Monday, October 31, 2011

October is the Best

The month of October is always a great month for me. The reason is because my birthday lands on October 1st. Here in Nepal October is probably one of the most important and most anticipated months of the year. This is because of Dashain and Diwali (Festival of Lights) festivals, which usually start around the end of September and finish around the end of October. They are two of the biggest holidays of Nepal.



Dashain festival is also known for it's emphasis on the family gatherings, as well as on a renewal of community ties. A lot of kids from Papa's house leave Kathmandu and head back to their villages to be with family. Some of them traveling two days by bus and then hiking a few days up to the remote villages. It is the longest festival of the country and is also the most anticipated. Flying kites is a very important part of Dashain. It is one way of reminding the gods not to send rain anymore. You can see kids all over Kathmandu on roof tops flying their kites as high as possible. Another way of telling that Dashain has started is the construction of bamboo swings made around Nepal. Kids and grownups all enjoy the swings and we were lucky enough to have one constructed right outside our house. After Dashain is Diwali also known as Tihar or even the "Festival of Lights".
Diwali is like Christmas and a little bit of the 4th of July put together. People put out "Christmas" lights and light fire crackers hoping to scare the demons away. During this holiday houses are cleaned and then at night people light candles in little clay pots. The candles light a path into their home in hopes that the goddess Lakshmi comes and feels welcomed and blesses the house.






During this month since most the kids are gone the ones who haven't or have no where to go stay at Papa's House. A camp was constructed for the kids where they could sign up for classes that they wanted to take. Some of the classes included Art, Drama, Sewing, Math, Dance, Computer, and my favorite Basketball.

I taught basketball and that was at 7:50am every day. I showed them some dribbling, passing, and simple basics of basketball. Sometimes it worked, but most of the time they just wanted to play a game and have fun. I think I was even called "boring" at one point.
Also during the first two weeks of the holiday I was dog sitting. Each house the kids live in has a dog. The boys were all leaving so I was asked to watch their dog Bruno. Bruno was a sweet dog, but at times was annoying. I would take him for walks down in the rice fields behind Dhapasi and I'm pretty sure he loved it. Finally the boys house manager came back and I relieved of my job.

I even got to leave the valley for a night this past month. All the volunteers that were in the house, Vinod and I decided to go rafting. We left the house early in the morning and made it to the river by mid day. It was a beautiful day to be out of the valley and I enjoyed every minute of it. The rapids were class 2-3 and it felt good to be out on the water. We rafted down to a camp that had been provided for us in the package. We relaxed on the beach, played in the river/pool, and ended the day sitting around the camp fire before heading to our tents. The next day we headed back the valley.




NAMASTE

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Nepal 3rd World

September 4th 2008.
I wake up just as the captain announces that we will be landing in 20 minutes. Still half asleep my excitement is hidden down underneath my jet lag.
As the plane lands and taxis for a bit we finally stop. The seat belt sign turns off and the line finally starts moving. Just right before I exit the door. A strange feeling overcomes me. Something I have never felt before in my 23 year old life. I take a couple steps forward say "thank you" to the lady who a few hours ago was serving me peanuts and take a step outside. The warm breeze of the Kathmandu Valley hit my face. And for the first time in 23 years I'm back.

In the last 4 years I have spent 20 and a half months in Nepal and still have 9 more to go......



This is Nepal. This is a 3rd world country. The power won't always be on, the internet won't always work, you might not get a hot shower or running water at all depending where you are, and you might even come across some bugs. I think people forget that when coming here. It's a 3rd world country what do you want?

Most the kids and people here live in rough conditions. The average wage per day here is less than a dollar. The average income per year here is around 200 U.S dollars. A lot of the kids here in this organization worked over 18hrs a day just to get beaten and told they were no good(most before the age of 12). Some were given just the bad rice or left overs to eat. When people come here and complain about the food or the living conditions it just angers me. People are here for only a short time out of their lives, but still some can't manage.







Sunday, August 28, 2011

Where Has the Time Gone?!?


Where oh where to begin......It's been awhile since the last blog huh??? Laziness. Maybe.... No..... Most defiantly..... with a mixture of nothing exciting happening would be the main reasons I have not updated my blog.



Sorry to my 15 followers!!!! ;)

No big changes have happened. I've been taking the girls to the orthodontist still, which by the way one of them might even get their braces off in October! Picking volunteers up from the airport is always a good time to people watch and to play "Snake Xenzia" when waiting. Sightseeing is helping me learn the city better and its history. I have also gotton the chance to take a few volunteers to a placement in Banepa, which is 26km east of Kathmandu. It's a really nice ride out there and only takes 1hr to get there. Any chance I get to get out of the city I'll take it in a second.
Some really good volunteers have gone and as always new ones have arrived. But whenever I come back it's hard to think that any group can be better than the previous group from last year.



