Arena4finance and HOSPA’s very own Debra Adams, Head of the Professional Development team, is in training to improve her endurance in order to be able to meet the challenge of her forthcoming trek in Nepal this October. She will be walking for five days covering over 80kms in the rugged and undulating regions surrounding the Himalayas. With 3,000 steep upward steps to reach Ulleri and then on to Poon Hill at 3,210m, Debra admits this will be her greatest challenge to date having trekked previously in 2014 with hospitality industry charity, Springboard.
This time Debra is joining a trekking group comprised of senior hospitality executives from across the sector to raise funding for the charity Children of the Mountain. The companies supporting the trek include Oakman Inns (the Chairman of Oakman, Mike Smith is also Chairman and Trustee of Children of the Mountain), Northcote Manor Hotel, The Edge Hotel School, contract caterers Holroyd Howe and the Brookwood Partnership.
Children of the Mountain (COTM) was founded in 2009 by Irishman and hospitality finance executive, John Matthews. During a visit to a remote village in the district of Ghorka whilst on a trekking holiday in Nepal, John encountered what he thought was a derelict shed for animals. It was in fact a primary school. The building was unsafe with dismal dark classrooms, void of any colour or materials. In the following months John, in partnership with his wife, Sylvia (known to many HOSPA members during her career at Jumeriah International in Dubai), raised funding amongst friends and family to rebuild the school providing bright and colorful classrooms and committed to helping other children facing similar conditions in Nepal. Following a move to the UK to open the Windlestraw Hotel in the Scottish borders, eight years on John and Sylvia continue to devote time and resources to growing the charity.
Today COTM is a UK registered charity regulated by the UK Charity Commission with a fund raising branch in Austria. All projects are delivered by a local team based in Kathmandu. The work of the charity focuses primarily on the region known as Gorkha District, a part of Province No. 4, which is one of the seventy-five districts of Nepal and connected historically with the creation of the modern Nepal and the name of the legendary Gurkha soldiers. The specific region is Tandrang, a Village Development Committee in Gorkha District in the Gandaki Zone of northern-central Nepal. In recent years the reach of the charity has expanded to include rural locations on the outskirts of Kathmandu as well as Bandipur, which is a hilltop settlement and a municipality in Tanahun District of Nepal located midway between Kathmandu and Pokhara.
COTM aim to support the poorest children in rural and urban Nepal, providing them with opportunity through access to education and personal development. COTM actively campaign against gender and caste bias and promote education as a practical alternative to rampant child labour. COTM advocate for investment and directly invest in child centered education as a critical and effective tool in the fight against extreme poverty in rural and inner city communities. Ongoing programs include the building, maintenance and support for Kindergartens, Primary Schools, Computer labs and Teacher Training using creative learning techniques. All this is achieved by working with a local team of Nepalese teachers and volunteers who work directly with the schools to build sustainable relationships and deliver support to the local teaching teams.
With preparations for the trek well underway, Debra explains:
“I have been working with COTM for the past three years and earlier this year became a Trustee. I have visited the schools and the regions supported by COTM, and I know that the funds raised are used directly to build and maintain schools, open Kindergartens, provide creative learning resources and train teachers. An example of one of our ongoing projects is the introduction of computer labs for three of our remotest schools using low-power, low-cost, durable equipment, the XO laptop, called E-Paati in Nepali, which is a great learning tool. The laptop is the size of a small textbook and connects to the digital library server. Working in partnership with OLE, www.olenapal.org, we plan to implement a sustainable E-learning programme using local suppliers. The funding we raise will enable:
~ The purchase of 45 children's mini XO laptops with access to 500+ curriculum based digital learning modules
~ The installation of a digital library server and intranet in each school
~ Initial training for all teachers at the schools
~ Ongoing technical support, monitoring and in-school training.
To support Debra in her fund raising efforts visit her donation page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/debraadamsboer or if your company would like to become directly involved with the work of the charity to support future projects including the introduction of durable computer labs for children please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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