Spotlight on Alumni: Nepal Chapter Raises Funds for Tsunami Survivors, Street Children, and Fosters International Ties with Alumni

Between raising funds for victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami, helping support educational programs for street children, and forging a sister-chapter relationship with alumni in Australia, the EWCA Nepal Alumni Chapter in Kathmandu has been busy carrying out the Center’s mission in South Asia.
    “The things we learned at the Center, the aloha spirit and the living together, sharing different cultures, different foods and learning about other people, definitely has had a good effect on my life,” said Nirendra Maske (1967-68), vice president of the chapter with about 60 members. “What we’re doing now with our chapter programs and projects is to mobilize and give back to society because we were very fortunate to come to Hawai‘i and have such wonderful experiences at the East-West Center.”
        In spring 2005, after the devastating 2004 Asian tsunami, the chapter organized a concert to benefit the East-West Center’s tsunami relief effort. “We thought this was the time to show our solidarity with the people affected by the disaster,” Nirendra said.
    The fundraiser featured a solo classical guitar concert by Kishor Gurung, an EWC alumnus and a renowned Nepalese musician. The event, sponsored by the EWCA chapter, USEF and Expatriate Community Service, was sold out and raised more than US $1,500. Those funds were donated to the EWC tsunami relief fund, matched by the East-West Center, and at the chapter’s request designated to aid victims in Sri Lanka and India.
    An ongoing priority for the chapter has been its community service project, which supports the efforts of Bal Bhojan, an organization that provides food and education for street children in Kathmandu. On EWC Day in May 2007, the chapter subsidized training for two teachers from the project. This year, to mark EWC Day, chapter president, Dr. Shankar Sharma, and other alumni visited the Bal Bhojan program to distribute educational kits to 60 children. Alumni also helped serve lunch to the children.
    This spring the Nepal chapter officially established a sister relationship with the Brisbane chapter in Australia. The chapters exchanged memorandum of understanding signed by the chapter presidents, agreeing together to promote awareness of the EWC and its activities in their countries as well as develop common activities and projects involving their chapters. Out of this relationship the chapters hope to develop closer relations between its members.
    As a first step, they have agreed to work together to raise funds to send a Nepalese student to the East-West Center. They also developed a joint research project on the current and likely future effects of global warming on Australia and Nepal, which was presented at the EWCA Bali Conference last November.
    Their future plans include raising financial and material support for a village education project in Nepal; and the Brisbane chapter hopes to make a good will visit to Nepal to further the development of joint activities.
    There is an EWC story behind the sister-chapter relationship that dates back to 1967 and ‘68 in Honolulu. Those were the years when EWC grantees Nirendra Maske and Jeremy Webb, from Nepal and Australia respectively, were roommates pursuing their studies in Hawai‘i. Their friendship has continued through the decades — a testimony to the strength of the network of EWC alumni, which continues to benefit people and countries throughout the region.

The EWCA Nepal Alumni Chapter reaches out in support of Bal Bhojan, an NGO that provides food and education for street children in Kathmandu.

Chapter members gathered at Hotel Himalaya for EWC Day.

EWC Alumnus Kishor Gurung performed at EWCA Nepal Chapter’s sold-out fundraiser for Tsunami victims.