Courtenay resident Ron Quilter and a group of 14 volunteers from the Intercultural Women’s Education Network (IWEN) are heading to Nepal in November where they will undertake several projects — and have some fun on the soccer pitch.
The main focus of the “build trip” is to work on a classroom in Gorkha, which was the epicentre of last year’s earthquake that killed thousands of people in the country. The Gorkha region continues to suffer from its devastating effects.
After eight days in Gorkha, Quilter’s group will bus to Gadhawa in Dang Province, one of the most rural and impoverished regions of Nepal. The volunteers will spend six days working with community mothers at Unako House — a women’s centre IWEN constructed over the last three years — and installing a septic field. They will also host soccer camps for school children.
Quilter — a long-time player and coach of ‘the beautiful game’ — is taking about 150 pounds of gear donated by the Comox Valley soccer community to share with impoverished youth in Nepal.
“I have taken gear on many of my travels in Tanzania, Mexico, Cuba and Nepal, and have had many spirited games with teams that have been outfitted with local team jerseys,” Quilter said. “Soccer is an international language and provides a compelling way to enrich young people’s lives.
“Last time in Nepal, I outfitted a girls’ team in Gadhawa with a full set of jerseys, and our IWEN team played a game with them in front of hundreds of locals on a sand and dirt field.”
This time, along with hosting the camps, his group will be building permanent goal posts for the school.
“We have enough gear this time to outfit about 10 teams with jerseys and leave many children with a ball,” Quilter said.
When the work is complete, half the group will come home while the other half will trek a portion of the Annapurna Circuit with a climb of Chulu West, standing at over 21,000 feet. Quilter is trying to collect mountaineering gear to leave with Sherpa guides and porters who work in the Himalayan mountains.
The mission of the Kelowna-based, non-profit IWEN is to provide education and relief from poverty for marginalized individuals in Canada and abroad, with a focus on girls and women.
Its Empowerment Through Education program in Nepal ensures that Tharu girls receive an education. There are 167 girls in school, and more than 700 mothers in micro-credit programs.
Those wishing to help IWEN can buy a brick for $100 and have it installed on the walls of a primary school. The brick can contain a family name or the name of a loved one, if so desired. Make a request in the comments box so Quilter can install it. He will be sure to take a picture of it. www.canadahelps.org/dn/20056
A $300 donation — or $25 per month — will sponsor a scholarship for a girl for one year including school fees, supplies, shoes and other basics.
For more information, contact IWEN at iwencanada.com or firstname.lastname@example.org