H2H - Hoddesdon to the Himalayas

November 2016 Rotary In Action framed the Nepal project of The Rotary Club of Hoddesdon and the team is now safely back in UK.

Sponsored by the 5 local UK zone Clubs and various businesses and with funds from the wide range of innovative activities, the party of 23 set off – 9 students from 2 Hoddesdon schools, 6 Rotarians and friends/relatives each loaded with 10 kg of gifts for the Janasewa school children in Kathmandu and those of an Orphanage supported by another Hoddesdon school with which the Club had forged a link.

Adjusting to the language, culture and the chaos of daily life in Kathmandu was a lesson for the whole team.

Janasewa school received the team with garlands after a breakfast meeting and banner exchange  with Kathmandu Midtown Rotary Club at which two of the students made an impressive presentation. Hard graft followed with large quantities of paint being applied to furniture and a brand new wall of friendship with pictorial themes like selfless service, holistic education, global friendship, leadership and diversity.

Whilst satisfying to meet an obvious need, the team’s emotional strings were even more severely jerked the following day by work at the orphanage where the needs were manifestly greater and many of the kids had only previously known life on the streets. Grown Rotarians had damp eyes!

However, the orphanage walls were painted three times each on four floors, a Santa’s Grotto was constructed and filled with small gifts: each bunk had new linen and a shoe box specifically named for the child occupying it and handed over by a Rotarian. The joy on faces of children (and Rotarians) was a huge reward for the mammoth effort that had been made. Over 6,000 exercise books with the logos of the five Clubs in D1260 zone were distributed at the school, the orphanage and at stages during the following trek to Everest Base Camp.

An evening out with the youngsters consolidated friendships that are likely to last a long time.

After the community service work, the team set off to Lukla and the Everest trail, stopping nightly at tea houses, climbing vertiginous slopes amid ever-changing, stunning mountain scenery and facing physical and psychological stress from altitude and sheer effort. This part of the adventure is a story in itself for another day.

Overall, this project has fulfilled many Rotary objectives: international relations between Rotary Clubs, local communities and youth care and development organisations has been enhanced. Hoddesdon young people successfully committed to service above self and developed life experience which would have been hard won otherwise. Rotary reputation has greatly benefitted and everybody had a wonderful, if testing, time.

The project work leaves a sustainable legacy and plans are already in embryo for more contact with the Nepalese community. Namaste.

Trekker John Hiscock
Past President: The Rotary Club of Hoddesdon

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