A HOLIDAY TO GIVE BACK
2019 year-end holiday was not conventional for this bunch of little adventurers!
Holiday for Hope Nepal kicked off on the first week of the children’s school holidays. Families arrived in Nepal separately, with some preferring to transit and some arriving a day earlier on a direct flight. On 20th November 2019, OHF staff received a group at Tribhuvan International airport, Nepal’s main airport in Kathmandu. With their belongings and generous amount of donated clothing loaded, the trippers were whisked off to their first stop, Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bhaktapur Durbar Square was the royal palace of the old Bhaktapur Kingdom. Here, the Holiday for Hope group spent some time appreciating the history and intricate structure of temples, statues and gates.
The visit ended with a stop to rest tired soles and sample a Newari platter consisting of Chiura (bitten rice), green vegetables, seasonal pickles, beans, black lentil paste and egg. The children were game to try the local dish, but were not a big fan of the foreign tasting spices. Parents, on the other hand, were happy to try something exclusively available locally and overall liked it.
It would be a one and a half hour bumpy bus ride before the group arrived at Club Himalaya, Nagarkot by ACE Hotels. On the way up to Nagarkot (2,175m above sea level!), evening slowly fell and sights of tiny houses perched on hillsides transformed into specks of light on a dark canvas. One of the trippers thought the lit dots were stars in the sky! Upon arrival at Club Himalaya hotel, guests checked-in to their rooms before enjoying a welcome buffet dinner at the restaurant.
The donations were stored in the library availed by the hotel. There would be much sorting and packing to do the next evening for the school and children’s home which the group is visiting!
Some of the donated items
EXPLORING NAGARKOT & MASSIVE PACKING
What’s a good way to start a chilly morning? Probably with a warm buffet breakfast! After tucking into a hearty meal, the families met their tour guides to start their morning recreation programme. Some families went for a nature hike and visited the local market, and a gungho mother and son duo went to paraglide!
Mum, Tjin Lee, and Tyler, ready to ride the winds!
In the evening, the families went to the library and sorted donated clothes according to sizes. They first picked out clothes for forty children in the home according to their ages. The rest of the packing was for the primary school and items were sorted for each student per class:
- A brand new school bag
- A set of tailored school uniform
- A set of stationery
- A few pieces of donated clothing
- Packs of snacks
With the donations packed, everyone gathered around the eye doctor, Dr Claudine Pang, who briefed the steps on conducting an eye test for their respective classes.
DISTRIBUTION & EYE TEST FOR PRIMARY SCHOOL KIDS!
Bags and bags of donation items were loaded onto a big bus, and took the Holiday for Hope group straight to Saraswati Primary School. As the group approached the school, lively chattering could be heard. The children and staff were excited to finally receive their guests.
The students waiting for the guests
The Principal of the school welcomed the guests and shared about the school. Tjin Lee, co-founder of CRIB Society, then addressed the school: “We are thankful to be here today in your beautiful school. We brought our children and families with us because this is a school and this is a place for them to learn. They are not just here today to give, but to receive. The children are here to play and to learn from your children, and hopefully together, they can become better, kinder people. We welcome the children, and hope that you will take our children and welcome them as well. They are here to learn, so please teach them.” Mahesh from Pathil Holidays, our tour partner who rendered his assistance with the school project pro bono, addressed all present and shared on behalf of the primary school principal that the school is honoured to have the families here to conduct eye test for the children from low-income families.
The children of Saraswati Primary School welcomed the guests with a song
After the warm welcome, the families jumped right in to conduct the eye test for their classes and distributed the sponsored items to each student. Communication barrier was more challenging than expected, especially when conversing with the lower primary students who understood little to no English. The teachers tried their best to translate but perhaps the young children were a little shy to respond.
The Nepali kids were absolutely delighted with their gifts! Look at them toting their new backpacks sponsored by the families, and flaunting their new eyewear, courtesy of Essilor. Wearing sunglasses protects the eyes from harmful UV rays!
After a full morning, a sponsored lunch of burger and fries were served to the school children. For these children who were mainly from low-income families, such mouth-watering food is extremely rare and a real treat.
With the school programme finished, the group boarded their bus to head to their home away from home for the next two nights, Vivanta Hotel.
In the evening, guided by a tour guide, the families meandered through the busy streets of the popular shopping district, Thamel. Their ultimate destination in Thamel was a raved restaurant which one of the trippers found online, and the tour guide led the group towards the establishment. After 15 minutes of walking, he realised that he had missed the street, and that they had to walk ten minutes back. The families then spontaneously decided to hop on rickshaws to bring them to the doorstep of the restaurant.
LITTLE BUILDERS CONSTRUCT AN EARTHQUAKE-RESISTANT HOUSE
Day 4 of the trip brought families to a site in Banepa where their donations supported the building of a rice bag house for a poor family that was victim to the 2015 earthquake. An OHF staff demonstrated the filling of empty rice bags, the sewing of filled rice bags, as well as the tampering of sewn rice bags. Once briefed, the children, with help from their parents, quickly got to action. Most of them preferred to loosen the earth and shovel them into the rice bags!
Demonstration by OHF staff
Having had the experience of building a rice bag house, the families were brought to a second site where a completed rice bag house stood. The help needed at this house was the painting of the exterior walls. The parents gave their children instructions on how to prevent dripping paint and create an even coat of paint.
Soon, a home cooked lunch of spaghetti and samosa arrived.
End of the programme – met some villagers washing their clothes on the way to the bus
The families returned to Vivanta for a few short hours of respite before the last programme of the trip – a visit to the children’s home!
Hope Trust Nepal is a happy, loving and thriving home to forty over children. Robert Kee, Founder of Operation Hope Foundation, entertained children and adults alike with magic tricks.
The fun continued with games that allowed the Nepali and Singaporean kids to befriend one another, and kept them on their feet! The gamemaster started off with dodgeball, creating two teams to throw balls at one another to find the last person standing that was not hit. The next game of Hunter, Fire and Earthquake made the children find partners to complete a safe shelter for the third player who acts as a squirrel. The children were running around with excitement to find their groups to avoid elimination! The home was filled with laughter and screams of glee.
The children did not want the evening of games to stop, but alas, it was time for dinner before retiring for a night’s rest.
The children’s home kids having their sponsored dinner – meat day is once a month!
IT HAS BEEN SPECIAL, NEPAL!
On the fifth and final day of Holiday for Hope, the children enthusiastically shared that they had most enjoyed building the rice bag house, and loved the games played at the home. The trip coordinator told them that they could be idea contributors and even game masters for the next Holiday for Hope trip!
As the families bid their farewells and the sights of their backs disappeared from the departure hall entrance, the OHF staff look forward very much to greeting them again at the arrival gates of a different airport for another purposeful Holiday for Hope adventure.
Donations raised from Holiday for Hope Nepal funded:
- Construction of a rice bag house
- Painting of a rice bag house
- For Saraswati Primary School, the sponsorship of school supplies for students, a printer, and lunch
- For Hope Trust Nepal, the sponsorship of stationery and dinner
- Post-event projects amounting to $13,692
Where might we go for the next Holiday for Hope? Would you like to join us? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive updates!