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.
The school is closed… Time for exciting games…
School was called off by the Government for the next week as they needed time to inspect the school buildings and provide help to the people who had been affected by the earthquake. This meant that the children would be at home for the week, so we came up with a number of different activities to keep the children active and entertained during this time. We introduced the children to a few of the classic Les Elfes games, such as: hold the paper, musical chairs, balloon pop, pen in the bottle and pass the orange. To make these games a little more exciting, we split the children into teams and had a prize giving at the end of each day where we awarded sweets and chocolates, as prizes, to the winning teams.
We also hosted a few different classes where we were able to teach and discuss various things with the children.
One such class was based on earthquakes. Here we taught the children how and why earthquakes occur and we also provided them with a platform to share their thoughts about the whole situation and how they felt during the time of the earthquake. Another class was focussed on business and entrepreneurship. After providing the children with some business theory we then split them into teams and challenged them to come up with a new business idea which they could effectively run in Nepal. The ideas were very impressive and both the teams excelled in their presentations but at the end of the day only one team could be the winners and they were awarded with some well deserved prizes.
A large portion of the week was spent outdoors with the children as we were treated to some glorious weather conditions. Some time was spent tidying up and planting some new crops in the vegetable garden, as well as, fetching leaves in the forest which are used to make compost for the garden. A few of the afternoons were spent teaching the younger children how to ride a bicycle while most of the older children showed us that they had already mastered the art of cycling. One of the highlights of the week was a day which was spent trekking up one of the many hills surrounding Pokhara. On route to the top we stumbled across a silkworm farm where we spent a bit of time investing the processes used to produce silk. Upon our arrival at the summit we spent some time playing games, after which we got the artistic juices following as we all spread out and painted the beautiful scenery surrounding us. The day was ended off with a fantastic picnic which was enjoyed by all before taking a relaxing stroll back down the hill to the children’s home.
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.
Halfway point of the trip
We have now reached the halfway point of our time in Nepal and we have already taken away so much from this amazing experience. Nepal in an incredible country which has so much to offer in so many ways. The country is founded on a culture that is so gripping, it is almost overwhelming, and the people are among the friendliest in the world. We are looking forward to making the most of the little time we have left in Nepal and sharing it with the awesome children that are the heart and soul of Association Annapurna Nepal.
Information and special thanks
For more information on Association Annapurna Nepal please feel free to visit the website: www.annapurna.ch
If you would like to contribute to the Associations earthquake relief contact Dhan Adhikari – firstname.lastname@example.org or Milan Adhikari – email@example.com and they will provide you with more information.
A massive thank you to Les Elfes, and Philippe in particular, for providing us both with this amazing opportunity to visit Nepal and have a positive impact on their lives of the children at Association Annapurna Nepal.