Thursday, October 14, 2010

Epiphanies and Roosters

You probably want to know why the long silence. I will let you in on a little secret...I have been having too much fun to sit and write! If anyone had told me that when I arrived...I would have laughed at them and asked if they needed me to wake them from such absurdity...but it’s true...the Lonely Planet is right...all those returning home from Nepal plan their next trip immediately...this place grows on you.

* this is from a few weeks back but nevertheless thought I would include this to give you a glimpse of what I have been doing in Nepal...

I would like to introduce you to my class! From time to time when the teachers are not able to teach for various reasons the volunteers take the class, which is such a highlight for me. You would think that teaching a group of 13-16 year olds would be something most people try to avoid, but with these kids, it’s really the highlight of my day! As you walk in you are greeted with them all standing ‘Good afternoon Miss’ and they stay standing till I realise they are waiting for me to tell them they can sit down...when they leave or enter the class room they ask you ‘Can I come in Miss’ it’s really sweet! Last week I decided to do a quiz for them which ended up being a history lesson (I know you’re laughing dad)...but I will have you know that it went very well indeed and the kids had so many questions...from why did the USA bomb Japan to ‘Miss what is Jew...a prisoner’? It took me a while to explain that we went from WW1 to the Iraq war which they had no idea about...we even discussed 9/11...which they also knew nothing about! These kids want to learn, and they do not take their education lightly. Most of them come from the poorest region of Nepal, which takes several weeks to walk to the nearest place for transportation, so they value the opportunity they have to learn to read and write, as many of their siblings remain in the village working farms or starting families at a very young age. It does put a lot into perspective, and despite the tears, frustration and nights I swear would never end in front of an essay for uni, I now realise I am a part of the minority in this world and therefore should appreciate those moments and memories as blessings!

There is a rooster crowing outside and it’s 9pm...Nepal you never cease to amaze me...well if it’s not a rooster it’s a dog...if it’s not a’s a taxi...and if it’s not a taxi it’s a person coughing up a lung....or two people having a conversation loud enough for the entire neighbourhood to sit and take notes.

I have had an epiphany...I don’t need second helpings for dinner.

Well that is one of many...

I am now approaching the end of the placement here in Nepal.

I am currently working at a Nutritional Rehabilitation Home, which provides education and rehabilitation for malnourished children and mothers. The work they do is amazing. My first experience of seeing a child admitted to NRH was something I will never forget. To see a 14 year old boy, shoulder height to me (which is pretty tiny) weighing 20kg was very shocking. His father works as an iron worker and is only able to work when there is work so the family is very poor. The child also has other medical complications and has been in hospital for many months. He arrived very uncomfortable and distressed but today...3 weeks later he is laughing and playing drums on the table with pencils. This is thanks to the amazing work that NRH provides through dedicated staff and nurses committed to making a change for the children and struggling families here in Nepal. In most cases it is not just poverty that causes malnutrition; it is ignorance of healthy eating practices and a lack of education. NRH provides both practical assistance and educational assistance so that once the mothers return home they can apply these in their homes and villages.

NRH Kathmandu

a child being fed

play time

Well I can't believe how time flies...I have 10 days left in Nepal and I can't really figure out how that happened. I have met some really amazing friends out here as well as encountered some character buliding experiences...(the most recent of which had me becoming fast friends with a squat toilet...not a highlight!!! I must tell you i will not take being sick at home again for granted...) So hopefully I will have time to post a last message from Nepal next week, till then much love xxoo

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Time Flies...but not when you are eating Dhall Bhat...

The past few weeks have been filled with getting to know Nepal, the people, the scenery the food and becoming accustomed to cars beeping every two seconds...I am not joking when I say they may as well just have a switch to turn the horn on in the morning and turn it off at night...I can’t believe how fast time has gone and that I have been here for 4 weeks already.

