Published: September 6, 2019
BSc Sociology students had the opportunity of a lifetime when they visited Nepal recently to support the work of Street Child Nepal. Led by Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Drew Dalton, the students explored the barriers to education amongst child labourers in different industries, set up an alumni scheme for marginalised women and girls in all districts of Nepal, developed datasets for the charity to monitor the success of their training and came up with entrepreneurship ideas for women and girls to get out of poverty. Street Child called the final produced work ‘amazing’ and were so impressed that they will be applying for international development funds to make the projects a reality in the future. Here the students reflect on their awe-inspiring experiences…
"I applied to go on the trip to Nepal for the opportunity to travel and experience a new culture. I was really keen to learn more about Buddhism and Hinduism; the two most dominant religions in Nepal. I really wanted to experience Kathmandu as it has been described as a cultural hub with an aura of sounds, smells and action. I was also keen to see how Kathmandu has been effected by the 2015 earthquake. Although I imagined that much of the city would have been rebuilt, I wanted to understand the impacts of what had happened and how much it had affected the people.
One of the main highlights of the trip, was visiting the Swayambhunath Stupa. The Stupa was so grand and eye opening it really was an experience that I will take with me forever. I also thoroughly enjoyed looking round the squares and immersing myself in the culture. We saw some beautiful temples which had the most amazing icons which the Nepalese prayed too. Seeing the Nepalese praying and going about their daily business really did give you a sense of how deeply rooted and important religion is." Emily McDarby, BSc (Hons) Social Sciences: Criminology.
"The main role during the trip was to be a researcher volunteer. After the 2015 earthquake, 50,000 classrooms were destroyed and this left one million children out of education. Having the opportunity to visit local projects run by Street Child and conducting research into bonded labour was something that I wanted to look into further. I wanted to help make a positive difference to the charity by helping them research bonded labour and to gain insight into the work they do and the difference they make by helping children get back into education and help end child labour.
One of the projects I worked on was coming up with the idea of making sanitary products from raw and sustainable materials with the use of sewing machines. Many Musahar girls share sanitary towels with other family members or simply do not wear any at all. One of the major barriers towards improved levels of health, sanitation and hygiene in Nepal’s rural communities is the lack of awareness among local populations of health, sanitation and hygiene. We also came up with an entrepreneurial livelihood pathway idea of training Musahar girls around the knowledge and awareness of sanitation and health to then go on and run training sessions in schools and communities around the taboo subject of menstruation." Caitlin Martin, BSc (Hons) Sociology.
"After my volunteering experience in 2018 in Kenya, I was inspired by the work that is being done on an international level to help engage children in socio-economically deprived communities in education. Street Child is an organisation that works with girls in deprived and marginalised communities and in bonded labour and I saw this as a unique opportunity to further my own experience in the charity sector and to conduct important work and research to help further this cause. My career aspirations are to work in child poverty in the UK and by gaining an understanding of child poverty on a global context, this has given me a much better understanding of the issues surrounding child poverty in this country. It has also fuelled my drive and passion to contribute to this cause.
My favourite experience was meeting the team and learning about the amazing work they are doing to help engage children in education and give them life skills and aspirations. I found it awe-inspiring about how much they have been able to achieve in such a short space of time. Their resourcefulness, drive and dedication has inspired me within my own career development." Suzanne Butler, BSc (Hons) Sociology.
"One challenge I was concerned about was the cultural difference between the UK and Nepal. Simple things such as pointing and choice of clothing have a lot of importance in Nepal. Simply pointing at someone or something is seen as one of the rudest things to do in Buddhist culture as it represents the wrath of the gods. This was a big challenge as everyday things become very important. To help overcome this Drew arranged and led sessions on cultural awareness and religious training so we knew what to expect and how to behave in such a religious focused society.
The whole trip has been so full of learning, growth and laughter. One experience that really stands out to me is visiting the religious temples. I love religion and it's possibly my favourite area of social sciences so this was amazing for me to experience first-hand. Upon entering the temple, it was beautiful and silent with statues of icons all around waiting to be worshipped. The serenity of the temple gave me very spiritual feeling that really grasped me which I haven’t experienced before so it was enlightening and really gave me an understanding and appreciation for the culture and the presence religion has on this society." Hannah O’Brien, BSc (Hons) Sociology.
"There were so many highlights to the Nepal trip. I experienced the friendliness of the Nepalese people who showed kindness and were always willing to help us, from the Street Child charity to the owners of our accommodation, taxi drivers, and shopkeepers. My second highlight was our visit to Patan Durbar Square, where we visited beautiful temples. The food in the local restaurant was terrific, and the service was impeccable. We then took a trip to Kathmandu Durbar Square where we had a steep climb to Swayambhunath Stupa, what a sight to see once we reached the top, after being accosted by the cheeky monkeys on the way up. This was quite an awe-inspiring and humbling experience, well worth the climb. I have experienced many things in my life but nothing as exhilarating as white water rafting. We spent at least three hours on the river with the most knowledgeable and experienced guides. The nightlife was brilliant meeting the locals and dancing the night away.
To any students who may be considering going on a trip like this, don't hesitate. It has been an awe-inspiring, amazing experience for me. I have worked and lived with a fabulous, hardworking team from our University, worked with a unique charity that produces fantastic results, meeting brilliant people along the way. This is a chance in a lifetime to be able to work alongside charities and provide your own incredible research that may be used in the future." Margaret Hunter BSc (Hons) Sociology.
Watch some of the highlights from the trip as Drew and the students take in the sights, visit Swayambhunath Stupa, and prepare to go white water rafting.
"This experience has helped me with my degree and future employability in so many ways. The research that I conducted helps solidify what I already know and allows me to practice more research methods that will help me in my dissertation next year. Added to this, as a career path I would like to go into social research so this is a great way to improve my skills, and with experience of conducting research in the field being a big attribute that future employers look for, it will certainly help me going forward.
There were so many highlights for me personally on this trip, but it was the rest of the team who really made it enjoyable. The laughs and amount of support we gave each other day to day really made the trip so special.
A huge highlight for me was receiving the email back from Street Child which said that the projects will hopefully be part of the next phase of their work in Nepal. Knowing that the work we did may lead on to helping people and actually impacting their lives for the better will forever stick with me." Matthew Ellis, BSc (Hons) Sociology.
"My favourite experience of working with Street Child was being involved in social research. It was an amazing experience and feeling knowing that our work will make a difference to them. It was very exciting discovering new information that would contribute and help our work progress. It helped me gain an insight into the gender and class inequalities in Nepal which was a very important part of the whole experience for me.
I recommend going on a trip like this because it's life-changing. It changes your outlook on the world and makes you more grateful for the things you have and the opportunities that we receive. As well as this, it's an amazing opportunity to meet like minded people, who can become very good friends. It's great, if like me, you’ve never travelled very far before because it's a safe environment in which you are surrounded by knowledgeable people." Maisie Hanley, BSc (Hons) Sociology.