REACH for Nepal is quickly becoming a well-known charity in Canberra as the local organisation continues to increase awareness among the Canberra and local business communities.
REACH founders, Lou Nulley and Lachhu Thapa are supporting Nepalese villages in remote and isolated areas which are often only accessible by foot.
But how did they first meet? And how do the two men from different nationalities use their skills and backgrounds to help Nepal?
Lachlan Roberts sat down with the founders to hear their story and to get to know more about their background and friendship.
Lachhu, owner of the Hungry Buddha restaurants in Canberra and who also runs the Nepalese Travel Company, first met Lou in early 2015 when he wanted a yoga teacher to accompany him on one of his trekking trips to Nepal.
The two men formed a strong friendship and a few months after they first met, Lou took a group of people to Nepal trekking through the Annapurna Range, with some yoga interspersed with breathtaking views.
Later that year, Nepal was devastated by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, which flattened villages, leaving thousands injured and nearly 9,000 people dead.
Lachhu was in Perth and Lou was facilitating a meditation retreat just outside of Sydney when the news about Nepal broke.
“I phoned Lachhu and asked whether his family was okay. They were all okay but as the extent of the damage and the number of people that died became clear, people were approaching Lachhu looking for ways they could help,” Lou said.
The two friends formed a fierce desire to help the Nepalese people and to provide practical and financial assistance to rural Nepalese communities affected by the earthquake.
Lachhu was inundated with donations for Nepal and turned to Lou for help. Lou and his wife were in Bowral having lunch when Lachhu called.
“Lachhu mentioned we needed to put some structure around the donations he was receiving and asked whether I was interested in putting a more formal process in place to assist those in most need in Nepal,” Lou said.
“I scribbled on a napkin (which I still have) what the objectives of a ‘not for profit’ charity might be.”
“From there, the REACH for Nepal foundation was created with REACH being an acronym for the objectives of the foundation: Rebuild, Educate, Assist, Children/Communities (giving) Hope for Nepal.”
The two men complement each other quite well in running the foundation and both bring their different skill sets to the foundation.
Lachhu uses his excellent local knowledge and a tremendous network on the ground in Nepal to assist the foundation in identifying where help is needed.
Lou has extensive experience in executive management positions and ensures the charity has appropriate governance and processes in place to enable transparency, scalability and a good, safe experience for everyone who participates in the projects.
“We have respect for each other and feel very privileged to be able to facilitate the connection between people here in Australia to those in Nepal, and as a result, the people from both countries feel so much better for the experience,” Lou said.
Lou has just returned from Nepal where he took a group of Canberra Grammar School students, parents and staff on their maiden trip to execute a community project and also trek to Poon Hill, Annapurna region.