In March this year I made an extraordinary journey. I was part of a group of thirty people travelling to a small village in the foothills of the Annapurna range in Nepal to help build a school in memory of my younger brother Guy Joseph, who was tragically killed, aged twenty five, in a paragliding accident just over a year and a half ago.
Guy and I grew up East Finchley but I’ve lived in Burghley Road, Kentish Town for about five years. He was an intrepid adventurer and traveller who loved snowboarding, scuba diving and paragliding. After graduating from Newcastle University with a first class degree in Marine Biology, he worked as a scuba diving instructor in East Timor and Indonesia for two years, before travelling to Nepal where he spent the winter of 2010/11 learning to paraglide.Intelligent, compassionate and non-judgemental beyond his years, he had a reputation as a responsible and gifted teacher, with a talent for developing friendships with anyone, whatever their background, nationality or age.
When my family received the devastating news of Guy’s fatal accident in the Pyrenees we decided simply that we had to create a tangible legacy for our beloved son and brother. Just over eighteen months later, I am proud to be helping to make our vision a reality.
Setting up a charity in his memory, determined to salvage something positive from our grief. Guy’s Trust supports causes that reflect everything that Guy was passionate about and so, in recognition of his love of children and his love of Nepal, our initial project was to build the first of three Guy Joseph Early Childhood Development Centres in the impoverished Kaski district, near to where he lived.This matters to me, not only because we are keeping Guy’s memory alive, creating a lasting legacy for him, but we are fulfilling his dreams now that he cannot do so.
It also matters to the impoverished families in Nepal whose children, 450 of them, will now be able to go to school for the first time. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and over a million children are not enrolled in school.
The majority of these are girls, who are affected by discrimination in almost every area of their lives, and children from the lowest caste of dalits or untouchables. Many parents have low income, few opportunities and are themselves illiterate, so are often powerless to access their child’s rightful education. The Guy Joseph Early Childhood Development Centres will help hundreds of children get the start in life they deserve.
Many people have memorial projects dedicated to them but few manage to inspire a group of thirty people from around the world to physically build a school themselves, especially friends and family from the UK, USA, Australia, Indonesia and Thailand.