I would like to introduce myself a little by first saying my name is Morgan Young. I am from a small town called Bridgewater in Nova Scotia, Canada. I took my education of an applied Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Sociology at Acadia University in Wolfville Nova Scotia. I am currently living in Sweden, and have been volunteering for the Lööf Foundation for a little while now.
I have been following their work quite a bit, especially with the project of rebuilding Home of Hope in Ratankot, Nepal, that unfortunately got destroyed during the tragic earthquakes in May 2015.
I am currently on the flight from Stockholm Arlanda, to Doha Qatar! I have been waiting for this day for so long now. I still can’t believe that I am traveling to Nepal. For so many months now volunteering for the Foundation I have always seen Johan getting ready to head to Nepal, and now I am too! I had a tough time sleeping last night, as I was up early from feeling so excited and nervous!!
I don’t think anything in my life could have prepared me for Kathmandu, Nepal. From having a three-hour lay over in Doha Qatar, where the airport was quite luxurious, to arriving at the airport in Kathmandu was a huge difference. The airport was smaller, older, and a little dirty. When we stepped outside, the heat was the first thing that hit me, then the smell, then all of the people, the noise, and then the traffic speeding by, not slowing down for people in cross walks. We were met by Prem, Shyam’s other brother. We welcomed each other by putting our hands together and saying “Namaste”. Sophie, Johan and I were greeted with very pretty Nepali scarves! We loaded up the car with all of our baggage, and headed for the Monastery.
It was only about a 20-minute drive, but I don’t think my senses have ever had that much information coming in at one time. It was quite overwhelming and shocking. I’ve seen photos from Johan’s trips of Kathmandu, and photos of the traffic in India, but that doesn’t prepare you for actually being in the traffic.
There were so many small motorbikes crisscrossing throughout the traffic, big trucks, cars and lots of taxis. There were no marked lanes on the road, barely any signs, no crosswalks. People just ran across the street whenever they felt like. I would have surely gotten run over if I tried! Many people had masks over their faces. A sight I’ve never seen before. There were cows lying on the side of the road, along with many dogs, unable to tell if they were alive or not. There was so much garbage everywhere on the roads, sidewalks, and in the ditches that run along the road.
Today marks the one-year since the earthquakes hit in Nepal, and I was reminded of the destruction it caused when we drove past a tent camp. They were made out of tarps, plastic, old pieces of wood, and anything else they can scavenge or find. I would not consider that a home, but to them, that is all they have. There were 500 tents, each marked with a number, in a very small area. It was all I could do to fight back the tears. I feel so much for these people as they have been through so much.
We made it to the monastery, where two monks met us. We greeted each other, and again Sophie, Johan and I were given a Nepali scarf. They helped us get our luggage to our rooms!
We got settled in, and then I met Christina Ward for the first time. She is also from Sweden, and had met Sophie two years ago, when she first got the idea for creating the family home. We were then taken to Carin’s room in the Monastery, where we met Carin who has been here for a month, and leaving for Sweden today. As well, I had the privilege of meeting Aneeta Tamang. She is from Nepal and works with the people in Malagiri. She has a University degree in business, and also teaches. She is a super woman, because she helps so many people with different problems, stemming from alcoholism, counselling, and making sure that the children in the village get proper education. We all sat around and had a great chat! I am looking forward to getting into contact with Aneeta in the future, and hopefully learning from her!
After we all met, Johan, Sophie and I went for a walk into Kathmandu. There were so many shops; I can see how it would be easy to get lost. We arrived at this Stupa that is in the center and so many people were walking around it (in the left direction) chanting prayers, and spinning the prayer wheels that surround the outside. This was so intriguing to see. They’re currently in the process of reconstructing the Stupa as part of it got destroyed during the earthquake. Prem, the man who met us at the airport has a shop very close to the Stupa, so we went and visited. We met his wife, and 3-month-old baby, and his son who is in preschool. It was nice to meet his family, and look around in his shop!
I am not used to so many people being in the streets or around me. I felt a little anxious walking around, because there are motorbikes and trucks that come speeding by, honking their horns, and you’re expected to move to the side of the road even if there are other people there, or lots of garbage. I think after spending a little more time here I will get used to it, but today was my first day, so it was a little overwhelming. Also sad, since in just one day I have seen three people with missing limbs, children working, and dogs on the side of the road. Being here really makes you appreciate everything you have back home, and not want to take anything for granted. I cannot wait for what else is in store, and for the inauguration this week!
/ Morgan Young