I recently spent 3 weeks in Nepal as part of an ongoing Rotary Australia World Community Service (RAWCS) project providing support and resources to local people in response to the expressed needs of communities there, Many of the activities were education and health-related. One unusual one for me, supported by local Rotary groups, was a 'Dream Cricket' session in a small rural community in the Chitwan District of Nepal.
It was an amazing and quite emotional experience for me. Primary school-age differently-abled children came from their school across the road to a rough, treeless paddock to join in the fun. Five ‘Schoolies’ from Wellington NSW who'd opted for helping in Nepal rather than a Gold Coast celebration, took lead roles with our group, encouraging and playing tirelessly with the kids for several hours.
We were told that the children would not normally have access to any sporting equipment or fun experiences like this. Many parents were there with their children - more mums than dads. One of the very positive aspects was the opportunity for them to see their children actively and successfully participating in new and quite challenging activities in a fun and supportive environment. They also clearly enjoyed the chance to mix and talk with other parents. Some mothers spoke of the continuing shame and guilt they were made to feel because of their child’s developmental needs.
At first, some of the children and many parents hesitated to join in. But with the enthusiastic encouragement of the schoolies and others, they were soon batting, bowling, throwing, catching and running with great gusto. It was wonderful to see the proud faces of children and parents when bats connected with balls and successful runs were made.
Squeals of delight filled the air and by lunchtime, the biggest challenge was to get the kids to leave their game and go for a meal. We all went across the road to the school where the parents and their children were provided with their regular meal of vegetables and rice. But, as a special treat for the day, Rotary had supplied chicken as an addition to the meal. Such a happy, inclusive and for me, heart-warming and enlightening day.
Well done Rotary and Team Nepal 2023.