RIDGEFIELD, Conn. -- Ridgefield Academy contributed more than $3,600 in disaster relief as its chef traveled to Nepal over the summer to help residents after a devastating earthquake rocked the country in April.
The school raised $3,604 to help Ipsa Lama, a native of Nepal, with recovery efforts. Lama shared her shared her experiences with the school last week, highlighting ways that their efforts and donations impacted the lives of people on the other side of the world.
“Thank you for your kind donations to the people of Nepal,” Lama told the students and staff. “It made a great difference in the lives of thousands of people. I realize how lucky I am to have been able to do all this. Serving others is a great gift. I want to thank Ridgefield Academy for helping me to experience it and for giving me many wonderful memories.”
For 24 days, Lama traveled to multiple villages surrounding Kathmandu, distributing money and donating her time. Life-saving antibiotics were provided to HIV-positive, orphaned children. In another village, electricity was restored thanks to a newly purchased diesel generator. Additional funds were given to an organization that was building houses for the homeless in Gairibisauna.
Lama delivered breakfast to volunteers working at disaster sites and donated money to two individuals whose homes had been swept away by the landslides that followed the earthquake. She also played with children all along the way and everyone she met was “incredibly grateful.”
Traveling was often treacherous, Lama said. “My grandmother can’t really travel because of her age,” Lama continued. “There were landslides when I was there, making it difficult to go and see her, and to get to other villages to help. My brother and I traveled on motorbike and had to stop many times to let stones and dirt fall. After it stopped, we would travel around the rocks on the road ahead, always looking up and hoping we were safe.”
To raise the money for Lama’s donations, students took part in a variety of activities including Nickels for Nepal, a program that encouraged younger students to donate their spare change or ice cream money. Middle and upper school students took on chores, at home or in the community, in exchange for payment, which they donated to the cause. Some students donated their birthday money. The entire fifth grade decided to forego the typical “extras” associated with their end of year party, keeping it simple and giving the majority of their funds to Lama instead. Throughout the process, teachers discussed community, economics and citizenship in their classrooms.
“The students love Ipsa,” said Kate Howell, Service Director at the school. “She serves them lunch every day. They also knew she had loved ones that were suffering. But, honestly, you don’t have to convince anybody to be compassionate about helping others at Ridgefield Academy. Character Education and Service Learning are at the heart of the school’s mission. I think that kids love an opportunity to think outside of their own issues and help others. It gives them a great feeling to say, ‘I did that. I helped.’ It’s very empowering to know that they can make a difference, not just here at school but also in the world.”
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