From sharing a cramped home with dozens of other people to brushing her teeth overlooking some of the world's most breath-taking vistas, a Barnoldswick woman's three-month charity trip to Nepal was anything but dull.
Having recently returned from her life-changing trip to South Asia, former West Craven High School Charlotte Frost has spoken of the impact the experience had. Working on improving the water and sanitation provision in the Nepalese town of Salghari as part of a Raleigh International and International Citizen Service (ICS) programme, Charlotte helped build five toilets, six tap stands, and five hand-washing stations as well as digging 1,300m of pipeline.
"It was really good," said Charlotte, 23. "We did a youth club, English lessons, and lessons on personal development, human rights, and understanding what it's like to live in a developing world. We also did community development on water sanitation and hygiene; how to keep food safe and how to clean things.
"Rather than sitting there and saying 'this is what you have to do,' it was a case of asking them 'is this what you want to do?' and helping them understand everything a bit more," added Charlotte, who studied law at the University of York and is planning to do a Master's in law, technology, and innovation at the University of Edinburgh.. "We thought that if they wanted to do things they'd carry on doing it."
The motivation for her charity trip came to Charlotte last Christmas. Whilst on a two-month trip across South Africa, Charlotte was so annoyed at how little she could do to help those in need that she signed up with Raleigh as soon as she could. Barely months later, she was living in a host home in central Nepal with a family of 10.
"The views were gorgeous," Charlotte said. "We lived on a mountain the size of Ben Nevis, so it was interesting and challenging. You don't have a kettle or a bed and there's always people around you. You can't get four minutes on your own, which can be stressful, but then you find yourself brushing your teeth looking over mountains valleys.
"It was quite hectic but really interesting: our community were quite shy - I think they were so baffled that we were there," Charlotte explained. "But by the end, we threw a massive party and made loads of momos, which are dumplings, and did a Nepalese dance for them. After that, they warmed to us, but children absolutely adored us from the start - they were really receptive. We did a session on hand-washing and the next day we saw them showing their parents how to do it."
Since returning, Charlotte has met with Andrew Stephenson, MP for Pendle and a Minister at the Department for International Development (DFID) to discuss her placement. Now planning to set up some community action projects in Barnoldswick, Charlotte is also gearing up for another ICS experience in Tanzania early next year where she will act as a team leader on another project.
"ICS was hard, but completing it made me feel like I could take on the world," Charlotte added. "It increased my confidence and taught me more resilience. I can’t wait to be a team leader in Tanzania next year."