A MAN from Charlecote is spending the start of the year 4,000 miles from home helping people living in poverty.
Thomas Meredith joined a team of volunteers working on a project in Nepal where around a quarter of the population live on less then $1.25 a day and millions are still recovering from a devastating earthquake in 2014.
He has also been teaching in schools and encouraging parents to become more involved in their child’s education and support activities like reading at home.
The 20 year-old, who also celebrated his birthday away from home, told The Observer: “On Christmas day we went to a local hill station called Rainaskot. After an early start, a bumpy ride and plenty of Christmas tunes blaring over the bus speakers we made it to the hill station where we were welcomed by our hosts and some breathtaking views.
“If I had to describe the day in one word it would be different – the tea we were served was incredible, but with the Christmas spreads I envisaged being prepared in England I have to say I was slightly disappointed with the usual Dhal Bhat which is rice, curry usually made up of potatoes and lentils, and then a thin soup poured over the rice containing more lentils.
“After food we walked further up the mountainside to a viewpoint. The views were incredible and while I was certainly missing home and the normal Christmas routine in the end I think spending the day up a mountain in the Himalayas was a fine substitute.”
Thomas is living with a Nepali family so he can fully immerse himself in the local community and better understand the challenges they face.
He added: “The best part about living with a local family is the children – you can pick up so much of the language and the culture from observing their behaviour.
“And playing games in the evening with my host sisters has really helped me and my counterpart become better integrated with local life.”
The work he and other volunteers are doing has been organised by Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) and the UK Government funded International Citizen Service (ICS) programme.
Since 2012, ICS, has sent more than 1000 young people from the West Midlands to volunteer on projects abroad, alongside young volunteers from the country they’re in.
Visit www.volunteerics.org for more information.