When I went to Nepal I had these notions, pulled straight from the story lines, in my head of the families we’d be assisting and the interactions we’d have, the connections we would create. In reality, most often our interactions were limited due to language barriers and we communicated mainly through the 10 Nepali words we knew and a bunch of ambiguous hand motions and head wobbles.
My last week in Nuwakot I met the family I had imagined. The family was made up of a father (principal at a school about an hours walk away), mother (Ama), and 3 children. The youngest was 13 and spoke English well, so well even that she understood our back and forth lunch time banter. Because of our ability to communicate we created a bond with the family that I hadn’t experienced before.
As per usual Ama loved to feed us and she was one of the best cooks around. It was at their home that I learned there are different words for the morning and afternoon meals because she fed us so often during our workday.
Our first day there we learned that the Nepali word for papaya sounded like meow, which led to us meowing like a herd of deranged cats when Ama would come down with platters full of fresh papaya from her trees. Her daughter and friends would pick all the hibiscus flowers in sight and hand them out for us to wear while we worked.
When I was given the assessment sheet for the house it said it would take 6-8 days to clear the rubble. I only had 4 days left on project so on our first day I set the goal of finishing before I left. Luckily the team was all on board and worked efficiently together, pushing to finish.
Each day we worked under the guidance of Eddie the Kid. He kept spirits high as he, in all his cuteness, scampered around our site and mostly got in the way. Momma Goat liked to lay down in front of the toilet door after you went in, trapping you inside.
Each day at during our water and lunch breaks we would chat with the family and extended family that lived in the neighboring houses. One brother of our beneficiary gave us a tour of his biogas set up that ran from the outdoor toilet into his kitchen. The father worked with us, building rocks walls faster than we could supply the rocks and during lunch cut up sugar cane for us to chew on. The family teased and laughed often and I could tell that Ama had a mischievous streak after seeing her jokingly pretended to spray us with the water hose.
Unfortunately I was down with a fever on the third day and couldn’t team lead that day. The next day was my last day and we were on schedule to finish so I took a bunch of flu meds and went out to work. Though I made myself much sicker by doing so, I am so glad I worked that day. I worked alongside Ama as we finished up the site and when she turned to me and said how happy she was, I thought my heart would burst. This was such a great way to finish my time in Nepal.
Tee’s final project was building a new tool shed for the base. Luckily our projects both wrapped up on the same day so we both felt satisfied and were ready to leave.
After an uneventful week in Pokhara, where I lay in bed sick and the famous mountain views were smothered in smog, we headed back to Kathmandu to say our goodbyes.
Now it’s off to California.
Thanks Emma for all the great photos!!