Archive for July 2012

Leaving Doti…

Today we left Doti, Nepal.

This is a far west village in Nepal that is very isolated from urban life and struggles to maintain their rural, traditional ways in a technologically advanced world. We left a village that needed so much more help than we could give in one week’s worth. I ran along with Hannah the art sessions in our camp for the children at Balmadir School.

Art is something that I feel can always be a direct connection to any people, especially when language is a barrier. You give kids paper and pencils and they create.

It was interesting to see something like a flower (“fool” in Nepali) being drawn. They draw completely different flowers from the children their age in America because they see completely different flowers everyday and interpret a completely different world. This world was interesting to see transcribed onto paper and the various crafts we gave them to fill the class sessions. The children were always excited to draw or to make the masks and paper flowers we set out for them.

The teachers were also wonderful to work with because they loved seeing the communication without words and the success and positive aura it brought. They were very enthusiastic about their jobs and worked wonders with the children, who loved them in return. I loved the teachers as well, I co-gave a shawl to a teacher with Sarah that we purchased in a market near Kathmandu. They were very grateful!

The children, due to the teacher’s love and attention were easy to work with; very well behaved and respectful of their elders and anyone in an authoritative position. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them and always left the day craving the next.

Doti was a place I will never forget. Out of all of the days we have had in this trip so far, Doti was the most illuminating one. I think I am more humble, especially coming from a place where when I flip the light switch on, I know the light will come on. In Doti, this was not the case. Something that to me, seems like a simple treasure.

I am happy to be headed back to an urban place, however. Coming from America, it is hard to be without things I am used to- constant electricity, clean water, clean air, and easy travel. I always know I have Doti as a place I can spend time in where I will feel welcome and know that I can help in any way. I hope I do not seem selfish but I have been humbled immensely by this trip and by this place (as I know we all have).

I will live in a different America. I will live in a place that I will no longer allow myself to have things I do not need. I will become alive again in the place that gives me so much, yet made me realize how much I was missing.

Thank you Doti for being the place where I could find my missing piece and thank you MLB doctors and Rollins community for making that happen.

 

Today was the first day we worked with the kids. I was working with Sarah and Carrie with sports and we played football (soccer) with our groups. The kids were so receptive. They were ready to play and even without speaking the same language we were able to communicate. All the kids were laughing and cooperating and seemed to really enjoy themselves

But today was bittersweet. As much fun as I had with them, I was totally overcome with emotion and I broke down completely and cried. I was out of commission for a good twenty minutes, which I was so upset about because I wanted to play with them.

As I went through the morning I observed little things about the children. One child had pants on and the zipper was broken, another had shoes on that were about three sizes two small and one little little girl was extremely dirty, so early in the day, as if she hadn’t taken a bath. I had slowly been noticing little things throughout the day that indicated the kind of poverty these children were living in and it was too much to take in at once.I was pushed over the emotional edge today into a sea of tears because I told my group of little athletes to sit down and try and kick the ball to each other while remaining seated. I glanced over to a little girl I had bonded with earlier. She was sitting on the  ground in her skirt, attempting to put her shoes on which created a gap in her skirt, only to notice that she wasn’t wearing any underwear and she wasn’t even sitting on the skirt. The first thing I thought?  “that is so dangerous and she could contract an infection”. The second: “if she is so comfortable sitting on the grass like that it could mean she does it a lot”. I went over to her, scooped her up, making sure her skirt covered her bottom, and sat her on the ground between my legs.
Before I had picked her up I was feeling a little emotional from the joy and pure fun that the children were having, simply kicking a ball around. By the time she was sitting with me, I was barely holding it together. And then she leaned back into me and laid her head on my arm, clearly showing she was comfortable, and I knew I was going to cry.

The worst part about this day was realizing I pass this kind of situation when I drive through my country. And I know in my head it is this bad but to come and live it and be stared in the face by it, is so hard to digest and comprehend. No amount of knowledge of the situation could have prepared me for what I experienced today.
These children can’t even wear a clean uniform all the time because they don’t have access to running water and the more I see and grasp the level of poverty in this country the more I want to kick myself for having to fly halfway across the world to learn about my people and the lives many are living. It was always in front of me and I never knew. And instead of doing anything about it at home, I’m in Nepal. This isn’t to say I’m not happy that I am here and helping because I am so elated and satisfied with the difference I’m making here. But now I know that things also need to be done right in my own backyard and I’m so ready to go home and do the necessary things to make changes.

But aside from the revelations I’ve made, I want the world to know the situation here. I want everyone to want to make a change, because if they do, this world will be changed and these children, and many others will have a chance at a better life.

What is life.

Thus far, Nepal has been amazing. And by amazing I mean it’s completely inspiring and devastating and beautiful and filled with opportunity.

Before I got to Nepal I was in Delhi, India for about 5 days. Everything in Delhi was new and bright and thrilling—especially the driving! Oh my, and it’s the same in Nepal—maybe worse, but at the same time entirely invigorating.  I have to admit that I think I like Kathmandu better than I liked Delhi; the people are nicer and despite the terrible pollution in the city, I just like the environment more.

Anyway, yesterday we traveled to Nargarkot which is up in the hills—Adi and Kc insist that they are hills, but they are seriously the size of small mountains. Unfortunately I suffer from terrible motion sickness whenever I am in a moving vehicle so I didn’t do too well with that bumpy bus ride. Luckily I had packed my Dramamine.

