Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

A surreal place of beauty, wonder and chain smoking cows

A Bangor man has written a book about his ventures in Nepal to raise funds for charity.

Roy Uprichard, a lecturer at Newtownards campus of SERC, wanted to support his friends, Philip and Deborah McMillan who established FONIC Trust: Friends of Nepali Christians, in 2005.

The charity assists Christian workers and projects in Nepal, which is one of the world’s poorest countries with an average daily wage of less than £1 a day and life expectancy as low as 35.

Roy decided to visit in April this year to do a bit of trekking close to the Annapurnas and visit some of the projects FONIC is involved in.

From that visit a book has emerged: 12 Days in Nepal, chronicling that journey and the people he met.

In it you have the opportunity to meet a surreal mix of rap-chanting holy men, chain smoking cows, and the ghost of Basil Fawlty. You can follow the retreat of the Royal Ulster Fry as, during an alternative marching season, he stumbles through Nepal, trying to cause as little damage as possible. He also finds real unsung heroes though, engaged in a conspiracy of hope, creating pockets of order in the midst of chaos, laying down payments for a different kind of future; and all in 12 days!

He shows that Fonic’s administration costs are virtually nil, as the Trustees, who live in Bangor, Belfast and Conlig are all volunteers.

The vast range of projects Fonic is able to resource includes: funding children’s schooling; supporting families; running a child support scheme in conjunction with Northern Ireland churches, acting as a conduit for the provision of bedding, blankets, clothes and rice.

The charity also offers medical support through screening camps, nursing support to a local hospital, and paying individuals’ hospital bills.

It supports rural pastors and church workers; provides seed money for small businesses; runs a maternal childcare training programme; set up an ethical business; and sponsors the 19 children in Grace Rescue Home.

According to Joe Campbell, who worked in Nepal from 2006-10: “This is a book to provoke thought and reflection on life in Nepal. You will find yourself laughing, and perhaps even wondering why annual holidays can be so bland.

“You will hear about inspiring Nepali entrepreneurs and those who work with them, refusing to depend on hand outs but rather serving and offering hope to people in a land of beauty and wonder.”

This is Roy’s first venture into print in book format and all profits from ‘12 Days in Nepal’ will be donated to FONIC Trust.

It’s available to order online at www.clanryetrading.com for £5 plus £1.50 p&p. A “12 Days” Facebook page is up, which will enable people to post comments and get updates on the people and projects FONIC supports.

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