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Songs for Nepal – Ballarat fundraising concert

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Choir leader playing the piano : Marilyn Kent with husband Graeme and Nepalese born Shruti Shrestha promoting the upcoming concert.

THE recent devastating earthquakes in Nepal have had a significant impact on Buninyong resident Graeme Kent, Director of Aussie Actions Abroad (AAA). Graeme has been working with the Nepalese community for 15 years. He knows the people who live there and counts them among his most cherished friends. Graeme’s wife, Marilyn, is the conductor of the two Sing Australia choirs in Ballarat. It didn’t take long for their heads to come together to think about organising a fundraising concert.

Along with Sing Australia leader Carolyn Priddle, the date has been set, the program finalised.

And everyone has come on board donating time and expertise. The Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute is providing the Minerva Space, Digital Outlaw is designing the posters and the Miner is promoting the concert.

And, of course, the performers are giving their talents freely. This means that every dollar raised will be going to AAA for the specific purpose of rebuilding the Nepalese community.

Graeme has been in contact with his colleagues in Nepal who are assessing the areas devastated by the earthquake that are in most need of financial assistance. “We are working with members of the community to evaluate their long term needs to help them plan for their future,” Graeme said. Graeme will be travelling to Nepal next week to see for himself where best donations, such as Sing Australia’s, can be best utilised.

“AAA will be there for the next period of development, following the initial government and aid agencies support. We will “Just staying away from them and thinking about them, it’s more torture that I feel and I just feel helpless. “I wish I was skilled in nursing or something like that where I could just go and do something useful.”

While her parents have been spared other family members were not. “My (husband’s) second cousins were in one room mum and two daughters and the house just fell apart,” said Shruti emotionally. “Mum and elder daughter were in one part and the other daughter, she was 22 years old, and she was trapped (buried) on the other side and they could just see the hand and there wasn’t any relief and they had to wait for a day for the bulldozer. I can’t help thinking be partnering with local people to help them rebuild their community. This would not be possible without the amazing financial support we have received from our local Ballarat community. I have been humbled by the generosity. It’s really hard for me, knowing so many Nepalese people affected by this devastation, not to feel emotional,” Graeme said. Members of Ballarat’s Nepali community will be taking part in Sing Australia’s concert, along with performers from the hit musical Miss Saigon, Ballarat North Primary School, Curtain Call Performing Arts Student and, of course other friends of Sing Australia. The concert will be held on Sunday 14 June at 2pm in the Minerva Space, Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute, 117 Sturt Street, tickets are $10 per person and available from the BMI Tuesday and Friday between 11 am and 1 pm. For further information BMI on 5331 3042 or Carolyn Priddle 0416 005 722.