by Sam Flanagan
A SELFLESS group of 12 students and seven staff from Our Lady of the Southern Cross College have recently returned from a life-changing trip to Nepal.
The group were there for a 10-day immersion program run by Seven Women, a non-for-profit organisation who focus on empowering marginalised Nepalese women by equipping them with the skills and the know how to thrive.
Australian of the Year nominee Stephanie Woolward established Seven Women 11 years ago, and teacher Maureen Cesari, who was on the trip, said it was a speech by the young entrepreneur that inspired the journey.
"Steph was in Dalby last year as guest speaker for the Zonta International Women's Day breakfast.... so it originated from there,” Ms Cesari said.
"We've done similar immersions to East Timor over the last four or five years... so we enjoy doing these sorts of trips.”
Aside from helping with the Seven Women initiative, staff member Jo Kucks said they also visited other humanitarian projects.
"We went to places like the Fred Hollows Foundation and Miati Nepal who rescue women and children from trafficking situations in India and such,” Ms Kucks said.
"So we did a variety of things and we learnt so much about Nepal and it's people.”
Ms Cesari said the experience was so moving that the students perspective on life has changed permanently.
"Many of them expressed a desire to help other people in the world now after seeing the struggles of the people in Nepal and realise they are fortunate enough to be in a position to help.
"They had the idea of simplification can lead to happiness; simplifying their world means they can still be happy.... they don't need materialistic things to be happy.”
Teacher Marian O'Shea would love the Nepal immersion trip to become a regular item on the OLSCC school calendar.
"We're hoping it will become a thing, and Stephanie has opened up her thinking and how wonderful young people are to take on the tour because they're so energetic and embrace everything,” Ms O'Shea said.
"She usually only takes adults, we were the first school group she has ever taken.
"The school already supports a range of charity's, so to add Seven Woman to that gives even more depth to the idea that there are so many people across the world in need and we need to be aware of them.”