Well in advance of the trip we had planned a number of projects, some practical and some personal. The practical tasks included painting dormitories and homework rooms, building a climbing wall and training older children in dress-making and carpentry.
At a personal level, we were able to run a holiday club for the kids, spending time playing games and sports, exploring local wildlife (the children were incredibly good at catching wasps and spiders!), doing craft activities together and generally giving them as much love and attention as possible Funds that the team had raised before the trip also enabled us to give every child 500 Nepalese Rupees as pocket money, then take them to the market in town to buy clothes or toys of their own choosing. NR 500 is worth about £3, which in Nepal will buy a watch, a dress, a pair of jeans or a full Chelsea replica football kit (although possibly not the official one!).
These children have very little to call their own. In some cases, their family homes were destroyed by the earthquake, and 12 months on some remain homeless. Although primarily dedicated to the care and support of the kids themselves, Stand by Me has also raised money to help rebuilding in the remote hill villages where some of the children come from. Fay took the gruelling 4 hour bus journey (up a dry river bed and travelling on the roof with crates of chickens and bags of fertiliser) and several hours climb on foot to reach one of these areas. She was able to report back to the charity that house building is progressing well and that the charity’s plan to provide schooling for the village children is under way. This is such good news, given that government efforts to bring relief have been hampered by difficulties of access and administrative delays.
If I had to choose one lasting memory from the trip, and I have many, it would be the warmth of welcome and unconditional love we were shown by these wonderful children. Although our intention was to try and help each child to feel individually loved and valued, I know that every team member came away feeling that they had received much more than they had been able to give. This, together with the dedication and sacrifice of the permanent staff who care for the children, made the whole experience both humbling and life-affirming for us all.
If you would like to know more about the work of Stand by Me, or you are interested in sponsoring a child, please take a look at the website www.standby.me (click here) or call the sponsorship team on 01708-442271 for further information