Coldest Showers, Warmest People.
January 4th 2015.
Nepal 2015 Earthquake Numbers:
Number of people killed: 8,617
Number of people injured: 16,808
Number of people displaced: 2.8 million
Number of people affected: 5.6 million
Number of people in need of food assistance: More than 1 million
Number of hospitals damaged: 26
Number of houses destroyed: over 473,000
Week two with the incredible Childreach program started on Sunday morning with a 60km drive to Manekaharka. That doesn’t sound too far at all until you start and have to navigate tiny dirt roads with drops of more than a few hundred feet over the side (within an hour, the road was blocked to move a local bus that had crashed over the edge). We were mightily relieved to arrive four and a half hours after we set off at the small village of less than 70 homes at the epicenter of the April earthquake. More than 75% of these houses were damaged or destroyed by the earthquake, as was the school.
At more than 2000m, Manekaharka is in the mountains with breathtaking views on all sides of the Himalayas. Prateek and Kuhmar, two of the most passionate and knowledgable Sport for Social Impact coaches, had a wonderful plan for the week that included 4 local schools, students and teachers. Monday started with more than 40 shy young leaders and finished on Friday with more than 40 of the loudest, most confident young leaders who had seen how sport could impact their community on things like Child Rights, Female Empowerment and HIV Behavior change.
The big successes of the week were games like Know Your Rights, Hope Solo for Conflict Prevention, and Hands v HIV. And we did invent a new way to greet everyone, with the Namaste bow-High 5.
The end of each day was the hardest part. Who knew that Himalayan water could be so cold? We’re not just talking cold water, we’re talking freeeeeeezing water!! But the people of Manekaharka are the kindest, warmest, most welcoming people on earth. We were taken to a Hindu Ceremony, we were overfed with local food and tea, we climbed a couple of mountains and we shared ideas on how the community can not just recover from the earthquake, but can change and grow.
The leaders of this community, the teachers and everyone who work with the young people are giving them the opportunity to hear new ideas, to question religion, tradition and culture, and to choose a new pathway for the community. While it was the coldest showers in the world, we worked for a week with the warmest people.
What a great way to end my 2015 on the field.