This AidCamp was held in conjunction with our partner organisation Rural Community Development Programme (RCDP) in the rural community of Manahara in the Chitwan valley region of Nepal.
This project provided a village primary school in Manahara, which didn't have one before and where children were walking 40 minutes each way every day to go to the nearest school. It also financed a urinal block and furniture for the school.
The major construction was completed by local labourers, paid for by the AidCamp, before the group arrived. The volunteers finished the floors and plastered, painted and decorated the building.
They were also taken on visits to see other projects in the area, as well as on several local and regional sightseeing trips.
The following report about the AidCamp was written by Carla, one of the volunteers:
"As a teacher, I was thrilled to be going to Nepal, not to trek, but to build a primary school in the southern Terai region. After a 6-hour bus journey from Kathmandu, along the banks of the Trisuli River, we began to get a sense of how very poor these local communities were and how hard their everyday lives must be.
As we arrived at the site on the first morning, we were greeted with cheers and warm, friendly smiles by a long line of village children and their teachers; we each had a red tika smeared on our foreheads and were presented with garlands of flowers - it was hard to know who was more excited, us or them! Then it was down to work sifting sand, mixing concrete and applying plaster to the walls and floor, which had already been started by local builders.
How would we ever finish in time, I wondered? Thanks to the dedicated hard work and team spirit of the excellent volunteers under the able guidance and instruction of Marios, our leader, and Krishna from RCDP, we all pulled together and created a wonderful building, beautifully decorated both inside and out. The future pupils recited the times tables excitedly as we painted them on the classroom walls, and I discovered some of the intricacies of Nepalese lettering, while writing up the alphabet!
We were sustained on our journeys to and from the project, by crowds of smiling children (and adults more reservedly!) waving and calling 'namaste' and 'byeee byeee' as they looked up from tending their chickens and goats, ploughing their fields with yoked buffalo, or planting their rice seedlings in paddy fields, knee high in water, as our jeep bumped along.
One of the highlights of the project for many of us was the invitation one day, to a homestead, to witness the details of everyday life; pumping water, grinding corn with two stones and cooking on open fires. I was deeply moved by the grace and dignity of the whole family, especially the eighty year old grandmother, living in this feudal system of farming and animal husbandry, as she sat on the ground surrounded by her children and grandchildren.
We experienced the strong sense of community which binds these people together, when they shared Holi, the Hindu festival of colour with us, with everyone throwing coloured powder paint and water at one another, and when they loaned us their precious bicycles one afternoon, so that we could tour the locality and experience even more of the beauty and isolation of their neighbourhood.
How inspiring it was, also, to visit other schools and an orphanage built on previous projects, and to see with our own eyes what a huge difference these made to peoples' lives.
I believe that AidCamps provides the perfect model for a short-term life-changing experience in a developing country. The organisation is superb and everyone experiences something of the daily life of these communities in a way which is simply not possible as a tourist; we all learn to readjust our values and our life expectations, and it is all done with physical hard work and a real sense of achievement about giving something back to a community which has enriched us all far more than they could ever realise.
It is a privilege to have lived and worked among these people and I would challenge anyone not to be moved and humbled by the experience."
"I never really believe in the term 'life changing' until my AidCamps trip."