Nepal launches charity for girls

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The Nepal Pavilion is going to set up a special charity foundation with the money people throw to more than 100 Buddha statues inside the pavilion. The money will be donated to Nepalese girls from poor families so they can attend school.

Since the opening of the Expo, Nepal Pavilion has collected at least 50,000 yuan (US$7,383). That figure will grow because many coins haven't been counted yet, said Binayak Shah, the pavilion's director. Every day the pavilion collects between 500 yuan and 1,000 yuan.

"In the beginning we tried to stop people throwing coins and notes to the Buddhas," Shah said. "And we don't want others to think that we are making money from it."

The coins thrown to the Buddhas, which were designed by Nepalese artists for the Expo Shanghai, have left numerous scratches on the statues.

"We found it was impossible to stop the coin throwing," he said. "We understand it is a way for Chinese to show their respect for Buddha. In Nepal, we also lay out flowers or gifts."

Bronze basins have been placed in front of the Buddhas to encourage visitors to throw coins there, instead of directly at the statues.

Each night at 11pm after the pavilion is closed, two staff workers collect the coins. The money is counted once a week and deposited in a bank.

"At first we had two staffers count the coins, but they soon broke down because the coins are dirty and often wet," the director said. "Counting has been a big problem for us."

The IEG (Implementing Experts Group) consortium, which has sponsored the Nepal Pavilion, has set up a foundation with the money collected.

The 30 companies in the consortium will also donate money to the IEG Expo Foundation to help underprivileged girls in Nepal go to school.

"It is a special bond between Chinese and the girls who are in need of help, though many people may not know they are doing good deeds," Shah said.

"It is just what Buddha does, always helping others."

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