By Marina Hui, Account Manager at Coley Porter Bell
It’s nearly a week since my group returned from Nepal, and although most of us have only just got over the jetlag, we all agree that the trip was well worth the fatigue!
For those of you who don’t know, as part of Many Ogilvy Hands twelve of us travelled out to Nepal for two reasons:
1. To help rebuild a rural village struck by the 2015 earthquake
2. To expand a women’s livelihood centre in Kathmandu
Once we had arrived in Nepal, we spent a small amount of time with our guide and members of the International Needs charity, learning about the customs and traditions of the Nepali people. It was both fascinating and necessary to prepare us for the next leg of our trip to the rural village of Sindhupalchok.
After a day’s drive and a two hour hike up the mountain, we arrived in Sindhupalchok. We were greeted with the most amazing hospitality and were even given handmade marigold garlands!
The next day the hard work begun. The nature of the 2015 earthquake was so devastating that most people had their homes destroyed, and as such are still living in temporary tin homes today. A big part of what we were doing was moving building materials up the mountain, as well as helping rebuild the infrastructure of the centre of their village.
From breaking rocks and making stone staircases with them, to putting up 40ft electrical pylons, our time in Sindhupalchok was exhausting but extremely worthwhile. They told us that we did a month’s worth of work during the time we were there, so we were pretty proud of that. We also spent time with the local school children teaching them a few songs; although they were much better singers than we were…
We then returned to Kathmandu to spend time with the Lydia Project (the women’s livelihood centre). Whilst we were there, they were still getting ready to expand the centre, and so the groups heading out to Nepal next year will start the build.
We were lucky enough to spend time with the twenty-two ladies who were part of the 5-month residential course at the Lydia centre. Many of the ladies we met had lost family members as well as their homes in the earthquake. Others had been in abusive relationships, and some felt trapped due to a total lack of education in their lives.
Their stories made for uneasy listening, but we were all bowled over by the bravery and determination of these women to move forward and take charge of their lives.
Across the 5-month course, the Lydia project teaches the girls how to sew, so that they will always have a way in which to earn money when they return home. However, it was clear to us that the course had given the girls so much more than their tailoring abilities; they seemed empowered and happy.
My favourite story was that Esther, the head of the Lydia project, had noticed that in her visits to rural villages, she would only ever see men playing musical instruments. Therefore, the Lydia project now includes music lessons so that when the ladies return home they can join in!
Our time in Nepal was a crazy whirlwind of emotions and learnings. They say that you go to Nepal for the mountains, but that you come back for the people. We can all attest to that; we met the most amazingly kind, generous and dignified people. I feel very lucky that with we were able to help them, and proud that Many Ogilvy Hands will continue to support them over the next 5 years.