A long walk

Image by Remibridot

Last Friday, we welcomed Dorothy O’Brien as our Speaker for Friday Forum – her talk was beautifully illustrated with amazing photographs of the rural community in Nepal where she has been very active in contributing to improvements in health and education facilities. Here is her story:

THE MIRGE STORY

Retiring after 27 years full time teaching, I wanted a ‘long walk – to clear my head’. The long walk I chose to do was the Annapurna Circuit, 170 miles in the Himalayas. It was then I met Mahesh Pakhrin, a Sherpa on the trek who told me about the circumstances in his village. They had no electricity, a poor water supply and no medical provision.

In Mirge, there are more than 7,000 villagers who live in well organised communities in a remote, mountainous area in the Dolakha district of East Nepal. To get there one had to drive 5 hours east from Kathmandu, then, as the road stops, climb for 5 hours up the mountain. The villagers are subsistence farmers, self sufficient in crops and animals, but ‘cash poor’ because they are too remote to market their surplus. Many of the men work in trekking groups, leaving the women to run the village. Two young pregnant women died several years ago being carried down the mountain for medical help.

I decided that I would try to help, and in the subsequent years, mostly through sponsored events and the generosity of kind friends, I have been able to raise enough money for building materials, tools and land. The men of the village gave their labour for free, quarrying the stone then carrying planks, aggregate, steel rods etc from the road-head. Five years ago my husband and I were very happy to attend the Grand Opening of the Mirge Health Post (clinic) and last year we built two classrooms for the pre-school children of the area.  The villagers are justifiably proud of their achievement. These two buildings provide a focus for life in the village.

A newly constructed road now makes access much easier and I drove behind the first bus ever to go to Mirge, an exciting experience!  With the installation of electricity it has been possible to use computers and a TV at the school. A kind donation helped us to buy three sewing machines for the women and arrange for a teacher. Our biggest donation was £10,000, enough to buy an ambulance!

The village children are presently taught in six bamboo-walled classrooms which will not withstand the rain of the next monsoon.  We are raising money to build six classrooms in stone which will be more durable, and equip the school with proper desks    Mirge is developing at last!

I have called this project ‘Making a difference’ – it surely has!!!!

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