‘I sponsor two students who were affected by the Nepal earthquake in 2015. One young girl lost her brother and sister in the quake and another was buried under rubble for 13 hours. I am determined to raise the funds to build a new school for them, their peers and teachers in Nepal.’ I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Emma McDonald, a former Kardinia International student.
What led to you become involved with EDUC-Nepal?
‘I first stumbled across ‘Education and Development for the Underprivileged Children’ (EDUC), a local NGO school in Kathmandu offering children from the Basundhara slums a free education, in 2014 when I was working as a journalist. I wrote a story about the school and the family of Nepali teachers who founded it, and I fell in love.
‘The Principal of the school calls me Chhori which means daughter in Nepali and I call her Ama which means Mum. It is a real family affair; her sister and niece are teachers at the school and her brother is the chairperson. I stay with Ama when I visit. There are about 65 students attending at present and I know of five who have gone on to study at college.
‘Since that first meeting, I have been a passionate advocate for the school and have been back twice to teach. The school has no donors, relying only on the support of local family and friends to operate. The teachers work voluntarily or receive a small income. Without EDUC, these poor children would never have the opportunity to go to school. www.facebook.com/EDUC.Nepal/
How has it changed your life?
‘My second trip to Kathmandu was in 2015, just after the catastrophic earthquakes. EDUC-Nepal helped relocate traumatised families from village regions and settle the kids in school. I worked closely with a group of children who were earthquake-victims with minimal prior schooling. Like my first visit, I was hit by the reality of educational disadvantage. I strongly believe that education is a human right, as it skills individuals to write their own futures.
‘During my 2015 trip, the school leaders asked me to help them to build a new school because the current rented building had been damaged by the earthquake. Upon returning home, I started fundraising and approaching people for help with a new, earthquake-proof school building. I also enrolled in a Master of Teaching course, giving up my job in publishing.
‘For over 18 months now we have been raising money, planning for the new building and dealing with frustrating government bureaucracy. It has been a challenging process and a huge learning curve for me, but I have met so many extraordinary people along the way who have provided support and this has kept propelling me forwards. Just a few weeks ago we broke ground in Kathmandu and started digging! We currently have $16,000 AUD of the $25,000 (approx.) that we need in total, so my mission for the next few months will be to fill that gap.
What is your Geelong connection?
‘My family moved from Brunswick to Geelong when I was nine. I went to high school at Kardinia International College. Kardinia is a unique school with its emphasis on global connectedness, community and social change. I completed the @International Baccalaureate diploma in Year 11 and 12. The diploma program definitely shaped how I view the world and my active role within it.’
How can the people of Geelong help?
‘You can find out more about the project and/or make a tax-deductible donation to the project via Echo International Aid’s project page, here. Echo International Aid is a Melbourne-based registered charity who work with disadvantaged Asian communities. They are kindly helping me manage the project funds.’