By SooShuan Goh (Oct 2011 team, Singaporean, Barclays Operational Risk Management)
Living in a city has a weird way of developing a sense of insecurity into our lives, no matter how much we have. It started out as a soul searching trip I decided to take to reflect and think about my own life. It was indeed a trip that I ended up receiving more than giving………
Being married with 2 young kids, it was already a blessing that I received from my family, who continued to give me the space to do what I want as an individual and supported my going away for a week. Our team was a diverse group from different countries, namely Taiwan, India, Vietnam, South Africa and Singapore and from different walks of life (including dentists).
We had a common objective for the trip, which was mainly to provide both dental services and English enrichment programs to the children of Nepal. We packed a load full of dental equipment, medical supplies and teaching materials and most importantly, an open heart, ready to embrace Future village, a mountain village near the town of Dhading. It was a long and tiring road trip from Kathmandu into the mountains of Nepal. But needless to say, it was all worthwhile for the breathtaking scenery and the refreshing air. It was a week of ‘no-stuffy nose’ for me since my highly sensitive nose had its days-off from all the usual allergens in the city. Life was back to simplicity for the week. At Future Village, there were only 2 guest rooms with no beds but sleeping bags for us to rest in; no hot shower but a cold running water tap for our daily bath; no electricity after 6pm (means no TV or internet) but only long chitchat sessions among our team for entertainment. I was quite surprised by how happy the team seem to be throughout our stay there without all our normal luxuries. Being so close to greenery and nature makes one feel much more grounded and I dare say I haven’t felt as alive for the longest time.
Future Village is a place of hope and love for the local village children. The children go there every morning to have 2 hours of enrichment classes in both English and Mathematics. For some children, it is actually a long hour walk from their house in the dark before morning dust. Although language was a huge challenge for us, the kids were mostly bright, inquisitive and attentive during the lessons. Just like children in any other part of the world, they love games, song and dance. So it was a lot easier to engage them by playing games during our classroom sessions. The educational games and flash cards that I had brought along with me were indeed a great help to us, especially since we were a bunch of untrained teachers. Some of the children were also really friendly and warm, volunteering to play tour guide to us on our trekking trips around the village. We trekked to a local school and a local market on separate days which were very good exercise workout sessions for us, the city slickers. I will not forget how good the simple plate of noodles was after our long trek. What impressed me was the honesty of the children. During our week stay, our team had often left our cameras lying around the center compound unguarded, but none of us lost a single item. Also, the children did not once touched the goodies and sweets we bought for them, till they had been given the go-ahead by us. Despite being poor, they live a very dignified life.
Although the trip was not exactly a life changing experience, it did leave me lots of food for thought. It humbles me to have the opportunity to get to know some amazing people who have so much less, yet use whatever little they have to help the poorer and underprivileged. In a few years, I will bring my own kids back to visit this beautiful place that have touched my heart and secretly, I hope the place will remain as simple so that it doesn’t lose it’s own unique charm…..