I have officially just landed back in the UK!
I can’t contain my excitement at the thought of a warm shower, dry floor, tarmac road and bed that has a real mattress. To see my family (and dog) have kept me going for the whole month while being away but now I’m back, it’s given me chance to reflect on one of the toughest months of my life.
Having spent 27 whole days in Nepal (specifically Kathmandu), I can honestly say that it’s my longest time away from home and first trip to Asia ever. Having done long haul flights to the USA before, the travel was very manageable with a total of between 18 and 26 hours travel time including all lay overs and transfers. Oman Air was an excellent airline to fly with and everything ran to time. The only complaint I have is that my luggage is still in Muscat when I am on British soil. Whoops…
The only trouble with such a long journey time was that I left the UK on Sunday 30th July and arrived at 10pm Monday night 31st July in Nepal. The very next day was straight into training at the Volunteers Initiative Nepal (VIN) charity headquarters. Although informative and usful, with such fatigue, I was already starting on the back foot.
It didn’t help that the living conditions at the Teach for Nepal house where we stayed for most of the time were even worse than I expected (and I thought I’d prepared for the worst). Wet floors everywhere, cramped bed (I initially had the top bunk with low ceiling), ants and cockroaches, cold showers…I could go on. The dust, grime and potholes ‘roads’ throughout the city made it mentally very challenging but I believed that I would adjust but it would just take time.
Long hours planning for the delivery of the training sessions and four back to back conference days with the local teachers meant that week one was a wall of tasks with no chance to recover from illness. It was on the first Saturday that I ended up in hospital and but for the excellent teams leaders Emma and Pierre coupled with the other fellows good will, I would have probably given up right there.
Luckily, there was some chance to recover in the second weekend in Pokhara. The fresh air and green surroundings were most welcome having worked solidly for two weeks and paragliding here was a real highlight. Sadly though, we had to return to the city where I took another turn for the worse and ended up spending most of two days in bed with a fever at the end of week 3. Also unfortunate that the initial team leaders left too which was a blow for a very well established and supportive team with a well-oiled routine.
The other fellows in the group were all excellent professionals with a range of experience in both Primary and Secondary. Some teachers were even checking their students GCSE results the other day with great pride! Such dedication. I have been privileged to meet a whole bunch of great fellow educators and hope to share further ideas with them down the line.
Would I do this Nepal project again? No. I was ill at the start and never really returned from there which hampered the whole experience. Would I work with LRTT again? Yes. I’d consider another project elsewhere or an improved version of this one. Was I happy with the partnership with VIN? Yes on the whole as they have a great vision for the empowerment of all people in Nepal. There are many points to take from it and I know that LRTT always strive to improve projects each year and I’m sure that this particular project will be worked on further.
I am however very proud of the thought that all of us on the project this year have tried to make an impact on at least a handful of Nepalese teachers who I know will improve teaching and learning for the children in their schools. Now that’s worth celebrating with a nice cup of tea and a yummy Sunday roast with my grandma tomorrow. 🙂