At Raleigh, we believe that young people are one of the most important resources the world has, yet they are often undervalued, underestimated and expected to underachieve. We’re working to change that through our expeditions. The 25 international and three host country 16J Raleigh Nepal volunteers will be empowered to create lasting change, working alongside local communities in the Gorkha region. The area was widely affected by last year’s devastating earthquake.
Alpha 4 – Back row, left to right: Project Manager – Yogesh, Patrick, Medic – Nikki, Tom, Maddie, Lewis, Andrew, Project Manager – Jane. Middle row, left to right: Naomi, Ed, Hannah, Charlotte B, Binish. Front row: Bruce, Rachel, Sophie, Laura
Alpha 5 – Back row, left to right: Charlie, Project Manager – Nick O, Stephen, Nick M, Alex, Sushant. Middle row, left to right: Jamie, Photographer – Jaci, Amy, Charlotte M, Eva, Leo. Front row, left to right: Project Manager – Sabina, Emily, Lucy, Ling, Pawan
After a traditional Nepali welcome, the Venturers were allocated into two ‘Alpha’ teams for the first phase – a seven day trek in the Gorkha hills – via a fun activity where they had to find fellow trek food items or equipment. Each team is co-led by an international and a host country Volunteer Manager who had to act out one of the items or activities (porridge and trekking) in order for the volunteers to identify them.
Team bonding – 16J tying themselves up in knots and then untying!
After some more fun team bonding activities and writing up a group contract, there were theory and practical sessions on health and safety, hygiene, first aid, communications, Nepali culture and personal development. The volunteers will also enjoy a short practice trek in the surrounding hills to test out kit and continue to get to know each other.
Their full trek will take in Barpak – the epicentre of the earthquake – and the foothills of Manaslu, the eighth tallest mountain in the world. The focus of this part of our young volunteers’ experience will be on creating a youth leadership culture, with Venturers encouraged to take turns in guiding and developing their team by being ‘Day Leader’.
After changeover and Phase 1 review, new teams will be allocated different Volunteer Manager partners to head out to Phase 2 – the community Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) part of the programme – where they will be based in the heart of local villages. Working alongside community members, our young volunteers will be trained by project partner, Goreta Gorkha, in water scheme rehabilitation projects in order to achieve sustainable improvements after water tables altered and infrastructure was damaged by the earthquake.
Pawan (front left) and Leo (front right) lead the hunt for fellow Alpha 5 teammates, with Jamie, Charlie and Nick M bringing up the rear
Host Country Volunteer, Pawan, from Surkhet (mid-western development region), has one year left of his Bachelor’s degree in management and business administration was interested in expanding his knowledge of different societies’ values and beliefs.
“It was the dual purpose of trek and community projects that interested me about Raleigh. I’ve never done any trekking before and I’m excited. I also want to help people for a better vision for humanity, as well as making friends with people from different cultures along the way whilst having the opportunity to develop my leadership and communication skills.”
Leo, from Florence, Italy, has just finished the first year of his Masters degree in Physics, and was looking for a challenge to set himself in the summer holiday. “I knew I wanted to journey alone but also to do something meaningful, rather than simply just travel.
“I was inspired by Raleigh’s positive action on local communities, especially in Nepal after the earthquake. It was the meeting point between lone travel and helping people – Raleigh ticked both boxes for me.
“I also wanted to take myself out of my comfort zone. I believe European and western countries in general offer their citizens lots of options that they make seem necessary when really they’re not. I’m looking forward to experiencing a more simple and authentic way of life.”
Charlotte B enjoying a ‘get to know you’ energiser
Charlotte B from Sheffield saw Expedition as a good opportunity to kick start some traveling while on summer holidays from sixth form, as it’s something she wants to do more of.
“I thought it would be good for me to see, first-hand, the effects of the earthquake and to be able to help in some way. I also wanted an experience that would push me out of my comfort zone and a way to start to experience different of cultures.”
Tom receives the traditional Nepali welcome
Tom from Cambridge heard a careers day talk from Raleigh volunteers at sixth form and says it was exactly what he was looking for. “After doing World Challenge at school I wanted to keep exploring and have more adventures.
“With Raleigh there is an obvious, real difference being made with projects benefiting local people – it’s not just about you. I wanted more travel opportunities, adventure and life experiences I’ll never forget.”
30 July – 16J deploy to Phase 1 – Trek
5-7 August – 16J changeover: Phase 2 – Community
13-15 August – 16I changeover: Phase 3 – Community
Photo credits: Jaci Berkopec