HELPING: Arpana Sharma with her co-workers in the Grafton Base Hospital emergency department. Photo: Adam Hourigan
HELPING: Arpana Sharma with her co-workers in the Grafton Base Hospital emergency department. Photo: Adam Hourigan

Valley reaches out to Nepal

THROUGH her own generosity, Grafton Base Hospital junior medical officer Arparna Sharma has learnt just how generous the Clarence Valley community can be.

Dr Sharma said she had received an influx of donations since her aim to raise fund for disaster relief efforts in her home country, Nepal, was made public through a The Daily Examiner article last month.

"A lot of people have been to Nepal and know what's happening and want to help in any way they can," she said.

"It is very overwhelming and heart-warming."

Two women in particular, Esther Williams and Judy Banko, have taken time out from their busy schedule to help plan a dinner and show fundraiser to be held at the Criterion Theatre this month, headlined by The Hogs, Irresistible and Sparrow and the Catfish.

All funds raised will go directly to where they are needed most - Dr Sharma will leave for Kathmandu on August 3, give the funds raised to her sister Aditi's charity called Kalyani, and will help the charity make and distribute hygiene kits to those still affected by earthquakes and tremors.

Each pack costs about AU$7.50 to make, and contains sanitary pads, water purifying drops to purify 40 litres of water, tooth powder and toothbrushes, hair brushes and soap.

"The monsoon season has set in and the government has issued a warning not to build yet because the ground is still so unstable," she said.

"So people are learning to live in tents in shelters."

It will also be the first time Dr Sharma has seen her family since the first major natural disaster in April.

"For me, it's only going to be real once I get there and hold my family and know they're okay," she said.

The changes the earthquake has made won't sink in until I see it myself."

Her sister, who is currently working as a project officer for the UN at the epicentre, is one of those living in a tent.

"She said sometimes the tents leak water and in the day it's like a sauna. I'm very proud of her."

Dr Sharma said the combination of the monsoon season and poor hygiene meant diarrhoeal diseases had started to break out in earthquake-affected areas.

"There is no sanitation and villages are still not aware of good hygiene practices," she said.

"There was one night my sister called me at 3am because she couldn't sleep. She said there was a woman in hospital crying all night because her husband had died of a diarrhoeal disease. Out of a family of six, they were the only two that survived the earthquake."

The Nepalese Women's Health Crisis benefit night will be held at the Criterion Theatre on July 17 at 7pm.

Tickets are $30 and are available from The Coffee Club, Buckley's Music Centre and the Grafton Base Hospital emergency department counter.

"I'm hoping people will understand that it's going to a very good cause," she said.