Friday, 11 September 2015

Nepal - A brief snapshot

It's a few days since we returned from Nepal and we are slowly catching up on sleep and getting the property back into shape. 
During our travels I kept up with posting our daily activities onto Facebook, but for those generous supporters who don't "do" Facebook, here is a quick snapshot of what we got up to in the short time we were there.
Shortly after the earthquakes in April this year, my friend Rajani together with her uni friends chose to help a community who were some of the worst affected. Complete villages were flattened and the school was a pile of rubble. Many people lost their lives. This team of young people all in their twenties, decided to rebuild the school. 
I wanted to support Rajani so I posted an appeal on Facebook. Within 24 hours I had raised more than $2500 to help with the building of the school. Donations continued to come in and I was overwhelmed by the generosity of people. We were on our way to making Rajani's dream happen.
To Nepali children living in conditions that are alien to us here in the Western world, going to school is a privilege. This little school up high on a mountain top, is where they can live their dream. To actually sit at a desk, learn from books and become empowered through knowledge.
Rajani organised for us to accompany the team for a visit to check on the progress of the builders.

After a three hour journey in a rickety "micro bus" we walked for another hour, up and up to finally reach the school in the clouds.

                                                    The children are all so captivating.

The temporary "learning centre" School, which is becoming more of a solid, permanent building that will consist of five classrooms. Rajani is pictured near centre with the bag strap across her front. She is clearly the leading force who is respected by all of the team members.

                    A small makeshift shelter for the pupils, a few at a time throughout the day.

As we were discussing the building requirements with the school principal, one of the teachers brought out a large bottle of fizzy orange drink with some disposable plastic cups. I noticed the principal dropped his cup on the ground after he finished his drink. There lies the problem of the unsightly rubbish that litters the spectacular countryside of Nepal. I brought up the subject that I would like to see this school have a rubbish bin. They don't exist in any of the schools I visit. The pupils throw their rubbish on the ground. It is someone else's problem.
So I was asked by one of our team to give a talk on the importance of not littering this beautiful country. The kids were shy at first when we started role playing the act of putting our collective rubbish into a plastic bag that was found quickly in a teacher's cupboard. Soon they were into the act of picking up all of the visible rubbish lying around the school area. We stood back and admired the cleanliness and beauty of their spectacular area.
Next we showed them to wash their hands carefully and we asked the boys to stand back while the girls went first. Small steps.


                                                                        In Kathmandu city

People still living in tents

                              Catching up with our kids, negotiating (and paying) school fees.

Our small budget allows for public transport only. We huge foreigners don't quite fit into these three wheeled Vikrams with another eight passengers.

My Didi (sister) Naradevi. A widow who was struggling to raise her three children when I met her in 1996. No social security exists in Nepal.  I was able to help her financially for the past nineteen years. Her grandchildren are mine too. The smiles and love of her family are my greatest gift.

We purchased colored pencils in Kathmandu stationery shops, to help their economy.
I took some pages of a coloring book from here in Australia and had them photo copied many times. During many visits to the children's hospital we handed out small fluffy toys that I was given by the kind ladies at our local op-shop. We handed out the pencil sets and photocopied pages to each of the children. They loved showing me their beautifully colored pictures and got more pages to colour every time we returned to visit them.
The children have no toys or anything to occupy them during the long hours of every day, lying or sitting on their beds. The psychological benefit of something to do, I feel is almost as important as the medical treatment they receive.
Some of the children were so very sick and it was always very emotional to be there and talk with the parents and carers. I'm so grateful that I kept up with my Nepali language and didn't need an interpreter to assess who should receive financial help.


Kathmandu consists of a labyrinth of lanes with ancient buildings on either side. A miracle that more buildings didn't topple during the earthquakes in April 2015.

  It was not appropriate to photograph patients in the hospitals so this was a sneaky shot of the "Non- Paying Women's Ward" at Bir Hospital which cost each patient Rs 200 (Aud$3) per day. (Non-paying??)  The woman is Maihili Tamang who is suffering from heart & kidney disease and requires oxygen at all times. Their remote village was flattened during the earthquakes and they are living with their three small children under a tarp in a field with hundreds of others. They could not return to their village, or to their children, without oxygen and had no means to purchase any. We funded them for enough oxygen for the next few months until she needs to return to hospital for on-going fluid draining. A small thing we could do which meant she could have more time with her children during her short life.
In Australia her condition would be easily managed, maybe cured, but in Nepal her prognosis is grim and a long life is not possible for her.

      Leaving the hospital, taking a deep breath, don't cry. Don't cry! They must not see me crying.

Our accommodation in Kathmandu was in a family home a small distance from the City.
Every day some ladies walked with their cows as they grazed along the edges of the rice fields and lanes. I got to know this woman who had a lucrative business selling the milk from her cows to a line up of customers every morning and night at milking time. We had so much in common with our love of our cows.

These cows are completely safe from harm wherever they go. They don't appear to belong to anyone as they wander freely and sleep in the path of busy traffic. As Hindus the cow is an icon of worship.

Hard to believe we are in the twenty first century sometimes! 
Leprosy is still a big problem but is treatable. This man has been begging in this area ever since I first lived in Nepal in 1996. I used to take him bananas. This day I gave him money as I wasn't prepared to see him.
I am humbled by the support from so many people who have donated to assist in continuing this support to the very needy in Nepal.
To every one of you who donated money, or gave moral support, I thank you deeply for allowing me to confront the issues that I would not be able to afford otherwise.
I hope this brief outline has given you an idea of life in Nepal, and even though we can help in such a small way, it is definitely significant. To see an entire family break out of poverty over the past nineteen years is impetus enough, to keep going.
My humble thanks for supporting Jembella Farmgate stall, you donations and your kind words of support.

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