When not working in the Volunteer Department I've been helping out Michael Hess who is the founder of this organization. Not big things but just helping here and there with painting gates, fixing things, taking things to be fixed, and just informing him about what volunteers are planning on doing. There is a group of women that Michael helps out and one of those women has 3 year old daughter who's pinky, ring, and middle fingers are joined together. So I've taking here to a childrens hospital in Banepa, which is also our placement there to have surgery. She should and hopefully be getting the surgery early next year. The picture below is the girl going in for surgery for her fingers. After that one is a pic of some of the kids playing on a rickshaw. The last photo is of the girls brother greeting me with "Namaste"





Life is good I guess. Your social life hits a huge decline because of getting only one day off work and always having to be present for volunteers, but at the same time I guess having volunteers rotating in and out helps out in a way cause you meet amazing people from all around the world. I have not really gotten sick too much since the last update (knock on wood). I had one scary accident where I fell off a wall and landed on pavement straight on my shoulder. I thought right there and then I broke my shoulder, but I think I just bruised it really bad. However that was almost 2 months ago and I still have pain when I move certain ways. I have also chipped my front back tooth. Nothing to serious, but still annoying.
If you have not heard yet I have gotten my visa extended to June 2012, which means I will have been here since January 2011 making it 18 months all together! That's a pretty long time and I hope to see more of Nepal in that time period. I have been here 8 months and it feels like no time has past. Sometimes I have a bad week or day and its really hard to stay motivated. You want to pack it all in, but then you realize that this a great opportunity. It feels like I have so much time ahead and that can be very overwhelming, but really the time to leave will creep up and be over. I'll sit on the plane home and say "where has the time gone?".



Cricket my new favorite sport....NOT

The Monsoon season is ending and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. My favorite time of the year is coming up which is September-January. Lots of Holidays/Festivals and it gets colder. I'll update again hopefully sooner than later.
Here are some pics I've taken of the past few months.













NAMASTE


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Food and Pashupati


Eating food in Nepal is one of the things I only worry about while being here. I think my stomah has had more problems just here in Npela with food then the rest of my life combined. I've seen friends go out and drink the same exact thing and one of the them eding up in hte hospital vomiting all over the place. A lot of it is just bad luck I think. On this trip so many volunteers have gotten sick from food. For me it feels like I get sick every other week.

Other than being sick I have managed to get out around the city. I took a group of 9 people out sight seeing to Pashupati. This place is Nepal's most important Hindu site. A temple is here, which was built in the 17th century. The temple is made for Lord Shiva. Also here at Pashupati there is a river named the Bagmati River. The river is always dirty with garbage clogging it. However it is very scared. Along this river are the ghats where they cremate people. They cremate people in the open with everyone watching. When we were there I think it was one of the saddest moments ever for me. There was a family getting ready to cremate a lost loved one. In the family a lady was crying hysterically. She was being held up by other family members. Tourists and Nepalis just stood and watched. Some disrespectful tourists were taking pictures was is just wrong. It was just a very powerful sobering moment for me that I will never forget.

The kids right now at Papa's House have a two week summer break. It's good to see these kids get some time off.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Not Volunteering and Visiting, but Working and Living



I knew my trip this year would be different than the past two. This year I would be not volunteering, but working for Nepal Orphans Home. Instead of staying the 5 month maximum I will be trying to find loop holes to stay and work in this country as long as possible.
Everything has been going great so far. I cant complain. Some of my random jobs so far have been taking the basketball hoop down to be fixed then put back up. Then painting it by climbing a sketchy bamboo ladder. Repainting the playground and taking random things like computers or computer screens to be fixed could happen any day of the week. I've also helped out a bit in the volunteer department. When no one else can go to the airport I go and pick up incoming volunteers. This task sounds super easy, but don't be fooled the Kathmandu Airport can be tricky. People pushing, yelling,arrival screens not working, flights being late, and cab drivers constantly asking you if you need a ride can drive you mad and also distract you from your goal on picking the person up.
At the volunteer house where I'm staying volunteers come and go. Most are here for the first time. It's always fun to meet new people and see their reaction of the city or when they arrive. Hearing their stories when they come back from their first placement or trekking always makes me a little jealous, but also makes me happy because I remember my first time here and how excited I was about what I just experienced.
The days and nights here have warmed up a lot since I first got here in January. I feel like I never left this place. I should know hopefully in the next month or so how long I'm actually staying here. Could be up to a year!
That is all for now...Here are some pics of the kids and other stuff!










