Aussie Mum, Marijke and daughter, Gabriella take soccer balls to Dhola Nepal
Earlier this year I was contacted by Marijke Walker from Sydney and her daughter
Gabriella who were going on a trip to visit a village in the mountains of Nepal. They asked if they could take some soccer balls. Absolutely! This is my goal of Football – Play It Forward.
Well, Marijke and Gabriella have sent me some photos of the kids with the balls. They also wrote me a really nice letter explaining all about their trip. I thought I’d include it here……
Hi Mac and Sacha,
Your soccer balls have made it to Dhola Nepal!
In late October/early November, my 8 year old daughter, Gabriella, and I travelled to Nepal for a two week holiday. As we would be trekking to a village, we only had one small bag each. However, a very important bag was also checked onto our flight…a soccer bag filled with 10 balls, 2 pumps and markers for the children in Dhola.
Dhola is a small village in the mountains in the Dhading district, about 200k from Kathmandu and in view of the high mountains. It has a population of around 5,000 people and people live there is a peaceful and quiet environment in a way unchanged for hundreds of years. People here are quite poor but most have their own vegetable gardens, others have animals, and there is a large cultivated area our young guide, Ramesh, referred to as the ‘village market’, which is shared.
We found about Dhola through our Canadian friend, Morgan, whose father, Norman, lives in Kathmandu. Norman had met Bhim, who lives in Dhola with his wife, Juna and son, Ramesh, many years ago when Bhim was his guide on a trek in India. They have been friends ever since and Norman has done much for them including helping to build their new home and building a small toilet and shower block for the family and visitors like us to use. Norman was the one who would meet us in Dhola and bring the soccer bag on the local bus and it was Bhim’s son, Ramesh, who was our guide and translator during our two day trek from Trisuli to Dhola and whilst in the village for three nights and two days.
We met many wonderful people in Dhola and had a very happy time there. There were people stopping by regularly to visit at Bhim and Juna’s home, including lots of children that we played games with. We planned to visit the two schools in Dhola on our last day there to take the soccer balls and tell them about Mac and your goal. Unfortunately, because of the rain, buses and trucks were not coming to Dhola so Norman also had to walk quite a distance. This meant he could not bring the soccer bag with him this time, but he promised to return to the village with it a few weeks later.
Although we didn’t have the soccer bag, Gabriella, Norman, Ramesh and I went off to the schools anyway to prepare them for the surprise. We first visited the private school, Milan Bal Batika, as the assembly was taking place. These children learn all their lessons in English and also have a class in Nepali. They love playing sport and when I told them we were bringing soccer balls from a 10 year old boy in Australia, they were very happy. So were the teachers at the public school of Shree Kalika that we visited next. They told us that children finish school at the end of grade 10 and that the children learn all their classes in Nepali and English is taught as a subject only. Part of the school had been damaged by the earthquake in April 2015 but there was some building of new classrooms taking place. We enjoyed our visit to both schools and laughing with some of the children. We knew these were two deserving schools to receive your soccer balls.
Since returning to Australia, we have received a message and photos from Norman about the day he and Ramesh arrived with the soccer balls. He said that at the private school, they were garlanded and presented with flower bouquets. They expressed sincere thanks to Mac for making them recipients of his good work. The soccer balls were also well-received at the public school, with the teachers insisting on inflating the balls themselves to the delight of the children!
Mac, taking your soccer balls with us on our holiday and knowing they will be enjoyed by children in a small village in the Nepalese mountains, made our trip to Nepal even more special. It is such a special country and I hope you have the chance to visit it one day. I hope you continue to receive support to ‘Play it Forward’, especially because we have now seen first-hand how soccer balls contribute to the fun and happiness in the lives of children in need.
Thank you Mac. We hope you like the photos too.
Marijke and Gabriella Walker
15 December 2015