Our Man in West­min­ster

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points Of View - By Damian Green

Last Satur­day’s char­ity din­ner for the Sa­gar­matha Gurkha and Nepalese Com­mu­nity in Ash­ford pro­vides a good op­por­tu­nity to pay trib­ute to many mem­bers of that com­mu­nity. At the din­ner I was pleased to be giv­ing awards to those who have made a longterm con­tri­bu­tion to the com­mu­nity but also to those who have helped fi­nan­cially and in other ways those who were af­fected by last year’s ter­ri­ble earth­quake in Nepal.

This ac­tiv­ity is very com­mend­able but my main point is the need to pay trib­ute to the con­tri­bu­tion to Ash­ford life of the Nepalese com­mu­nity that has grown so sig­nif­i­cantly here in the past 10 years. There is no one big event to point to but a thou­sand small con­tri­bu­tions which add up to a model of how a grow­ing com­mu­nity can be in­te­grated suc­cess­fully into the wider life of a com­mu­nity.

I have ob­served over the past few years how, when I present the prizes at school award cer­e­monies around Ash­ford, there are al­ways a num­ber for chil­dren of Nepalese par­ents. I see the num­bers em­ployed in shops and busi­nesses around the bor­ough, as well as in pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions like the Wil­liam Har­vey Hos­pi­tal.

In many ways this should not be sur­pris­ing. There are now about 900 Nepalese house­holds in Ash­ford, so there will be more than 2,000 adults and chil­dren of Nepalese ex­trac­tion in the town. This is numer­i­cally by far the most sig­nif­i­cant mi­nor­ity com­mu­nity in the town.

One of the long-term aims of the com­mu­nity is to raise the money to build their own com­mu­nity cen­tre, which I hope to see be­ing able to pro­vide a range of fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing English classes to en­sure that those who come as adults from Nepal can play a full role in lo­cal life.

This would ce­ment the im­por­tant and pos­i­tive ef­fect the com­mu­nity is hav­ing in Ash­ford.

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