty,” urged Tan, whose network of 2000 members have launched projects including the building of a safari park in one of the most deprived areas of South Africa, the manufacture of 9 million fuel-efficient stoves in Ethiopia, the establishment of 420 community schools in Kenya, and creation of a mail order catalogue for female entrepreneurs in rural Indonesia, as well as ongoing work in Nepal itself.
“We need to help small businesses to grow over 10 or 12 years with our social venture funds. We now have governments putting money into these funds as a different way of bringing about long-term sustainable transformation in poor communities,” continued Tan, whose network promotes both ethical and ecologically-sound business models. “If you ask the poor what it is they really want, they all say ‘we want a job that pays us a regular salary’ – then they can look after their own families and be independent rather than rely on aid.”
“This was a great way for our community to come together and show its support for the people of Nepal,” concluded Azeem. “We do live in a multi-cultural society and the events in Nepal are very personal for a lot of people in this area. Aldershot Town FC visited many of the areas affected by the earthquakes, and saw just how beautiful and how poor the country is. I think it is very important that we try to help. Although there are a lot of challenges, we are in a country that can help Nepal, and I am delighted that our community has been so generous in their support.”