I knew about Worldwide Action after my partner joined them for their first classroom build in Nepal after the catastrophicearthquakes of 2015. The stories he told me of the people he met and the challenges and hardships they face every day made me decide that I wanted to join the next trip. Having arrived in Kathmandu we were taken on a tour of the city and at that point I realised how important what we were doing was. We saw entire buildings propped up with planks of wood, buildings that were half collapsed still with families living in them, people lying in doorways living under sheets of plastic, all because government aid is yet to filter down to the poorest and most vulnerable. This is now life for so many people surviving the aftermath of their tragedy. To even walk past some of these buildings made me a bit nervous, but to see children in the windows and playing in the doorways was shocking. When I saw these things I knew it had been the right decision that for once I wouldn’t just put money in the charity box and hope that a small percentage got to its final destination – I would take the pot there myself.
what are your lasting memories of the experience?
If I had to sum up my experience in one sentence it would be “every day was a challenge, every day was a victory” and that was true of the day that sticks in my mind the most. We must have been about 7 days in and we had got the classroom walls up. It was amazing to finally be able to sit on the hill behind the site and look down on what finally looked like a classroom. Digging foundations, sewing bags, digging soil out of the mountainside that then needed sieving before being put in the bags…it was incredible to finally have a vision of what we were building. The next morning however someone noticed that one of the walls had slumped and was leaning in dangerously. The whole wall had to come down. It was a massive blow to everyone, and one bit of negativity would have had a
crushing effect on us all. But we were a team, and with this massive task facing us we pushed on, encouraging each other, laughing (a bit), sweating (a lot) and we overcame the disappointment and frustration. By the end of the day, by working together, supporting and encouraging each other, and by swearing quite a bit more than on other days, we had the wall down and were already rebuilding it. I remember hoping that I would remember that this incredibly hard day, when we spend most of it pulling down what we had spent nearly a week working on, felt like the biggest achievement of the whole trip.
How do you think the experience has changed you?
My experience gave me perspective I would never, ever have had. After digging, carrying,
wheelbarrowing, filling, lifting, and sweating for 2 weeks, after set back and victory, after you’ve seen children playing with stones instead of toys and seen families living in condemned buildings, you don’t take anything for granted. I know now that what I consider to be challenges in my daily life are just decisions that need making. They aren’t real challenges. I’ve seen people who face daily challenges and I have seen how one person can become part of a team, and how that team can do something that will improve lives for years to come.
Would you recommend volunteering with worldwide action?
Yes, yes, and yes! Being a part of delivering the aid that your fundraising provides is a wonderful, humbling thing. To know that each penny has been received by the people it was intended for is something that we never know for sure – so why not take it yourself. Go home after 2 weeks and tell your friends and family about the children you met who, thanks to their donations, will have a safe classroom where they can now receive the education they deserve. Tell them about the babies who might now be wearing their old baby clothes and tell them about the villagers who can now receive medical support thanks to the village nurse who’s supplies they have supplemented with their generosity. We don’t often get the opportunity to know if we actually do help other with any charity donations we might make, we certainly don’t get to meet the people whose lives it touches. I really can’t quite tell you how fabulous it is.