Off to Nepal with Julie Proud

Comments (0) Interviews

Julie Proud will be heading off to Nepal in October, to help a team of 30 women build a home for a mother and her 2 children. Find out how you can help …




What’s your background, Julie?

This is my tenth year in Port Macquarie. We moved to Port when my husband, David, transferred here with his work. We are a bit of a Brady bunch, with a blended family of 6 children spread between here and Armidale. I’m also a grandmother to a 10 week old baby girl and will be a grandmother again in August.

David’s parents are retired here – and his dad Peter was stationed here as a Police Officer in the early seventies. David tells me that when they first lived here, Port’s population was about 8,000 people, Lighthouse was a long way out of town, and Settlement City was an estuary where you went to get green seaweed for Luderick fishing.

While born in Australia, I spent my first years in Germany with my mum, dad and older brother. My parents separated when I was 8, and we moved back to Australia. We lived in Victoria for a while, then Queensland.From my twenties to mid thirties I was back in Victoria, where I worked for Alcoa at the Portland Aluminium Smelter. I started in a training-administration assistant role and ended up obtaining an Associate Diploma in Business Office Administration.

As I had a prior stint in nursing, I ended up working in the smelter medical centre as a lung function technician. That’s also my current job in Port working with Dr Williams.

What’s the big event you have planned for October7 -13, 2012?

I’m going to a village 45 km south east of Kathmandu, called Dhukilel. It’s a village of 7,000 people, where I will be helping to build a small, single room rendered bamboo house. There will be quite a few women involved in building the house, and it will take us about a week to complete. We will be constructing a home for a mother and her 2 children.

The last project run by Habitat in Nepal was in March 2011. One of the homes built was for a lady who was widowed – her husband had died in a mining accident. She had 3 young children who had to be shipped off to her parents 75 km away, as she had no way of providing a home for them to live in. The project provided a home, so she could get her children back and have a place for them all to live in together.

I won’t meet any of the other women involved in the project until I arrive in Nepal. Once there, we are organised by the project manager and allocated tasks such as sawing bamboo, rendering or painting. We will rotate across these tasks throughout the week of the build. This is no quasi holiday for me. I will be going over for the build, then coming home. I am personally paying my own travel expenses. All fund raising goes directly to the build.

On the evening we arrive in Nepal, there will be a celebration and greeting from the Nepalese people, and there will also be a closing event to celebrate the completion of the house.

What can you tell us about Habitat for Humanity, the organisation arranging the build?

Habitat for Humanity is a not for profit organisation and has been around for many years working on projects here in Australia and overseas. Their vision is to provide a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. Their motto is to give a hand up – not a hand out.

In countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and even in Australia, there are families that do not have a safe and decent place to live. There are projects going all year round with Habitat – all co-ordinated by different people.

Habitat would like to encourage more people from countries like Australia to volunteer and go to these other countries to work on projects together.

It’s a life changing experience for the volunteers – sometimes they become so touched by the process, they volunteer again and again.

How did you find out about the house building project in Nepal?

I’ve had a wish list of things I’ve wanted to achieve in my life, and a few months ago I typed the list up and stuck it to my fridge. My husband travels a lot through work, and he came into contact with a colleague who told him about these projects.

Knowing my goal to help those less fortunate than us and particularly children, David told me about ‘Habitat’, and I began to do some research. With a bit of encouragement from David, I registered my interest with Habitat by donating $150, which secured me a position on the Nepal team and started me on my fundraising journey.

 This all fits in with my goal to volunteer to help those less fortunate. I’ve been back to Germany a couple of times to visit family, but I’ve never been to Nepal.

What do you hope to take away from the whole house building experience? Are you going overseas with any expectations?

The main thing for me is that I’m going to make a positive difference to someone else’s life – which will probably change my view of the world as well. We can sometimes take things for granted, and I think it’s helpful to get out of the comfort zone to learn, grow and understand how our global village of 7 billion people works – or more importantly, how it ought to work.

I don’t really have any expectations. I’m excited but apprehensive at the same time. I’ll be going to a country that’s very different to Australia. I want to get though the project, and at the end of the day, ultimately help a mum and her kids have a safe and secure place they can call home.

I’m a keen gardener, but I don’t really have any building experience. I can hammer a nail and saw a piece of wood – but this project will be a whole new experience for me.

How are you fundraising for the project – and how can the community help?

I have a link on Habitat’s website:

If people go to that link, they’ll be able to see details about the project, photos of me and my family and my fundraising target. Anyone who donates amounts over $2 receives a tax receipt. There are also links to Habitat’s home page for information about what else they are doing and how a person with interest in volunteering can get on board.

I’m organising a fundraising event on July 7 at Bluewater Bar and Restaurant that will be by invitation (for catering purposes). People attending will pay a set price for a ticket, part of which will be receipted as their donation, with the rest going towards the cost of the function. If you would like to come along, please drop Julie an email to

Thanks Julie – and good luck with the build!

Interview by Jo Atkins. 

This story was published in issue 79 Greater Port Macquarie Focus

Leave a Reply