… it’s funny how things turn out
At a period of immense sadness in her life, Jude was determined to keep doing the hobbies she had shared with her husband of 33 years. So it was that a chance meeting, during a canoeing lesson, led to her travelling to Nepal with a small charity called Nepal Schools Trust. Now, 5 years on, she has just returned from her annual 6 week visit, and she came to the women’s group at Mother of God Parish, Sheffield to talk about it.
Wearing practical, but beautifully colourful, Nepalese clothes, Jude explained how she set about finding out what help was needed in the village of Devchuli in the plains area, far from the tourist trail. She described the history and geography of this tiny country nestling below the Himalayas with a mostly Hindu population. Jude’s photographs and slides gave great insights into daily life in the village, highlighting the hard work and community spirit of the people. The villagers have simple homes with only what they need to live … their carbon footprint is almost nil. The fertile terrain means that people eat what they grow; rice, lentils and buffalo milk are staples.
Community is everything and, when the earthquake struck in 2015, everyone helped and gave food and shelter to neighbours until they could rebuild their shattered homes.
90% of children attend primary school and, although they are expected to pay, families who cannot afford to are helped out by their community. With a Nepali alphabet of 48 characters (!!), and 2 languages to learn (Nepali and English), children had little time or resources for play and classrooms were bleak and bare. Nepal Schools Trust has helped provide tables and desks, using local resources and labour, books and fun interactive learning tools. With her background in Education, Charities and Development, Jude leads workshops for primary teachers and actually teaches in the classrooms herself. She funds her visits entirely herself, paying a family for her accommodation, so that every penny she raises through sales, concerts and talks, goes directly to the charity, with no admin costs and no ‘middle man’. The villagers reciprocate with great kindness and appreciation.
Primary education is even more important than you might think because, due to the demands of life in rural Nepal, attendance at secondary school is very much lower.
Jude looks forward to continuing her work so, if any organisation in the Diocese would like a truly inspirational speaker, please email her on firstname.lastname@example.org because … it’s funny how things turn out, sometimes, isn’t it?