Today we introduce you Patrick, our new ambassador in Nepal.
Patrick has always had a strong social commitment. During all his life, he has collaborated and participated with so many projects and social causes, such as the fight against gender violence, animal abuse or the care of elderly people. But it’s now when Patrick is going to face what will surely be the most powerful experience of his life.
Patrick, sales engineer from Holland, took a flight to Nepal at the beginning of February. His purpose was visiting and collaborating with different NGOs from the country. The first one was Street Child, organization which we have collaborated in several occasions.
Following, Patrick explains us a little bit more why he started this adventure and how was his first experience in Katmandu.
- Welcome on board to our Ambassador Program, Patrick! Why did you start this new adventure?
Thank you so much for the introduction! Sometimes, we don’t realize about how quickly live goes, and this is what happened to me. School, institute, university, internship, first work, second work… And all of this inside my happiness bubble. During my university studies I had a dream, and it was to travel around countries very much different from mine. This dream was never fulfilled. But some months ago, making auto-introspection, I rescued the idea and as now I don’t have so many familiar obligations and before continuing my personal career, I decided to make this dream come true.
- Why Nepal and not any other country?
Because I wanted to go to a country very different from mine: different culture, social conditioning, everything I’m used to and where I could help. There was a lot of countries where I would like to live, so it was quite difficult to take a decision. But I love the mountain, so I finally decided to visit Himalaya, the biggest aspiration I could ever have. Moreover, I got the chance to help a mountain guide, Shiva, with his company, Himkala Adventure, which, at the same time, help as much as possible to the people of his native area, Gorkha (epicenter of the 2015 earthquakes). So the decision was made on its own.
- What do you expect to do here? Explain us a little bit more about the projects you will visit and what will be your role.
Two weeks ago, we went to my host hometown, Shiva, where I left most of the material and clothes I could bring from Barcelona, as well as participate in a traditional Hindu wedding, all very enriching.
Some days ago, I visited an orphanage, Possible Nepal, which I could contact via Couchsurfing. I could bought some food for some days, as well as scholarly material. I also could help with the translation of some documents and I played with the kids, who are very nice. A council for those who want to buy material there and bring it to Nepal: keep your budget and buy in Kathmandu, you can get 10 times more material. To give you an idea, with 12 € we buy 60 kg of potatoes, and with 9 € 44 workbooks.
In addition, I will visit Shed The Light Nepal, a joint iniciative between Australia and Nepal who work for peace, the reconstruction after hearthwater, help children, and empowering women in Nepal. As a Worldcoo Ambassador, I have just visited the NGO Street Child Nepal in order to see what are they doing there, who are they helping and how are they doing it.
- What has impressed you the most?
The good mood with which people of Nepal carry the difficulties. Although the salary of most of them is very low, there are a lot of people without home because of earthquakes, collapsed buildings, pollution and poverty, they are the most pleasant and friendly people I could ever met. And I could understand a certain resentment towards the tourists, who just go there to do trekking in their mountains. But that doesn’t happen. Children, elderly people, everyone. Despite all the difficulties, they go ahead with many more smiles than most people you see in European cities.
- You have visited a school that Street Child built in order that children from immigrant families working in brick factories could have access to education. What has been your impression?
It has been great, and it has been a very interesting and surprising experience. There are a lot of concepts that one doesn’t think about: that there is a season for brick making, winter, avoiding the rainy season because bricks are dried outdoors before going through the oven; That workers are generally from villages outside the Kathmandu valley, and even from India, and that they are attracted by the security of 6 months of work.
The work of Street Child of Nepal, together with Kopila Nepal, is very good and helps on many fronts at the same time: it gives education to the sons and daughters of families who work in the brick factory, but also guarantees they are safe and well cared for, and thanks to all this gives better working conditions to those who work there. They know that their children are close, learning and well cared for.
- How would you describe people who live there?
It is not easy to live there, in a special cabins between the bricks they are building, with so many animals and very far away from their homes. Despite all of this bad conditions, they are happy, polite and with a permanent smile. They are very optimist, so it makes one wonder what we do wrong in places where there is more wealth to have such high rates of depression and intolerance
- What do you think that are the most needs that they have right now?
I don’t know how I could start. On the first hand, there is not many work in small villages, so they have to go to the city. Moreover, the best opportunities and education are in the metropolis, so they come here both for them and their children.
Related to the project, there’s a small school with one unique space and two toilets and a fence that closes the playtime space. It’s really good, because the structure and foundations are solid, earthquake-proof, and the idea is to have the basics, and that’s achieved. But there are limitations that requires more funds.
For example, there are a lot of employees who come from India and their children can’t go to school because they can’t do two classes in two different languages: Nepali and Hindi. So they need to build one more space for Indian kids.
In addition, there are many more boys and girls than can be admitted in the classroom, so they could also build another module just to accommodate more children.
Then, at the end of the brick season, families return to their homes and the school closes, basically because of the lack of funds, and the service is provided in the work season because it is when there is more need. With a little more, given that the physical structure and material is a non-recurring expense, the school could be maintained open throughout the year, thus giving fixed work to the teachers, and serving the children of the zone.
In short, more modules like the one they already built, one to accommodate more Nepali children and one to teach in Hindi, as well as more funds that could help to maitain the shcool open all year, would be very useful for them.
- Can you share with us some anecdote?
About the kids: before leaving, the teacher told us to wait there because the kids had something for us. One girl came to me and gave me a drawing that remind me about mandala, with small and lighting stars and with a message inside: “Welcome to Kopila preparatory class”. She gave another drawing to my friend, Duncan Peat, and both of us thanked her with a lot of “dhanyabhadh”, “thank you” in Nepalese. Luckily, I had sweets in my bag and we could gave them some. It was the perfect goodbye for this wonderful visit with a strong message: we can contribute and help them a lot with so little effort.
Patrick is now a Worldcoo Ambssador and his adventure in Nepal has just begun, so keep tuned!
You can follow him through his LinkedIn.