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How do you begin talking about Nepal?  It’s not easy to put in to words because it’s probably one of those countries that you have to feel and experience rather than read about.  It is so different from the world we are used to.  We first went there in 2017 to volunteer as ‘teachers’ at a small school in a village near Pokhara.  Some of you have heard our stories about how touched we were by our experiences, by getting to know the children, sharing a small part of their daily lives, the laughs we had with them, their enthusiasm for learning and our emotional goodbyes.  Nepal is a country that has suffered enormously over the years, both politically and through devastating natural disasters, especially the 2015 earthquake. Around 9000 people died and more than 20,000 were injured and 3 million people lost their homes, 9,300 schools were destroyed.  As of January 2018 only 2,800 had been rebuilt to some extent, obviously disastrous to a country that is already suffering a lot of hardship, such as poverty, malnutrition, poor infrastructure and lack of hygiene, homes and schools. The efforts to rebuild lives have been slow and likely to continue for a long time still.  Half the population live below the poverty line and only 54% enrolled into secondary education (2016).  We have now seen this with our own eyes, the ‘temporary structures’ so many people still live in as they’ve not been able to rebuild their homes, and the temporary classrooms with just a corrugated roof as cover (and winters are cold in the mountains!), where children have to sit on the ground, some kids living so far away from the nearest school they have to leave their families in order to study (if they do at all). The region most affected is so huge and thousands of villages are inaccessible by road, it can take hours to walk to reach them, so just imagine how difficult it is to get materials for constructing houses up there.

After this first trip we felt completely overwhelmed by the openness and warmth of the people, we had never received such a welcome anywhere else where we had travelled before.   We returned home from our short trip immediately feeling we wanted to do more to help.  We had first got to know a small charity organisation called Nepal Alliance run by Krishna, who taught us a lot about how the government schools operate and what the problems with the system are, and we soon learnt that it is not all just financial, there are also many other gaps.  Still, a government school only gets a budget of few hundred $s per year.  This is not even enough for uniforms or notepads and pencils, let alone educational toys, books, or lunch or computers!  Realising this, how can you not want to help?  So the following year we returned for some more teaching in Pokhara at the same school, and as we had been raising money we were able to buy school uniform jumpers, socks, hats and shoes for all the kids.  $200 was spent on rice, lentils and oil for about 10 families in need during the Dashain festival.  This would feed the families for about a month.  And through H.E.L.P. (Helambu Education Livelihood Partnership), we spent some of the donated to buy furniture for a school in the Helambu region that was badly affected by the earthquake and still desperately needed help.  When we got back we were keen to find more ways to collect money and started organising various fundraising events, such as charity concerts, markets where we sell hand crafted ceramics, bags, cards, etc., swishing parties, ceramics workshops for kids, and that is what we have continued to do to this day.  We visit Nepal once or twice a year and personally bring the money, so we are there first hand when we order, buy and pay for the items and provisions.  This way we can guarantee that 100% of the money people donate or we collect ends up where we feel it’s most needed (it is not used for our travel or expenses, fees or admin).

THANK you everybody who has contributed, and especially those who make regular donations!  Every $, £ and € will make a difference!

After every visit to Nepal, we feel just as touched and that is the reason we keep coming back, each time perhaps a little bit more enthusiastic to be involved in these valuable projects.  As tough as it can be sometimes dealing with cultural differences, we always leave wanting to return.  Because of the warmth, the innocence, the kind hearts, the beauty of the nature.  Just seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids, hearing the ‘namastes’ being shouted out from the schoolyard as we walk across the suspension bridge to the school.  And because the basic, human, simple needs in Nepal are endless.  Things we take for granted…and it makes you realise, we have way too much ‘stuff’ in our world.   To see a grandfather walking barefoot to school every day to pick up his grandson, knowing some kids have no parents or parents with no income, thinking about the winter and how cold it will be, kids walking 1.5 hours each way to school without a jacket… once you have seen this, it’s impossible not to want to do something, share what you have.  We have also brought out donated clothes and shoes, and other useful things.  The football shoes and shirts are possibly the most desired, especially among boys.  It’s the same everywhere in the world!  The happy faces will remain in our memories forever!

 

With our continued fundraising activities, through Alliance Nepal we have now been able to provide uniforms and shoes for hundreds of kids, we’ve held 2 health and dental camps, provided girls with re-washable sanitary pads, bought furniture and equipment to schools, food to families going through difficult times (recently due to the pandemic), helped to build and repair people’s houses, and set up a sewing course for girls with the aim to help them become independent by learning a skill that can help them get a job in the future.  The project will ideally also help to fund the orphanage run by Alliance Nepal.   We started off teaching and supporting at one school, but this has grown to several, as Alliance Nepal will often be approached by a headmaster / mistress at a government school who desperately needed support.  All this is only possible with the help of you reading this, people who are able to donate a bit of money.  And a little bit of money goes a long way in Nepal, no amount is too little to make a difference.  Money is relative of course, but just to give you an idea, many people earn $2 a day.  Some professionals maybe $10 a day.  Electricity is seen as expensive, as is coffee, apples and avocados, and buying a pair of branded Nike shoes would obviously be unheard of.

 

Our journey will continue, keep checking the Latest new update pages… and please take a look at the pictures and videos in the gallery. 

We, and they truly appreciate your support.   

Thank you!  Elina and Diane

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