I wake to the sounds of dogs barking very loudly, for quite a while. Still somewhat asleep, and can hear drums being played somewhere in the Monastery, along with chanting in the distance. It sounds very soothing, and calming. Which is needed as there is a fly very close to my head, but I can’t seem to locate it. I slept so well last night, as I was exhausted after my first day in Kathmandu, and my travels here.
Today Thandiwe Mazibuko arrived from South Africa, who I will have the pleasure of sharing a tent with while in the village Ratankot. She is from Durban South Africa, and is a Star for Life Coach, and Music Director of Star Choir. She will sing with the children who will be moving into the family home. I have met her once when I went to see Star for Life perform in Skövde, and she sang so beautifully, and was full of life when I talked to her after the show.
Sophie, Johan and I decided we would go and visit the tent camp that is still set up in Kathmandu. Today was the day after the one-year anniversary of the earthquakes that struck Nepal. After the earthquakes, the tent camp held 1500 families. Today, the tent camp is home to 500 families. The tents are made out of tarps, plastic, and anything the people can scavenge.
We bought bars of soap, noodles, toothbrushes, and toothbrushes to hand out to some of the people we would meet in the tent camp. We met a boy who lives in the tent, and after talking with him I learned that he has lived in the tent camp for one year. He used to go to school before the earthquake struck, but his home got destroyed, and now has no money for school. He works as a waiter, and longs to go to school. He said he is hoping to move to a new home in a couple of months. Next, we came across two young boys, and they were best friends! They were so intrigued and excited to meet us, and likewise for us. They wanted to show us their tent so bad! So we followed them through the camp to their tent. While we were walking to their tent, we met an older woman, who showed us her tent. Her tent was so well kept and clean. She was so proud and happy to show us it. I thanked her for allowing us to look inside, and bent to say namaste. Needless to say, I was slightly taller than her.
We went on our way, and came to the boys tent. I had a book bag and bags with me, which i set down outside their tent, and they quickly came over and picked up my bags to carry them inside, and said it was too dirty outside to lay my bags there. Very sweet and considerate of them. As soon as I entered their tent, I started to sweat. It felt like a sauna inside. His father was fixing the back wall of the tent. I squatted and chatted with the boys, and they showed me their kitchen, their bed where they sleep, and one little boy pointed out where his toothbrush was, and was very proud of it. Then as we stepped outside, the showed us their chicken coop. They had a section off the tent for the hens, and the boy told me he is in charge of feeding them rice. I got the chance to interview them a little bit, and their english was quite good!
We then asked where they go to toilet, and they directed us to the toilets. Johan explained that after the earthquakes, the Japanese came and provided toilets, however the toilets they have today are much more improved than the original ones they had in the beginning. It was very eye opening to see the tent camp. So many families have lost their home, their belongings, their money. Yet these boys that we met today we so happy, and proud of their home. It really made me question our Westernized society, and if consuming tangible items, and owning all of these things really, truly makes us happy, or is all we really need in life is family, friends?
After our time spent in the tent camp in Kathmandu, Johan had to head to the airport to pick up Thandiwe, so Sophie and I ventured to the shopping center. We had to cross the extremely busy road, and just when we thought there was a clear in the traffic, and somewhat safe to cross, there would be a motorbike whizzing past us, or a truck. There was no clear in traffic at all. We decided to ask someone on the street to help us cross, and one gentleman said he would. He was very helpful! We got across the road in one piece! There was a close call with me and a motorbike, as a bike had to slam on his brakes not to hit me. Lesson learned is to just keep moving, rather than hesitate and stop in the road. We shopped for quite awhile and bought so many things for the children moving into Home of Hope! We filled almost an entire cart full of shampoo, soaps, razors, creams, wound disinfectant, pads, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, toilet paper, candy, cookies, toys and much more! We also got a tablecloth, place mats, and a kettle! Sophie had a great idea to purchase hair products, such as a hair straightener and curling iron, so that the girls can create a small hair salon within Home of Hope and make a small income! I look forward to passing along the knowledge of how to use these new products. Tomorrow we will go back and purchase some more items for the children! We had so many people in the store help us find things, and ring all of our items in. Very thankful for their help! We had to take a taxi back to the Monastery, as there was no way we were going to be able to carry everything with us.
While in the taxi, it was another crazy experience driving within the traffic. There were so many cars, trucks and motorbikes zipping by, and coming right up to our bumper. As I spend more time here, I’m noticing that what looks like chaos, and absolutely no order to traffic, is actually a disorganized order. It’s like when I was a teenager, my room would always be a mess to my mom, but to me, it was an organized mess, and I knew where everything was. For some reason, it just works here, and that is what the people here are used to. That is just their way of life and what they are used to, but for me, it is all new, and different from what I’m used to.
Once back at the Monastery we saw Thandiwe who was quite tired after her long travel, and from experiencing everything in Kathmandu for the first time. We all joined for dinner around a table, along with another group of people from Sweden who are here to help us celebrate the inauguration of Home of Hope! Very many interesting conversations arise with this group of people. I got to meet Karma for the first time tonight! He is one of the four Lama brothers, and has been very involved with our Home of Hope project. Felt nice to finally meet him! Thandiwe introduced herself to everyone, and spoke about her work with Star for Life in South Africa. Very informative to hear her speak about her great work! After, we all sang the son Sho Sholoza together. I cannot wait for the children to meet her, I feel as though the kids will learn a lot from her, and have so much joy from singing and playing with her! Tomorrow will be another day full of excitement, as I will get to meet Pema!
/ Morgan Young