Rachel Hurd-Wood Helps Nepal

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You might recognize British actress Rachel Hurd-Wood from her role as Wendy in the film ‘Peter Pan’, Laura in ‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer’, or more recently as Kate Campbell in the television series ‘Home Fires’. However, Rachel’s heart has never been completely taken over by acting. She continued in school and expanding her education because what she truly wants to do is help the world be a better place. She has high aspirations, whether she’s helping children as a teacher or helping dolphins as a marine biologist.

Rachel was sweeping up coffee grounds in a cafe one day when she got a call that would change her life forever. She was offered the role of Elizabeth James in an independent film called ‘Highway to Dhampus’, and filming would take place in Nepal. Just like the character she would be portraying, Rachel had no idea what a transformative experience working in Nepal would be for her.

‘Highway to Dhampus’ begins with Elizabeth being portrayed as a snobby, entitled socialite who needs to rehabilitate her image after some public faux pas. While this situation doesn’t reflect Rachel’s own life, at first, both she and her character Elizabeth felt out of place in Nepal and found herself missing the amenities of England.  

As with any of us who come from developed countries, the first arrival into a foreign country can be very disorienting. The food is different, the words are different, the smells, sounds, and tastes are different. Most of us would probably relate easily with Elizabeth’s discomfort in the foreign country. Yet Rachel felt settled in this new land quite quickly. Flying over Everest was a memory the Rachel especially holds dear to her heart.

It wasn’t only the breathtaking scenes that made Rachel fall in love with Nepal, it was the people. According to Rachel, Nepali people are the best kind of people. Hospitality is intrinsic to their culture. They will welcome you in with a smile no matter who you are. You feel as though you are part of a large family with the way they greet each other as “auntie and uncle.” And despite what little they have, they will always offer you something. The humblest of people are always the best at sharing.

Despite the people’s bright smiles, they face some serious challenges with life in Nepal. Here is how Rachel described the scenes she saw there:

“I really experienced the poverty when we filmed down by the slums. [The people] had put up temporary accommodation, in the freezing cold, lots of them without shoes. They told us how they weren't legally allowed to be there and would be moved on soon. The kids all ran alongside the car shouting and laughing, and kept asking when we'd be back. I felt profoundly moved, and it hurt my heart. Especially since they didn't request charity. Just very matter of fact about their circumstances.”

Rachel was so touched by the problems she saw in these dear friends’ lives that she donates her own artwork to raise money. She also helps fund the education of her Nepali ‘siblings’.  Her love for Nepal is deep, and she visits her new family as often as she can.