I guess I’ve held off on posting these since the terrible devastation that was the #nepalearthquake. I had planned to write post after post about my experience and share my story of reaching Everest Base Camp with Team World Vision Australia in March 2015. But 3 weeks after I returned… disaster struck and my focus was changed.
As the Nepalese people begin to gain some strength and encourage tourists to go to Nepal and see their beautiful country, I want to share some of my most special moments.
I advise checking with companies such as Royal Mountain Travel for the possibilities of safe travel and locations that are accessible. It’s best to be safe but I hope that sooner rather than later people can return to see the beauty in the people and the country that is Nepal.
Devastating news yesterday and further this morning as I learn that the country so close to my heart, Nepal, is in mourning. 1800 lives lost and counting as a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hits Kathmandu, Pokhara and other regions of Nepal. My thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones and the citizens of Nepal who are as we speak trying to manage the chaos.
It was just one month ago that I was in Nepal trekking to Everest Base Camp with World Vision Australia and Inspired Adventures. We loved exploring the city of Kathmandu and then trekking through the serene and peaceful mountains. Sadly it also looks like 18 people have died on Mt Everest due to an avalanche – part of the Base Camp was buried. The peaceful and comforting place for so many is now reminiscent of a war zone.
YOU CAN HELP!
World Vision Australia have set up a donations page for sending aid to the areas most affected. Organisations such as this need support in these times of need to help the people in these devastated countries.
The Nepal government has declared a state of disaster and has committed to respond in 13 of the worst
affected districts, including Kathmandu. Hospitals have reportedly run out of wound management kits in
the capital and hospitals in districts are struggling. Five sites have been set up to help manage impacted
families and the Indian army has been called on to provide support.
More than 4 million people are thought to be in the affected area. WVIN is praying that the death‐toll
will not climb significantly higher overnight, that aftershocks will be minimal, children will be sheltered
and protected and that relief will come quickly to the people of Nepal following this powerful tremor.
Neighbouring India and Bangladesh also reported a number of deaths and injured due to the earthquake
‐ there are no reports of ADPs affected in either country at this stage.
WVIN currently has 73 projects managed by 205 staff. WVIN currently works through 16 Area
Development Programmes in all five development regions including 10 of the 75 districts of Nepal.
Projects in earthquake preparedness are ongoing in Lalitpur district. WVIN supports 27,000 sponsored
children with sponsors from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland,
and Taiwan. WVIN operates a budget of USD 7.1 million including projects funded by DFAT, DFID and
Sunjuli, World Vision Nepal staff member. Her son is 9 years old — “My son is very terrified. He
does not leave me and lays on my lap. Do not know what to do. I need to go inside the house —
don’t know if it’s safe — but it’s very cold here in the car.
Some photos from my time there, it’s changed dramatically and I fear for the people in the massive efforts it will take to clean up! Visiting my sponsor child in Nepal, Kamala. Seeing my dear friend Sundar. And trekking with amazing guides to Base Camp. My prayers are with you all at this time
“3:20pm: We had done it! We reached Everest Base Camp. There was lots of emotion, tears flowing and hugs all round. Elation! Pure elation. We jumped, we lagged, we cried, we cheered, we were ecstatic! So many months of preparation and it was all worth it to be standing here at this pinnacle!!”
This is an excerpt from the blog I wrote for Inspired Adventures and you can read more about our entire amazing #everestbasecamptrek2015 here: http://blog.inspiredadventures.com.au/2015/02/25/everest-base-camp-trek-2015/
Here are a few of my favourite photos of that magical day trekking to Everest Base Camp!
It’s hard to choose, but these are the five top photos that I posted to friends and family from my day with Kamala, my World Vision sponsor child. I sponsored her with my mother for 5 years and to meet her was a dream. Seeing her school, looking into her eyes and hearing about her life was just incredible. We also got to see projects in the community and learn how World Vision has made a difference here.
The moment I realised I was meeting Kamala, my #sponsorchild through@worldvisionaus. Her mother began to cry as her little daughter stood between us. So much emotion.
A special moment with Kamala. It’s hard to connect sometimes when there are so many people and it can be so intimidating for the #sponsorchild. After some time sitting together, we started to make faces & I saw her relax and feel comfortable. I loved this moment. I said in “Nepali” are you ok!? Tik sa? She said “Tik sa.” I’m ok.
