Irish Rugby Player and Umbrella’s Patron, Jamie Heaslip, volunteers with The Umbrella Foundation Nepal in June 2011.
We showed the children some footage of Jamie in action so that they could appreciate the game of rugby and the volunteer they were about to meet. After seeing a few scrums, tries and tackles, it wasn’t clear if they thought he was impressive or mad. The general reaction was “Oh, so danger!!!”
He entered Umbrella to huge cheers from all the kids and staff. Within 20 minutes, he was thrown into the thick of things as he joined the ‘Strong Man Competition’ and took on some of our girls in a ‘Tug of War’. The kids were blown away by him, fascinated by his huge arms and his ‘dangerous’ sport. We’re delighted to welcome Jamie Heaslip to Umbrella and finally introduce him to the kids he’s been helping for so long.
Jamie and Sheena were up early in the day to go meet the girls of Gauri Shankar House. They received a very excited welcome from 48 girls very proud to show their guests around their home. They showed them their rooms, how breakfast was prepared, photos of past volunteers and, of course, no tour would be complete without a dance. Jamie and Sheena returned the favour, showing them a bit of Irish dancing.
Afterwards they went to pick up the boys from Kanchanjunga and Manaslu house and took them to the nearby Swoyambhu Nath (also known as the Monkey Temple). The children brought them around this famous world heritage site before going on a bit of a detour home – through the “jungle”. Climbing trees and showing off their acrobatic skills for Jamie, everyone was looking for his attention and all you could hear was a chorus of “Jamie Brother … Jamie Brother”. He seemed to be having as much fun as the lads, climbing trees and getting to know them. On the way home, he took them for a quick game of football and they didn’t hesitate in picking him for their team.
Jamie and Sheena returned to the girls’ house to help get ready for the MoMo party being throwing in honour of their visit. Sheena got stuck in helping prepare the food and was a big hit with the girls. Jamie let them at it and picked up the older boys to teach them a bit about his sport – it was time for some mini-rugby! They had only previously seen YouTube clips and the general consensus was “Crazy!!!”, but that didn’t seem to put any of the lads off. Their hands shot up at the chance to go play with Jamie. After a quick intro and some simplified rules improvised on the spot, everyone was able to enjoy a game not too dissimilar from rugby. They loved it and seemed to have no fear trying to tackle Jamie – it just took about 15 of them …
On his last day with Umbrella, the kids brought Jamie to their school, Panchakanya Government School. Alongside the volunteers, he threw himself into giving the classrooms a new lick of paint. Some of the young adults from our Next Steps Youth Programme had professional training in painting and took this opportunity to show off their skills – as well as to boss the volunteers around.