Naturopath, midwife and Endeavour College lecturer Anne Digby has brought new meaning to the term ‘passion project’, using her skills and tenacity to unlock new opportunities for hundreds of disadvantaged women and families in Nepal.
Anne spent the last three years building her organisation Journey Nepal which provides safe house accommodation and training support for Nepalese women and children in crisis. She funds her organisation through regular hosted group visits to Nepal.
“We visit several times a year for an eight day trip with a group of people from the health and humanitarian sectors. We find this offers our guests a completely unique travel experience and the chance to use their skills and resources to give the Nepalese community new hope,” said Anne.
“People can actually see the difference they can make before their eyes. Plus no one leaves Nepal and forgets it.
“Each time we visit we take practical donations such as medical supplies for the local birth centre, laptops and toys for the orphanage, education materials for the naturopaths or crutches for the Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital.
“We also find by introducing people to this incredible country, they are often inspired to help by fundraising once they get home or returning to volunteer in the future.”
Anne tailors each trip around the interest and expertise of each guest, and ensures each visit supports a number of local organisations she’s built strong relationships with, including the only homeopathic college in Nepal, a local naturopath, an Ayurvedic health centre, the only midwife led birth centre and several hospitals.
Anne’s quest was originally ignited when she struck up a conversation with a waiter called ShreeRam in Nepal during her honeymoon. He ended up inviting Anne and her husband to lunch at his home – a five metre square room he shared with three family members.
“ShreeRam had so little but showed such extraordinary hospitality and gave us a great insight into the extreme poverty many people of Nepal face. Together we pledged to become a team and do everything we could do to help the local community,” said Anne.
“There are no welfare payments, superannuation or pension to support people in Nepal. A large number of young people have to travel abroad for work to the Middle East and Malaysia, which causes a huge drain on manpower. This is especially hard on the villages, where often the elderly are all that is left to look after the farms and families.”
People from all walks of life have travelled with Anne to Nepal, including eleven Endeavour College of Natural Health students and graduates.
Since Anne launched the Journey Nepal safe house in late 2014 to provide a residential centre and training support for displaced women she has already witnessed some incredible transformations.
“We’ve arranged for sewing training for one local lady who was unemployed and have put her in touch with an organisation who will set her up in her own tailor shop. We’ve also helped another young women in crisis by paying for her to gain a beauty qualification and helping her secure a job after she graduates.”
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