After the emotion of meeting my darling Kamala , a little girl in Nepal I have sponsored with my mother for 5.5 years, I was treated to a tour of the local area with the World Vision staff. It’s important with World Vision to not only learn about and meet the child you sponsor but the greater community which is also supported by our generous donations.
In the morning, my first stop was to the ADP office to meet with staff of World Vision. I was met at my hotel by child sponsorship manager, Kiran. He is a kind and sweet man who clearly has a passion for seeing children live a better life. Soon after I met the lovely Absara, a young intern at World Vision. I was the first child sponsor she had met and she was very excited to see my experience. We sat with the manager of the ADP, Mr Rajan and then met with the entire team. I always like this process with world vision. We are all introduced and each person tells their role. I also introduced myself and shared my many experiences with World Vision and my role now as a #WVAblogger for World Vision Australia. Most importantly, I thanked them for their efforts and tireless work. As a sponsor the best part is seeing the lives of our children in foreign countries and how our support helps.
Kiran showed me around and also showed me the folder of Kamala’s entire sponsorship history. It was magnificent to see her development over the time and the correspondence we had had over the years. I also got to see the computer system where they keep all the updates on the children. It’s meticulously detailed and I was so impressed and pleased to see that World Vision are so invested in the children’s lives.
After my visit to kamala’s school we went to another local office. This office was manned by two staff members and they explained their role in more of the nutrition and health side of the projects. They ran Early Childhood Development centres, mothers groups, Outreach Centres for immunizations and childs health and general nutition and health information for the wider community. They have a group called the Unity Society and again this main focus is health. Great to hear of so many programs being run and I would get the chance to see some today.
We went then on some very treacherous and bumpy roads and even had to stop short and walk due to mud and huge divots in the road. We were met by community volunteer, beautiful Padma and walked to amothers group. At the site, they were also building an Early Childhood Development Centre. This is where mothers could take small children and start their education and basic life skills.
Mothers and babies met under a tarp and sat on a mat to greet me. I don’t like to be so formal and separated so I asked to sit amongst them and chat. We talked about their monthly meetings and what they learnt. Some were also members of savings groups, one of my favourite programs run by world vision. Through being a member they can save their own funds into a large pool with other women and take out small loans from the group to fund business growth or help in times of need with chidlrens health and education. It provides financial empowerment and business skills to women in these communities.
The leader of the group was a Governemnt health worker and she was actually the mother of Padma. It was so lovely to see that the World Vision passion and support continues through the generations and really becomes a sustainable part of the community. I asked her questions about her role and what the group is able to achieve. She helps the mothers with health advice and they talk to them about nutrition and caring for their child. They meet once a month to share their stories and learn together. It was sucha pleasure to share time with them.
We next went to visit a school. I love schools!!! This school had 1100 children…. Ummmmm!! They swarmed towards me as we approached and I remembered it was the festival Holi. There was colour flying everywhere and cheeky boys were chasing girls to smudge bright colours to their cheeks. I saw one looking at me slyly so I patted my cheeks and he gladly walked over and smeared pink all over my face. I was inducted to holi and the children roared with laughter.
As I walked into the group and through the grounds, I was surrounded 360 degrees by fascinated children of all ages wanting to catch a glimpse. Another young man approached me, this time with handfuls of red dust. I welcomed him and he really got stuck into putting the colour all over me. Wow! If you’re going to do it, do it well. A few other boys came up and I now had a completely covered face and they found it very amusing. I smudged some colour off my face and patted it on the cheeks of the smaller children around me. I could have played all day. Except, when they started sparing water, we were outta there. My hosts led me upstairs to the teacher’s office to meet with staff.
We sat in a room with six teachers and were joined by another young volunteer for World Vision. We again did the introductions of ourselves and what our roles were. They told me about working with the children and that there were 1100 kids in the school. I was pleased to hear 600 are girls and 500 are boys. So many girls in school is so great. There are approximately 100 registered sponsor children through World Vision at the school. World Vision run teacher training programs as well as the “One Goal” program here. That’s a program for children to play soccer and then take part in other activities such as hygiene, sanitation, child protection and awareness and other such important life skills. It was so nice to see the teachers engaged in the program and working with World Vision to help the children.
