The wonderful folks at Danusha have arranged a benefit gig in support of the Nepal Earthquake Disaster Relief Fund.
Today, I have Allison Davies, part of the Danusha team, to talk about Nepal and why she and her wonderful colleagues have arranged this event.
Thanks for taking the time to speak to me today. What’s your link with Nepal?
Back in 2008, I took a holiday and went to visit my friends Mike and Sue Lavender who were living and working in Nepal. They have a long history with the country beginning when Sue was 12 years old, as her parents worked at a hospital in Pokhara for a year. Sue met Mike and after he finished his medical training, he and Sue went off to work at a Leprosy Hospital. Since then, they’ve spent many years in Nepal, coming home for a time in the mid-90s for their kids’ schooling and with an adopted Nepali daughter.
In 2007, their children were all grown up so off they went again, this time to work with Nepal Leprosy Trust – hence my visit in 2008. I’d seen photos and heard plenty of stories, but nothing quite prepares you for the sheer beauty of the Nepali landscape, not to mention the country’s many stunning historic landmarks. Factor in the people who are warm, friendly and hospitable and I had no chance. I decided to do everything I could to get back to a place that was completely under my skin. It was the beginning of a life-long love affair.
So, tell us about Danusha.
There’s a saying, be careful what you wish for. Fast forward to 2010 and Sue, myself and another friend Katy Barr were in the process of setting up a small fair trade social enterprise – Danusha – working with marginalised women to provide skills training in jewellery making, alongside some simple health and hygiene education and literacy classes. Our goal was simple. To empower these women to make a difference in their communities. At this point our knowledge of the jewellery business could have been written on the head of a fairly small pin. We learned fast, made plenty of mistakes but somehow the project grew. We’ve visited Nepal many times since that time and have been thrilled to see the transformation in the lives of the women who work for us.
At the end of March 2015, Sue and I had just returned from a workshop visit. We were tired, happy, inspired and looking forward to what the next few months would bring.
April 25th, 2015 was just an ordinary Saturday, or so I thought until I got into the car and turned on the radio. Quake day. Nepal’s ground zero, when the landscape shifted, buildings tumbled and thousands of lives were smashed to pieces. I spent the rest of the day online, desperately reading the reports that began to flood in and hoping for news about our team. I felt sick, cried a lot and couldn’t sleep that night. Sue and Mike were also grief-stricken. On Sunday, there was one question that wouldn’t go away: “What can we do? We can’t just sit here. There must be something.” Lightbulb moment: a benefit gig. Maybe we could get 15 – 20 people in a room, have a few performers and raise some cash.
It’s a brilliant idea, I bet it’s been getting a great response.
The response from friends and colleagues was overwhelming. Within a few days we had a venue, free of charge at the Berkeley Suite in Whitley Bay, and a ton of performers queuing up to get a slot on the bill. In the midst of a dreadful situation, these generous people have been a shining band of hope. Words can’t tell you how grateful we are at what our friends are willing to give.
And then the news came that all our team were safe. We were overjoyed, yet still struggling with the scale of what had happened and the aftermath. It grieves us to know that friends are sleeping outside in the rain with no shelter, no clean drinking water and with food supplies running out. Multiply that by the hundreds of thousands who are in the same position and worse, then get out of your seat and do whatever you can to help.
What you guys are doing is brilliant. How do you feel now that you’re doing something?
Our gig is a small droplet in a gigantic ocean of need. We hope it will be a success and hope to help bring hope to a people who have lost theirs.
If you asked me to sum up the reason why I’m part of this, the answer is simple. I love Nepal and I’ll do anything to serve the country that stole my heart and inspired my soul.
Thanks Allison. Best of luck with the gig on Friday.
Allison and her colleagues at Danusha are hoping to pack out the Berkeley Suite in Whitley Bay (9 Marine Avenue, NE26 1LY) this coming Friday, everyone is welcome. It starts at 7pm and ends when we get kicked out! Please come prepared to have a good time and give generously.
There’ll be great live music, poetry and stories from some of the north east’s finest; award-winning films from Beacon Hill Arts and a charity auction. The bar will be open and there will be snacks too.
You can join the Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1578209815801018/
Donations will go the relief effort via Oxfam GB.