Nepalese community in S'pore sending relief supplies for victims

THE Nepalese community in Singapore has received donations of food and relief supplies, including tents and blankets, for victims of the 7.8-magnitude quake that struck Kathmandu last Saturday.

But the challenge now is to get the items to those in need as soon as possible, Nepalese Society Singapore president Kishore Dev Pant said yesterday.

With relief teams and aid pouring into the country, his concern is that supplies will take time to be delivered.

So the society decided to send a small batch of 20 tents and 100 blankets today directly to Nepalese aid groups for distribution to villages outside the capital.

"We're sending a small quantity first as the airport is clogged and chaotic now. We don't want the tents to be stuck on the runway," Mr Pant said.

More will be sent if these supplies can be channelled quickly, he said, adding that the society has sufficient supplies at the moment. These include dried foodstuff, instant noodles as well as more tents and blankets.

"We have a warehouse full of things. I know people are worried that those in Nepal don't have enough, but collecting things here doesn't guarantee that people there get them. There's no point for goods to pile up here," he said.

The society also collected more than $3,500 from its 150 members, with more bank transfers and cheques coming in.

An upcoming exhibition of photos of Nepal - which the society put together with Singaporean photographer Edwin Koo before the disaster hit - will also be used to collect funds. The exhibition at Ion Orchard from May 11 to May 17 will feature pictures by Nepalese photographers and others. Mr Koo hopes to sell prints of the photos and postcards to raise funds for the quake victims.

A medical team of six - including three doctors, two of whom are Nepalese based here - will also head to Kathmandu on Sunday.

The group, which includes a dentist and two nurses, aims to help out in affected villages where aid is needed most. One of the Nepalese doctors, Dr Pujan Rai, is anxious to return to help: "I hope to put my skills to good use. There are sure to be lots of people who need medical attention."

The week-long trip will serve as a recce mission so that larger teams can be deployed more effectively later on, Mr Pant said.

About 30 doctors, nurses, and medics have volunteered to go to Nepal but Mr Pant said more coordination and information are needed before planning a second trip.

He said there are about 9,000 Nepalese in Singapore, including 2,000 Gurkhas with the Singapore Police Force.

ziliang@sph.com.sg