Our final visit for the day was to the Outreach Centre, ORC. This is being built at the time and the community project manager was so proud to meet me and show me their work. I was one week too early as they plan on being finished and in business for the community next week. Governemnt health workers will come here and help with immunizations, weighing of children, health checks and running nuritiuon and basic care clinics for mothers nad children. Helath workers and volunteers will go around to the 300 households in the community and tell them about when they can go to the outreach centre. These are extremely important programs for World Vision as it gives people who would otherwise not have it, access to basic health and to education for a healthy child and family.
We returned to the office. A long drive along bumpy roads and then down a busy highway. I stared out the window and let my mind wander. The thing about these project visit days is that it puts you on a whole new plane of awareness. The world is so much bigger than all of us. There are people and places we will never see, there are issues we will never know about and our role in context is so small. But great things start from small beginnings. Through sponsoring one child in a village, you can be a part of a community of supporters that help them to grow and develop for a more quality life.
“Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything.
Do anything. Do SOMETHING!”
– Colleen Patrick – Goudeau
Thank you again World Vision Australia and World Vision Nepal for giving me this opportunity to meet my sponsor and child and see into her world.
In March, the Hindu culture all over the world celebrates the festival of Holi. Basically, everyone runs into the streets, throws vibrant coloured powder at each other, spashes each other with water and enjoys themselves. There’s music in the street, laughing and shouting everywhere and the day is for celebration.
“It is said the spirit of Holi encourages the feeling of brotherhood in society and even the enemies turn friend on this day. People of all communities and even religions participate in this joyous and colouful festival and strenthen the secular fabric of the nation.”
I was lucky enough to be in Dhanghadi, Nepal, this year visiting my sponsor child. As part of the program day we went to visit a school of 1100 childrenwhere World Vision runs programs such as the “One Goal” program for children wanting to take part in sports. We were quickly welcomed and noticed the colours flying around.
I was inducted into the play by a cheeky little boy who had been chasing girls and smudging the pink dust into their cheeks. I welcomed him to add the colour to my face and laughed with him as I made an annoyed face.
As we walked through the grounds being stared at with fascination by the children, more and more cheeky boys approached with handfuls of colour to welcome me into their fun game of Holi. It’s kinda weird when it goes on, and the dust flys up so you have to close your eyes and blow out your nostrils and mouth. I could taste and feel the powder in my throat for many hours after.
I loved posing with the kids for cheeky selfies, and they were asking me to take pictures of their coloured faces too. I was doused in pinks, reds and purples and it managed to dye my hair a lovely shade of off pink too.
It was such a great day to be there with World Vision and to see the children so happy and playful. They would get a five day break for the Holi festival. The only trouble … getting the stuff off! I had facial wipes that I used before getting in the car so as not to ruin the upholstery for my taxi driver. I thought I did a pretty good job until we reached the next project and had a group photo and I realized I was looking like an oompa loompa gone wrong. Arghhhh many showers ahead.
And! One more day of Holi as they celebrate on the 5th March in Kathmandu and I will arrive back there by then.
This is rather scary, and does not put me at ease once again for my flight today, domestic small carrier, into Kathamandu. My flight in internationally was one of the worst of my life, terrible turbulence and an electrical storm, I really said my prayers.
I get a call this morning from a friend. International airport is closed but domestic seems to be ok – hope the flight goes. Soon after I get a knock at the door and reception have come to tell me that a call has come for me saying that my 1.30pm flight… is now at 10.30am (might I add it was 8.45am).
It’s a tiny town and tiny airport, but still, I would like to be there with some time before the plane actually leaves. I was told my taxi would come at 10am – to get me there by 10.15am as it’s only a 15 minute drive. Sorry… you want me to get to the airport 15 minutes before my flight. Nope. I said a car needs to be here asap. Ok 9.30. Still too late for me but it’s the best we’re going to do.
So then I went down for breakfast… nothing was there! I went into the restaurant and was informed due to Holi festival, there are only 3 guests in the entire hotel. I order to my room and proceed to inhale my delicious breakfast of cold coffee and Aloo Paratha (indian breads stuffed with curried potatoes, my favourite) with curd.
Hhaha oh Nepal. Ok. So bring on this flight and hope to see you soon Kathamandu. Oh… and just before I leave the hotel, I get a text saying “No worries. Flight time is 11.30. You will need to be at the airport at 10.30, so plenty of time.” What!! Was this not valuable information at the time I was running around my room packing and inhaling food? haha Oh Nepal!
It’s also HOLI Festival. So let’s see how we go with Taxis, getting through the streets etc when I reach!!!
