Story by Carol McNaughton
My destination, Nepal. After a successful fund-raiser and 200+ kg of donated goods, eight of us Hervey Bay residents travelled to Nepal and headed to Dhulikhel where we stayed and worked for the next three days. Karve district and a small village on the side of the mountain were amongst many completely wiped out by the earthquake in 2015. Our task was to help with the initial groundwork to install the last two of 20 Bio Gas Energy Units our fund-raiser purchased. We spilt into two teams working on digging the holes for the storage tank. Each hole being 10ftx6ft, busting our way through thick red soil and various rock matter. Not an easy job in two days. Through working as a team, sheer determination, and perseverance we got the job done, we were physically and emotionally exhausted. At the completion of our digging each of the families were presented with our plaques for the installation of the Bio Gas Units. I was fortunate enough to work and present the Nepalese family my family name plaque. I felt extremely humbled and emotional at that moment just knowing my little contribution has made such a huge difference to this family not only today but for generations to come. Knowing now their lives will be so much easier with self-generated energy for cooking, lighting, and heating. I certainly will in the near future travel back to visit and see their progress.
Next we visited another village completely rebuilt where the Bio Gas Units are completed, seeing how they work and the difference in their lives. All the fund-raiser plaques were presented to the families with hundreds of photos being taken. It was a very humbling experience. We also paid a visit to the Local Women’s Co-operative Group where we met the village women and distributed a lot of the scarves and gloves made by the Fraser Shores Retirement Village. We also gave each of the women a bag of rice/lentil/vegetable mix donated by the Rotary’s District Governor along with leaving a few suitcases full of clothing for them to distribute within the village. The smiles of appreciation and the many exchanges of ‘Namaste’ was a lovely heart-filling moment.
Day three and we headed to Madala Devi Primary School which was totally destroyed by the earthquake. Part of our fund-raising provided a roof for the new school, full painting, 40 desks, chairs along with books and pencils for the children. We worked alongside members of the Rotary Club or Dhulikhel and painted the full outside and inside of the school. Such a wonderful sense of achievement was felt by all as well as being covered in paint. We then met the children, Principal, teachers, and the local Women’s Development Group and presented more plaques for the Biogas Units installed in the village as well as some more wonderful knitted goods, St James Lutheran College and Galangoor Duwalami Primary Health Care Uniforms that were donated, more suitcases full of clothes, sporting goods and another 75 rice bags. The look of excitement and gratitude on their faces was a precious moment.
My final two days were back in Kathmandu. We all took on an Ultra Marathon ‘Stupa to Stupa’ 54km race through the mountains around the rim of the Kathmandu Valley. The first 5km was a 700m climb to 2100m. The top view was simply stunning with the valley below and the Himalayan Snow Capped Mountains in the distance. My journey over the 54km was physically challenging, emotionally rewarding, and personally, life-changing. One step at a time I completed the 54km feeling proud though exhausted in 10hrs 51mins. Thank you to Lars Olsen my coach/Rotary for believing in me and asking me to join this volunteer life experience trip to Nepal, it’s something that I will never forget.