So I thought I would do a catch up on the past 4 weeks, beginning with how we took some of the children swimming for the first time! One of the volunteers here raised a whole lot of money to take the children on some excursions because most of the time they do not leave the compound of the orphanage/school. The children were given a choice between 3 activities, going to a movie, going to the zoo and going swimming. I joined in on the swimming and zoo excursions! At first I was a little apprehensive about how swimming would go, bearing in mind that these children had never seen a swimming pool before, let alone got into one, but they were so excited! When we arrived to a somewhat over chlorinated pool (probably a good thing though for over here) the children were very eager to get in and had so much fun! Something as simple to us as going for a swim brightened up their lives!

Excursion number 2 was to the zoo, and the children that did this excursion also had a ball, as did the volunteers! Here are some pictures of my little group of kids that I went around the zoo with, wearing their uniforms that were donated by a previous volunteer from Australia. I would like to add that ordering chilli french fries for lunch was not my best decision...eww doesn’t begin to describe it...never fear Dhall Bhatt for dinner...

my little group of kids

not exactly what i expected....

going on a ride
outta my way people!!!

On Friday we ended our week of excursions and the 1 week of holidays with a party. The kids were in their element as we cranked up Justine Beiber and the world cup anthem, (I might mention that to the volunteer’s upmost enthusiasm we listen to these two songs about 10 times daily....good preparation though for the future)...we played musical chairs, limbo and bought chips, soft drink and lollies for the kids, which of course went down very well indeed, a great time was had by all and put a smile on all of our faces.

Water balloons for a water fight

Got drenched!

Giving out snacks

tug of war

playing musical chairs

On one of the weekends Sam and I decided to go to ‘The Last Resort’, which is all about adventure thrill seeking endeavours like the world’s second highest bungee being the thrill seekers we are we jumped on that bus at the wonderful hour of 5 am for a 4 hour bus trip to our location and strapped on our bungee cords and yelled ‘Geronimooooo’ on the way down....oh want the real version...ok ok...Sam barley made it over the bridge, I didn’t really have a problem with the bridge myself but was more than happy to accept the fact that God created gravity for a reason and I would leave others to play games with it...and we took the thrilling opportunity to relieve some of the tension gained from walking across the bridge with a massage and sun tanning session by the plunge pool...where Sam got third degree burns and I...well stayed the same really! Our accommodation was really fun! It was camping but in style, with tents equipped with beds and overlooking the jungle and river, really beautiful.

The bridge


Our 4.5 hour journey home was bound to be eventful and it didn’t disappoint really when we found ourselves nearly falling off the side of a cliff when our bus got bogged in a landslide! Meanwhile I was half asleep and awoke to people screaming and shouting ‘get off the bus’....I was quite relaxed really, 2 hours of listening to savage garden will do that to you, so in a calm and collected manner I got off the bus stepping into ankle deep mud to realise that we very nearly did roll down a hill into a raging river...but never fear the armed police arrived with shovels to dig us out, and after 40 minutes we were on our way again!

Ok I will end here, internet is slow as a wet week over here so will update again soon

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Namaste part 2

The view from our house

Well it is day 3 since I arrived and I won’t lie it has been a bit of a struggle to settle in so far...missing home and familiarity, but no doubt all a part of the experience. Yesterday I went to my host family accommodation where I will be for approx 1.5 months....the house is very good by Nepal standards and I won’t complain because I do have it good in comparison to the millions of people that don’t have a roof over their heads.......butttt....I won’t lie...I did sit of my wooden bed with a mattress about 5cm thick and ask myself ‘what the heck and I doing here’ after taking one look at the bathroom....all I could ask is ‘what is God teaching me through this’....I guess He is teaching me to get over my toilet phobia...and be content with what I have....and it did make all the difference when my roommate Sam arrived the next day took one look at it and said ‘bleach’....we bonded...over a squat toilet...because we spent the rest of the afternoon scrubbing it together...and when it still wasn’t clean we decided to go out for the night....

