Saturday, February 06, 2010

UK gov't contract: New opportunity: Enabling State Programme, Nepal

Seen on Twitter:
#DFIDcontracts New opportunity: Enabling State Programme, Nepal. Apply now: Closing date: 11 March 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pass this on: Missing Persons Registry - Haitian Earthquake January 2010

Copy of message today on Twitter from Ushahidi's Erik Hersman:
Pass this on. Missing persons registry for #haiti is
about 4 hours ago from twhirl
Further reading

Patrick Meier's report at Ushahidi's blog, 13 January 2010: Our Efforts in Response to Haiti’s Earthquake - We’ve launched

Ethan Zuckerman's blog post at My Heart's in Accra, 13 January 2010: Following the Haitian earthquake online

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Gurkhas 'in need after coming to the UK with nothing'

Report by Angus Crawford
BBC News Tuesday, 5 January 2010
Military charities say they have "grave concerns" about their ability to cope with the number of former Gurkhas coming to them for assistance.

Last year those who retired before 1997 won permission to settle in the UK - and up to 12,000 may do so by 2013.

But welfare groups say some are arriving from Nepal with no money and nowhere to live, and need their help.

The Ministry of Defence says it offers advice on housing and jobs, and help to any who fall through the "safety net".

According to the Army Benevolent Fund, up to 12,000 Gurkhas may apply for UK residency over the next three years.

'Two suitcases'

It estimates that new arrivals will need about £2,000 per household to set themselves up with accommodation, basic furniture, and appliances.

Director of Welfare Paul Cummings told the BBC that in the two-week period before Christmas, 12 families came to the charity for help.

"They will arrive from an aircraft, they'll probably have two suitcases and no more," he said.

"They're going to need everything to set up home."

Mr Cummings praised the MoD for setting up a resettlement office in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, which is designed to brief applicants about the reality of life in Britain.

But he explained that the people he has seen simply have not been there.

"Having not been through any preparation in Nepal prior to arrival, they're coming here with no resources to back them up and no means of sustaining themselves," he said.

"It is an issue of grave concern."

Loan to resettle

Until last year, Gurkhas who retired before 1997 didn't qualify to settle in the UK.

But campaigners, including the actress Joanna Lumley, took their case to court and enlisted high profile supporters to persuade the government to change its policy.

Finally, in May, it was announced that all Gurkhas who retired before 1997 and had completed more than four years service could apply to live in the UK.

One of those is Unmansingh Gurung, who is 64 and served with the brigade in the 1960s.

He arrived in the UK in October last year having taken out an £1,800 loan to pay for a visa and flights.

He has yet to receive any benefits and went to the Army Benevolent Fund for help - they have given him £800 for food and rent.

"I was a farmer in Nepal, it was hard, I didn't have enough money," he said.

"I feel very bad to be separated from my family, but it's the only choice."

He explained that he hoped to collect money from his benefits and send it back to Nepal, then maybe bring his wife and two children over eventually.

He would like to work, but speaks little English and has yet to find a job.

Financial burden

Dr Hugh Milroy is chief executive of Veterans Aid, the UK's leading charity dealing with former members of the forces who become homeless.

He remembers one Gurkha he met in the street outside his office in central London.

"He literally hadn't eaten. He'd been in the country five days and he was struggling already."

That case was time-consuming and complex - but Dr Milroy's greatest concern is for families trying to find somewhere to live.

"There are no houses and even if we've put them in a house, it's about your physical, psychological and financial ability to sustain that house."

Dr Milroy said military charities were helping the Gurkhas and would continue to do so in the future.

"We cope well on a national basis, but this has the potential to be overwhelming and that is very worrying," he added.

Mr Cummings also said the Army Benevolent Fund was coping at the moment, but if the projected 12,000 do apply, the financial burden could become excessive.

"If you provided £2,000 pounds to help each family that arrived, you're talking about a total of £24 million.

"What we need to try and make sure is that people are making the decision to come to the UK knowing what they will face when they get here."

The MoD said that more than 2,000 people had attended its settlement office in Nepal since it opened three months ago.

It added: "By working closely with other government departments, we have also put fast-tracking arrangements in place to ensure that ex-Gurkhas arriving in the UK receive all the support and benefits that the welfare system offers."


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Meme: Joe Trippi's Eleven-Eleven 1111Campaign - America's and Britain's Veterans have given so much. Now, you can give back.

Joe Trippi, one of America's greatest bloggers, has launched Eleven Eleven Campaign. The objective of the Eleven Eleven Campaign is simple: to get 11 million Americans to donate $11 to support America’s Veterans. Here is a copy of Joe's latest tweet on Twitter:
Tomorrow is Veterans Day, and now is our moment to encourage our friends, family members and colleagues to join us...
33 minutes ago from Facebook
Eleven Eleven
Hey Joe! Britain's Veterans have given so much too!

Stand with 11 million Brits and Give £11 to Support Britain’s Vets!

