Benefit gig for Nepal earthquake appeal

Sue Lavender and Allison Davies, front, are pictured with the Shah family.
Sue Lavender and Allison Davies, front, are pictured with the Shah family.

Morpeth residents with links to Nepal have put together a charity event to raise funds and awareness following the devastating earthquake in the country.

The benefit gig tomorrow evening is being hosted by Danusha – a social enterprise that sells jewellery made by a group of women whose lives have been affected by leprosy. Its directors have received updates via Facebook about what is happening.

Sue and Mike Lavender of Morpeth spent eight years in Nepal from 1984. They worked for a mission organisation based in a leprosy hospital – Mr Lavender is a doctor – followed by a Save the Children Fund community programme.

The Danusha jewellery story began in 2007 when the couple returned to the country, which is landlocked and located in South Asia, to work with Nepal Leprosy Trust.

Mrs Lavender helped rehabilitate patients by finding skills-training and education programmes. One project involved training in jewellery-making for women who were being treated at Lalgadh Hospital, the world’s largest leprosy-treatment centre.

They returned to the UK in 2009, but kept in touch with the project and within a year Danusha was born. It then progressed to become a social enterprise and there are two groups making the items – one in the capital city of Kathmandu and the other in the south-east of the country.

The jewellery is sold in shops and markets in Nepal and the UK.

Mr and Mrs Lavender are particularly close to one of the ladies who has benefited from the programme, Suryakala Shah, and her young adult daughters Elishiva and Esther.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake happened on April 25 and it has affected dozens of villages, towns and cities, including Kathmandu. It has killed more than 7,500 people and injured more than 14,500.

Mrs Lavender said: “We (the directors) have gone out to Nepal a few times since Danusha became a social enterprise and we have got to know many of the women.

“I think of Suryakala and her daughters as part of the family and I tried to get in touch with them once I heard about the earthquake to check that they were alright.

“We were relieved when they contacted us and said the other girls in the team were okay, but given the devastation, we wanted to hold an event to help the emergency response. I’ve had conversations with Elishiva and Esther on Facebook and there are many people in Kathmandu sleeping outside, while drinking water is costing three times more than usual.”

The benefit gig will take place in the Berkeley Tavern’s function room (Berkeley Suite) in Whitley Bay from 7pm.

Organiser Allison Davies has got a range of performers, including The Horse Loom (Steven Malley), Chris Foley and Pippa Little, to take part and there will be films from Beacon Hill Arts. An auction, a bar and a snack buffet will also be available.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/events/1578209815801018