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Tom, Ollie and Louis

Nepal - February 2020

Three intrepid boys accompanied their parents on a two-week project in Nepal. Learn about their experiences from Tom aged 11, the oldest of the children. The account is in his own words.

Click on the images on the right of the screen to take you to more photo's of their trip.

Hi,

My name is Tom and I'm 11 years old. In February I, and my little brothers Ollie (7) and Louis (4), went to Nepal to take part in a volunteering trip organised by UK charity AidCamps International and their local partner organisation RCDP. Mum and Dad came with us too but the trip was specifically organised for us. We done something similar with AidCamps in India in 2017 and we had such a great time, we begged Mum and Dad to do it again in a different country.

The project was to teach conversational English to Nepali school children and orphans in the rural Chitwan Valley area of Nepal. AidCamps set us a fundraising target of £1,000. Mum and Dad were paying for all our flights and expenses so 100% of everything we raised was going to the charity.

We used our fundraising page that AidCamps set up for us to ask family and friends to donate and we held a cake sale at our primary school. We even donated £100 of our own Christmas money. We are really lucky to have such generous people supporting us and we smashed our target raising over £1200 to spend on the children when we got there.

On the day we left the UK we were in the middle of Storm Dorian so we were hoping the flight wouldn't be cancelled. Luckily it was on time and 23 hours later we arrived in Kathmandu to spend one night and the next day we had to take a bus ride down to Chitwan. The journey was long, over 6 hours, and a bit scary on some of the windy roads but the bus drivers are great and got us there safely.

Over the next week we visited 6 schools, secondary and primary, and an orphanage all supported by AidCamps/RCDP where we were able to look around the buildings and have teaching sessions in the classrooms. There were lots of questions and singing and dancing. I showed the children a video I made of my school to show them the differences between our education. I also made a video of their schools to show my school friends in the UK. We also learnt some Nepali words and phrases.

The three of us train with a majorette troupe at home and we took our batons with us and taught some baton twirling as well. The children had never seen anything like it before. Oliver and Louis were a bit shy to speak in front of the big groups of children so I did a lot of the classroom work. Louis liked to sing and do baton twirling displays. Ollie most enjoyed making friends with smaller groups playing outdoor games like football, volleyball and badminton.

We were surprised by the conditions of some of the schools and the lack of books and teaching materials. There were some schools with crumbling stairs and walls, some without electricity or windows. Very few schools had any exercise books and textbooks were limited to one per subject per school in some places. One school had a third storey classroom with no railings around it to stop children falling off the roof! Some classes had over 50 children in them.

There was a man from RCDP, Lila, who organised our placement and acted as our translator. He's a good friend of AidCamps and he took us to the shops so we could spend the money we had raised. He gave us lots of advice on what items were needed most. Things are cheaper in Nepal than in the UK so we were able to buy plenty of things.  The biggest item was a water purification system for the orphanage. They only have an outside pump to wash and drink from so this will make a massive difference to their health.  We also bought the orphans exercise books and pencils, school uniforms and sports equipment.  There was enough money left over to buy play equipment and puzzles for a kindergarten that had nothing, 200 exercise books and 400 pencils for a primary school and 2 computer desks and 4 chairs for a secondary school. The children and teachers were so grateful it made us realise how lucky we are in the UK to have schools with great facilities.

Everywhere we went we were treated like VIPs.  We were given flower garlands and had tikkas put on our heads (that's a dot of red powder that gets everywhere!). We were also given scarves at some places which is a sign of respect.  We tried the local food and drink too. We didn't like the traditional Dal Bhat much as it was too spicy for us. Even the tomato ketchup had chilli in it!

It wasn't all hard work though. We did have some time to be tourists. In the Chitwan National Park, we did a jeep safari, elephant ride and canoe ride where we got to see endangered rhino, sloth bears, deer and lots of crocodiles!!

In Kathmandu we went on a tour of the holy sites. In Nepal they are mainly Hindu and Buddhist and we visited the famous Monkey Temple and Boudhanath temple. We also got the see the worlds tallest Shiva statue that was 143ft high. Then we went to the ancient town of Bhaktapur which had carvings dating back to the 15th century (we were sad to see lots of damage there due to the earthquake in 2015).

One of the highlights of the trip had to be the Mountain flight round the Himalayas. We even got to go in the cockpit with the pilot to see Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. It was so amazing. I got some great photos thanks to the awesome zoom on my camera!

We had such a great time in Nepal. It was the best experience ever. We were able to learn so much about the customs and culture. We were so lucky to see first-hand the good work that AidCamps/RCDP do there and the difference they are making to the children's lives. If anyone thinks volunteering is just for adults they're wrong –  the children seemed to enjoy our sessions as much as we did and I think we all learnt something from them.

We have made memories of a lifetime and we can't wait to do another one; maybe Africa next (hint hint Mum and Dad 😊)...

Tom

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