Actress Amrita Acharia appeals for COVID emergency relief for Nepal
At Pipal Tree we feel very honoured to have the actress Amrita Acharia as one of our Ambassadors. Through this post she is appealing for your support towards our one-week online public appeal that will deliver emergency COVID relief to Nepal. And through the Big Give, early donors will see their gifts automatically double in value.
In her Twitter profile, Amrita Acharia describes herself as an "ambiguously foreign actress". For sure, her DNA profile map would be intriguing with her Nepalese father and Ukrainian mother. And as if that isn't international enough for one person, Amrita splits her time between her parents' home in Norway and her own place in London. Her mixed ethnicity has served her very well over the years, stating in an interview to the Nepali Times "I don't look like a typical Asian. I could be cast as anything, from Caucasian to Latina to Asian. So being of mixed race is actually an advantage for me."
It is therefore no surprise that her IMDb database entry reflects an eclectic mix of acting roles including in television series such as Game of Thrones ("Irri") and Good Karma Hospital ("Dr Ruby Walker") to acting in - somehow unsurprisingly - edgy short films in English and Norwegian, narrating in "Missing Link" and some producing and directing added in for good measure. But there is a less public side to Amrita in her committed support to charitable causes, including Pipal Tree. Probably because, most of the time, it seems to me that, very commendably, she chooses to keep it that way.
My first contact with Amrita arose back in August 2018 when I was approached by her agent, who was exploring on Amrita's behalf charities that might be suitable for her to support. This interest arose because she had been born in Kathmandu and spent her first seven years in Nepal before her family moved to England. After spending some years in the Ukraine, she then moved to Norway (where her father is an obstetrician) to attend High School. After some exchanges with Amrita, it became obvious that the charity with its "up and at 'em" approach seemed like the right fit for her. But this would be confirmed only following her visit to our facilities in January 2019.
On that visit, I was very impressed with how low-key she kept the visit to our then girls' refuge in Kathmandu. She was clearly very aware of the traumas that the girls had experienced - including rape survivors - and how inappropriate it would be to anything other than an interested supporter passing through. She chatted easily with the girls as they were learning tailoring skills and with the care staff who were so dedicated to the girls' daily needs and rehabilitation. And she was entranced at a little display of contemporary circus skills that we laid on in her honour. These skills had been learned the hard way by children who had once been slaves inside Indian circuses prior to my rescue of them when I was based in Nepal with my previous charity. Skills that had been honed and refined by visiting professional volunteers over the years. At the end of it all Amrita said to me, "After what I have seen here, you've got a supporter for life."
Amrita has been true to her pledge, supporting us at events and through public appeals, including this one. Last year, she followed closely our relief work in south Nepal where our colleagues at the Mithila Wildlife Trust managed to deliver life-saving food relief to the most vulnerable people in rural areas. These were villagers who were left in desperation through a lockdown that took them to the brink of starvation, while many of their menfolk who had been migrant workers in India where left stranded there out of work and unable to return home because of a parallel Indian lockdown and border closure. In this most challenging of operating environments, MWT still managed to deliver food to 28,000 people across 17 Districts - another reflection of that aforementioned "up and at 'em" modus operandi that characterises our work. At that time, so many of the other organisations that purport to help people seemed to view the lockdown as a holiday rather than a challenge.
Sadly, now we have to do it all over again as Nepal is hit by the second wave - described by one local epidemiologist as being a "triple whammy" of the original COVID-19 virus, the Kent variant and now, of course, the Indian variant. The task is much more demanding than in 2020 as we are having to contend with a much more infectious and deadly virus that some experts assess as being 60% more transmissible than the earlier variants. See this sobering report from The Guardian on the plight of our brothers and sisters in Nepal.
Unlike the big charities, Pipal Tree is agile and uniquely able to respond and make a cost-effective, meaningful impact within this apparently hopeless situation. That is because we work at the grassroots and our local partners can quickly identify genuine need and ensure that precious relief is both measured and appropriate. Just like we did last year. So impressive was our relief programme that local UNICEF staff volunteered to support us on their days off.
Now, we need to step up to the plate once again.
Please join me in donating to our Big Give emergency appeal (from noon on 13th May - please come back!). Thanks to matching pledges from our leading supporters and supporting Trusts, the first £8.050 in donations that we receive through the button below will automatically double in value. Your £5 becomes £10 - one gift, twice the impact!