In 2008, I went to visit my World Vision Australia sponsor child Lazaro in Tanzania and I can say without a doubt it was the best day of my life. I shared this experience with my dear friend Alana Kaye and as another child sponsor, she wanted to also have this experience. In 2013, she achieved this dream and met her gorgeous little sponsor child in Honduras.
I shared her story on my blog Lovelly Communications and you can read the full story here:
Of course nothing will ever take away from the moment that I met Velinda! Finally meeting someone in person that you have been writing to/ conversing with/ sending photos and updates with for years is an unbelievable feeling. Meeting Velinda made me cry, laugh and scream with joy. I was so happy to meet her in person!!! The experience was unbelievable!!! Overall, the whole day really blew me away. I didn’t realise that by just sponsoring one child that it can have such an impact on the whole community. I was overwhelmed with World Vision’s organisation and their attention to detail on the day and the way they had involved the whole community in my visit. They had been planning my visit to Marcala for 3 months and had made every effort to make it an incredible experience for Velinda and I. The whole day was simply phenomenal!
In just a few days, I will be visiting my second sponsor child, Kamala in Nepal. I’ve been sponsoring her with my mother for 5 years and I am so thankful to World Vision Australia and World Vision Nepal for making this possible! I’ll also be taking on #everestbasecamptrek with Team World Vision Australia.
Today I went to visit my fourth World Vision Country Office around the world. I was in Kathmandu, Nepal, at the head office and was met by the kind Anu. It never ceases to amaze me the kindness, dedication and passion of staff in this organisation, all around the World.
Anu has been emailing me, along with the lovely staff from the Australian office (shout out to gorgeous Clare) to help me arrange my sponsor child visit in Kailali District. I’ve been sponsoring little Kamala for more than 5 years now with my mother Sarah. I love Nepal and have visited twice in the past, I knew it was the place I wanted to have a sponsor child. I’ve now been sponsoring Kamala for 5 years and just can’t wait to meet her.
Speaking to Anu and learning about her work here with World Vision was so inspiring. She clearly has a passion for her job and has been working with World Vision for 10 years. She told me her favourite thing was hearing the stories of Australians and Canadians who come to visit their sponsor children here in Nepal. She didn’t realise that we were so connected, excited ad dedicated to our sponsor children. She was shocked to see so much emotion from the people and how much they cared about these children over the other side of the world. I smiled as I knew exactly what she was talking about. I shared with her my story about why I sponsor children and why I love what World Vision do and am now a #WVAblogger blog ambassador. Anu only cements my belief and trust in this organisation and the work they do around the world.
I’ve found a blog today that was written for World Vision Australia about saying farewell to my sponsor child in Tanzania in 2009. I had been sponsoring him for 5 years and at that time and in December 2008 I travelled to Arusha, Tanzania and met him. I can say without hesitation that it was the best day of my life. So naturally, saying goodbye to him in 2009 when the work in his village had finished, was not at all easy. These were my thoughts on the process:
“I still get teary thinking of him. I sent my final farewell card and cried with every word. Goodbye is always the hardest word to say. Lazaro, you are in my thoughts always, as you have been for so many of the past years. I teasure the gift you gave me when I came to visit you and it will continue to have pride of place in my room and my heart. You were an inspiration to me and you put my world in perspective. This world is so much bigger than we can ever imagine, it is so much greater than all of us and you are helping me to understand this.”
I’m so excited to again be able to have this experience of meeting a sponsor child, and here I am. In Kathmandu, days from meeting her. I even wrote about her in that blog at the time:
“I started sponsoring a Nepalese girl one year ago as I also have a close affinity to this country. I look forward to developing a relationship with her and her community and someday soon visiting her in Nepal.”
It’s taken another 5 years, but here I am! Ready to meet this gorgeous little lady. I love receiving her updates in the post and it’s a bond my mother and I can share. Knowing we are changing the life of a little girl, her family and her community. The process has been somewhat held up as my flight has today been cancelled due to bad weather. This is why I allowed one week before my #everestbasecamptrek2015 to come and meet her and get to see her village. We’ve re-scheduled for tomorrow and pushed the flight back another day. It may be busy due to two days of bad weather and cancellations, but we will get there! Worst comes to worst, I’ll drive over night by jeep. I have to get there!
Some of the wonderful things I receive from World Vision updating me about Kamala and her activities.