Hikmat Khadka, from Nepal, was at Pestalozzi from 1998 to 2000. Many readers who visited the village between 1998 and 2000, will recall his constant optimism and broad smile.
My departure from Pestalozzi was intimidating. As I took off from Gatwick in July 2000, I didn’t know what lay ahead of me. After landing in Kathmandu, I had to rise on my own feet and find ways to make ends meet. Being responsible for myself was a challenge, particularly after eight years of scholarship at Budhanilkantha School and then two more years at Pestalozzi. Nevertheless, I taught for two years. While I loved the children, I felt insecure in the profession. It was not financially rewarding for the expensive city that was Kathmandu. Also, Nepal’s political situation was fragile at the time, with the armed conflict going on, and schools were constantly targeted.
In 2002, I joined a Kathmandu-based NGO dedicated to the welfare of teenage orphan girls and supported their excellent work for five years. After that, I felt it was time to move on. In June 2007, I joined the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), which had newly been established in Nepal to support the country’s peace process. It had been my dream to work for the United Nations. This experience led to my second UN job in 2010, as I spent two years working for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), where I was part of an important project that was studying Nepal’s armed conflict, which lasted 10 years, from 1996 to 2006.
Meanwhile, I travelled to the UK in 2009 to offer research assistance to academic colleagues at the University of Cambridge, working on a project on endangered languages. My visit was a happy coincidence with Pestalozzi’s 50th Anniversary Reunion in September 2009. I travelled down to Sedlescombe to be part of that special celebration, which brought together many old friends. I returned for a second visit in October. One visit was not enough!
For nine years, I was an active member of PAHAD, a Foundation based in Nepal run by past Pestalozzi scholars and others. The Foundation sponsors the education of numerous school children. Raising funds is not an easy task and, speaking personally, it makes me appreciate the great effort Pestalozzi must have gone through to raise sufficient funding to support the students in Sedlescombe for all these years.
As I write, I am enjoying the life of a freelance consultant. I do anything from translation to research assistance and report writing. I have served a long list of clients, including national and international organisations, ranging from the BBC to the World Bank.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to Pestalozzi and its kind, generous, good-hearted supporters for touching my life once and changing it forever. Arriving in the UK all those years ago to join Pestalozzi was one of the brightest moments of my life. Pestalozzi gave me a new home, miles away from my actual home. A home that pampered me with unconditional love and gave me the kind of education I needed. It also provides, even after all these years, countless rich and happy memories so I often feel I have not yet left the Village – my life was transformed and without Pestalozzi, I would not be the person I am today. I will always remember that Pestalozzi had a choice and they didn’t have to pick me but they did, therefore, I will not leave Pestalozzi as long as I live.
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