By Rosie Gallagher, Adara Partnership Manager
“So what do you want to do after school?” I ask Maya* and Sarita*, two of the “Adara Kids”, while we wait at the airport for our guests to arrive.
We have to wait at the airport for a while – the plane is slightly delayed. As we wait we talk about all kinds of things: our favourite music, games, what Australia is like, what Humla is like.
Maya, 16, the youngest of the Adara Kids, tells me she wants to be a nurse. Sarita, 18, is studying radiography.
As I look at these two young women, I am encouraged and inspired. When they were just 4 and 6 years old, their parents paid a man to take them from their home in Humla, to Kathmandu in search of better opportunities and education in the midst of a civil war. Little did their parents know that the man was a trafficker, and rather than placing them in good schools and care, he took the girls to children’s homes. There, they were neglected, ill-treated, and forced to beg on the streets.
Seeing them today, these strong, smart and confident young women, you would never guess the childhood they’ve had. They are full of hope and determination for their future.
Adara rescued, rehabilitated and reintegrated 136 children who had been trafficked from Humla 12 years ago – including Maya and Sarita.
As the Adara Kids grew up, Adara started a cultural exchange programme. We wanted some of our key supporters to come to Nepal to spend time with the Adara Kids, and to see firsthand our work in Nepal. We called the trip the “Week of Culture and Friendship”. The week allows our supporters to experience the beauty of Nepal and the depth of our work, and gives the Adara Kids a week of fun, where they get to meet kids from other countries and do lots of fun activities. It is a beautiful thing to see that the Adara Kids are still skyping kids from Australia years after they meet – the bonds they form are strong.
This year, we were joined by Rachel Riley (CFO, ansarada) and her husband Craig Owen with their two girls, Tilly and Aria. The week included a range of cultural activities, such as playing Nepali games, collaborating on an artwork directed by a traditional Nepali artist, and learning and performing Nepali dances. We saw some of the most famous cultural sites in Kathmandu including the Bouddha Stupa, and the Monkey Temple. We also had a chance to visit some of our local NGO partners in Kathmandu, to see the wonderful work they are doing.
“I can’t think of a word to describe it”… Rachel says about the trip, “It’s been nothing short of amazing, it’s just been incredible to see the some of the work Adara’s been doing”.
“I’m incredibly humbled by the experience. I got to come over here, not just by myself representing ansarada, but I got to bring my family. So that’s something we’ll share as a family forever, and my girls are really impacted by that.”
At Adara, we are all about bridging worlds and changing lives. The week of culture and friendship is certainly a life changing experience for everyone involved.
*Names changed to protect identity.