Unlike Monica I had never had any burning desire to help with children in developing countries. I became involved with OCCED Nepal through curiosity. I was on the Saga website prior to a trek with them in the Annapurna region in Nepal when I saw Volunteering along the top and clicked there. Six months later in April 2009 I was in Nepal along with Monica and our deep involvement with the children and Board of OCCED Nepal began.
The story of buying a new permanent home for the children of OCCED is well outlined but we have also made other improvements to their lives.
Monica and I have arranged camping holidays, rafting expeditions and rock climbing during the long Dashain holidays. The children really enjoyed these experiences as it brought them away from the city life in Kathmandu and gave them exposure to village life in the rural communities.
In our early visits we became aware that the children really needed a house parent figure to teach them manners, discipline, personal hygiene and help with homework. In October 2013 I was able to persuade a local lady to work part time as supervisor in the home.
Anjali has made a huge difference to the day to day lives of these children teaching them good personal hygiene and keeping their dormitories clean and tidy. She has instilled good discipline and encouraged good manners and courtesy.
As time went on Anjali took on more responsibilities, most importantly she supervises daily tuition time to ensure that homework is done. Extra help with weak subjects has been provided by a teacher she has engaged. I feel Anjali’s appointment is the best thing we have provided for these children.
The beginning of my extraordinary experience with Nepal and its people started in 2008 when I booked a trekking holiday. There was a small piece in the holiday brochure about volunteering and that was how I first met the children at OCCED/Nepal Children’s Home and my work with a charity began.
I spent a month with the children and wanted to see them again. The next time I visited I walked into the recreation room unannounced, one of the older girls called my name. She remembered me even though she was only about 7 years old the last time I was there. I was delighted and the welcome is even better every time I return.
People ask what I do when I’m there and my reply is ‘I am not a teacher or have a healthcare background but I am a grandmother and do the same things I do with my grandchildren, play games , talk, listen, help with homework.’
One day I accompanied one of the older boys to a hospital appointment. I was the only westerner in the building and received some curious looks. A man spoke to the boy and he smiled as he replied. I asked what had been said “He asked if you were my mother, I said No she is my godmother.” Proud does not describe how I felt.
On one visit I put my business management skills to use and helped with admin work in the office by showing the young woman who worked there how to use spreadsheets and accounting software to keep financial records and also helped with her written English and word processing for when she emailed and wrote letters to the sponsors and supporters.
I had always wanted to do volunteer work with children in a developing country and, in April 2009 , after retiring as Consultant Paediatrician in Lancaster, was delighted to have the opportunity to do this in what was then referred to as “Naxal Orphanage”, Kathmandu, through Saga Travel and “People and Places”.
Little did I realise what an impact this trip would have not only on my own life, but that of the children living there.
It was my good fortune to be volunteering there at the same time as Anne Allen, an Irish lady with a similar background to my own.
We were both struck by the very poor sanitation and hygiene conditions. Hardly surprising, as the younger boys did not realise that they were meant to “wee” into the toilet and not against the back of the door! No cleaning had been done in the living areas, as the didi’s were too busy with cooking and caring for the younger children.
We were given permission to address this issue, and within one week, after much disinfecting, scrubbing, delighted cries of “Miss, it is beautiful”, and increasing help from the didi’s and children, the place was sparkling!
The children loved us, their “godmothers”, and the feeling was definitely mutual.
After we met up with Dot Coupe, who had already visited the Children’s Home on two occasions, the three of us resolved that we wanted to “improve the lives” of these children. The rest is history.
Ten years ago we could never have dreamt that we would achieve so very much.
A brighter future for children in need