Kimberlee Hodges, senior director of Marketing
Randstad with Heart — Kimberlee’s journey to Nepal
Working at Randstad and Randstad Sourceright for 14 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with colleagues from across the globe, and have created many lasting friendships that expand outside the work office. When not doing my “day job” leading B2B marketing for North America, I enjoy getting the chance to work on special projects, such as serving as the U.S. Ambassador for Randstad’s partnership with VSO. But, without doubt, what stands out for me as one of the most rewarding experiences so far was my chance to support the people of Nepal.
Randstad’s global partnership in volunteering
Randstad was celebrating a 10-year partnership with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), an independent, international development organization that works through volunteers to tackle poverty in developing countries. As Randstad’s VSO ambassador for the U.S. I worked to support employees on their journey to volunteer overseas and had the chance to learn more about the program on an assignment to Nepal in 2014.
In Nepal, programs like VSO are working to improve the livelihoods and educational opportunities of children, their families and future generations. With other Randstad volunteers from around the world, I visited a local school in Lamjung Valley and learned about a program, Sisters for Sisters, where older sisters and community leaders mentor younger sisters. The goal is to get them excited about and engaged in education. This is a bigger leap than you might think.
daily life means a lot of hard labor and barriers to education
Many Nepali girls do not get more than a fifth-grade education, and many become child brides. Even those who are in school face cultural gender-related challenges that put them at a disadvantage. After my first day with the local community, all I could do was cry. These children don't have a lot, and for many, life is very hard, but education can be a way to better their futures.
In Nepal, it is not uncommon to see women, including very young girls, carrying 60-pound bags of cement bricks on their backs. We also saw very elderly women carrying baskets of supplies — gravel, bricks, wheat — in baskets supported on their heads. They carry the supplies for miles, walking for hours, often uphill on unpaved roads.
The girls and women get up at sunrise in order to help on the farm. At 10 a.m., the girls must go to school, an hour-long walk away, leaving the women to thrash and haul the rice. While women working the farm is a centuries-old tradition, today the men in many families simply are not around to help. At the time of my trip, 20% to 50% of them had migrated to the Gulf in hopes of earning money to send back to their families. The unfortunate reality is that after expenses — and exorbitant costs of loans to fund the trips — the families barely break even.
making a difference through Randstad with Heart
Working with Sister for Sisters in Nepal, our group of Randstad volunteers paired up with girls to practice English skills. Then we helped at a training program for local Nepali teachers, providing the teachers with interactive lessons and activities that educate the students while making learning engaging and fun.
It is through the help of volunteers and partnerships, such as the one with Randstad, that these social initiatives are possible. Although my time in Nepal was brief, I hope my effort to educate women and girls helped set a foundation of education that may change their futures.
Seeing a day in the life of Nepali women and girls inspired me to continue working with VSO through our Randstad partnership. I continued to serve as an ambassador, helping to place additional volunteers for several years following my visit.
Today this partnership continues, and it’s thanks to Randstad with Heart that many others are able to continue making a difference for marginalized communities around the world, even virtually from their own homes.