Children’s Aid International (CAI) was founded back in 2010 by past Rotaract South Brisbane President Renee French. CAI run a fundraising tour every one to two years and in the Summer of 2014/15 Alisha Radford and Mark Hams took up the opportunity to lead the Rotaract Tour. They were also joined by Kerryn Gresty and Jessica Shaw from the Club. Along with other Rotaractors and friends, the group headed off to Nepal in late December to experience the beautiful country of Nepal with its’ rich culture and natural beauty.
Kicking off in the capital of Kathmandu the group anchored themselves in the eclectic tourist district of Thamel and took a day to acclimatise and take in the sights and sounds before stepping further afield. The group toured historic Buddhist and Hindu Temples, caught a glimpse of the famous Kumari ‘living goddess’ in Durbar Square and took a walk through the Nepalese Royal Palace, site of the horrific massacre of the Royal Family back in 2001. Another highlight for some of the group was a joy flight to get a close up view of Mt Everest in the early morning sunshine – a unique and amazing experience.
From here the group we ventured out into the surrounding countryside, the village of Godawari where the Childrens Welfare Centre is located. After instantly falling in love with the smiles and enthusiasm of the Children we were lucky enough to tour the facility and become immersed in daily life, enjoying games with the children and sitting down to a dinner of traditional Dahl Baht. It was goodbye for now as the group headed over to the airport to head out to the tourist city of Pokhara.
We had a lazy day in Pokhara to allow us to get ourselves organised for our 4 day trek in the Annapurna ranges. We took the opportunity for a warm up stroll up to the World Peace Pagoda that overlooks the beautiful lake and greater area of Pokhara, set amongst the backdrop of the Annapurna Himalayan Ranges. Then it was an early morning Mini bus ride out to the start point for out trek. It was an experience hard to summarise in a few words. Trekking through 8 inches of fresh snow on our second day, sharing stories in the evenings around the communal fire, getting up close to 8000+m mountains – this part of the trip along was worth the 13 hours of flying from Brisbane.
After spending a day recovering in Pokhara with massages and drinks by the lake it was off to Royal Chitwan National Park. Home to Elephants, Rhino’s, Tigers and more the National Park is home to an Elephant Breeding Centre where we were afforded the unique opportunity to get up close and personal to baby elephants, and later the chance to ride and Elephant through the Jungle in the hope to spot a Rhino. We came away unsuccessful on this occasion but headed back to check out the sunsets from our Hotel – another highlight of this beautiful part of Nepal
Getting towards the end of the trip we were able to head back to Godawari to spend a few more days with the Children. They had great English skills for non traditional speakers and didn’t hesitate to drag us into whatever the hottest game of the moment was. The opportunity to make and share traditional Nepali Momo’s with the kids was another highlight. Our final farewell for the kids was a day in the local botanic gardens. After enjoying lunch and more games and laughter we presented the centre with a cheque to the value of over $10,000 – the funds that the tour was able to raise.
For anyone thinking of venturing off to this part of the world this is an excellent way to do it. The tour is cheap, we work closely with a local tourism industry contact and you get the full Nepali experience, not the one that your English Speaking guide can give you. For more information please contact the club or check out the CAI website –http://www.childrensaidinternational.org/