As students and teachers get ready for Quest Week we hear more about Katja House, a project that Island School has been supporting for 20 years.
Kirstin McCosh (13F) went to Katja House last year and will be going for a second time next week. Here, she talks about why she enjoys the trip and the invaluable bonds she has formed with the children in Nepal.
Katja was my first overseas trip, as I transferred to Island School last year. The trip just really appealed to me – I was looking forward to spending quite a lot of time with the kids from the orphanage, and rebuilding parts of their building.
I decided to go again because it was such an amazing trip. When I came back last year I was talking about it non-stop. All the kids were amazing and you develop bonds with them – I’m friends with some of the older girls on Facebook, so I’m still in contact with them. So that’s the main reason I wanted to go back – to see all the kids again. Nepal is also such an amazing and beautiful country, that is another reason.
My favourite part about the trip was definitely meeting the kids. They showed us around the orphanage and what they liked to do. I also liked just working on the orphanage while [the kids] were at school. Experiencing Nepal’s culture was great as well – I’ve never experienced a country like Nepal so going out to the temples was really nice.
I’ve learnt to appreciate the things that I have. When I came back from Katja House, it opened my eyes up a lot and made me really grateful for what I have and what my family offers me. I also learnt about teamwork. I was one of four people from Year 12 and since I was new to the school that year as well it was initially difficult. But when you’re in that situation with all the kids trying to bring you together anyway, you learn how to work with others.
The entire trip itself is something I’ll always remember – I say this to everybody who asks me about it. It’s very different from all the other trips and you leave [Katja] feeling as though you’ve actually accomplished something and given back to the kids.
I think that having a connection with the kids is the most rewarding part of it all. I made a really close bond with a girl named Kristy. She’ll be nine this year. So I’m excited to go back to Katja and see her.
This year we are trying to raise a bit more money for a bookcase, as last year we saw that theirs was falling to bits. Also, all the students will have one or two Katja kids that they will look after and focus on, almost like a sponsor. We’re in charge of buying clothes or books that would be appropriate for their age group. I’m doing this for a 9 year old and an 18 year old. It’s about getting things for them which we think they’ll like.
Katja House is a trip I’d definitely recommend to students. I haven’t been on other Quest Week trips at Island School, but based on my experience at other trips at my old school, I feel as though this is just so rewarding. All of the fundraising and donations is organised by students – there’s little teacher involvement, it’s just all of us arranging things. Compared to other camps I’ve been on, it’s super rewarding to have organised everything and to be the ones that are giving to the kids ourselves. Nepal is also such a beautiful place to visit – waking up and seeing all the mountains first thing in the morning was just amazing.