Namaste

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January The Begining

Third times a charm right?......... Did the last 7 months really just happen?........Was I really just in England?.... Time is a funny thing and I can't really put a finger on it. When I'm at home in Washington State I think about Nepal and the time spent there. It feels like it happened years ago. But now that I'm back here in Nepal the time spent at home this past summer/winter seems so long ago.

I got to say this time I was not as excited as the last two. Why? I have no idea. Now I'm not saying I didn't want to come or that I wasn't excited, but it's just like a second home to me now. I am aware of everything that goes on here and what can happen if your not smart. I have been through really good and bad situations here in the 11 and a half months I've come the past two years.
So my plane touched down in Kathmandu in the early evening and I was greeted by an old friend from last year. My buddy Jake who is from Australia was also returning and was kind enough to come get me. He got me updated on everything happening and it was just like I had never left. We soon got to the volunteer house and I was greeted by another old friend Vinod. He used to be in charge of the boys at the Orphanage, but had decided to move to the volunteer house to help out. I had a small meal and then tried to sleep but was awake the whole night. Vinod and Jake for some reason were getting up at 5am and running, but instead today we got up at 5 and just walked around the neighborhood. Later that day we went to see all the kids at their houses. They came out smiling and it was great to see them. They all looked so much older. The boys had deeper voices and the younger girls were talking more with a bigger vocabulary.

The first week was pretty much spent getting the time difference down and meeting with old friends again. A few trips in the micro (local transport) to Thamel through the dusty horn beating streets I was finally ready for Nepal.....Again!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kathmandu Valley to Discovery Bay






It's 5:35am and I'm wide awake listening to the rain in my home town. It's quiet here....really quiet. I woke up this morning without the help of dogs barking, cars honking their horns, or people just yelling as they pass my window. It's been 3 days since I've left Nepal and I do miss it. I knew I was going to, but my god the reverse culture shock is just insane.
Not only my mind, but my stomach has also decided to be culture shocked. When I was in Nepal my stomach had to adjust to the food. Now it has to readjust back to the food here. The roads are so quiet and clean. No one honks their horns here. When I am handed something or handing something to someone I feel weird using my left hand. The internet is fast and the power is always on. Water is always available and cold. I don't have to worry about the shower having no water/pressure or heat.
It's strange for me to look out my window and see Discovery Bay and not men standing on the side of the street talking and drinking tea. There are no street dogs laying around and there are no children using empty soda cans as soccer balls. There are no volunteers walking in and out of the bedrooms going to placements or just waking up early. I didn't sleep in my sleeping bag for the first time in 9 months.

My last few weeks in Nepal were just hanging out with the children of Papa's House and getting ready to leave. On my last Saturday there at Papa's House all the children got together and had a small going away ceremony for me. I received a bunch of thank you letters from the kids as well as some small gifts that just made my day. It was very kind of Michael and the children for doing that!







The next day was my very last day there. That night it thundered and rained like no other. I was certain that the plane would not take off or at least be delayed. As I was saying goodbye to Anita's girl hostel some of them started to cry and it was kinda emotional. I just said I'll be back soon don't worry. And then they responded with "come quickly ok?". I then ran back to the volunteer hostel and got my shoes and socks soaking wet. My taxi was then supposed to pick me up at 9, but was half an hour late. When he picked me up and we finally left it was still down pouring and there were deep huge puddles covering the whole road. The water would go beneath the taxi and then shoot up going threw some crack under the car getting me wet again.
Anyway I finally got to the airport sat around for a little bit then got on to the plane. The plane flew right through the thunder storm that I thought was going to delay it. The captian said before we left "I wish I could say we are going to have some good weather, but I can't". We had a quick stop in Bangladesh then a long layover in Hong Kong and then another unexpected layover in San Francisco. I actually had one of my friends Jill pick me up from there and drive me downtown for an hour or 2. I was not feeling so well and was half asleep. She bought me some food, but I didn't eat it. Sorry Jill! Finally I went back to the airport and just sat around until my flight to Seattle arrived.

All in all it was a pretty good trip back. Nothing too bad happened and my plane didn't crash so I think it went well.

I'll be back in Nepal for sure next year. I really hope for next year I can get better at the language and be more help to Nepal Orphans Homes. This 9 months was amazing and wouldn't trade it for the world, but I hope I can venture out of the city and help in more rural places around Nepal. The kids at Papa's House are safe, happy, and are getting a good education. I'm ready to help the other kids in Nepal that deserve the same. :)
If you have any questions about volunteering or want to help email me or message me anytime you want. I'd be more than happy to talk about my experience in Nepal.



Namaste