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 Elise Wallbridge, Year 13 student at La Châtaigneraie.
Even though we had been expecting it for a long time, our arrival in Kathmandu was a striking cultural shock. This city is in constant motion: the air is filled with pollution and dust, and you constantly hear car horns or barking dogs. Our experience in Nepal offered a real contrast to the cleanliness, order and fresh air of Switzerland. Reflecting on my privileged lifestyle, I realised what a protected life mine is.
Kathmandu is a city that has suffered greatly. This is noticeable everywhere, not only in terms of the damage caused by the earthquake, but also in the ever-present smog, or the lack of basic supplies. Despite all this, it is incredibly easy to fall in love with this city. Its people are friendly and the buildings colourful, with prayer flags suspended between the houses. We were also lucky to be there during Holi, or “festival of colours,” from beginning to end, and saw a colourful facet of Nepalese culture that was wholeheartedly shared with us.
It was the people at the Sagarmatha Center (SASS) that touched me most; they are so welcoming and their tolerance exemplary. I learned enormously from them, much more so than anything I taught the children, whose outlook on life and optimism were contagious and gave me greater perspective for my own life. They wanted to share with us their culture and lives, and learn just as much about ours. I gained a second family and met people who I will never forget. SASS is definitely an organisation with which I would work again with great pleasure.
Even though this journey was difficult, sometimes even tiring, I would not change anything. It made me stronger and I dare only hope that I was useful at the Sagarmatha Center. I am determined to create further such opportunities in my life. A big thank you to the Sherpa family and all those who made this experience an exceptional opportunity for us all.
Year 13 student at La Châtaigneraie