The Gribbens’ Story: A Day in the Life on Trek

Desmond and Roxy Gribben and their two children, Evan and Ella, traveled to Nimuwaboji village in Nepal to break ground on a new buildOn school on New Year’s Eve 2016. Living with local host families and working side-by-side with community members on the new school, the Gribbens chronicled their Trek experiences on their website Four the Love of Travel. They recently shared the story of their first full day in the village with buildOn. To see more of the Gribben’s travels and photographs, please visit Four the Love of Travel.


(From left) Desmond, Ella, Roxy and Evan Gribben pose for a picture before the farewell ceremony in Nimuqaboji village at the end of their Trek.

New Year’s Day 2017—On our first morning in the village, we started off with our daily yoga practice from 6:30–7:30am with a local “Yogi” that buildOn brought in to lead our practice each day. This was outside on a tarp, and although it began in the dark, it afforded us the luxury of watching the sunrise each day midway through yoga. Let’s just say that it was very different than what many of us were used to from our western yoga classes, but we grew to love the Yogi and his quirky ways!

What ended up being a great perk is that many community members, both children and adults, joined us each morning for yoga, and it was a really wonderful way to start the day. Also, we’re pretty sure the morning yoga helped to keep us limber and was the reason our bodies ached a lot less than we expected after the grueling work on the school site!


We watched the sunrise every morning during yoga.

One thing our Yogi would have us do every day towards the end of our session was “laughing yoga,” where you first laugh with your mouth closed, then with your teeth together, and then open-mouth laughing. Of course we would all be cracking up by the end! We loved seeing and hearing the village children giggle. By the second morning, Desmond couldn’t help himself and got up once it was light enough to get some photos! And of course, getting photos of sunrise as well.

After yoga, we were given a hearty breakfast prepared by our buildOn cook. buildOn provided breakfast and lunch for us every day, but dinner was spent with our host families. We ate very well during our time in the village, and all of the food (all vegetarian) was incredibly delicious! One of the favorite treats during each meal was Nepalese Chai, which we drank up in large quantities!


We were all cracking up at by the end of laughing yoga.

Work on the construction site started at 8:30 each morning and we would start with everyone gathering in a circle (including our team, buildOn staff and the local community members who had come out to work on the school). Some words were shared (and translated) by people on both sides, and again the community members shared their gratitude for their new school (cue more tears for Roxy!). We ended the circle with a cheer that would be led by one person from our group and one community member.

We were sweating in the hot sun and exhausted not long after starting, but watching how hard the community members worked kept us going.

The site was already marked up to show where we needed to dig the foundation, which would be made up of 14 holes, each six feet wide by six feet long and six feet deep, as well as trenches that ran 10 feet between the holes and were two feet wide and two feet deep.


The first day’s construction begins on the worksite. Digging was not easy because the earth was hard and dry.

There were different tasks that we could each do—such as digging, shoveling, carrying (rocks, sand, rebar), stacking bricks and actually tying the rebar. We would work on the job site from 8:30am to 12:30pm and it was some of the hardest, most backbreaking work that any of us had ever done. The ground was very dry and hard, and it was definitely not an easy task to break up the earth and then shovel it out….especially using the oversized hoes that the village provided to do all the digging.

We couldn’t be more proud of Evan and Ella for getting in there and working so incredibly hard.

We were sweating in the hot sun and exhausted not long after starting, but watching how hard the community members worked kept us going—especially the women who kicked our asses in their level of strength and stamina! We couldn’t be more proud of Evan and Ella for getting in there and working so incredibly hard. We honestly didn’t know how they were going to handle this, because it really was backbreaking work. Even the fittest members of our group were feeling incredibly fatigued at the end of the four hours, but we did it as a group and were extremely gratified to see the great progress being made each day.


Ella spent time tying rebar with two girls from the community.

At 12:30pm we would break for a delicious lunch, prepared by the buildOn cook, who always cooked on an open fire with the help of a few village women. While eating lunch, we not only got to know each other better, but also had discussions about the work we were doing and the experiences we were having in the evenings while we were all apart in our separate houses with our separate host families.

After lunch, the second half of our day was dedicated to cultural exchange experiences with some of the community members, but most of the locals stayed on the work site to work all day.

Our first cultural exchange was fishing. A group of local community members (mostly women and the village leader) walked us through a part of the village we had yet to see, with beautiful green fields, mountain views and finally to a small river. It was obvious that the water levels were typically much higher, but we were there during the dry season…..but there was still enough water for fishing! The community members in our group went down to the river with some nets and then got in the water. Their technique was to walk as a group through the river, with the net spread out in order to catch the fish. It was lovely to walk alongside the river, watching and interacting with those in the water and taking in the beautiful sites. We met other community members and passed water buffalo and cows along the way, and, as always, many photos were taken!


Women from the community check the fishing net for a catch.

After the trip to the river, we headed back to the village to go back to our respective family homes for a shower (outside, with a cold bucket of water!), dinner and games….typically not seeing each other again until morning.

Playing games in the evenings with the families and neighboring kids was definitely a highlight. Playing Jenga or UNO never ceased to evoke squeals, giggles, huge smiles and lots of laughter!


We ended the day by playing Jenga and UNO with our host families.

All writing and photographs courtesy of the Gribben family. To see more of the Gribben’s travels and photographs, please visit Four the Love of Travel.