For the past 11 years, we have had the great privilege of partnering with Aspen Insurance. Each year, staff members from Aspen offices across the globe visit Adara’s projects on the ground to see firsthand the impact of this partnership. Until 2017 this visit was to Kiwoko Hospital in Uganda. This year, for the first time ever, a group of seven staff visited Adara’s Nepal projects!
As always, they left inspired by the incredible experience and invigorated by the knowledge that so much of this work has been made possible by Aspen’s support. They have been kind enough to share some of their stories with us.
By Martin Mitchell
I’d like to say we all had a smooth trip over, but alas there were a few bumps along the way. For the Heathrow contingent, some of us managed to meet before the flight. Paul, however, decided the lounge was a better option…. Amongst the pre-trip excitement Sophie, Maria and myself realised we had left it quite fine to get to the gate. At this point, I’ll admit I managed to tell them the wrong gate, but we made it…eventually and after a short sprint!
We arrived in Dubai after a short delay. A taxi ride to another terminal finished our 2 hour stay in the UAE and the final leg was in sight. Soon we landed and had the task of trying to understand the visa system, which I have to say is superb. Even managing to haggle the price down to a £20 note and a euro coin, all seemed completely legit. As we passed through customs we were warmly greeted by the Adara crew who had been patiently waiting for us. Colourful scarves were placed around us and the adventure began! Michael had landed before us and was already at the resort. A team dinner while everyone was trying hard to stay awake followed, and as we left to head to bed Andrew made it to complete the team.
Namaste! A well needed sleep to counter any jet lag was well received by all. The full team gathered for a briefing of the week ahead from Pralhad, Yvette and Pam over breakfast. A few introductions to Nepali culture concluded, with not one of us really being able to pronounce any of the phrases!
We wandered down to the Adara Kathmandu office to meet with the “Adara Youth”. These kids have been the backbone of Adara’s work in child protection and had been looked after by the amazing staff here since they were five, many now graduating from college or high school. As we walked in they lined the path, handing us all scarves and flowers while greeting us. We all sat down and begun speaking with the kids. Their English was astonishing and the stories they recounted enthralled us all.
A group lunch together led onto a group ice breaker involving name tags and balloons, some very impressive break dancing (needless to say this was not done by anyone at Aspen!) and a presentation followed by Pralhad on all the work Adara has done in Nepal. The kids sat and followed the presentation with us, the ambassadors moved by their journey from childhood to adulthood. Each one of them humble and so attached to Adara, a real sense of family spirit was evident, each of them empathising with each other despite some being from different areas of the country.
We then visited the apartment of one of the “Adara Youth.” We sat and had local biscuits in the apartment of one of the youth, realising that there were 5 kids sleeping to one room, with a small kitchen and a bathroom attached to their balcony, but so house proud. They spoke of how they still have a love of learning and all wish to carry on their education, something Adara has been so instrumental in facilitating. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to the youth, but we were told we would see them again later in the week.
We headed to visit Boudha Stupa, a temple where part of the Buddha’s body is treasured inside. We joined the masses strolling around the temple and the markets stalls buzzing with activity all around us. Dinner was with the Adara local partners, organisations and groups which the charity works closely with. One of the ladies I spoke with heads up the Women’s Foundation, helping women who have been unfortunately subjected to domestic violence. She spoke of how she’s been pushing for more women’s rights and has had nationwide recognition, including being presented an award by the president. The work these people do is so commendable, their passion and commitment to their individual and group causes. Overall an amazing first day to the trip!