Border nurse Trish Ryan has been helping Nepalese children rise above poverty and neglect for over a decade.
Her tireless efforts, along with other volunteers, and fund raising have secured a future for children and families once resigned to a life of malnutrition, disease and squalor.
Trish is the founder of Meg’s Children, an Australian trust fund, and said money raised on the Border has made an enormous difference to the lives of many Nepalese.
A gala fund raiser planned for March 31 at the Albury Club will result in donations going directly to satisfying needs such as a pair of school shoes or meals for a month, through to water storage and solar power in safe, secure accommodation.
Trish, of Bowna, was inspired on her journey by her eldest child, Meg, who died in 2003 at the age of 23 from complications of spina bifida.
Meg had been studying a Bachelor of Education at Charles Sturt University, Albury.
Within a year, Trish was volunteering to help disadvantaged children on the outskirts of Katmandu in Nepal.
She found herself in an orphanage managed by a corrupt administration, and overflowing with 30 children aged from six to 17 in deplorable conditions.
Malnourished and dressed in rags, the children captured her heart.
“It was damp and dark with an open drain where raw sewerage ran,’’ Trish said.
“They were their own little family and looked out for one another but were desperately in need of food, running water and education in a safe, clean house.’’
The children appealed to Trish for help. They told her help had been promised in the past but had never arrived.
Upon her return to Australia, Trish rallied the troops in her local district of Bowna and Mullengandra, founding a non-government organization, Meg’s Children, in 2005 to raise funds with the aim of finding a safe house.
Permission was sought from the children’s relatives to move them to a clean rented building.
Twice a year Trish travelled to Nepal to organise support staff and ensure the smooth running of the Bugmati orphanage.
“Today we are a registered charitable trust and operate with Siddhi Memorial Hospital in the suburb of Bhaktapur,’’ she said.
“Meg’s Children Trust has paid for the children to attend an English speaking school, with six of the original children now at university studying nursing, hospitality and business.
“We have found sponsors for four of the university students and the trust funds the other two. They live in apartment style accommodation paid for by Meg’s.’’
School aged children now have accommodation at Siddhi Memorial Children’s Home within Noble House at the Siddhi Memorial Hospital.
Trish said all funds raised were administered by the hospital to pay for education, food, accommodation and an outreach program for families living in poverty in Bhaktapur.
One of the success stories is 19-year-old Sagar, who now works as a liaison officer for Meg’s Children Trust at Siddhi with the aim of helping other disadvantaged children.
Trish has been accompanied on her trips to Nepal in recent years by local teacher Kate Wedgewood, and photographer David Taylor.
They have taken with them beanies and blankets knitted by the Wodonga branch of Inner Wheel for the Nepalese children.
The Meg’s Children Trust fundraiser on March 31 at the Albury Club will feature an auction, variety acts and canapés.
Donated items to be auctioned include flight packages, helicopter tours, traditional Nepalese craft, dinner for 10 and framed photographs by Albury artist David Taylor.
“Meg’s Children has changed lives – when I first arrived in Nepal, the children were starving in the literal sense of the word,’’ Trish said.
“They suffered skin diseases, were cold and in a poor state of health.
“Since then, they have grown and developed into happy go lucky teenagers and are also grateful for the opportunity.
“There are lots of individual stories of success and hope – we are helping families, not just children.’’
Rubina Chhetri, captain of the Nepalese women’s cricket team, thanked Australians for their help.
“Because of your help, the children are getting a proper education, accommodation and will have a secure future,’’ she said.
- Bookings for the March 31 fundraiser can be made to Trish Ryan on 0418 999 917 or David Hicks on 0419 251 036, or visit www.megschildren.org