In February 2018 I travelled to Nepal, along with my Dad and a group of 10 other people from Ireland. Ian, who led our group, currently does amazing work for the charity and the children of Nepal. When I first met Ian back in November 2017, he introduced me Indreni, and the idea of a trip to Kathmandu. It didn’t take much convincing to get me on board. After discussing it with my dad, we both decided it would be something we would both love to do together and began planning for the February trip.
I have to admit that I was both excited and nervous about going to the other side of the world with an unfamiliar group of people, but I was immediately put at ease at the airport by the openness and kindness of everybody. Similarly, Ram Hari and Rajj, along with the other Nepalese people, were all so welcoming and generous throughout the week.
The dynamic of the different ages amongst the volunteers worked really well. We all learned different things from each other. When you are with the kids- playing, singing, or even just acting the fool, you really just let your guard down. For the children, the sillier you act, the better! In this way, you expose a part of yourself to everybody that you otherwise probably wouldn’t. We almost became kids ourselves for a few days, escaping the humdrum of everyday life. One of the most prominent memories I have is when we all played musical chairs with the children on their annual picnic day trip. Even the adults were pushing and shoving for chairs by the end of the game!
I think the experiences we had as a group brought us closer together. Teamwork was encouraged in a variety of ways. In particular, when we painted the outside and classrooms of the school.
I brought my ukulele over with me, and I think this was a great ice breaker. It immediately connected us with the kids through music, and of course they all lined up for their turn. For most of the children, they had never seen a ukulele before, so they were completely fascinated. The sing- songs were a great laugh as well.
The poverty can be quite shocking and upsetting. However, spending time with the children in the Indreni homes and school really put the concept of happiness into perspective. I think as I have grown up, I find that materialistic things increasingly become an issue of such importance (technology in particular). The constant obsession for more, for better… When in reality, true happiness comes from the heart, and not from material items. Joy, laughter and fun can be simply expressed through the use of imagination, dance, music, art, games, and human connection. This is exactly what is promoted for the children in the Indreni homes. Indreni ensures that these children are given a childhood they deserve. They live and learn in a safe place where the children can express themselves and just be children! I witnessed first hand the high quality of education provided by Indreni and the preparation for independent life after school.
Apart from spending time with the amazing children and people of Nepal, we really had the opportunity to become immersed in the Nepalese culture. We had yoga classes every morning at 7am with the most incredible yogi! This really set me up well for the day and gave me a chance to become present in my body and mind before the rest of the day unfolded. We cycled the streets of Nepal everyday which gave us a real feel for the landscape, as well as the business of life on the streets. Lots of popular Nepalese meals were had throughout the week as well.
It was quite special to have experienced all of this with my dad. I think that the shared experiences and memories that we created definitely strengthened our relationship. There is something extraordinary about Nepal, and being able to participate in the events together made it all the more sweeter. I think it can be difficult sometimes to express to others at home how life-changing the experience at Indreni is. However, it is great that my Dad and I can get the message across together.
All in all, an incredible trip with an incredible group of people. We can all benefit from taking time out of our busy lives to be grateful for what we have. And equally as important, to give to the people around us, “For it is in giving, that we receive.” – Saint Francis of Assisi.
Written by Julie Coleman.