This is my second attempt to volunteer at the Naxal Orphanage, after I had to cancel the last trip two days before departure due to my hip dislocation.
The operation was successful and I am now exercising hard to get back my mobility and hope that soon I will not need to use a walking stick. The first important thing I had to teach myself again was to squat, and this was not easy! Kate kindly reminded me of the low Nepalese toilets, so I had little choice. Of course, she said, there are also lots of stairs in the orphanage, not forgetting the hilly walk to and from Naxal (I think a bicycle might be the answer). It totally dominate my training schedule and with great success. Well, I think it was more mind over matter and all that mattered was getting fit enough for the orphanage.
My friend Barbara took care of me after my operation and we had two weeks to chat and finally plan our trip together to Kathmandu. It did not take long for her to get excited about the volunteering and to see all the good she could do. A woman of great spirit and energy with a heart of gold and an inspiration to me.
We shall be staying with a Nepalese family, where we can learn to understand their culture and customs and of course enjoy the culinary delights of Nepal. There is nothing like home cooking! But the real issue here is giving our best to the children of Naxal. Our own children and grandchildren have given us much encouragement.
Nepal is a beautiful country with its snow capped mountains, green valleys and nature reserves. However, Kathmandu, the capital is overcrowded, dusty and polluted. Rubbish is thrown just anywhere, the drains are blocked and the river bank is lined with heaps of black plastic, worn out tyres and shoes. I see this every day on my 30 minutes walk to the Naxal orphanage. I hide my face behind a mask, so as to limit the inhallation of dust and fumes. The narrow streets in Jayabageswory are full with cars, buses and motor bikes and there is little space to walk. Thats how the locals have to live and this is one of the reasons why the children at the orphanage are hardly allowed out and are confined to the safety of the compound. In contrast there are modern, clean shopping centres and the tourist areas have streets of well stocked shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, frequented by backpackers and other such interesting travellers. I just loved the diversity of the city and its people.
The good news is that thanks to those who have given generously towards the orphanage and education project, OCCED have two students, who have won a scholarship to university. ( Note from people and places – we have heard that in fact 3 students have won scholarship places at police college – not at university – something maybe got lost in translation – happens a lot we find!) The other good news is that several of the smaller children at Naxal have had the fortune of being adopted by Italian families.
Nepal’s political future seems uncertain. Not much is done to eliminate the water shortage in Kathmandu (other cities and international hotels are not affected) and power cuts every day for 2 hours. The police are corrupt and there are no human rights. The Maoists have not kept any of their promises and there is much hope that the Socialists may win the day. If not, who knows!
My stay and work are pleasant, because the Nepalese people are so kind and helpful and my travels on my days off are magic.
Best regards Gudrun