Scots Mother in Emotional Journey to Nepal

A proud mother will travel thousands of miles next week from Scotland to a village in Nepal to officially open a library (on Friday, April 9) in memory of her son.

Alison Abubaker, from Dundee, is guest of honour at the ceremony being held at the Yusef Abubaker Memorial Library in Sangachok, organised by the charity First Steps Himalaya.

The library is named after Yusef, her 12-year-old son, who died suddenly during football match practice at Harris Academy in September 2007.

After the death of Yusef, one of four sons, the grieving mother launched the Yusef Abubaker Memorial Trust determined to undertake charitable acts in his name.

“The project in Nepal was one of the first we got involved with and Yusef would be bursting with pride to have a library named after him,” said Alison, 46, who will be accompanied by two of her boys, Haytham (20) and Jaber (11) on the 10,000-mile round trip.

“Yusef loved books and he loved reading so this library would be very important to him knowing that those less fortunate are being giving the chance to read for the first time ever and to read for leisure.

“I’m not sure what I will say at the opening ceremony but it will be heartfelt and hugely emotional as I just know how proud and pleased Yusef would be.”

The Yusef Abubaker Memorial Trust has donated a total of £1500 to the library, part of an Early Childhood Development Centre run by First Steps Himalaya, whose founder is another Scot, Fionna (correct) Heiton.

There is a range of books in Nepali and English with a children’s corner and comfortable reading areas. Libraries like this are rare in Nepal where only 57 per cent of adults are literate.

The village of Sangachok with a population of 6,000 is situated three hours north of Kathmandu in Sindhupalchowk District of Nepal. It is a typical Nepali mid hills community lacking in basic health and education amenities. Schools lack resources or trained teachers and there is no reliable health post.

“First Steps Himalaya in partnership with First Steps Nepal works with disadvantaged communities in the rural Himalaya to promote early childhood development, community health and awareness,” said Fionna.

Over 30 children under five years of age attend the Sangachok centre daily for play based learning and Fionna said they had made “incredible progress” since the project started in July 2009.

“They love their classes and are so much more confident, well co-ordinated and happy,” said Fionna. “We wanted to make sure that every child in the village has the right to enjoy a positive childhood. We work with families to improve nutrition, safety and promote better parenting.

“We are extremely grateful to Alison and the Yusef Abubaker Memorial Trust for their contributions to date and it is entirely fitting that Alison should perform the official opening ceremony.

“The library will become an important resource for the entire community and gradually contribute to a more literate society.”

Contact: Mike Ritchie
Phone: 0141 423 6939 / 07974 420862