Usually holidays are a wonderful time to spend with family and friends, but I realize this year looks very different and some individuals are really struggling. As I reflect on 2020 and all the challenges it has brought, I value this holiday season even more and think about how we can all do our little part to help those in need. Obviously, we all can’t be Oprah and open schools and give away cars, but we can each think about what we can do in our own little way. Maybe it’s to buy someone a cup of coffee, drop off food at your local food bank, volunteer at your local shelter, donate a few dollars to your favourite charity.
I have been hesitant to share this endeavour of mine beyond my daughter and those involved, but my daughter was insistent that I share this on my blog during the holiday season. So, I decided this was the time, especially in a year like 2020.
As you all know the birth of my grandson Evan has had a huge impact on me and made me think about what legacy I would like to leave. Which brings me to summer of 2017, the summer he was born. I was in Salt Lake City in a meeting, sitting beside a colleague Jaen who had been volunteering in Nepal after the earthquakes. I was thinking to myself how can I help? What can I do? How can I make a difference? So during a break I approached her, and we started discussing and coming up with ideas on how I could help.
Little did I know it would lead to the opening of The Deborah Education Centre in Bhardev, Nepal in August 2017. It’s not grand building but it’s a shelter that provides a safe place for vulnerable children to spend their time after school. Otherwise, they would have nowhere to go and be left with no choice but to be spend their time on the streets, while waiting for their parents to come home from work (which at times could be very late at night). Along with the structure, I was able to provide the centre with books, English lessons, art supplies, screen and projector, even meals from eggs, milk, and cheese made from the centre’s very own chickens and cow. It became a place where the children could build confidence and receive help in their studies as well as emotional support.
One success story from the centre is from a young gentleman who attended the centre in its early days and who is now part of the Gurkha army and thanked me in a personal video on how the centre
contributed to keeping him safe place to study and learn. In addition, I’ve been told that the number of kids in the streets in this particular village dropped by 75%. Even in the harsh cold winters when children wanted to skip school, they were still showing up to the education centre.
My hope is that this project will set a good example for Evan and teaches him the value of helping others in any way possible, big or small. This is the importance of being human and living on this shared planet together. And hopefully when he turns 18 his mother will let him backpack to Nepal and visit the children on my behalf!