Monday 15 October 2018

Charity work for Nepal

Jessica Farry

When Alison Irwin visited Everest Base Camp, her eyes were opened. Visiting Nepal had been a lifelong dream and upon arrival, she realised how truly poor the country is, and decided she wanted to do something to help.

Having begun fundraising, Alison was later approached to join the Nepal Ireland Society, where she is assistant secretary in a voluntary capacity. Last weekend, she organised a jumble sale to raise funds for schools in Nepal.

"I set a target of about €2,000 for my fundraiser and we should realise that."

Each year Alison organises fundraising events for various schools in the Everest Region.

She explains: "About five years ago, I began a fundraising drive and raised €7,000 for one of the schools in the Everest region. There has always been an Irish connection there as the school was initially build from funds raised as a direct result of the first successful Irish Everest Expedition. A basic school was built and over the past few years it has gradually been expended. The money which I raised was set up as a scholarship fund and about 20 students receive money each year from it to help with their studies."

As part of her work with Nepal Ireland Society, Alison is secretary of a group which aims to strengthen the relationship between Ireland and the Asian country.

"Nepal Ireland Society, another voluntary organisation, is working towards improving health, educational, business and tourism links between Nepal and Ireland via a new Inter Parliamentary Group which was officially launched in Leinster house last June.

"We have run a number of hugely successful Nepal Days in Farmleigh House in the Phoenix Park and deployed over €100.000 fundraised in Ireland, directly after the earthquakes of 2015.

"We helped provide emergency shelters and medical camps in the immediate aftermath, providing food and hygiene packs, building temporary intermediate accommodation and more recently permanent accommodation for families who had been left homeless as a result of the quakes."

Despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, Alison says it boasts beautiful scenery and incredible and diverse culture.

"A teacher's annual salary in Nepal is about €2,400. There are about 3,000 Nepalese living here. A lot of IT people and people in the hospitality sector work in Ireland. It's a fabulous country. The infrastructure is poor, but it has views, adventure, mountains, great culture, music and super food. It is an incredibly diverse country. People think Nepal is only for mountaineers and trekkers but it offers so much more. The people are so friendly. It's an education in itself to go there. It's a passion for me."

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