SCOTTISH-based Bring Back The Smile To Nepal has completed the rebuild of an entire village left devastated by an earthquake.
The village of Archanbas, situated on a remote hillside in the Gorkha District of Nepal, was completed destroyed by the massive earthquake in 2015.
The small and remote community had little chance of being reached by the bigger charities or the Government’s reconstruction plans.
However, when Bring Back The Smile To Nepal’s founder Anna Gurung travelled to Nepal in 2015 she was alerted to the plight of the devastated village and its former occupants, forced to live in handmade shelters.
She said: “We immediately put together a construction plan with the villagers and began to the huge project of rebuilding all 21 houses in the community.
“We would like to thank all those you have contributed in the UK, all our volunteers here and the people of Archanbas themselves. We are very proud.”
But the charity is not resting on its laurels.
After the difficulty of rebuilding on the hillside location – with all its logistical problems – Bring Back The Smile To Nepal has not been put off, and has already identified its next project.
The village of Ruplang will be the next settlement to be helped by the charity.
Anna added: “We plan to rebuild Ruplang as well. It’s a huge effort, but we will continue our fundraising efforts here in the UK to ensure we can help as many people as possible.”
Further information about the charity can be found on their website www.bringbackthesmiletonepal.org or via their facebook and twitter pages.
Bring Back The Smile To Nepal started as a one off fundraising effort by Anna Gurung and a friend, in reaction to the huge earthquake that shook Nepal on 25 April, 2015.
Just four months later, following weeks of hard work and furious fundraising, Anna was rewarded when official charitable status was given to her campaign by OSCR, the official charity regulator for Scotland.
Anna’s energy and determination had meant, in a just a few months, her campaign had raised enough money to allow her to travel to Nepal and begin to help rebuild homes and lives, in a country she cares so much about.
Whilst the charity is relatively new, Anna’s affection for Nepal and it’s people, dates back much further.
When news of the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that shook Nepal reverberated around the world, the reports were even more distressing for the Gurung family from the quiet village of Kenmore, near Aberfeldy in Perthshire.
Sanu and Anna Gurung had moved from Nepal to raise a family and to enable Sanu to work in the rafting and outdoor adventure business.
Although Anna’s family live in Aberdeenshire, the couple settled on Perthshire. They first met in 1993, when Anna travelled to Nepal. Although she had to return to the UK, the following year she made the arduous trip across the border from Bangladesh – where she had been working as a volunteer.
A chance meeting brought them together again, they fell in love and married in 2000.
Although they had always hoped to raise a family in Nepal, the political unrest in the country, which followed the 2001 massacre of King Birendra and nine members of the Royal family at the Narayanhity Royal Palace in Kathmandu, persuaded Sanu and Anna to uproot and settle in the tranquillity of Highland Perthshire.
With their three children, Sanu and Anna had visited Nepal as recently as October 2014.
Their family and friends still fresh in their minds, the news of the largest earthquake for 80 years, meant an anxious and nerve racking wait, as they desperately tried to contact their family in the Darachok district of Nepal.
With phone lines down and power supplies sporadic, it was a fretful 72 hours spent trying to contact their loved ones.
Eventually they found that Sanu’s parents had survived but their house was unsafe and they were having to live in tents.
Further calls helped them discover that although Sanu’s Aunt had witnessed her house reduced to rubble, she had escaped unscathed. His sister, who lived in Kathmandu had also been lucky. They were able to breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Although their own family had been comparatively lucky, the couple’s deep affection for the country and it’s people meant they felt the need to try and help, in any way they could.
Anna, together with one of her close friends, immediately hit on the idea of a parachute jump to raise funds for Mercy Corps relief efforts in Nepal. Anna quickly realised that rebuilding of Nepal would require substantially more than a single skydive, however.
Other fundraising projects were undertaken, a brand name was added, and charitable status was applied for.
The charity gained the backing of TV personality and long time Nepal campaigner Joanna Lumley OBE.