A straight A student has urged others to take part in international aid programs after returning from a remote village in Nepal where she helped improve sanitation.
Anna Hemery, 19 from Cuckfield, recently embarked on a government funded 10 week voluntary project in the rural village of Baghmara, in the Makwanpur district of Nepal.
Before leaving, the soon-to-be Leeds University first-year had to raise £800 to go towards the sanitation infrastructure she was about to help build. Miss Hemery said: “It was a life changing experience.
“We worked six out of seven days doing a range of jobs like educating the villagers about hygiene.
“They had never thought about washing their hands after using the toilet before, so we helped to build new sanitation sinks that can be used for both washing and cleaning.
“Despite the language barrier, I really bonded with the local people. They were a bit reluctant at first because some of them had never seen a westerner before.
“I couldn’t recommend the experience enough to anyone thinking about volunteering.”
During her stay Miss Hemery lived with a Nepali host family, sleeping on a table top and sharing her sleeping quarters with tarantula-sized spiders.
The volunteers spent their ten weeks delivering sessions on menstrual hygiene, sanitation and waste management and forming multiple new village committees.
One of their biggest accomplishments was to ensure the villagers had continued access to fresh running water, something they often went three or four days without, by making adjustments to a reservoir.
The ex-Collyers pupil said despite her great sense of achievement and the undoubted positive impact felt by the locals, the lessons they learnt as volunteers cannot be matched.
Information on how to apply can be found at https://raleighinternational.org/volunteer/