I thought I was going to ‘make a difference’. What I didn’t expect to discover was this…
I rush onto my usual bus, down the usual route back after a day of work. I sit back on the comfy seat, pop my headphones in, and the memories come flooding back as the lyrics start to play…“You call me out upon the waters The great unknown where feet may fail And there I find You in the mystery In oceans deep My faith will stand…”
After 3 weeks in Nepal I am back to familiar sights, sounds and faces. I‘ve returned to running water, makeup brushes, 24/7 electricity, food courts to satisfy any food craving (eating rice and lentil curry twice a day?! Absurdity in Sydney), my usual soy flat white, and shops filled with clothes I have an irrationally deep desire to buy.
All I knew about the place was that it was a tiny developing country between India and China where people hike up Everest… and drink yak’s milk.
Little did I realise then that this unexpected trip would take me to some of the most remote communities in Nepal, via 4-wheel-drives along ‘cliff-hanger’ roads, up mountain trails to share meals with local families and out to far-flung rural schools to share with children (some who had never seen foreigners) about life and culture in Australia.“Your grace abounds in deepest waters Your sovereign hand Will be my guide Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me You’ve never failed and You won’t start now”
It’s all about them
Little did I know I would meet some of the most selfless and inspiring local World Vision Staff and community volunteers that taught me much about developmental aid, empowerment and hope.
Despite many of their friends leaving Nepal in search for work and a better life, these local staff chose to stay and study university degrees in community development, law and education for the sake of helping the country they love reach it’s potential.
Because they are local, they can connect and communicate effectively with the community.
Because they are globally educated, they can instil effective programs, in a relevant manner, whilst communicating and being accountable to other international World Vision Staff and supporters.
These men and women who work for World Vision Nepal are truly the ‘hands and feet’ for the resources World Vision Australia share.
What I wasn’t expecting…
I expected to be inspired. I even expected to feel an urge to move to a developing country in order to “make a real difference”.
What I did not expect was to be so humbled in realising how unnecessary I was in the field. I felt almost rejected knowing that development work was occurring through much more capable hands than mine.
However, I was reassured that I am needed – we all are! Just in a different kind of way.
At the moment, the greatest role I can play is not necessarily to move country. Rather, it is to show appreciation and make the most of what I have been given, and to earn money in order to share it with the ‘hands and feet’ of those who know how to best empower others.
This money is not a “hand out”, but rather a “hand up” to partnering with World Vision programs around the world. It is a hand up to saying, “Yes, I will work towards seeing a fairer world that seeks the potential of every individual… no matter the country or culture they were born into.”
Now back to my initial impressions to Nepal… Okay, so I did expect to hike up beautiful mountains. And I did expect to interact with beautiful locals… but really, nothing could have prepared me for just how stunning the views would be, or just how much the interactions with the locals would move and inspire me. Seriously, I learnt some ridiculously ingenious ways of using limited resources, and met some of the most #boss women, who created and organised saving groups to fund local businesses and send their children to school (I need to write a separate article about these #bosswomen).
As for those “random Aussies” I shared these experiences with? Well, call us estranged kindred spirits. Call us random friends. Whatever we were, by the end of the trip, we called each other family. You cannot go through so many shared experiences and “firsts” with fellow humans without creating special bonds. And although we have continued on our own journeys and stories, I am grateful that somewhere along our paths, we had a crossway… and of all places, in Nepal.
The greatest lesson
And so now, here I am, on a bus in Sydney… back on my usual route… experiencing “normal” life. I hear the chorus of the song I am listening to, and just like all the times I’ve listened to it whilst travelling, it remains my prayer for the present.Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders Let me walk upon the waters Wherever You would call me Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander And my faith will be made stronger In the presence of my Savior
But as great as learning how to cook Nepalese meals and how to spot tigers was, I think this was the greatest lesson I took from my Global One experience;
We are all living, working and loving in the places considered our ‘present’ for a purpose. And in this ‘present’ we can make a real difference for the future.
- Want to volunteer overseas the right way? We’ve compiled a list of great organisations, including opportunities to volunteer in Nepal here.