By Elizabeth Stanbridge, Business to Business
Just over a month ago, my group of Many Ogilvy Hands volunteers travelled 4,562 miles to Kathmandu to meet Ogilvy's charity partner, International Needs Nepal. We were greeted with ‘Khata’ a traditional scarf to welcome us, which was lovely.
While we were there, we learnt about the many charity programmes International Needs are currently running all over Nepal, and which Ogilvy is supporting.
* The livelihood programme helps earthquake victims who have lost their sole income. This could be buying them a cow so that they can sell the milk to the community or seeds to grow vegetables.
* The Women’s Empowerment Project helps woman in desperate need, who have often been abused, trafficked or repressed to learn a livelihood. Teaching these women tailoring and jewellery making as well as business skills and cultural lessons helps them gain confidence and find independence.
* Sponsoring children’s education helps to pay school fees so that families who can’t afford to pay for their children’s education no longer have to worry about their children’s near future.
It was a pleasant surprise to hear the number of people these projects have already helped.
Our guides and members of International Needs took us around Kathmandu where we could see first-hand the aftermath of the earthquake in the city centre. Three years on, there are still bricks and concrete all over the city, with buildings being held up by beams to stop them from falling. It was a real eye opener to see that three years on, the city still looks as if the earthquake happened just a few months ago.
The following day we arrived at the picturesque village, Sindhupalchok, where we were greeted by the most hospitable family I have ever met with purple garlands and cold drinks. Shortly after arriving, the children had just finished school and came running down to meet us with their infectious giggling. We introduced them to bubbles and pavement chalk we bought with us from the UK – I have never seen such happy children with bubbles and hopscotch!
On our first day in the village, we visited a woman that Many Ogilvy Hands and International Needs had helped by purchasing a cow to sell milk. The cow was actually pregnant which meant the woman, a single mother, could increase her income to help her support her three children.
While my group helped plough a small piece of land where she will grow vegetables, myself and another helped cook breakfast, which consisted of what we know as rice pudding, potato curry, spicy spinach curry and poppadoms. A real treat!
Later that afternoon and the next couple of days we started manual work. From building a drainage slope to stop the community centre flooding in the rainy season, to erecting an electricity pole so that the village could get electricity (currently they used gas for almost everything or generators), to building a disposal unit which the whole community could use to dispose of waste.
Overall, we learnt many skills, from making two types of cement to carrying heavy items with big baskets that you carry on your back, supported by your head. The work was hard, the heat was 37 degrees and we all just seemed so weak compared to the Nepalese people (working in an office behind a computer wasn’t the best training for this work!)
This trip was a big eye opener to the devastations that the earthquake had on the Nepalese people. My group of Many Ogilvy Hands volunteers were pleased to be able to help in any way while we were out in Nepal, but we can see there is still so much to do.
Our next group of Ogilvy volunteers will head to Nepal this November where they'll continue to develop our ongoing work on these projects. Stay tuned for another update later this year.
Find out more about Ogilvy's work with International Needs in Nepal in this Q&A here.