March 2006

Nepal Project Report March 2006

Finally we are ready to depart for Nepal!


There really are lots of friends who await us every time we come back and in this occasion even the business meetings are varied: the opening of a new school, the start of the "Sponsorship" project and the test of two new scholastic realities, in Janagaun and Bungamati.
The friends in the village are waiting for us for the opening of the Shree Chandrodaya Secondary School, a building that will allow up to 700 students from the village and the nearby areas to continue the secondary education without having to move to the capital or to abandon them completely, due to the economic impossibility to continue. With the realization of the new school the people from the neighboring villages have taken the idea of taxing themselves to be able to transform the same school into a College.
Once more we visit a country devastated by the civil war, that sees the government and the Maoist sides fight for territory and power. By now we are almost used to the difficulties and the occasional strikes, that could also stop us from moving during our stay and, particularly, from reaching the village of Benighat, a four hours' drive from the capital.
The group is numerous. Fourteen people filled with energy and determination land in the green valley of Kathmandu, where the customary flower garlands and the usual trusted friends meet them like always. We have jus the time to organize ourselves and to check that the strikes proclaimed by the Maoist party won't affect our movements, before leaving for Benighat.
In the village there is a big party. An honor committee invites us to the school, the first we have built, to celebrate with them our arrival. We meet Ravi with all the friends of his Nepalese humanitarian association, and lots of children, to whom we give the educational material and clothes.
The new aspect if this mission is that we will live in the village for three nights, guests in the house of the Kandel family. The emotion is high, also because it will mean that we Westerners will live in another age, in an ambient like our rural realities of the past century, without all the comforts we are used to, like running water, the inside toilet, electric lights, the television…Ravi Kandel's house is in the middle of the green and among yellow stems of rice that contrast with the white of the walls and dance to the wind revealing the village we will live in for the next few days, over the hill. Like numbers of busy ants, the people of the village skillfully walk back and forth on the narrow and unstable roads that sign the boundaries between lands in this countryside that reminds of past times. And so the strong wooden roofs suddenly appear. They seem to move by themselves among the tall crops that hide numerous Nepalese ready to make our stay nice. These beds, in wood hard as steel, will fill the empty bedrooms and the granaries filled with corn and white roots that will become our rooms for the following nights.
The clean yard will be the place where we will spend hours eating food, talking, confronting about the next projects and resting. The inside of the house will be used only for sleeping. Only the light of the fire and torches lights our faces, still surprised by such hospitality. In the evening the whole village joins us in the Kendal house to celebrate, all together, our presence. At the rhythm of the drums the girls invite us to dance with them. The air gets colder and the sweet and hot "Nepali tea" flows in rivers under the starlit sky. It's always too early to go to bed when a happy company keeps you up. The joy is high and on their faces an expression of curiosity always appears when we talk about our habits. In the night even the small rural rodents seem to live the holiday spirit and challenge each other in speed races over the roofs, leaving most of them wide awake, maybe for the noise or maybe for the excitement.

The rooster has still to sing when we find ourselves on the road that leads to the only fountain, still half asleep and with our toothbrushes in our shirt pockets. There are no words yet able to describe our wonder, but the exchanged glances are eloquent.