This article is taken from the 2016 Annual Report of the Organisation Suisse Sagarmatha, which acts in favour of orphans at the Children of Sagarmatha Center located in Kathmandu in Nepal. In the International School of Geneva's long humanitarian tradition, the Children of Sagarmatha Center holds a special place for its dedication to providing access to education to the children of the center. This testimonial is brought to us by Timothy Marchant, Year 13 student at La Châtaigneraie.
The humanitarian trip to Nepal I took part in during Spring Break was undoubtedly one of the most gratifying, and one of the most enriching lessons. I had organised fundraising events throughout the year, and before the start of the trip, I was looking forward to seeing where the money I had raised was going to be invested.
Spending time at the Sagarmatha Center, playing with the young children and making friends with the older ones were the main features of this humanitarian experience. The joy and positivity of the children, in spite of the simplicity of their existence and possessions, greatly surprised me. They were always ready to play with us, to show us affection, and to make us feel welcome in their little place in Kathmandu.
I had brought two bags of chocolate eggs from Geneva, and one of our joint activities was the Easter egg hunt. This happy hunt didn’t last longer than 5 minutes, but once the children had flushed out all the eggs, I was impressed by how they shared them amongst themselves. Moments like this made them appear as one large, united family, rather than as orphans living together.
I learned a lot from them: not only concrete things such as magic tricks and a hypnosis technique (which didn’t work very well!), but also a new and stimulating outlook on the world. The enthusiasm they show for their studies, for example, made me consider my own life as a student in a new light… I will remember it every time I feel demotivated when faced with a difficult task. Their kindness and openness taught me to be more relaxed and to take things in my stride.
The other aspect of the trip was its touristic side, which was just as revealing. The magnificent temples and sculptures were the exact opposite of European architecture, which made them all the more fascinating. We were also able to measure the terrible devastation caused by the earthquake that struck Kathmandu last year. Simply walking through the streets was a worthwhile experience – soaking up all this exotic atmosphere, trying to dodge insane traffic, and avoid the wandering cows and monkeys that were found here and there on otherwise highly polluted roads.
This trip unveiled a completely new world, of which I knew nothing. The chaos of Kathmandu is extraordinary in comparison to the orderly cleanliness of Swiss life. Yet just as extraordinary is the determination one sees there. Everywhere around me, people lived, worked, chatted, and sold their products on markets along the streets… Despite the chaos, this liveliness and sense of purpose felt good, and it was something I felt lacked in Geneva upon my return. The journey was at times difficult, tiring, even overwhelming, but it was often in such circumstances that I had the most memorable experiences and learned the most valuable lessons.
Year 13 student at La Châtaigneraie