Many people travel to remote areas and see life in the raw, marvelling at how some of the world’s poorest people survive but for most it remains an experience to be retold on their return.
However, when Jenny Stewart, of Pambula, travelled to Nepal she returned to Australia determined to help some of those she had seen during her visit.
In October 2011, Jenny went to Nepal for a holiday. On her journey back from trekking in the hills she met a family who despite their poverty, made her welcome and gave her “fantastic hospitality”.
After five hours during which, through the translator she had hired, Jenny discovered their circumstances, she left giving them any remaining food and clothing she had from her trek.
What Jenny discovered was that the people in the remote villages in the hills had no water for three to four months of the year and so the women and children walked for several hours every day to collect the daily water for their family.
“When I came back down off the mountain, I asked the manager of the hotel where I was staying to help me buy a water tank for the family.”
When she delivered the 1000 litre tank to the family she had befriended, other villagers asked for her help as well.
On her return to Australia, Jenny decided to raise funds for the cause and put pebbles in bags for people to buy. Through her own efforts and those of her niece, who had a shop in Toad Hall, Pambula, Jenny raised $7000 and last year returned to Nepal to buy 26 more water tanks and 14 rolls of poly pipe.
Then the monsoons came and the operation which is all carried out on foot, hence the size of the water tanks, had to stop.
But Jenny then discovered a new outlet for her cause via the Somalian Op Shop set up by the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast. The op shop is raising money for Somalians who are still starving from the famine of two years ago and fleeing their country because of civil war. It also serves as an outlet for coffee from Timor Leste where the money raised goes back to support children’s and teacher’s education in the isolated area of Natabora.
In one corner, near the door, Jenny has set up Pebbles for Nepal with photos showing her progress.
She said: “These people are really poor; some of them live literally day to day. I don’t think anyone should be denied the Godly right of water. They receive no help from the government but by giving them a water tank it will allow them to produce extra crops, have better hygiene and free up the children from collecting water so that they can get an education.”
Jenny’s goal is to have 200 water tanks in the remote villages of the Chepang Hill region, Nepal as soon as she can raise enough money.