Take Action Today
Click here to support Britain's Veterans
November 11, 2009

Britain's Veterans have given so much.  Now, you can give back.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lumley greeted as 'daughter of Nepal'

A wonderful story from BBC News in Nepal, by Joanna Jolly, 25 July 2009:
Lumley greeted as 'daughter of Nepal'
A high profile campaign led by the actress Joanna Lumley in May won many Gurkha veterans the right to settle in the UK.

The case was followed keenly by their families in Nepal as the BBC found out when the actress arrived in Kathmandu.

Joanna Lumley's visit to Nepal was originally intended to be a private affair.

But such was the level of gratitude towards the former model and actress, her imminent arrival in Kathmandu fast became the main event in town.

"We're so excited to meet her, she's been so good to us," said Sorala Thapa, 42, wife of a former Gurkha soldier who was one of hundreds of Nepalis travelling to Kathmandu's airport to welcome Joanna Lumley.

Sorala arrived with forty other Gurkha wives, all wearing traditional green saris bearing the Gurkha emblem of two crossed Khukuri knives.

As they waited for Ms Lumley's plane to touch down, they handed out placards bearing the slogans "daughter of Nepal", "goddess" and "thank you".

Prem Rai, chairman of the United British Gurkha Ex-Servicemen Association Nepal, said: "Gurkha wives and Gurkha widows are especially grateful to Joanna.

"They can now qualify for British settlement visas."

But Mr Rai said all Nepalese people were thankful for what she has done for the Gurkhas.

"We are very pleased to welcome her in Nepal," he said.

Many of those who turned up were elderly. As monsoon rain showers swept across the airport car park, they waited patiently, placards and flags in hand.

Finally Ms Lumley emerged from the terminal building. Flanked by Peter Carroll, the Liberal Democrat councillor who began the Gurkha Justice Campaign, she looked delighted to see the crowds waiting to meet her.

Leaders of the Gurkha ex-servicemen organizations draped orange garlands and traditional white khata scarves - usually given as a token of love - around her shoulders.

But, as Ms Lumley moved slowly past lines of well-wishers, the Nepalese press pack broke through the barriers and surrounded her.

'Absolutely thrilled'

The result was chaos as local police pushed back cameramen and photographers as everyone tried to get a shot of the actress.

"I'm absolutely thrilled, it's extremely sweet and warm," said Ms Lumley as her minders pushed her through the mob.

"Quite close contact," she added with a smile.

Undeterred by the scrum surrounding Ms Lumley, small and elderly former Gurkhas attempted to break through the crowd to reach her.

Despite their size and their age, they did surprisingly well - many of them managing to get close enough to drape more scarves around her neck.

Using a car doorway as a platform, Ms Lumley was finally able to stand above the mob and deliver an impromptu speech.

"I want to thank you so much for your warm welcome," she said.

"I want to say the time-honoured cry, Ayo Gorkhali!"

On Monday the actress is scheduled to meet the Nepalese president and prime minister before addressing a crowd of former Gurkhas at Kathmandu's city hall.

"Everybody will be there to meet her," said 53-year-old Gyanendra Rai, a Falklands veteran who will be one the first to benefit from Ms Lumley's campaign to secure UK settlement rights for Gurkha ex-servicemen.

"We don't have any word to describe her, because she's like an original goddess for the Gurkhas. So we'll heartily welcome her to Kathmandu.

"It is a homecoming for her," he said.
Great job, well done Ms Lumley. Ayo Gorkhali!


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Keep Nepal Free

Linda's (one year old but new to me) specialist blog Keep Nepal Free is now in my feed, thanks to Curzon at the Coming Anarchy blog. Early last year, I followed Linda's main blog but somehow lost contact when I started reading blogs through a newsfeed. On Linda's blog, Keep Nepal Free, Curzon writes this:
It's been quite a while since I first wrote about the appalling state of affairs in Nepal. The situation remains grim. The King continues his brutal crackdown on dissent, opposition parties have gone so far as to meet with the Maoist guerillas to plan joint protests against the king, relations with the US and India remain sour (leading to closer ties with China and North Korea), and there appears to be no easy end to the current mess.

How do I keep track of all this? Beside Google News, there's a great source of information for those of you opposed to a bloody Maoist takeover of the Himalayan kingdom: Keep Nepal Free. Author Linda is based in Nebraska but nonetheless keeps close tabs on Nepal-related news with regular updates. Next week is the site's one-year anniversary -- congrats on a unique blog Linda, and keep up the great work.
Please visit Curzon's post for the link to his original post on the appalling state of affairs in Nepal. This blog Nepal Watch is only used to file news on Nepal that I find while tracking news on the Sudan.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Zayd's Dad: Why was a church burned in Nepal?

Joel at Zayd's Dad blog asks Why was a church burned in Nepal? and writes:
"While I was in Nepal last week, I heard a story of a church that was burned down by the Maoists in the western part of the nation. They Maoists later told the church leaders, "We have to burn your building down to stop you from spreading your message of love, peace, non-violence, and forgivess. If everyone listens to your message, then no one will follow our cause and kill for us." Despite the Maoists attacks on Christians, the church is growing."