Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Less Than 10hrs in Western Nepal (Narti), 300 hundred Vomit bags, and a 3hr traffic jam

The title is very long, but it sums up a very frustrating trip I just attempted to take. This past Sunday 3 other volunteers and I headed out to western Nepal to visit Narti, which holds 50 girls in the hostel there. The hostel's name is Lawajuni, which means New Beginnings. This hostel is the second biggest one of four that Nepal Orphans Homes has created.
But lets hold up a second. Before we got to Narti there was a eleven hr bus ride not only with the volunteers, but with 20 something girls. Vinod the young man who is in charge of the boys hostel was also there to help the girls get there. So at 6:30am we took off from the big city of Kathmandu and headed to the wild west.
At first all of us were excited, but I started looking around the bus and noticed the girls heads in their laps or with their hands over their mouths. I looked at Jill another volunteer who was sitting next to me and then to Blanca who was in front of me. They both were seeing what I was seeing. Then I remembered the stories Vinod had told us the days before about how the girls vomit on the bus. Those poor girls were not used to riding in buses or cars like we were. To prepare for this however Vinod had thought ahead and brought 300 plastic bags with him. About half way to Narti Vinod had run out of bags. All 300 hundred!
When we got through the mountains and into the flat lands of southern Nepal the kids spirits started lifting and sick faces turned into smiles. They knew they were getting close to their homes and their families.
Now I forgot to write this before and I should probably explain something. These girls that are from Narti are all rescued child slaves. Their families sell them for money. Maybe some don't want to sell them, but most in my opinion could care less about them. Females in the country are thought as a burden. The girls are known as Kamlaris or indentured girls. The youngest girl that was on the bus with us had to be around 9 years old. As slaves the girls jobs are to clean, make food, or whatever the owner says. The girls are promised to go to school, but they never do. They eat the left over foods or don't even eat at all. The sleep on matts like dogs or dont even have a bed.
Ok so here's the crazy part. During Dashain, which is the 10 day national festival of Nepal. Most of the kids that have families go home. Even the girls who have been sold go home to their families. It's really strange. They are so used to this culture, which has been happening for generations that they dont see anything wrong. They think this is how life is supposed to be.
This blog is all over the place and im really sorry but just bear with me. We finally get to Narti and somehow on the way over i have started feeling really sick. My throat feels on fire and my head is just pounding. It's not looking so good for me. We step off the bus and the heat just hits us with a strong touch from ol' Mr. Humidity. We don't feel like moving and its just insane how hot it is.
We walk to an open field where we see parents waiting to pick up their kids. This makes me and the rest of the volunteers sick. These girls the sweetest people you will meet have to go home with these people who are not even excited to see them. One by one the girls leave smiling saying happy Dashain to us. The parents just have a blank look on their face with no emotion at all. I don't understand how you cant keep your daughter, but you can come and pick her up on your nice motorbike. Finally all the girls that have family are gone.
My body is weakening and the heat is still going strong. Vinod who brought the girls over is going back to Kathmandu in the morning. I think im going to join him if my sickness keeps getting stronger. The next morning i decided at the last minute to go back with Vinod as he is buying the tickets.
The bus ride home was good. I saw a girl vomit on herself, but I didn't really care at that point. I just wanted to get home. Then as we are going up the final mountain side before dropping into kathmandu valley the bus stops. The longest traffic jam I have ever seen has stopped us in our path. Inch by inch we creep up the hill side. Stopping and going never knowing when we will get home. The sun fades away and we are still not close to the top. I look at Vinod and ask "should we walk?" He thinks about it, but then decides not too. Thank god because the traffic begins to move. We finally pass what was making us wait for 3 hrs. A small semi truck had tried to pass another truck, but somehow slammed into the side of it. It didn't look fatal, but we don't know if anyone was killed or hurt. We decend into the valley and finally are home.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

End of the Monsoon

The power is out and its 8pm. Ive just brought a chair up to the roof at the volunteer hostel. As I sit there gazing across the northern part of the Kathmandu Valley I gain a sense of peacefulness. The warm breeze keeps the mosquitoes away from me, and lets me keep wearing my basketball shorts. Across the valley lights flicker low and high into the hills that surround me. Stars fill the air as I look up into the sky.
The first five days since I've been here it has rained. The last two however have been humid and sunny. For the first time I feel that the monsoon season is ending for good.
As the peacefulness engulfs me I am quickly disturbed by the dark valley lighting up again. The power has returned.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Begining of Nepal

I guess I should start this out by just saying I hate being on planes. It doesn't help that one of my favorite places in the world is in the other hemisphere. The plane ride over here to Nepal was uneventful. A flight down to San Fransisco from Seattle and then SF to Hong Kong. Finishing in Kathmandu, Nepal.
I arrived at night, and nothing was really going on when I landed. Vinod who is 21 years old picked me up at the airport. He is in charge of the boys hostel and is one of the kindest people you will ever meet. He brought me too the volunteer hostel, which I have never been to. Last year when I was here the volunteers shared a hostel with the boys, but that change this past year.
So there were already 4 volunteers there when I arrived. One of them I volunteered with last year so I was happy that I knew someone already. They are all really cool and down to earth people.
The next day I went to the childrens hostel to see all the kids that I meet last year. They all remembered me and made fun of me because of my beard......And because I had gained a few extra pounds bhahah. Anyway there were 27 new girls there at the orphange. They all used to be former Child Slaves. The old volunteer/boys house is where they live now, and the boys had a new hostel built for them this past year. There are 4 hostels in all for the children. Three girls and 1 boys hostel. The new girls at first were pretty shy, but on this second day have warmed up to me and are very sweet and kind.
Nepal is amazing I feel like i've been here for longer than two days. It feels like im not even away from my home. I wish there was more to say, but nothing has happened really. Just some light rain showers, quality bonding time with the children that make me smile and being with some great volunteers from around the world.

peace (more later)