Originally published by Childreach International, July 2016.
“Hi everyone! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Lisa and I would like to tell you about my recent trip to Nepal.
This summer I found myself feeling a lot of de ja vu… I was reliving the incredible sights and sounds that I had experienced almost exactly two years before, and it was a wonderful feeling.
In June 2016, I set off for Nepal with a group of students from Abertay, Brunel, Dundee and Nottingham. Together we had signed up for Childreach International’s ‘Big Build’ in Nepal, and after a year of relentless fundraising, we were finally off!
But where does de ja vu come into it? Well, let me tell you! My first Big Build was in July 2014, where I volunteered at the same project and worked with the majority of the same local team. I enjoyed my time so much that I was desperate to come back, especially to help out where I could after the devastating earthquakes of 2015.
We were off to the Meera Centre, a model early childhood development centre built by Childreach Nepal in the Sankhu village – just a couple of hours outside of Kathmandu. The Meera Centre not only gives access to pre-school education that the local children would otherwise miss out on, but it also acts as the centre of community development. Regular health clinics are run for the children and local parents, workshops are held on health and childcare, and much more. The first of its kind in Nepal, it is to be a model centre for the government to replicate nationally.
Our mission at the Meera Centre – to clear and level the almost jungle-like garden to make way for a new playground for the children (as well as other adhoc tasks!) It was a week of hot, sweaty work, filled with blood, sweat, tears and laughter across the group. Some of us found new strength in being able to chop down trees whilst wielding an axe for the first time. Others tested their patience by digging into the centre of the earth to find the roots of two trees to move them across the garden. All of us found serenity in planting our own young sapling to replace the trees we had to take down. All of this combined with days and days of digging, cement mixing and even the occasional bit of painting made for a truly rewarding volunteering experience.
But it wasn’t only the work that made the trip exceptional – it was the people. The team was an eclectic bunch of personalities that all complimented each other. There were hilariously ridiculous private jokes before we had even left the airport. Our guides, Prateek Syangden (Childreach Nepal) and Paljyor Lama (Charity Expeditions Nepal) were inspirational, deeply fascinating and exceptionally funny. The children at the centre were riotous and cheeky, and playtime with them was both exhilarating and exhausting. Where does all that energy come from?!
Another Big Build for Childreach International complete, and I can’t help but find myself wondering, when is the next one?”