Thanks to the people of West Cork, tents, food, clean water and other emergency supplies have been provided for some 3,000 people whose lives were devastated by a massive earthquake, while homes have been built for several families – and all through your generosity.
This is just a snapshot of what has been achieved through the €50,000-plus sum donated less than a year ago by the people of Clonakilty and West Cork, to locally-born teacher Declan Murphy, the founder of a charity, which supports the street children of the Nepali city of Kathmandu.
Murphy, founded the just-one charity in 2004 after witnessing first-hand the plight of street children in the city. The organisation, which receives strong support from many schools in West Cork, allows these children to return to a normal family and school life.
Murphy was visiting family members in Clonakilty when the earthquake struck on April 25th last. ‘There was this incredibly huge outpouring of generosity from all across West Cork,’ he recalled when I met him recently in his adopted city of Kathmandu.
‘I had priests asking me to speak from the pulpit. I had people coming up to me on the street, donating money. People were ringing my parents’ house in Clonakilty and calling to the door to hand in envelopes containing hundreds of euro. The generosity was incredible. Within six weeks of the earthquake, we had raised nearly €50,000.’
‘This allowed us to get food, water, tarpaulin and galvanised iron for building temporary accommodation to affected families and their communities.’
One of the families to benefit from that West Cork money is the Pariyars – mum Sukymaya (41) a day-labourer, her husband Bikram (44), a tailor and their two young children, daughter Bhumika (11) and Manjo (6).
Several months after the earthquake, the money donated by the people of West Cork facilitated the lease of about half an acre of land just outside the city, and the construction of semi-permanent accommodation for nine families with about 35 children, including the Pariyars.
The temporary homes, built with the traditional materials of bamboo, clay and dung, now provide shelter for nine families as well as a community room for after-school club and meetings.
‘The Pariyar’s previous accommodation was damaged by the earthquake and they were in tented accommodation for several months until they moved into this new, semi-permanent accommodation last July.’ says Declan.
‘They have enough to worry about in the best of times, and this accommodation provided by the generosity of the people of West Cork has given them security at a time of great uncertainty and anxiety for them.’
Longer-term shelters were also constructed for three families whose children receive support from just-one.
The money provided emergency food and sanitary support to 250 families, or about 1,000 individuals in six different affected areas, following the quake. It also facilitated the distribution of tankers of clean water to 320 families, for some 1,280 individuals in the days and weeks following the first quake.
The West Cork donations also allowed just-one to provide a combination of replacement school uniforms, shoes, school bags, books and stationery items to some 970 students from seven schools, four of which were also provided with replacement books and educational games for their affected libraries.
‘In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, many of the families and the children we work with were left homeless. People were living outside,’ Murphy recalls. ‘They were afraid to go indoors – even the wealthy of Kathmandu were sleeping outside.’
‘A lot of the families that just-one deals with were left without safe accommodation. They stayed under bamboo and tarpaulin tents that we supplied as a result of the support that came from West Cork in the wake of the earthquake.’
The just-one organisation was set up in 2004 by Murphy after he came came to the city in 2003 to teach there. ‘Seeing the children on the street and working in the tea shops was the impetus.
I got the idea to encourage schoolchildren in Ireland to help children in Nepal go to school.’ he says, adding that over the years the organisation has helped children on the run from domestic violence at home or from abusive employers.
‘We have residential transit accommodation for six children aged between seven and 12 – boys only – where they stay while we trace their families and try to resolve whatever problems may have resulted in them ending up on the street. Once they’re back home with their families we provide educational sponsorship for them and their siblings as well as follow-up visits to ensure our intervention is worthwhile.’
The organisation also has a programme for some 74 disadvantaged families which are forced, by poverty, to send young children to work.
‘When a family is willing and able to take the child back, the child and their siblings are provided with an educational scholarship. Monthly follow-up visits ensure our support is appropriate and beneficial.’ says Declan, who now has a staff of 10 and an annual running cost (excluding the earthquake) of about €80,000.
Former just-one beneficiaries include a driver with Oxfam, a social worker who now works with just-one and six university students studying nursing, commerce, business and tourism management and hospitality.
‘It is daunting.’ acknowledges Murphy. ‘As our funding needs increase every year, I often find myself wondering where it will come from – but it always seems to come, which is a testament to West Cork and the generosity of the people there.’
‘I want to give a big thanks to people who have supported us over the years and who believed in this crazy notion of Irish children helping Nepali children go to school to create a future for themselves!’
• For more information visit www.just-one.org. Money can be donated via the Bank of Ireland using IBAN: IE73 BOFI 9026 1087 1351 18 and BIC/SWIFT: BOFI IE2D