KATHMANDU: Singaporeans have “much to learn” from the Nepalese people, who, in the wake of the devastating 8.0-magnitude earthquake that shook the country in 2015, “showed what courage and resilience was”, said Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Defence Maliki Osman.
Speaking to Channel NewsAsia on Thursday (May 4) on the sidelines of a working visit to Nepal, Dr Maliki noted that the people of Nepal had “pulled together despite the adversities they had to go through”.
Dr Maliki was the guest of honour at a Singapore Red Cross exhibition held in Kathmandu. The exhibition, titled Partnerships For Humanity – Rebuilding in Nepal, showcases the rebuilding projects of the non-governmental organisation’s more than 15 partners.
During his trip, he also visited and officially opened the Shree Kalika Primary School in Sindhupalchowk district, a three-hour drive from Kathmandu. The Singapore Red Cross helped rebuild the school, which serves a community of 160 families, together with one of their local partners, Living Hope Nepal.
“I reflected on what I saw, what I could have imagined ... if this was in Singapore, if my kids had to go through some of these very tough times,” said Dr Maliki. “You see the smiles on the faces of the children, the elderly folks in the village ... you wouldn’t have imagined that they were victims of an earthquake just two years before.
“You see so much resilience in them, so much tenacity and so much courage to be able to go through that,” he added.
He noted that he had also met several Nepalese government ministers on his trip, and all of them expressed deep appreciation for the contributions that Singapore and Singaporeans have made in helping Nepal rebuild itself in the wake of the earthquake.
Beyond financial contributions, Dr Maliki added that another way Singaporeans can help countries like Nepal is to visit and volunteer in these countries.
“To do more of the actual work, to experience what they experience, and to learn more about the spirit of humanity,” he said. “And I think only when you go through it that you can truly experience that.”
Dr Maliki also officially launched a post-disaster recovery training programme that aims to give healthcare professionals the expertise to manage emergencies after a disaster, and develop disaster response systems and protocols.
The three-year programme was jointly developed by SingHealth and the Nepalese government, and supported by almost S$600,000 in grant funding from Temasek Foundation International. SingHealth and the Nepalese government also provided assistance and in-kind contribution.