We stayed at a resort called Club Himalayan and it was nothing short of magical. This resort is known for having the most beautiful sunrises in Nepal because it’s so high up in the hills. So obviously we all received a 5am wake up call, only to find that there was too much fog to see anything. It was a nice place to stay before we depart on our journey to Doti tomorrow morning.

This afternoon we visited the ancient city of Baktapur. It’s one of the three original kingdoms of Nepal, it’s one of the holiest cities, and it’s considered the cultural capital of Nepal. It’s filled with temples—both Hindu and Buddhist. The religious atmosphere is almost a tangible entity here; considered a Hindu nation, Nepalese people can be found doing puja at any time of the day at any of the millions of tiny shrines all over the streets.

It’s just surreal to witness the history of Nepal first hand. The architecture is archaic but so well preserved. It almost disappoints me that the conditions of these thousand year old places are sometimes in better condition than some U.S. structures.

I can’t wait to see what the next 20 days or so will hold for our team.

Home sweet Nepal

Nepal reminds me so much of Jamaica. This was my first thought as I got off the plane and entered the airport. The lack of air conditioning, size and even the stairs to get off th plane were reminiscent of NMIA ( the international airport in Kingston) about 5 years ago. The familiarity didn’t stop there though. For the past five days I have been reminded of home every where I go. Of course there are differences, such as the clothing, people, language and culture but for the most part I feel like I’m at home. The roads are smaller and less paved but just as hectic as Jamaican roads. You can see the poverty a lot more obviously here in the buildings and construction of the towns but I’m sure that’s because, over the years, Jamaica has modernized the cities whereas Kathmandu is yet to do so. Up until a few years ago the town of port Maria looked the same way.
Even the exchange rate to the US dollar is (almost) the same as jamaica’s, which is a godsend because I don’t have to calculate the value to USD in my head when I’m given a price like every one else. I just think in JAD (teehee :p). Furthermore, when we went to visit Adi and KC’s old boarding school I felt like I was back at my old high school. The property was way prettier and right in front of some hills but the classrooms and labs were so similar. In fact, they were doing labs in chem, physics and bio that I remembered doing. I think I accidentally gave the answer to one of the boys in the bio lab actually.  And then there is Nargakot which was just like Newcastle (which is in the hills back home where people spend the day quite often). The drive up the hill and the view reminded me so much of the drive to newcastle.
Everyone told me I would be surprised at the way people live here but so far I relate to it more than anything.  However, the true test comes tomorrow when I go to Doti. I’ve seen rural towns before and seen how the truly poor live but I don’t know if it will be worse here. If it is I believe I’m about to be kicked out of my bubble of feeling like I’m at home.
I really like how much of Jamaica I see here and the input I can give from personal experience but the familiarity I have found here suggests that Jamaica is in a worse state than I even really realize, considering how poor Nepal is. Jamaica has managed to cover it up with a nice makeover but it’s all there still. I mean, at least Nepal has the Himalayas and Mt. Everest, Buddhist and Hindu temples, and absolutely beautiful cultural art and clothing. We only have pretty beaches and Bob. And he’s dead… So basically, I’ve found my second home in Nepal and I haven’t been truly shocked by anything I’ve seen here so far, however the test will arrive in the form of Doti and I will soon know whether or not I will get the shock of a lifetime from this trip. And even if I don’t, Nepal has been the experience of a lifetime so far and I know it will remain that way. But I’ll get back to you on the shock factor of Doti…

A colorful journey!

The journey so far has been colored
with vivid images of life
and lives that thrive on
smiles
Namaste offerings
Prayerful hands
laughs

these mountains these rice fields these markets
Create colors
images i take with me that cannot capture the way our eyes
Squint in this sun
With blaring colors
Road smoke from tires
Saris blockading our travels
Stray dogs miraculously safe distance from
These colors

I want to remember this journey
i want to take my images and experiences
And make my home

colorful

FINALLY in Nepal

I cant believe I finally made it to Nepal! For a while I was doubting I would ever make it. I missed my original flight out of DC because my flight before that in Chicago was delayed for 5 hours! I was stuck in DC for 2 days trying to get on another flight to Kathmandu. Luckily my best friend lives in DC so i was able to spend some time with her.

When i arrived in Kathmandu KC was waiting for me at the airport and it was so nice to see a friendly face after traveling for so long. So far im really enjoying taking in everything in Nepal, and trust me, there is a LOT to see. It’s shocking to see the poverty and the culture. All the things I take for granted back home really make a big difference here, like understanding the language, AC and smooth, paved roads. So far those have been the biggest adjustments. But I’m slowly getting used to it, even though I’m a little behind the others in the group since theyve been here longer.

Im most excited to learn more about the culture and the religions, Hinduism and Buddhism that are prominent here. Oh and also find some amazing souvenirs for my friends and family!

NAMASTE

bayybies!

Wow what a trip so far, right when I saw the mountains out of the window of the plane I knew this trip was going to be amazing. It was so good to see everyone when I got to our first spot. Dinner the first night was filled with delicious food and beautiful cultural dancing. Then the next day we visited a local school that is the best school in all of Nepal. It was amazing to talk with some of the students about applying for college, the drive of those kids is amazing. Also as lovely as the school was it was still not as high tech as it should have been which just shows the difference between American schools and this school in Nepal. Seeing all of the people in the town just opening their shops was beautiful. we also met with the SHF who we’ll be partnering with for our health camp. The next day we went up to the mountains and stayed in the most beautiful hotel i’ve ever seen. Gahhhhh I wish I could explain all of the wonderful things we have done, but there is too much. Leaving for Doti tomorrow and can’t wait to see a different side of Nepal other than the big city and start our service!!!!!