                                moving into our room                                        

my wooden bed...good night sleep...i think not!

bleach bleach bleach

We went into Thamel the tourist part of Nepal and had dinner...savouring each bite because we knew the next week would consist of Dhal Bhatt...for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Dhal Bhatt for those who don’t know is rice and lentils and a potato bean curry...which at first isn’t so bad...but not exactly what I want to wake up to in the morning! This is coming from a person that at home would eat rice every my love affair with rice is going through a troublesome patch...I may have to leave rice for another staple when I get home...shock horror!...did I really just say that?...

mmmm chicken

I digress....(food seems to have that effect of late...) Thamel is a bussling town filled with restaurants offering you food from pretty much all over the world and about a million people wanting to sell you things...from bangles to marijuana! It’s a scruffy little place really, full of shops upon shops and if you delve a little deeper you will find cafes serving illy coffee... (this is the part where I do a little jig...) and free wifi...perfect!

Enough of the tourist talk, let me get to why I am really here, which is to volunteer with Projects Abroad with their care programme. My placement is at a school called ‘Snowlands’. 

The front gate of the school

 The school was set up for children from poor backgrounds who would not have the opportunity to go to school or have a decent upbringing. The children live at the school and most have travelled a long distance from the rural villages and the Himalayas to get to the school. One of the girls told me she walked for 1 month to get to the school and some of the children have not seen their parents or family for many years because it’s too difficult and expensive for them to get back to their villages, while some of the other children do not have parents. The children are so beautiful and welcoming. As soon as I got there they wanted to know where I was from and what my name is. The first week was exam week so there wasn’t a lot to do except help them with any questions they had and after exams play, draw and chat.

studying for exams

Oh and I won't forget to mention our daily communte to the school...yes we start our 1.5 hour journey in a bus which is really a van with about 30 other people...and I'm not some stage in the journey I will end up on the floor or with someone sitting on me...or better yet someones bum in my face...all apart of the character building process no doubt...have I mentioned that I love mornings!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so untill next week i'll leave you with this.  
Don't you just love b.o

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Ok I know this is like a billion weeks late...but better late than never here is a flashback to my first few days in Nepal...

Well here I sit in the dining room of the hotel I am staying at for my second night in Nepal. I’m not quite convinced I am in Nepal yet...probably a mix of sleep deprivation and David Attenborough describing the habits of squires as background entertainment, but all I have to do is think back to my 5am wakeup yesterday and the hiatus of entering without a visa to remind me that yes I did get on two planes, stepped briefly into an oven....and sat in front of a man that decided ‘touch screen’ actually meant ‘punch screen’....which was my flight entertainment for 4.5 hours...if I’m being positive I could say it was like sitting in a massage chair...a broken one! Nevertheless I got here in one piece.

But let me begin at the beginning, usually a good place to start. The journey to my home for the next three months began well, sitting at the front of the plane with two families with babies; which on a plane can have its cons....but nevertheless it was pros all the way...the one next to me decided smiling and giggling at me was a great game! Landing in Doha was interesting...never travelling to the middle east my dad’s shame (the geography buff he is) I still don’t quite know where Doha is or whether it’s a country...but never mind my lack of geographical skill, looking out the window of the plane was a smoggy haze, no clouds to be seen! But it wasn’t long before I was well and properly introduced to that smoggy haze...if I didn’t have sight I would be adamant someone threw me into an oven as I stepped off the plane and walked across the tarmac to a bus. For all of those 15 seconds of walking I realised I could never really complain about the heat at home again! Phew...ridiculous!

My Flight to Nepal from Doha was a relatively quick one and as mentioned above the in-flight entertainment for me began when the man behind me decided his touch screen television meant ‘punch screen’...and so this went on for the next 4 hours...meanwhile I decided to remember that patience is a virtue and think of my jolting seat as a bad case of ‘turbulence’.

