School with close ties to Nepal raises $20k

School with close ties to Nepal raises $20k
(From left) Dato Ramesh, 57, Businessman, Dr Thomas Lee, 73, Clinical Psychologist, Ms Aryca Loh, 13, Secondary 2, Nepalese Mr Pemal Pun, 17, Secondary 5, Mr Benjamin Jeyaraj William, 56, Secretary General / CEO of Singapore Red Cross, Nepalese Ms Akta Gurung, 15, Secondary 3, Mr Leslie Terh, 72, President of Old Bartleyans' Association, Mr Melvin Lee, 27, Vice-President of Old Bartleyans' Association, and Mr Emery Lim, 56, Senior Teacher, during the donation presentation from Bartley Secondary School to Singapore Red Cross for the Nepal earthquake relief efforts, at Red Cross House on May 06 2015.

Bartley Secondary School is no run-of-the-mill school. Since its founding in 1956, several generations of Nepalese students have graduated from its halls.

They are the children of Gurkha officers. These members of an elite force, which has protected Singapore's most important people and places since 1949, live with their families in Mount Vernon Camp. This was located next to the school before it moved to Jalan Bunga Rampai off Upper Paya Lebar Road in 1995.

Despite the move, Nepalese students still want to be admitted to the school. There are currently 30 of them studying there.

When the earthquake devastated Nepal on April 25, the school and students, both past and present, sprung to action.They have raised more than $20,000 in a week. About half of the amount was raised by current students.

"It was a student-led initiative," said Aryca Loh, 13, a Secondary 2 student at the school.

"The Nepalese students wanted to help their own country. The others wanted to show their support and solidarity in these difficult times."

Said Ram Investments chairman R. Ramesh, 57, a Bartley alumnus: "To be able to raise $20,000 in a week is nothing short of amazing."

This amount was presented to the Singapore Red Cross yesterday, and will be used for relief efforts. The donation drive is ongoing until May 20.

Plans to aid Nepal do not just stop there. The alumni also intends to rebuild and eventually adopt a school in Nepal - to provide opportunities for teacher and student exchanges and act as a gateway for social work in Nepal.

Because of the intimate links between the Nepalese students and other Bartley alumni, former students have also been reaching out to their friends in Nepal. So far, all those they have managed to contact are safe.

For Secondary 3 student Akta Gurung, 15, the donation is heartwarming. "I feel proud that my school has managed to contribute to the Nepalese," she said.

"It was really touching."

lookww@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 7, 2015.
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