One of our Full-On team members, Donna Forster, went out to Nepal to help with Adventure Aid UK and the children of Nepal who had suffered greatly in the earthquake disaster. This is her story we are proud to share with you…
Well, where do I start… words will only be able to explain a little of the incredible experience with Adventure Aid UK.
I met a group of strangers at Heathrow Airport, 17 of us in total, who all had the same aim to contribute to the children of Nepal who had suffered greatly in the earthquake disaster. We travelled to Bombay and then on to Kathmandu, where we were greeted by Sam who represented the Charity H.E.L.P. that we were linking up with. We had brought donations in the form of money as well as clothes, shoes and stationary items; hoping to assist the charity with their efforts to make a difference across the region on various projects.
We travelled to Nakote by jeeps, which took 5 hours. This village was flattened in the earthquake and completely cut off for a month whilst the road was re-cut. I was particularly taken by a young girl called Sumjo, who spoke amazing English. She sat with me while we ate dinner (rice and dhal) make by the elders, who didn’t eat until we had finished. That evening a small group of us ventured up the hillside to stay in an elder’s house; four of us girls in a bedroom. Whilst it was lovely and warm during the day, the temperature plummeted during the evening and was very cold. In the morning, washing was very interesting in a wet room but with no running water, just a bucket; although I was very grateful for the warm water!
Breakfast was boiled potatoes, fried with tomatoes, cardamom and cumin; it tasted delicious. A busy day lay ahead of us, we presented the children of the village with school bags, which contained stationary, maths sets and lunch boxes. Then we prepared some of the donated clothes for the children to collect. This was very emotional for me, I defy anyone not to be touched by how grateful these children were to receive a couple of pieces of clothing. I said goodbye to Sumjo with a very heavy heart as she chased the jeeps with her friends on the mountain track. I was very emotional and humbled by the experience and it was only our second day.
We were on our way to a school which was being rebuilt and staying in the dormitory overnight. On our way we stopped off at a Buddhist Temple, where we were met by the priest of the region, as we had a donation towards the completion of some tea fields. Whilst there, we presented some walking sticks to some disabled people, who cried with joy to be able to replace their sticks of wood. They laughed and joked with each other, they just couldn’t believe they had been given them. They insisted we stay for lunch, it was astounding that these people have nothing but are prepared to share their food with strangers.
This was followed by a rather uncomfortable night on a very thin mattress, in what I can only describe as a stable and open to the elements one side. This is where the children normally sleep. We saw evidence of their shoes and clothes under the bunkbeds where they sleep two to a single bed, in a dorm of eight beds. The mattress and bedding were damp and dirty but we were told that the children were safe! Further discussions taught us that Nepal has the highest child abduction rate in the world and children were snatched on their way to school and sold. The charity was not only rebuilding the school, but providing the dormitories where the children can stay during the week for their own protection.
The following day, after breakfast around the burnt-out campfire, we started to prepare for a football tournament. The donations have paid for a PA system and new football posts, balls and training tabards. We enjoyed a fun day cheering on the teams and I was lucky enough to present the cup to the winning team. It was wonderful to see the teams so happy and so supportive and encouraging of each other. The very young children were left running down the mountain to collect the balls that had been kicked over the fence!
We left early evening to drive to another school and arrived at night, where we had a bit of a giggle setting up the tents in the dark. Three of us to a tent which was actually a two-man, very interesting! Washing was now from a hosepipe in the middle in a building site. Can you imagine 17 of us trying to wash and clean our teeth in these conditions. I won’t even start to tell you about the toilet facilities!! Literally a hole in the ground; but we did have toilet paper so that was a blessing.
Early the next morning we started to paint the new bunk beds that had arrived with new mattresses for the dormitory, which was still in construction. We blew up balloons and played and laughed with the children then distributed more of the clothes that we had bought with us. At this village we met an abandoned child called Simili, whom touched our hearts, only 7 but so malnourished she looked about 4. We saw that she was fed and clothed with new shoes and a warm coat and hat, but felt that we needed to do more for her. We contacted the elders of the village for a solution. It was agreed that we would pay for her care, whilst she had temporary accommodation with the school teacher and her family. I received a picture of Simili today, she is still with the teacher but will be moving into the dormitory shortly and will be starting school. Adventure Aid will be funding her schooling for the next 10 years! She is safe and has a real future ahead of her.
The next couple of days we returned to Kathmandu and were staying in a hotel with running hot water. This was a real luxury, although the hotel was very basic, with monkeys climbing on the balcony, close enough to touch. Kathmandu looks like a war zone still, with massive building works being undertaken and the emphasis on the roads and infrastructure. We had a little time to visit the local markets and buy some souvenirs, before heading to the airport.
The whole experience was just incredible, I would go so far as to say life changing. The adventure was physically and emotionally challenging, but has taught me a lot about myself and my priorities and who I want to be as a person.
I would highly recommend Adventure Aid the organisation was outstanding with lots of fun and laughter thrown in for good measure.
But all this would not have been possible without the generosity of Full-On Ltd who were my main sponsors’, I am very humbled to have witnessed first-hand, the massive difference this money has made to the children of Nepal. My sincere thanks to Mark Wichall who owns Full-On, who encouraged and supported me in an adventure of a lifetime.