Before long I landed and walked across the tarmac to a somewhat small airport...filled out my visa application and proceeded to the counter....all well and good until the man said I would need US$100 for my 3 month visa! about that part! So at 11am I found myself exiting the airport in search of an ATM...Hmmm no open ATM...that was when I decided praying would be a good which point I went back into the airport and a hotel taxi driver asked me if I had found the ATM....then miraculously it occurred to me that I didn’t need to pay for my 3 month visa here and I ran back upstairs to pay for 1 which point I was asked if I had a passport ok....forgot about that part! It was then I realised my spare copy of my passport was tucked securely and safely into my luggage that was currently merry-go-rounding on the carrousel below me...luckily I noticed a photo booth and was informed I would be able to get a photo there! So by approximately 11:30 I was taking photos and getting my visa stamped! Thank luggage was waiting for me patiently downstairs and I found my way to the airport pickup in one piece!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My last blog about Sri Lanka and I promise I will get to Nepal...but I can't leave you without details of the beach trip...

Sri Lankans like early mornings....the train journey started at the crack of dawn...but after a good cup of coffee the three of us were chipper as chipper as one can be at 5:30 am...but the end result of sitting by a pool soaking up the sun was on our mind and early mornings could therefore be forgiven! Off we went...and again the cameras came out to marvel at Gods great creation. I can tell you the scenery never gets boring...particularly as it accompanies the antics of these two right here!!! Steph worked that attitude mid stance sitting pose thingy she had going on...

When we arrived in Colombo we got ripped off by the trishaw driver because we’re included seeing as my language skills are shamefully rather lacking and proceeded to have tea and juice at a local hotel. After our lovely interlude overlooking the beach, Stephs parents and brother arrived and it was time for the rest of the 2 hour trip to the beach...packed like sardines into the car...we all got even more acquainted with each other...which for the 5 foot nothing I am was not really that much of an issue...but I did feel for Stephs ‘little brother’....little as in 6 foot something ridiculous...who also had to share the back with the three of us girls! But nevertheless we managed and made it to the beach...unfolded ourselves out of the car and put on our tourist hats!

After a long journey nothing seemed like a better idea than checking out the lunch menu...a good bite to eat and we decided that a siesta was the right idea! About an hour into our sleep a knock at the door awoke me from my slumber...the room attendant informed me he would be brining my bed in a half hour....1 and half hours later the room attendant burst into the room and ran back out again after seeing that we were all which point I decided it would be Christmas before my bed arrived so I proceeded to run after him....He kindly informed me that my bed was arriving...then decided that it would a great opportunity to play 20 questions...starting with ‘where are you from’....and what do you do in Australia.... ‘are you married....(in reference to) the Danish boy you are sleeping next to’..... Now this was certainly news to me....not only was there a Danish boy in my room...but I was sleeping next to him. Let me now introduce you to him.... Danish room mate
Ta daa.... 1 Danish boy of extra large proportions taking up approximately three quarters of the bed....I know it really can be easy to confuse these two for 1 Danish boy....the blond hair must give them the added ‘Danish’ look...And there you have it that gave me more than enough to laugh about for the rest of the afternoon.

But the comedy didn’t stop there...the next one took place right here... on our trip to Galle...the historical Dutch fort definitely must be on the list of places to visit in Sri Lanka to get a glimpse of the colonial history of Sri Lanka.

We found a Dutch Reformed Church to have a look all of us pulled our cameras out we heard clapping....shortly followed by running in our direction..a man sternly informing us that we couldn’t take what do I do when told I can’t do something I do it anyway...the clapping accelerated and by this stage the man was standing well within my personal space I decided to argue with him exasperation of my arguing he informed me that I could take photos for 100 rupees...I wasn’t going to let him I paid my 100 rupees and got some nice pics! Take a look...



The rest of the trip was all about relaxing by the pool...the weather unfortunately let us down a little with not a lot of sunshine...although I still managed to get a ;) and it was ofcourse still warm enough to swim and have a pina colada or two by the pool...and a dip in the ocean where we were more than entertained by the local tourist attractions!

we stumbled upon a local beach photo shoot...I think they were going for 'how to impersonate a shell'...

Offcourse us girls managed to get lured into some shopping therapy...beach front shopping...could a girl ask for more?

And so that was the beach trip!
Ok well I seriously would like to write more about Sri Lanka...but seeing as I have now been in Nepal for 2 weeks I need to progress really....because there is so much more to say...
I will end with some more pics of the rest of our trip