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From Hoddesdon to the Himalayas
are on a high – literally – after returning from an amazing service project in
The Hoddesdon to Himalayas Project was the culmination of
two years’ preparation with youngsters from two Hertfordshire schools working
in an earthquake-ravaged village in Nepal before making a trek to the Mount
Everest Base Camp.
“This has been a life-changing experience for us all,”
explained Rotarian, John Hiscock.
“Our students and Rotarians have developed lasting
community links, expanded personal horizons and benefited from doing good where
it was seriously needed.”
The Rotary Club of Hoddesdon initiated this ambitious and
challenging project, helping to raise £18,000 towards the cost of the adventure
– with the students also pitching in by fundraising £750 without dipping into
their parents’ bank accounts.
On the back of scaling Mount Kilimanjaro for charity, the
then Hoddesdon Club President, David Johnston, was the driving force behind the
“Our students and
Rotarians have developed last community links,
expanded personal horizons and benefited
from doing good where it was seriously needed.”
He had watched a television programme about the highest
classroom on earth, and wanted to support such a school in Nepal which has been
damaged by the April 2015 earthquake.
It’s with a touch of irony that this inspirational
programme was produced by BBC journalist and Rotary in Great Britain and
Ireland Immediate Past President, Eve Conway, who had also been involved in
putting together two other television packages about schools operating in hot
and cold climates.
Working in partnership with the Kathmandu Mid-Town Rotary
Club, they identified a school in the Nepalese capital which desperately needed
help. Then an orphanage was identified and added to the project.
Six Hoddesdon Rotarians joined the students and teachers to
decorate the Jana Sewa School and Shanti Orphanage, having brought with them
6,000 exercise books, other school items as well as 200kg of toys – and a
“Conditions at the orphanage were desperate, and the
environment outside was lunar,” added John.
“Many of the children at the orphanage were street kids,
but when we arrived with these gifts, they were greeted with ecstasy by the
Nepalese children, who brought tears to one or two seasoned Rotarian eyes.”
The Jana Sewa School had also been badly damaged by the
earthquake. There they painted furniture and decorated 11 themed panels in a
Wall of Friendship.
The work inside the orphanage was physical and demanding,
as the team set to work on the four-floor building. They provided bedding for
the children, plus a shoe box for each child containing gifts.
“The Shanti Orphanage was a great contrast, characterised
by poor environment, poverty, dilapidation, street kids desperately short of
material and psychological kindness,” said John.
“Many of the
children at the orphanage were street kids, but when we
arrived with these gifts, we were greeted with ecstasyby the Nepalese
“The need was clearly greater here. The human
contact between us and the Nepalese children in the school and orphanage was
hugely rewarding,” added John. “The bonding between all parties must have stood
Rotary in very good stead – maybe it laid the foundations for future links with
Rotary in Nepal continue.”
The project work was the key to the adventure which left
an indelible impression on the Hertfordshire students and Rotarians, who
completed their 19-day visit with a trek to Everest Base Camp at 17,600 feet
above sea level.
Twenty one of the 22 members of the party reached their
destination, despite problems with digestion, altitude and exhaustion. John was
airlifted from Everest at 11,300 feet with a calf tear. “I am a hill walker,
but this was the steepest, protracted climbing ever, complete with wonderful
scenery and company.
“The team kept in touch daily and we even managed a live
link to Hoddesdon Club during their Monday lunch meeting.”
published in Rotary, the official magazine of Rotary in Great
Britain and Ireland. Find out more at www.rotarygbi.org
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