HKers step up to help Covid-hit Nepal - RTHK
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HKers step up to help Covid-hit Nepal

2021-07-23 HKT 02:45
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  • Oxygen cylinders are loaded on to a truck at Linyi in Shandong province, ahead of a 3,000km trip to the border with Nepal. Photo: Submitted
    Oxygen cylinders are loaded on to a truck at Linyi in Shandong province, ahead of a 3,000km trip to the border with Nepal. Photo: Submitted
  • A patient in remote Karnali province is given oxygen.  The cylinder was donated by a Hong Kong initiative. Photo: submitted
    A patient in remote Karnali province is given oxygen. The cylinder was donated by a Hong Kong initiative. Photo: submitted
  • A Nepalese porter helps to reload oxygen cylinders onto a truck after the had to be carried by hand around a landslide. Photo: submitted
    A Nepalese porter helps to reload oxygen cylinders onto a truck after the had to be carried by hand around a landslide. Photo: submitted
AnneMarie Evans reports
A Hong Kong philanthropist couple and a local ex-servicemen’s association have sent hundreds of oxygen cylinders, around half a million facemasks and other medical supplies to Nepal to assist remote areas badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sean Hotung, and his wife, Mary, were contacted by a close friend, an ex-Gurkha, who had realised that while India was in the headlines, its landlocked neighbour Nepal had been hit hard.

Sean Hotung told RTHK that when he asked Nepal’s health ministry what was needed most urgently, they were told: oxygen.

Hotung and a Nepalese businessman, former Gurkha Yem Gurung, sourced a factory in Shandong province last month that supplied 450 oxygen cylinders that were then transported 3,000 kilometres via Sichuan and Tibet to the border with Nepal.

“There were a lot of challenges,” Gurung says. “The trucks had to wait three days at the checkpoint”, after which the road was blocked by a landslide in heavy rain.

All the cylinders were taken off the trucks, hand-carried around the landslide area and then put on to new transport. After arriving at Kathmandu, they were then redistributed to more remote hard-hit areas, including Karnali province.

Back in the SAR, the Hong Kong Ex-Servicemen’s Association has also been working with the Hotungs on a fundraising drive and also collecting public donations of facemasks, oxygen concentrators, antigen tests and other medical goods to be sent on Cathay Pacific cargo flights to Nepal.

“Each oxygen concentrator can be used by two people,” says Hotung. “It pushes oxygen into their lungs and helps them breathe.”

Hong Kong has an historic link to Nepal, with many Gurkhas serving with the British military here over the decades since the 1960s. Many remain in Hong Kong, as have their children and grandchildren, making up a 20,000 strong community here.