Choosing charity over cocktails: Students take schoolies to Nepal

benjotUsually this would entail a trip to the coast to party, but a group of Orange students is bucking that trend.

They’re swapping cocktails for international charity work.

“They just said to me ‘we really don’t want to go to the Gold Coast. We want to do things for other people'”, said Mary Brell, a member of the Rotary Club of Orange Daybreak and leader of the trip.

“Some were talking about going to Cambodia and Vietnam but I think when the opportunity came to go with rotary it really cemented their ideas in terms of where they wanted to go.”

Rotary and Nepal

For the last six years Ms Brell and the Rotary Club of Orange Daybreak have been working with communities in Nepal.

They’ve been doing everything from working in small schools to helping remote communities rebuild after an earthquake hit the nation in April 2015.

It was through this work that Ms Brell met a principal from a very small school in the Chitwan Valley.

“He asked if we’d come down and work with his school and I thought when we were putting together this project that this was a great school for these kids to go to,” she explained.

“It’s an incredibly poor area so I think when these kids see the education over there they are going to be most surprised.”

Work students will do

For three weeks the students will work in schools and spend time with the Nepalese people.

“We fly into Kathmandu and then go down to the Chitwan Valley and help some kids out for about a week at a school teaching,” said Ben, one of the students involved in the trip.

“And then we go on a hike and after that some of us will go back up to a village to help another school as well.”

The school leavers will also be handing over equipment to the local children that they would never be able to afford.

“We are taking little laptop computers, cricket kits, books and so much more,” explained Ms Brell.

“The schools we are going to are incredibly poor so all this gear will go a very long way in helping them with their education.”

The experience

This trip will see benefits for both the Nepalese schools and the central west students.

Fleur said she is looking forward to her different schoolies experience.

‘You’re giving something back to a community and there’s so much we can learn and grow from through this so I think it will be very rewarding,” she said.

It’s also a chance for the school leavers to put into practice some of the lessons they’ve learnt in the classroom over the last 13 years.

“Lots of people coming out of school forget half the stuff they learn,” said Jake, who is preparing to head to Nepal.

“But we can now use what we’ve gained it use it to help other people which I think is very important.”

How students will be welcomed

While the excitement in the 13 students is clear, Mary Brell said the most rewarding part is yet to come.

“I haven’t told them a lot about how the communities will react when we arrive, but I know exactly what is going to happen,” she explained.

“I’m very aware of the welcome they are going to receive from the locals particularly by the little kids over there.”

With bags packed, excitement growing now the students just have to survive the long haul flight.

But Jake said the experience will be worth the hours of travel and months of organisation.

“Just to gain that knowledge that we are lucky to live in a country like Australia and to learn how to relate with that will be an amazing experience,” he said.

Andie added that it was experiences like this that really allow you to get to know a country and make some change.

“This is how we change the world by doing things like this,” she said.

“Everything adds up and it’s really important to do stuff like this.”

And on top of all these benefits for both the central west students and Nepalese communities, Mary Brell said parents are benefiting as well.

“As you can imagine the students’ parents are much happier that they’re coming to Nepal and doing something for other people than spending a few weeks at schoolies,” she said.

“It’s really a project and situation that everyone can feel good about.”

Source: ABC