By Andrea McCormick
Director and Senior Advisor, Adara Partners & Adara Advisors
Director, Adara Development (Australia)
I would never have thought at any point during my training to become a lawyer or an accountant that I would find myself in a job that would take me to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Yet here I am, with the Adara Nepal team, meeting with some of the amazing Nepali organisations that Adara has partnered with for many years to help improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people that live in this city.
It’s quite an overwhelming feeling as I’m introduced to people I have heard of and projects I have read about many times during my ten years working at Adara. Nepal is a fascinating and beautiful country, but it has deep-rooted poverty, so seeing the work on the ground firsthand is inspiring. I realise yet again that working for an organisation with a business model that allows me to use my skills for purpose feels right.
Adara has an incredible team who lead and implement work across health and education projects in many remote places. In addition, we support a handful of organisations that we have stood beside for decades. Below, I briefly talk about a few of the Nepali organisations that I have been lucky enough to visit on this trip. It’s a privilege for us to be able to work with these partners in the delivery of their important and impactful services.
Himalayan Medical Foundation (HMF) – Benchen Clinic: Our first full day in Kathmandu starts with a visit to HMF. This small clinic set up in the grounds of a monastery in a very poor part of town is providing an invaluable service to the city’s poorest people. It is open Monday to Friday and sees about 30-40 patients for free every morning. It is part of a network of seven clinics. People start queuing for treatment from 5am. You have to pay for medical treatment in Nepal, even if you go to a government hospital, so this free clinic which offers health check-ups, pathology services, medication and dental facilities is truly life saving for the patients that go there.
Hands in Outreach (HIO): Next up on our itinerary is HIO. This beautiful little school is a haven in the chaotic city of Kathmandu. As soon as you enter the school you see all these beautiful smiling faces of the students. You would not immediately know it, but these kids are from extremely poor backgrounds and families. HIO take a family-centred approach. Mothers are offered literacy classes early in the morning before the school opens and before the Mums head off to work, then the kids (both pre-school and school aged) flood in and are taught in lovely colourful classrooms and fed a decent meal. In the evening, the space is used for community meetings or as a temporary haven for women escaping abuse. The passion of the teachers is evident, and it is remarkable to see how engaged the children of all ages are.
Women’s Foundation Nepal (WFN): Visiting the extraordinary operations of this organisation is something that will stay with me for a long time. The work and story behind the Women’s Foundation Nepal is quite amazing. A group of young female law students came together years ago to form this unique, life changing organisation. This non-profit not only represents women in family disputes, it also offers refuge to women escaping abuse; childcare for the children of those women; counselling services; and training and employment (through its handwoven scarfs and textiles enterprise), to help them to build new independent lives. It is incredible that WFN has grown into such a substantive operation, helping hundreds of women and children escaping domestic violence and abuse and taking on around 200 pro bono legal cases per year (with a 99% success rate in court). The lawyers working here risk their lives taking on many of the complex legal cases. The staff’s dedication is truly inspirational.
Hearing about Adara’s journey with each of these organisations over the years is truly heart-warming. Not only do we help fund some of their work and support the employment of some of their staff, we also provide staff training – from child protection to data protection – helping to build their capacity.
Adara Kids: I never fully appreciated how many young lives Adara is enhancing through scholarships programmes for students from very remote regions in Nepal, until I see many of them at the Adara office in Kathmandu for a social gathering. Such bright, engaging and vibrant youngsters keen to make their mark on the world. They are studying such varied subjects as science, journalism, nursing and engineering. The ripple effect of helping these young adults access quality education is huge, not only for them and for their families, but also for their entire community. Meeting them makes me feel optimistic about the future of the world.
Throughout my time in Kathmandu, one thing has become so apparent, Adara’s Nepal team and our partners are making great gains toward breaking the cycle of poverty. I may be ten thousand kilometres away from Sydney, but the Adara Family feels the same the globe over – united in its purpose to help those less fortunate.