Forever and for better

Posted on June 25, 2012


One of my reasons for loving Nepal is the stark reminder of how little we need and how very fortunate we all are. This trip has so far proved no different. Look around here and you see an extremely poor nation yet an extremely happy one … an acute contrast to the West where so many are dissatisfied. A life of unlimited choices and opportunities can result in the attitude that the grass is always greener.

After a night of drunken debauchery with some wonderful friends in KTM, we headed out to Sankhu, the village where Hamro Gaun, our project, is based.  For those not in the know, the ‘roads’ in Nepal are little more than dirt tracks with giant potholes. Some even have the odd pylon placed right in the middle as roads have been widened but no one thinks to remove the poles to the new road edge. The countryside is lush … green mountains and rice paddies littered by little shop houses, blue tin roofs and laughing children.

We chatted non-stop. Rene who runs the project is lovely … completely selfless and dedicated to the cause. We’ve been emailing for six months already and I knew I would adore him. I said to my brother Roy that I wish I could recapture the very first time I came here and remember the thoughts that went through my head … the observations he made had me nodding in total agreement.

We arrived late afternoon at Hamro Gaun.  The place is incredible … a totally self-enclosed village with an orphanage for 45 kids, a day care centre for kids in and around the area who would have no education / play otherwise and a vocational area full of workshops for young adults to hone their electrics, computer, sewing skills etc. The eco set-up is brilliant too. Everything is solar or hydro powered with a series of simple yet brilliant contraptions. There’s also a kitchen garden where organic produce is grown.

Our digs are as basic as basic gets … no electricity and cold showers as standard. Oh and lots of mice. The heat and humidity by night are slightly improved by opening the windows but then the mozzies get in and bite the hell out of you. But such is life … after my first night, I felt settled and you just make the best with what you have.  I even found myself sweeping the floor this morning … funny how you take such pride in even the simplest of ‘homes’.

So far we’ve been doing lots of screwing and drilling … preparing the kids dorms for the inevitable earthquake that will devastate Kathmandu when it strikes. The city has been ear-marked as one of the most vulnerable in the world with an overdue earthquake predicted to kill tens of thousands. Re-enforcing the kids bunk beds with aluminium sheets and deep bolts through the concrete walls will hopefully avoid children being crushed by the sheer weight of them.

In between we eat lots of dhal bhat (rice and lentils), drink gallons of sweet coffee and play with the gorgeous kids.  This afternoon I was given such an intricate hairstyle by the cutest little girls, that I fear I’ll never get the knots out. If I were able, I’d be adopting half of them myself.

Running-wise, the temptation to lie in a warm and cozy bed isn’t an issue (!) so this morning I rose a little after 5am and ran up to Nagarkot … the views were amazing with majestic mountains towering over the morning mist and lush rice paddies far below. The long slog up was rewarded with a swift run down and rewarded again with a trickle of cold water to wipe off the mud sprayed from passing mopeds. I didn’t care about that though … running in Nepal makes me content without condition.

More to come re the adventures to follow but I shall finish by saying that if ever you have pondered a visit to Nepal and a stint of work pro bono … ponder less and plan more.

Nepal gets under your skin and changes you forever …

forever, for the better and I’ve yet to meet a single person who would question that.

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