Aussie Action Abroad
I cannot easily express in words how amazing and how beautiful that the country of Nepal is. Two weeks spent of there was not enough; I could go back tomorrow. This Nepal trip was an experience that I will never forget and has changed my life forever. I had so many highlights and events that have challenged me and created a new bold side of me. The faces of Nepal were very inspiring as the people always walked and talked with a smile and had the kindest hearts. I see many things now, back here Australia very differently. It just shows me what we have is such a privilege. Working with the expedition team, Aussie Action Abroad, brought new exciting friends and experiences.
My time started in the capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu. This was one of the things that shocked me most. As soon as I stepped out on the road, I could feel the difference. Cars, motorbikes and people rushing everywhere. Buildings, unfinished houses, construction sites that didn’t look very safe. Children running around, people selling fruit. So many things came running towards me. Too much to take it in. It didn’t feel real. After a day or two exploring Kathmandu, learning about the cultures and seeing different religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, I began working at a training centre. This was a training centre organised by Global Action Nepal. Aussie Action Abroad has been working with them for many years. For two days I got to run a dance and fitness program with older age teenagers and young adults. My mum, a dance teacher, my friend and I taught a Nepalese group our style of dancing and the way that we teach dance. Not only did we teach them, but I loved when they taught us! It was amazing! They taught us the Nepalese traditional dances and taught us routines to their favourite Nepalese songs. My personal favourite was the song “MAYA MAYA”, which was so special for them to dance with me and have that moment of sharing their music with us. The word Maya in Nepali means love.
After working with the group, trying the Nepalese tradition meal, Dal Baht, exploring the villages, we travelled back to Kathmandu for departure to Bhulbule. Bhulbule is in the more rural and remote areas of Nepal and is an eight hour drive from Kathmandu. It was a long journey and it took us a whole day but watching outside my window was magnificent. The views were unimaginable.
After arriving late, having a good night sleep in rooms that are much smaller than home, we had some Tibetan bread for breakfast and we were ready for our big day. This day was travelling to little villages around the area of Bhulbule. We visited local communities groups that Aussie Action Aboard had worked with before and we saw development projects. There were mothers’ groups, managed by women, organized by women and empowering women and girls in Nepal. Meeting these lovely women was beautiful. They were so kind, offering us many things and thrilled to show us around their village. We also had a small traditional Nepalese dance with them. As a group, Aussie Action Abroad donated over 100 hygiene packs, which are packs for girls and ladies for their hygienic requirements and knitted garments including hats, small sweaters and headbands. Back here in Ballarat, many of us had worked really hard before the trip to prepare, create these items for donation. It so pleasing to give them to the villages over there in Nepal.
The next day, we went for a small hike up one of the hills, that looked like a mountain to me, to visit a small school that Aussie Action Abroad built and painted and now has created a special relationship with the students and people of this small village. The people at this school treated us like royalty. They were all dressed in the most fine attire and were absolutely delighted to meet us. We spent some time with them, dancing, singing and learning their language. Before we left we made a small contribution to their school so that they can have more school supplies and resources throughout the year.
Of course, we couldn’t leave Nepal without being involved in a project ourselves. Before we came to Nepal we took a long time to prepare what we were going to do and then finally it was here! The next four days were spent at a very small primary school, Shree Surya Jyoti, with approximately 40 students attending. Each day we had to travel by bus or jeep through a village called Simpani. Some days we would walk. The views up there were amazing. One day we as we hiked we saw the Himalayas right behind us, something that didn’t believe I was seeing! Walking into that gate at the school the rush of small children came towards us with big smiling faces. They made my heart fill with love. I had so much fun playing with them, painting and laughing at how I pronounce their names. Working at this school was incredible and I could keep going back to Nepal every day to work with these people. As a group, including Australians from our team but also the Nepalese teachers and students.
We made the school go from plain grey concrete walls to a school with colour, fun and an exciting learning environment. On the outside walls of the school we painted their traditional national emblems such as the National symbols a flag, cow, flower, red and bird. We also made a tree on the wall with all the children and students’ hands printed as the leaves. This would have to be my favourite part as all the kids were jumping with joy with their own hand painted on the wall of their school. Of course we also painted the walls on the inside with orange one room and pink in the next. But also painting school charts and colourful interactive art works such as the alphabet, solar system, plants and body diagrams. This would hopefully inspire the students to learn more and encourage more to come to school! During the final day of our school visit, we spent time chatting with some of the students and teachers from the school, and we donated more school resources, books and supplies, sporting equipment, such as cricket sets and soccer balls. We also donated hygiene packs for the community, clothing and knitted garments. The last day was the hardest day for me. Not because it was challenging or we didn’t get much done, no there was never day like that. It was saying goodbye to the children, the teachers and the villagers of the community as I had created such a tight bond with them. We all learnt so much with them that I hope to encounter again when I am back there in the future. At the time I didn’t think about me, my family, Australia. All I thought about at the moment was the time I was spending with these children and realising how lucky I was.
My trip ended in Nepal a few days after travelling back to Kathmandu from Bhulbule. On these final days I realised the connections I made with the Nepalese people in our team. One kind and lovely man who has worked with Aussie Action Abroad for many years had bonded with myself and my best friend Jaime for most of the two weeks. His name was Sandesh but we called him Sundance, as we taught him our dancing skills and in return he taught us his Nepalese language. I also met two incredible, kind ladies who are from New South Wales. I also got the time to spend an amazing overseas trip with my mum, who helped me, support me and made this experience so much more special. I cannot forget my grandpa, Baje (grandfather in Nepalese), who is such an amazing man. He has being going over to Nepal three times a year for 20 years, and has impacted so many lives of the people over in Nepal.
Nepal has changed me. I did have an idea of what to expect before I went, but I could not imagine it until I was over there. This amazing opportunity with the people and places has changed my life forever and it is something that has never left my mind since I returned. I could still go on and on about what I saw, did and tasted over there, but there would be no end. I know I am going back to Nepal one day. I can’t just leave my footprint there. I know I am going to return. Till then I think about the faces and people I met, and take in what I have in Australia and thanking everyone for the life I have. I also will do as much as I can here in Australia to help anyone, not just in Nepal but in those other remote countries that need our help. I did it, I travelled and left my comfort zone and I made a real difference.
Dhanyabaad (Thank You) Nepal…..
Written by Maya Tolliday