Many young Aussies from diverse backgrounds are doing some amazing stuff in their lives. In celebration, Cocktail Revolution shares what one of them are up to each month. This month, we share the story of Ballantyne Forder (20) who was on trip to Nepal when the devastating earthquake of 2015 struck…
When a massive earthquake hit Nepal last year, it killed over 8,000 people and injured a further 21,000. Twenty-year old Ballantyne Forder from Perth was amongst the missing when news of the devastating quake reached Australia. Billie, as she’s known, had been living in Nepal for three months. She’d saved up to go over to work with women and children who had fallen victims to the sex and human trafficking trade. Being located outside Katmandu, communication with the outside world was well on impossible, and for two days, Billie was unable to let her family know she was safe. She was listed as missing by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
When it happened, Billie had just taken 16 orphans to a church service. This was completely unplanned and very last minute. The orphans’ usual carers had both fallen sick and they asked Billie to drive the orphans to a church service that would be held in a little brick building about 20 minute’s away. As it turned out, that little brick church would be the only building to remain standing after the quake for miles around. Although they were badly thrown around, all the children and Billie survived and Billie led them out into an open field to sit out the frightening after shocks.
If ever someone had found their purpose, there could hardly be anything more important that protecting sixteen little lives. Without water, food or shelter, and terror-stricken, they passed the time while they waited for help by singing. Billie’s mobile phone battery had died, but just before it went black she’d been able to do a Facebook post saying she was alive. Then, when a terrible storm blew in, Billie led the children back to the partially demolished building. They sheltered there or a while before vacating it again in the rain, when strong aftershocks hit. They stayed out in a field for four days until an aid worker found them.
After that, there was little Billie could do by staying on, as the situation demanded a considerable international relief effort provided by aid agencies. Getting out of Nepal was another ordeal and far from easy. Broken-hearted, traumatised, and by a combination of seredipidy and sheer force of will, Billie eventually made it onto a plane in the Capital and out of the country on her way to Singapore where her family had gathered to meet her.
None of Billie’s previous experiences or trips to impoverished countries could have prepared her for what happened in Nepal. Although she’d previously made a number of trips to Cambodia, building community wells for villages, organizing and training in agri-chicken-businesses for women and drawing attention to their plight, these were heart-warming, adventurous good-will trips, challenging as they were, but not a test of survival!
Back now in Perth, fully recovered and planning her next trip, Billie is busy empowering young people through her Loft Sessions Project. Together with her sister Francesca and mentor Souzi Clifford, Billie organises these uplifting and inspiring leadership sessions on empowering young women.
Billie still plans to continue working against human trafficking. Her dream is to found an NGO through which she’ll be able to do this. When she’s not working in retail or running Loft Sessions meetings, she’s planning her next trip.
Where to, you ask? Billie doesn’t hesitate to answer. She dreams of going back to Nepal to meet up with her sixteen little angels.