7 April 2020 I Hundreds of Nepalese international students are contacting Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) Australia seeking food assistance as many say goodbye to their jobs amid the ongoing COVID-19 social-distancing guidelines.
According to the spokesperson of NRNA Australia, as many as 900 international students from the Himalayan nation have made inquiries with the organisation following its recent announcement that it would provide free food supplies for those in dire need. Nanda Gurung said NRNA’s taskforces in each state evaluate requests to determine eligibility of those seeking assistance.
Mr Gurung said while more and more international students continue to reach out for help, at least 218 have already received essential ingredients for Nepalese cuisine such as rice and lentil. “Now we will be delivering assistance packages for the next 15 days because our commitment is for 30 days,” the Sydney-based real estate agent said.
According to the NRNA, the organisation has put aside $20,000 for buying food assistance packages for the needy students. A further $20,000 from its Students Welfare Fund may also become available for the philanthropic cause should the need arise, he mentioned.
Only those who are in self isolation, are unemployed or have no family and relatives in Australia to lean on should apply for the food relief, NRNA urges.
Besides the food assistance, the NGO has provided accommodation for at least one student for a period of three weeks, it is understood.
NRNA is a global body present in nearly 100 countries across the world. Germany-based Kumar Panta is its current global president while Keshav Kandel is the president of the Australian chapter (NRNA Australia).
Australian-Nepalese real estate and education tycoon Shesh Ghale was its global president from 2013 to 2017 during which he spearheaded an ambitious post-earthquake reconstruction programme on behalf of the global Nepalese diaspora.
Asked if the assistance packages would be sufficient to bail out distressed international students, Nanda Gurunga said, “NRNA Australia, being a leading community organisation run by volunteers, is doing what it can with its limited resources. We are actively looking for ways to help our needy students. We have formed taskforces that include AECA, FENCA, ANMDA and many other Nepalese community organisations under the patronage of Nepal embassy. Providing what we have is what we are doing but guiding them and linking them to other available resources is also our priority. Also, I can assure you we will continue to help them until all options are exhausted.”
As more and more become aware of the food assistance, NRNA Australia says the number of students seeking help is also rising by the day.