Home again from Nepal
In August last year, they took their bicycles and set course for Nepal and a home for vulnerable girls. Now they are back in Sweden with newly acquired insights about being thankful for what we have and not taking everything for granted.
SEK 18,000 collected for the girls’ home, 4,000 kilometres cycled, a long list of newly-discovered countries on the way, and a real taste for travel and social action. These are some of the things the six-month journey to Nepal brought to Linköping students David Falk (in picture, standing right) and Johan Alsterhag (sitting).
Mr Falk is studying Media Technology and Engineering in Norrköping, and Mr Alsterhag was studying to be a doctor when last year he decided to realise his dreams of travel by doing something out of the ordinary. They wanted to combine work and pleasure, adventure with social action. The aim became to collect money for the girls’ home in Nepal, work as volunteers there and to cycle parts of the route.
They carried out all of their plans.
“We had a really, really fantastic adventure,” says Mr Falk, who has just started studying in Norrköping again.
“And it also feels so good to do something for the needy. We got 20 new siblings in the children’s home,” he adds.
Besides the money they collected, which went towards improving standards at the girls’ home, Mr Alsterhag taught the school children about hygiene and Mr Falk is finishing off a documentary film about how Nepal is dealing with poverty and conditions for children.
“I interviewed representatives of Save the Children and the Nepalese authorities working with children's and women's rights.”
You went on a long and eventful journey - what are the most lasting impressions?
Mr Falk thinks for a good while before answering, there are so many varied impressions. Everything from cycling through a number of European countries including Slovenia, Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia, to meeting the children in the girls’ home, working there and all the lessons that entailed, to couch-surfing and meeting all those people along the way.
“We cycled from Malmö to Istanbul in Turkey; it took two months. Then we flew to Nepal and we were there until the middle of December. On the way back we backpacked in Asia and Australia. So we actually experienced so much. But the most lasting impression is all the great people we met.”
In Nepal they lived in a volunteer room at the girls’ home and helped with the renovation and other jobs there. The 20 children are given schooling and can live there until they are able to provide for themselves.
“The most important lesson is that we cannot take everything for granted,” says David.
“We live a good life in Sweden. We have hot water, showers and warm clothes. We should be thankful for what we have, that's a big lesson. When you are there and see children begging then you feel you just have to do something to make a difference.”
Another lesson is that we can achieve more than we think we can, he points out.
“If you want something you can get it, if you fight hard enough. That’s something I hope I will remember all my life,” says David.
(Mr Alsterhag was at an interview for a medical intern job when this interview was conducted.)
Text: Eva Bergstedt, 27 March 2014
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Last updated: 2017-02-13