OK, so I’m pretty ordinary. Female, 46, happily married, 3 beautiful children, a job I enjoy, a lovely home, good friends and my health. I always felt that something was missing though…..I felt I needed to challenge myself. i had gone from the enviable situation of my family looking after me segueing neatly into meeting the love of my life at the age of 17 who then continued to look after me for the next 30 years. I felt I had never really done anything “on my own”. I’d never had to rely on myself. So, after a great deal of thought, I announced i wanted to travel BY MYSELF! I wanted to do something i had always hanker after; have an adventure. I decided to travel to Nepal and teach English to Buddhist monks for 3 weeks. My ever patient husband agreed…and before I knew it I was off.
The 3 weeks taught me so so much. stuff I’d never expected; how much i had taken for granted, how much i would miss my family, how exhilarating it is to connect with people, how everyone has a story. I was expecting to see poverty but not expecting to see how much it would affect me. I was expecting to “live rough” but not how easy it would be to stop caring about material things. what shoes go with what handbag is not an issue when all you have is a small rucksack. I was expecting to feel old mixing with young travellers, but not expecting them not to care.
Most importantly I was not expecting to gain an adopted daughter! Whilst out there I got involved with an orphanage nearby, run from a family home. They quickly made me part of the family and shared eagerly what little they had, cooking for me and sharing their home. I quickly bonded with the 17 year old sister of the owners, Pema. how could not when I had a son back home the same age, with so many advantages and opportunities. Pema was eager to go to university, but her family have nothing, and what they do have goes on the orphans they support.
Luckily another talented volunteer had already resolved to help Pema in her dream and had set up a plan to help her go to university. It was then I remembered the story of the starfish, which I’m sure you’ve all seen.
I realised I couldn’t make a difference to the problems caused by poverty in Nepal but I could make a difference in Pema’s life. Luckily university fees in Nepal are nothing like the British fees, so i was able to help by paying her first years fees……with more to come.
I made a difference in Pema’s life as she is determined to make a difference in the lives of others when she becomes a social worker.