Every member of the team also spent many weekends at the County Campsite working on a practice building to gain the skills required.
The trip involved a flight to Kathmandu via Doha in Qatar and, after a night in a hotel in the city, a 2 day trek out to the village. The next 2 weeks saw the team living on a campsite just below the school and hostel building site. The trek was very well supported by the trekking staff of Community Action Treks.
A group of leaders from West Yorkshire Scouts fundraised for over 12 months to raise the money to build a new 5 room hostel in the remote village of Melamchigaon in the foothills of the Himalayas.
The much needed hostel was for those children who attend the school but who cannot travel home every night due to the distance. Not only did the 33 adults raise the money, they also travelled out to Melamchigaon to work alongside the village community to build the hostel.
On arrival at the village they found that the layout of the building had been prepared by the community, with the foundations dug and the footprint of the hostel built up to damp proof course. The women of the community had spent weeks bringing down vast quantities of stone from the 'quarry' high on the hillside.
Most days the Scouts were joined by members of the community and the work force was divided into stone sorters and movers, wood workers, mud mixers (mud being used locally rather than mortar) and stone layers. The group were also joined by a number of local stone masons who amazed them with the speed and skill with which they dressed the stone ready for building.
Each day soon developed a rhythm of its own - and the entire Scout group particularly enjoyed working alongside the villagers and many friendships were formed. There was ample opportunity for social interaction with the people from the village, the children enjoyed playing games singing and dancing at the campsite and all the group were invited on a number of occasions in to the homes of the villagers
There was also a local festival in the Gompa (village monastery) and the Scouts were invited to join in the singing and dancing and to partake in the local food and drink.
During the two weeks the Scouts succeeded in building the hostel up to wall plate height. This left the village construction committee to use their particular skills to erect the roof which incorporates some intricate carving typical of buildings of this region. The roof was completed 8 days after the scouts left
There was an emotional farewell ceremony attended by most of the village community – including a number of the school children, despite the fact that they were still on their autumn break for Tihar (the Festival of Light).
The group then split to undertake a variety of adventurous, cultural or sightseeing activities. Some members went on a four day high level trek, others completed a three day white water rafting expedition whilst others visited a National Park or the cultural sights in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Most of the team took the opportunity to go on the early morning Everest Flight to see the high mountains.
At the end of the trip all the team came back together in Kathmandu and a farewell dinner was had with our trek guides and one of the school’s teachers before our long flight back to the UK.
The situation now...
Some members of the team revisited the village in 2009 to find the hostel is now home to over 50 children who are now able to access full time education for the first time. West Yorkshire Scouts now pays the salary of the Matron who looks after the children.
Purna Gautham, the Headteacher at Melamchigaon, said the Scout project had acted as a catylist for the village becoming involved in a number of projects in the school
Copyright Huddersfield North Scouts @ All Rights Reserved