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 Sophie Fennell
Day five and we are more than half way through our trip to Nepal. Our first night in our homestay in Ghyangfedi was more than comfortable thanks to the amazing effort of the Adara team. We start the morning bright and early with a big breakfast knowing that we have a long day ahead of us! First stop is to help the Adara team to give out breakfast to the children from the school we visited yesterday that will be showing us the way on the trek.
Once everyone was ready, we headed off on our trek which we were told would be about an hour and a half long. Amongst the Ambassadors some were less worried than others (Martin and Maria are regular trekkers) about the challenge ahead. However, there were some concerns for Michael who didn’t exactly look the part with his canvas Fred Perry trainers and jeans!
The kids led the way, showing up most of the adults by jumping over the rocks and running along next to the river whilst we all slowly put one foot in front of the other with our breath not only being taken away by the incredible views but also the increasingly hard climb. Part of the trip involved a terrifying bridge which meant Maria and I conquering our fears – although it required our hands being held by the young children to help us across!
Once we made it to the top and reached the nearly 2,000m altitude we had made it to our destination of Ghewar (village in Ghyangfedi) and were yet again greeted by the incredible children which were not panting and panicking like us, but just armed with smiles and flowers. Of course, they have the head start because of their age but they are used to these types of walks. Many do almost double to just get to school in the morning. Whilst in Ghewar we visited another primary school which, when compared to the Ghyangfedi School we visited yesterday, was basic with only one large room. It was rundown as it doesn’t have the continued support from charities like Adara and the difference is evident which highlighted to us all the important work Adara completes here. There was an exchange of songs with us illustrating why we should leave it to the kids with bad renditions of jingle bells and Old McDonald (although Michael and Maria seemed to enjoy the latter a little too much with some convincing animal sounds)!
The area not only suffers without adequate school facilities, but they were one of the worst hit villages following the 2015 earthquake with all the houses being destroyed. The ambassadors were then shown to a member of the community’s home which was a real privilege for us to be let into their family. The home was relatively new, following the rebuilding project, and the tin roofs provided to the families by Adara.
After our tea, we headed back down the mountain to the school where we watched the children have their lunch. This meal is provided to the children for free which is a great incentive for the children to make the 3 hour walk each way and get an education. Next we participated in our cultural exchange with the school children on Nepal culture and our own culture. The lessons were really fun and we brought in pieces to show them some things from our homes. The children were fascinated with the island of Bermuda as, compared to the landlocked country of Nepal and the children asked how Domonique slept not in fear of floods. Paul bought the jar of lollies from the nearest shop and gave all the children a sweet which they seemed to enjoy.
Finally we returned to our homestay and enjoyed some delicious food and shared our favourite moments from the day over a fresh batch of the local homemade alcohol (as Paul finished the rest the night before). There was relief from all when we took off our hiking boots (or trainers for Michael).
There were so many moments it was hard to choose just one to talk about. A moment I discussed with Maria earlier in the day was when one of the eldest children introduced her song to us which was about the message of ‘if you look through the world with flowers in your eyes then you will see the world in flowers’. I felt it summed up the attitude of the remarkable children that we have met. They are so resilient and even though battling extreme situations every day they have all been smiles and warmth towards us and each other because they have flowers in their eyes. Positivity which has been brought to the community and the children largely through the school funded by Adara.