An Interview with my Dad, Norman

Julie Coleman and her father, Norman Coleman, ventured out to Nepal with Indreni in February 2018. Julie interviewed her father to give others an insight into what his experience was.


How did you get involved with Indreni and travelling to Nepal?

I knew that Ian was involved in a charity but to be honest I didn’t know too much about it. I never really considered going to Nepal but when Julie met Ian and they spoke about it, I then became interested and Julie and I decided to go.


Did you have any expectations before travelling? (culture/ what the place would look like/ the kind of work that you would be doing?)

I had absolutely no idea of what to expect. I had to look up an atlas to see where Nepal was. I tried to get an indication from Ian of what it was going to be like but each time he batted away my curiosity – A very ‘Ian’ thing to do!


What was your initial reaction when you first arrived in Nepal?

The noise! The traffic! The mayhem!


What shocked you the most upon first arriving in Nepal?

I think looking out the window of the bus when we were driving in. The poverty was apparent from the outset.


What was the dynamic of the group like? (different age groups/ mix of parents and teenagers)

We had a great group. The younger gang were brilliant, particularly when we visited the school and homes. The school kids were drawn to them immediately. I think the adults were all quite alike or from similar business backgrounds even though we were from different parts of Ireland. We all got on really well.


What facilitated communication and interaction with the other volunteers?

Going out for a meal/drink at the end of the day created a team dynamic, we got to know each other quite well, also dividing the group into different teams when we were painting the school helped.


How did you interact with the children in the Indreni homes and schools?

There are so many children there, so I got more attached to a few of them. Giving them a loan of my iPhone made me very popular!


How did it feel to go on a volunteering trip with your daughter?

Going away with Julie was great. It gave us time on our own initially and sharing the experiences we had in Nepal was special. We both gave each other space but equally we knew that we were there for each other. I was very proud of the way Julie handled the trip.


How do you think the trip would have been different had you travelled by yourself with the group?

It would have been very difficult to get across to people at home the impact that the experience had on me if Julie had not been there. Explaining to people here had a much bigger impact when both of us were sharing the memories.


Did you come away from the trip feeling different? In what way?

The experience brought my own worries into perspective. When you see people with very little you then realise how lucky you are.


What was the biggest lesson and/ or insight that most impacted your life when you returned to Ireland?

There is so much to be done to help people that are in poverty. Education is the key.


Is there anything that you would hope to see Indreni achieve or projects you would like to see introduced to their current work?

I think organising teachers to spend six months in Nepal would be a good idea. Teachers here are great at putting systems in place and have gotten great training in the teacher colleges here.