Five years ago, Leo Scott Smith was sat behind a desk at Banovallum School in Horncastle.
Now, he’s a leading figure in a Lincolnshire charity’s determined efforts to re-build lives in Nepal.
Six months ago, the country was torn apart by a massive earthquake which killed thousands and left lots more people homeless. Lives were changed forever.
Leo, who lives in Tetford, has witnessed the devastation himself, visiting Nepal three times this year, twice after the earthquake.
He’s seen shell-shocked families trying to cope with harrowing scenes of death and destruction all around them.
Lincs2Nepal is making a difference. The charity has raised thousands of pounds to build and fund a new school in the town of Kohalpur near the city of Nepalgunj.
The school has over 200 pupils who without the help of the charity would receive no education. Now, it could produce a new generation of desperately-needed doctors, nurses and lawyers.
Leo (21) explains: “For most children, it’s a case of working in fields. There’s nothing else. They can get addicted to home brew alcohol from a very young age.
“Education can help them. It offers hope.”
Leo points out more than 50 per cent of children in Nepal are said to be malnourished.
More than 44,000 under fives die every year, because they have to drink dirty water.
Leo adds: “A donation of £6 will help provide a water purification system. £6 can actually save a life.”
Locally, Leo is full of praise for Banovallum School which is involved in fundraising projects.
Lincs2Nepal is organising a series of events to generate vital funding - and highlight the problems in Nepal.
A calendar will go on sale this month while their own charity music festival, Shanti-Fest, will be held in Thimbleby next May.
Leo adds: “Our ethos is that every single penny we raise is spent in Nepal. When I go, I pay for all my flights and accommodation. I’d go back tomorrow but I need to save up some more money.”
Leo says that in many ways, the situation in Nepal is as serious as the immediate after-math of the earthquake.
He says the country has ‘fallen off the radar’ in terms of media coverage which he sees as unfair as the road to recovery has hardly even begun.
Leo became involved with Lincs2Nepal after visiting a Lincoln café owned by the charity’s founder Gary Goddard.
He adds: “The amazing projects I’ve been part of and the people I’ve helped have changed my life completely.
“The people of Nepal are the friendliest people you could wish to meet.”
l For details of how you can help, visit www.lincs2nepal.org or search for Lincs2Nepal on Facebook.