Expedition 17O has come to an end: 20-year-old volunteer Beth Love shares her highlights with us

17th December 2017

I’m Beth, I’m 20 years old and for the last 10 weeks I’ve been living and trekking in rural Nepal. In this blog I’d like to share a few of my highlights from Raleigh expedition with you.
Beth with fellow volunteers. Image by expedition 17O photographer Jake Rowles in Kamero Tol.
The reason I chose to go to Nepal was because I knew that whilst other countries need our help, after the earthquake they needed that bit of extra help here in Nepal. That earthquake was no fault of their own. Nepal is beautiful, I knew this was where I wanted to go.
Image by Beth, taken whilst on trek.
Phase 1: Community: Kamero Tol: I remember the women’s meeting from first phase. There must have been 20-25 women there. We were teaching about prolapse because that’s what the women identified as something they wanted to know about. We did a session teaching the women how to make their own reusable pads to. If we put that session on at home, nobody would show up.
Women creating their own pads. Image by Beth.
I love this photo, it shows how proud the women are of what they’ve done (make their own reusable pads). We didn’t want to make the pads for them and just hand them over, we wanted them to make the pads themselves so that the women are empowered to carry on making them after we’ve left. We made one as a template and at the end of the session they got fabrics and sewing needles and they could make the pads themselves. The older women came to the session to learn to pass down their new knowledge to the next generations. They are so happy to learn new stuff and pass lessons down about health and hygiene to improve the lives of their children.
Beth and her host family on phase one outside their host home.
This is our Nepali mum, dad and grandma who all looked after us. Every night our ‘ama’ (mum) fed us, they cooked and brought out our food. The family I lived with told me that when they rebuild their house they will have a toilet and a running tap because of Raleigh which is such a big deal here. Back home I would think that was normal but here they were so happy about having a toilet and running water. At the moment they have to go and fetch water in containers which isn’t safe. Things that seem like little things at home are a huge deal here. This photo shows me and my Nepali family at Tihar in phase 1. Tihar is a 5 day festival but Nepali people just tend to celebrate the final 3 days. I got really into the festival and what happens on each day. The days were dedicated to different things: Day 1: Worshipping crows Day 2: Worshipping dogs. We saw a few stray dogs with tika on their heads and wearing flower necklaces. Day 3: Worshipping cows. The cows were dressed in flowers and tika on this day. Day 4: Worshipping the ox. There were no ox in Kamero Tol where I was living. Day 5: The day to celebrate brothers and sisters. This was a big day and all the brothers and sisters received tika from each other.
Image by Jake Rowles (expedition 17O photographer).
Tihar was very special. We were introduced to the festival as if it was their New Year. We made leaf bowls and on the final day we had the leaf bowls brought out. The families went out of their way to provide for us. I think we are inspiring to these community members. I don’t think we realise how grateful the community are to have us. They constantly thank us and they’re happy. They appreciate everything. I’m not from a very well-off family but coming here and seeing this helps me to see that I have so much more than I need. It shows that you can have nothing and still make the most of everything.
Women’s meeting. Image by Beth.
Phase 2: Trek: Each time I put my bag on I felt stronger. I’m only little as it is but the longer I did it for the easier it got.
Beth on trek.
The day of the day hike was my most proud moment, we climbed to nearly 3,000m. When I got to the top I knew nothing else mattered, I was so happy. Getting left behind was my biggest worry on trek from the outset. When someone was struggling everyone came together. I was pretty much the slowest one and the group always made sure I was up at the front so that we’d walk at a pace that I could keep up. On trek, my team felt like a little family. They looked out for me. The group here [volunteers], they’re constantly looking out for each other, checking on each other. We’ve known each other for less than three months, started off strangers from different parts of the UK and the world but expedition brings everyone together.
Beth with fellow international volunteer Isobel who is from Tasmania.
Phase 3: Community: Back to Kamero Tol: We did a global citizenship session the day before we finished phase 3 in community and even though no-one was shouting over each other, everyone was getting really into it. Everyone listened to each other’s opinions. We did these global citizenship sessions in first phase and whilst I feel like I don’t participate much it’s because it’s all so new to me. Everyone was coming out with all these facts and they know so much despite being younger than me. I’ve learned so much just from listening to the other volunteers. I’m not a great reader but when I go home I’m going to try and read more.
Beth outside her second host home in Kamero Tol for phase 3. Image by expedition 17O photographer, Jake Rowles.
I’ve never been taught anything about global citizenship before, I didn’t even know what it was. Issues like recycling is something that needs to be pushed more. We need to learn more about it. Just from listening to the volunteers debating these things I learned so much, I loved it.
Beth out in the fields surrounding Kamero Tol with community member. Image by Jake Rowles, expedition photographer.
Another highlight from phase 3 was the small English lesion we held with the community members. We taught them: Numbers Greetings Body parts Family Recapped on the women’s meeting from phase 1 I remember the women trying to count as fast as they could, they really wanted to make the effort.
Digging the trench for the pipeline. Image by expedition 17O photographer Jake Rowles.
Back to the U.K. In terms of what I want to do next, I want to be anywhere that needs help. When I’m volunteering I know that it is helping me just as much as the community. Expedition has opened my eyes: people have nothing. People have it worse than you and yet when I’m here I see that the community are so much happier than we are.
Image by expedition 17O photographer, Jake Rowles.
The people in the village of Kamero Tol are happier than I have ever been. These people seem to be loving every minute of everything. I don’t think people will believe me when I tell them my stories back home but hopefully this blog will help.
English lesson in Kamero Tol.
Note from communications officer Rebbie Webb: I had interviewed Beth whilst in community and she wrote this blog from endex (end of expedition) celebrations at the training centre in Gorkha just two days ago. What struck me most about Beth is her empathy and compassion for the people here. And like all of the volunteers I have spoken to, I am so impressed by Beth and the confidence she has gained. She’s become a leader, a changemaker and she’s learnt how to be determined to carry on, even at the hardest points of expedition and in fact even to come to Nepal in the first place, despite a few knockbacks. In her own words, “my parents, my friends will be so proud of me. I even get emails out here from my mums’ friends. I would never expect them to send an email! Everyone at Cat Zero [the charitable sponsor who have supported Beth’s placement out here] has kept in touch but people I never would have expected have too.” Beth has landed safely back at Heathrow this morning (17th December) and has been reunited with her own family. Follow our blog, Instagram and Facebook for further posts from expedition 17O. For more information on CatZero, please click here.

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