Helping children in Nepal: works starts on education project in memory of OE Guy Joseph
June 12, 2013
June 12, 2013
The family and friends of Guy Joseph have been on a successful trip to Nepal to start construction of the first Early Childhood Development Centre (ECDC) in his memory.
The centre is being funded by Guy’s Trust – a charity set up by the family of Guy (OE 1997-2002) following his death at the age of 25 in a paragliding accident in the Pyrenees in October 2011. The trust supports disadvantaged children and conservation, two causes about which Guy was especially passionate.
A 31-strong group, including friends from Australia, Indonesia, Thailand and the USA, travelled to Dhikurpokhari, a village in the Annapurna foothills. Guy lived in the nearby town of Pokhara in Nepal for several months during the winter of 2010-11. He loved the country and its people, especially the children, and had planned to return there.
After attending a welcome ceremony arranged by the villagers, the group and the locals began the hard work of digging the foundations. They also started the laborious task of making the 8,000 bricks needed, using a machine to manufacture one brick at a time.
In a report for the charity’s newsletter, Guy’s mother, Vicky Joseph, wrote: “As always we were greeted like royalty…we were reminded yet again just how hard life is here and how the ECDCs will help to lift the next generation out of poverty.
“There is a huge need for schools for younger children in Nepal, particularly for girls and the untouchable dalit class. Despite the government’s commitment to free education for all, at least one million children in Nepal do not go to school. Each Guy Joseph ECDC will provide for 150 children up to the age of seven preparing them for and ensuring their entry into primary school. In addition, Guy’s Trust will be training 25 teachers for the surrounding area, offering education in nutrition, health and hygiene to parents and paying for uniforms and lunches. We will also maintain the ECDCs for three years, after which time the local community is committed to taking over.”
The trust, in partnership with the international Non-Governmental Organisation, ActionAid, is now building two further ECDCs, the second being in Dansingh and the third being in the village of Armala, in the Kaski district of Nepal. In addition, Guy’s Trust is funding four ‘MantaWatch’ internships for students to work on manta ray conservation in Indonesia. The trust is also funding another manta ray conservation project being run by one of Guy’s old university friends in the Maldives.
Mrs Joseph said the trip inevitably raised mixed emotions: “Amongst the hard work, there was much time for reflecting on the paradoxes of why we were in Nepal – the fun we were all having and the sadness underlying the fun; how much Guy would have loved the experience and that we wouldn’t be here had he still been with us. And the birds of prey constantly riding the thermals above the valley reminding me of how Guy must have felt paragliding. Tear-filled conversations with his friends revealed that I was not alone.”
The local people are now working to complete the school before the monsoon season. It is scheduled to open in the autumn this year.
“A school is more than a building, and thoughts are already turning to how we can build upon what we’ve started and continue to support the children we have met. This is the beginning, not the end, and an experience I think none of the group will forget,” Mrs Joseph concluded.