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Les Elfes volunteer trip to Association Annapurna Nepal with Emma Cros and Andrew Robarts

Arrival in Kathmandu

Our trip to Nepal began on the 21st of April 2015 as we departed from Geneva airport and flew to Kathmandu via Istanbul. We spend the first two days of our trip in Kathmandu which gave us an opportunity to sort out various things such as mobile phones, bus tickets, clothing etc. It also gave us an opportunity to explore the capital city and visit some of the world renowned sites in the city such as Durbar Square and Swayambhunath (The Monkey Temple).

Journey to Pokhara

It was an early start to the day on the 24th of April as we started an 8 hour bus journey from Kathmandu to the city of Pokhara, where Association Annapurna Nepal (AAN) is situated. Upon arrival in Pokhara, we were greeted by Milan, who is the ‘hostel father’ and is in charge of the day to day events at AAN. He led us to Hotel Elia, in Lakeside, Pokhara, which was to be our home for the next 3 weeks. We spent the rest of the day unpacking and finding our feet as we explored the streets surrounding our new home.

Warm welcome from the children

We met Milan outside our hotel early the next morning and proceeded to walk with him to the home of the Association, a walk which took us roughly 20 minutes. Upon our arrival we received a warm welcome from the children of AAN, all of whom were at home as there is no school for them on a Saturday. We were introduced to the children individually and then spent some time getting to know more about each of them. After this they showed us around the home and explained the daily chores to us which consist of various things such as sweeping, mopping, fetching water and washing dishes to name but a few.

The tragic earthquake

After the chores were complete, we entered into a competitive game of hide-and-seek with the children although this was cut short, very suddenly, as we were hit by the tragic earthquake which has caused so much damage to the country and its people. We all rushed outside and found a safe place on the street where we all stood together while the 7.9 earthquake continued to rattle the land around us for well over a minute. Fortunately there was no damage the property and more importantly, none of the children were injured by the natural disaster. We were advised not to be indoors as aftershocks continued to roll through the country, so we spent the rest of the day working in the vegetable garden as this allowed us to take our minds off the events which had just taken place.

School is open

School commenced on the 5th of May; we arrived at the home early on this morning to help the children get ready for the day. Little help was needed though, as the children were so eager to get to school and share stories of the earthquake and their week off with their friends. They were all looking neat in their uniforms, with their books ready and bags packed, all that was left, was for them to finish their breakfast and catch the bus to school. We tidied the house after they had left and then headed back to lakeside to rest and enjoy some free time around the lake. We returned in the evening to hear the children’s stories of their day at school and spent most of the evening assisting them with their homework. After their homework was complete we settled in front of the television for a while before enjoying some Dal Bhat, a delicious traditional Nepali meal. We then wished the children a good night and cycled back to the hotel for a good nights rest.

The remainder of the school week followed in a similar pattern although we also spent some time working with Milan, and his brother Dhan, on various issues relating to the earthquake. They had decided that they would like AAN to assist with the earthquake relief effort and provide support to those living in areas which had been devastated by the earthquake. We spent some time collaborating a few emails which could be used to raise awareness for the relief effort and provide people with information about how they can contribute to the effort through donations.