A Diss Rotarian who was temporarily stranded on a voluntary mission in Asia says living in poverty-like conditions for several days only reinforced the importance of the aid work she was doing.
Heather Babb, junior vice-president of Diss and District Rotary Club, had been due to return from a two-week trip helping with welfare projects in India and Nepal last week, when a Turkish airliner crash-landed at Kathmandu Airport, leaving her and fellow Norfolk Rotary Club members unable to return home.
Ms Babb later arrived safely in England on Monday, having spent four nights in a hostel intended for child slavery survivors, while the airport crisis was resolved, and said the trip had been “phenomenal” despite the difficult experience at the end.
“The work they are doing is really incredible. It really hits you when you see these kind of things,” she said.
Along with Rotarians from across the world, she landed in India in mid-February and was involved in locally promoting National Immunisation Day, which saw more than 170 million children aged under five vaccinated against polio.
The team also helped with starting off the construction of a reservoir near a small village in Haryana State, before travelling to Nepal to assist at three trafficking shelters near Kathmandu, which help with the recovery for survivors of slavery in the area, as part of ongoing work by Rotary Action Group Against Child Slavery (RAGACS).
Ms Babb stated it was key to emphasise that international volunteering work like this was not so far removed from local volunteer schemes, such as the dementia-friendly initiatives in Diss.
She said: “The analogy I make is we have similar issues in this country, but not as great.
“There’s no sense talking about the politics. Maybe the government should be doing more, but it’s the voluntary sector that has picked up a lot of the work.
“In our town, we are doing similar sorts of things. If you feel confident and you think ‘is there something I can do?’, you should do it. We can’t do what we do internationally without the work we do here as well.
“Personally, if I can save just one child, I feel I have done something good. It feels like everything I have done has been worthwhile.”
To find out more about the work of Diss and District Rotary Club, please call 01379 642244 or visit the website at www.dissrotary.org.uk