phil borges

a global movement to
empower women and girls

RC'S STORY

Volunteer

RC

Issue(s)

Location

Nepal

Other organization(s) not affiliated with STF

The Peace Rehabilitation Center

Funding

Play it Forward is an adventure travel company and I paid my participation fee with my personal savings.  Due to the extent of this project additional funds were needed.  One of the additional fund raising events was a dinner at St. Paul’s Highland Grill where chef Heather Jansz, the “Curry Diva”, created “A Taste of Nepal” fundraiser to benefit women rescued from the sex trade in Nepal.  One hundred percent of proceeds from the Curry Diva meals went toward the PLAY it Forward sewing room that we constructed at the Peace Rehabilitation Center.

Primary Duties / Accomplishments

We built a sewing room for women rescued from sex trafficking.  We used the most basic tools.  As you can imagine Nepal doesn’t have access to the same technology construction crews in the states are accustom to.  It was a very humbling experience to go back to the basics.  When laying the cement for the floor we used a hose with a bubble in it to assure that it was level.  Moving bricks required a train of volunteers, as there wasn’t a wheelbarrow available.  This hard work required everyone to come together as team, because otherwise nothing would be accomplished.  At the end I think the challenges only made me that much more grateful for every team member.  Building this sewing room is one of the proudest moments of my life.  I would do it again in an instant.

Most Rewarding Aspect of Experience

When we first met the girls that were rescued you could tell that, even though they were trying, they didn’t trust anyone, which considering what they have been through is understandable.  Even to this day it upsets me to think about.  It really is shattering to learn about trafficking first hand.  After we constructed the sewing room we went on a trek and when we returned all of the girls were sitting so proud at their sewing machines.  When they smiled at me I realized that we had given them hope and an opportunity to provide for themselves.  I realized that we had given them a reason to go on in life.  Knowing that I had been a part of that was rewarding beyond words.

Now that I have returned home, when I remember all the hardships those girls have gone through I think to myself - I better not ever complain about nothing.

Other Information about Experience

I wasn’t aware of the severity of trafficking, not only abroad but also in the United States before I left for Nepal.  We were given a recommended reading list and becoming educated on the issues prior to the trip really helped alleviate my concerns about culture shock, and to a point, helped prepare me for the issues we would be confronted with.    

I am a repeat participate on Play it Forward trips.  It wasn’t until after I retired from the postal service that I went on my first service trip.  The extent of my vacations didn’t go any further than the Vegas casinos.  The experiences truly have been life changing.  I will continue to travel with a purpose and can’t speak highly enough about the value of volunteering.  

I have a deep respect for Play it Forward and founder Jodi Nelson.  I would like to personally credit Jodi for encouraging me along this journey.  I can’t thank her enough.