My very first morning in the Athletes Village began with possibly the coldest shower of my life. I am not one to exaggerate, but this 6am wakeup call may as well have been sourced from the polar ice caps. Alas I was now very much awake!
Fresh and clean, I got my bag ready in the dark and ran up the hill to breakfast, leaving my tent-mates, Laura and Natalie, snuggled up adorably in their sleeping bags.
The perfect catering for a family of hungry running types, breakfast was a buffet of hot porridge, peanut butter, and bananas. Winning! Off on an excursion for the entire day, the Street Child team and I fuelled up before hopping on the bus.
Making our way from one side of the mountain to the other, along the tiny roads, we were en route to meet some more members of the Street Child Nepal team. These young ambassadors, some as young as me, have been out in Nepal for several months now. As volunteers, they dedicate their time and use their passion for change to put Street Child plans into action. Some, like young Alice, had just graduated like myself. Others had quit London based office jobs in search of a more rewarding career. If you ever find yourself with two months to spare, I highly recommend taking a hint from these guys. I’m tempted to become an ambassador myself! One lad, James, told me how he’d quit his career to head off on an adventure. “There just has to be more out there”, and he’s damn right!
With our new passengers on board the mini bus, we set off further into town towards a school which had been virtually destroyed during the earthquake of 2015. Since then, Street Child has been able to construct hundreds of semi-permanent classroom structures, across the region, in order to keep education alive. These structures, built to last approximately 5 years, may seem like a small feat, but they act as a powerful catalyst for education in a country where many children drop out of school by the age of nine.
Our task for the day was to complete the final stage of construction. Painting! With buckets of golden paint we set to work on transforming these empty shells into colourful classrooms. It was great fun working together as a team and the afternoon passed in a flash.
It did strike me as a little odd though, that many of the school children seemed completely unfazed by a bunch of charity volunteers, painting their school in hilariously unnecessary hard hats. I suppose I found it hard to stop myself from comparing my time in Nepal with my time in Sierra Leone earlier on in the year, where the children would have completely encircled us with heart-warming smiles and helping hands. In contrast there seemed to be a prevailing wariness around strangers.
Before I knew it, we were back on the bus and all set to return home for a session of sunset yoga. But this was no ordinary journey, of course!
Whilst we had been painting, there had been several small scale landslides higher up in the mountains. The roads were blocked with rubble and mud as diggers worked at a miraculous pace to clear the path for a traffic jam of motorbikes and mini busses. This was rather amusing until we realised that we may be stuck here for a considerable period of our evening. But of course, in true Street Child fashion we found ways to entertain ourselves. Josh and Phil sang rather beautiful renditions of nursery rhyme classics to keep us in good spirits, whilst we all shared stories and took this time to get to know each other better. Let’s be honest, we all cried with laughter at some point!
When we finally reached the Athletes Village we had sadly missed out on sunset yoga. We huddled round the campfire and told the rest of the team all about our day over another gorgeous dinner.
Lots of love,