Learning about the Mitrataa Foundation
Libby Hathorn is an established and awarded writer and poet from Sydney Australia. Libby first met Bec Ordish at a Writers’ Retreat in Darjeeling, India in 2007. Here she heard of the work of both Bec and Adam Ordish with their Foundation, Mitrataa in Kathmandu and their enthusiasm in educating and inspiring the girls and women of Nepal where and when they could.
Mitrataa means a friendship that never ends and indeed after her first visit in 2008, Libby has visited Nepal several times to contribute what she could to Mitrataa, a relationship that endures to this day.
Libby’s 100 Views Program
Reading her children’s books and hearing about Libby’s devotion to literature in general an d poetry in particular, Bec invited Libby to come to Kathmandu to use her approaches to inspire students and teachers to think and write creatively. This was to undertake a special poetry campaign Libby was carrying out in schools in Australia, entitled 100 Views whereby the community chooses an icon to represent some 100 times though the arts
This was in much the same way as Japan’s famed 18th century artist Hokusai chose Mt Fujii to draw a hundred times, at the same time showing the way of the life of the Japanese in a masterly way. Randwick City Council supported Libby in several successful 100 Views programs in schools in Sydney with her program, as well as a country school. A website was established and students work displayed. In the same way Bondi Beach was chosen as the icon for the public school there, the teachers and students of Kathmandu chose Mt Everest as their icon to draw and write poems about so that they would have 100 images and poems for the website. Libby ran a week long workshop for teachers on creative thinking and writing, as well as her colleague Pat Granville Smith running one on art. Each time she has returned to Nepal. Libby has run workshops for teachers and older students,especially in poetry.
100 Views Kathmandu
During her first visit, filmmaker Tsering Rhitar Sherpa and Libby produced the documentary 100 Views Kathmandu which has shown both in Nepal and on community television in Australia. Libby also wrote the text for a picture storybook Sangita’s Singing and encouraged a Nepali art student Bandana Tulachen to illustrate the book. Bandana’s reputation as an artist was established in making such a choice. Libby had the work published in Kathamandu where it has raised money for Mitrataa as well as selling in Australia. Teachers from Orange district in NSW wrote suitable teaching notes and Sangita’s Singing notes are available on Libby Hathorn’s website, and the picture book on the newly launched Author’s Website, Wuthering Ink. At the Mitrataa Foundation, Bec Ordish has plans for the musical Sangita’s Singing.
The 2015 Earthquake
Like the rest of the world, Libby Hathorn was dismayed to hear of the devastation caused by the earthquake in Nepal in April 2015. With the mounting death toll and unable to get in contact with Bec Ordish, Libby could only wait anxiously to hear the news. It was with great relief that she was to learn that the hostel in which the Mitrataa girls lived was spared. This is not to say some of the families and friends of the girls were spared, as so many villages were swept away and parts of towns destroyed. However it was inspiring to hear that with her senior students, Bec Ordish set out to do what she could for those in stricken circumstances- and there were many.
A little later, to help her girls come to terms with the horror of such a quake, Bec encouraged them to express some of their own experiences through art, writing and poetry making. With the poetry writing, Libby was able to help from afar, with workshop plans sent to Bec. She was delighted to read some of the results and take part in the editing process.
One of the poem titles struck her as resonating. Heartquake! With the reading of so many accounts and poems, came the idea for an online compendium so that the Nepalese could share their experiences with each other and with the world. And tell of their indomitable will to go on- really inspiring to all. Libby later talked to teachers from Newcastle, NSW, where there was interest in their students writing about the earthquake experienced there some 20 years ago and making contact with the students in Kathmandu. And Heartquake was born.
Libby hopes to return to Kathmandu in 2017.