Earlier this year, members of our Uganda team travelled to Nepal, visiting our education projects and sharing their knowledge and expertise in Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH).
Daniel Kabugo, our Uganda Country Director, who has long been passionate about education and youth projects, spent his time trekking throughout Ghyangfedi to visit Adara-supported schools. He was amazed by the sights, the quality of education offered and loved getting to meet students and teachers.
By Daniel Kabugo
On the 29th August, members of my team from Uganda and I left Uganda to head to Nepal.
Travelling outside of Uganda and being responsible for a team can be a daunting experience. I was both nervous and excited and found that simple things like finding the correct gate and remembering the visa process became a challenge.
We landed safely in Nepal and when we came out of customs, we were greeted by our wonderful Nepal Country Director, Pralhad Dhakal. Pralhad welcomed us with his big smile and a traditional cultural ‘khata’ (scarf).
For the past 10 years, I have had the desire to come over to Nepal and see the great work and meet the staff and see the communities where we work. I was so excited!
Our first day in Nepal was very busy. We had the opportunity to meet the team and see our Nepal office before checking in to our hotel which was surrounded by nature and beautiful forests. We then headed off to see one of our partners, Hands in Outreach, who support children – mostly girls – living in poverty to go to school. It was an amazing experience to see the school and how they are being innovative with online learning systems.
The team took us to lunch before an afternoon of shopping at the local markets. There was so much talent, creativity and hard work that went into the handmade items.
That evening we were taken to a traditional Nepali restaurant for a unique experience. The food was served in phases and shared on small plates. One of my favourites was a soup that had nine types of beans, which I enjoyed very much and reminded me of my country.
As part of the experience, there were several cultural dances and the Nepali team taught us how to use our hands to eat. It was so much fun! The care and hospitality we saw and felt in Nepal was outstanding.
When we got back to the hotel, we were told to get some rest as we had an early start the next morning. I woke up at 5am as I was so excited.
After a few hours of driving, we stopped for lunch and to stretch our legs. The drive so far had been ok but I was warned that the remaining part of the drive would be challenging due to the quality of the road.
We got back in the car and immediately the road changed. The road had many sharp corners and I wondered how the buses survived. The nature along the drive was outstanding with many rivers flowing and large mountains everywhere.
When we arrived at Ghyangfedi I could see children, staff and members of the community coming to greet us. We were welcomed in the traditional way with Khatas and flowers. Seeing these children in school uniform made my heart full of joy. We were blown away to see so many happy faces and so much hope for the future.
The school is well equipped and well maintained. The innovation centre is a great opportunity for the students to learn and be creative.
Seeing hope in the middle of nowhere describes how Adara is making a difference and going to the most remote places where few people would go. The children were full of life and joy and clearly enjoyed what they did.
We were welcomed with wonderful remarks and some cultural dances from the students. My team shared some of our cultural dances from Uganda and I spoke about my educational background. There was a lot of dancing and music and I learnt that the best way to connect to the younger people is not listening to the music but creating it with them.
Many of the adults could not communicate in English but because of their education, the children started to speak to us in English. Educating the youth has bridged a gap. No matter where you live there are still opportunities. I heard of children that were on scholarships in the USA, Australia, Canada and Japan.
After the very warm welcome, we were taken to our place of residence – a house of a local villager. I could tell that the family hosting us were worried that we may have a hard time sleeping in the house, but the Adara team had packed everything we needed.
There was limited reception to contact home but it gave me an opportunity to have that special moment of silence. I was disconnected and felt at peace.
The next day we were able to visit some of the other schools. The school spoke volumes as to why Adara exists as not many people would want to work in such a remote place, and I could see hope for the future in the children. At first, all the children were shy towards me but a few hours I had achieved my goal and had bridged the gap between the two cultures.
I made friends and told the students that they had all they needed to make it in life. I was able to share part of my story, my upbringing, how I had lacked a good foundation but that it didn’t determine my future or stop me pursuing my dreams.
Despite some having to travel over one and half hours to get here, Adara has given these children the best opportunity.
Health care services are offered in the area but only at a very basic level. The team spent two days training the local health post workers in Helping Babies Breathe so that the staff have the basic skills to support these newborns.
I came home feeling very grateful. Seeing how people live in Ghyangfedi and other villages was eye opening and an incredible experience. I am so lucky that I got an opportunity to see the work in Nepal, meet many families and get to learn and share. I look forward to future opportunities to see more of Nepal.
Thank you to our Nepali family for the hospitality, love and kindness.