A Nepalese-born Royal Australian Navy officer appealled to her workmates for aid to send to Nepal in the wake of the devastating earthquakes, but she never thought it would go viral.
Lieutenant Kamala Sharma-Wing said she began collecting a few things around the house and thought she would appeal to the broader Australian Defence community through an email post.
“The email was forwarded outside Defence, all around Canberra and interstate – I was getting inundated by emails from people wanting to help and support the cause,” she said.
“There is definitely a lot of love for Nepal out there. I’m so proud of everybody who responded.”
Lieutenant Sharma-Wing moved to Australia with her family in 1985 at the age of 13. She kept in touch with her relatives and went to Nepal on holidays a couple of times.
She joined the Australia Nepal Friendship Society in Canberra in 2012 but wasn’t that active as a member. The earthquake changed that.
“When the earthquakes occurred I really felt like I had to do something personally – I just wanted to help,” Lieutenant Sharma-Wing said.
“My family is very fortunate to be living in Australia. We used to live in Kathmandu, so had we stayed, it would have been us in that situation.
“With all the support we have received from both Defence members and civilians, this is all much bigger than I ever dreamt.”
The donations collected by the Australia Nepal Friendship Society have exceeded $41,000 and more than four tonnes of usable equipment in the form of tents, sleeping bags and both lightweight doonas and blankets.
Lieutenant Sharma-Wing said several airlines had supported the cause.
“Initially if they had, say, a spare 100kg of cargo allowance, they donated that to let us get medical supplies over there.”
A storage company in Canberra donated free space in its warehouse.
“Our focus is not on collection of more items at the moment, though we plan to conduct another donation drive of warm clothes for winter a bit later on in the year.”
For more information go to http://www.anfscanberra.org.au/