This past month 34 high school students volunteered to build a house for women at Her Farm. Previously, one volunteer from Colorado had spent two weeks putting in the foundation for the first "earth bag" house to be built in this part of Nepal. The students then spent one week and were able to finish 50% + of the house. Consisting of 4 rooms, each one 18ft by 18ft, it's a large structure that involved hundreds of hours of labor to complete. Earth bag housing is built using rice bags which are filled with dirt, stacked as you would bricks or cement blocks with barbed wire acting as mortar, then compacted with a heavy tamper. A steel and concrete ring beam around the top of the entire structure ties all the walls together for strength. It's an environmentally great way to build and provides a home that is also free from chemicals. We finished our earth bag house off with mud plaster and a metal roof. We've just to finish the floors inside the rooms and it will be ready for occupancy.
One of my favorite events each year in Nepal is the annual Parent's Day Talent Show at Orchid Garden. First, it is great to see the number of parents who attend the show. For many of the parent's who are day-laborers, it means a day off work, and hence a loss of income to attend, yet they are so proud of what their children are doing they flock to attend this talent show every year and this year was no exception.
It's great fun too to see the kids put on the show. They've spent weeks preparing costumes, developing song and dance routines, some creating original poems to share as well. The morning of the show is shear madness as the teacher's scramble to help everyone with costumes and make up. Once in a while, a line is forgotten or a dance step goes the wrong way, but what fun to watch these children and their parents. What a great production Orchid Garden puts on as well.
For a country where bleak, stark classrooms and rote memorization are the standards for schools, the energy and creativity of the staff, teachers and children at Orchid Garden demonstrate why it's such a special gift.
While I was still outside of Kathmandu at Her Farm (another project here on Global Giving) I received several messages that I simply must come to Kathmandu the next Saturday. The messages came from a couple of young people I knew in Kathmandu but the reason I "must" come was not clear. I wasn't even sure I'd be in the city on that day. As fate would have it, I did need to make a run from the farm to Kathmandu, so early on Friday I made the one hour walk from the farm to the town of Madavbesi where I boarded a local bus bound for Kathmandu.
Saturday morning I had instructions to arrive at a place located near to a prominent government building for an 11am meeting. I set off by taxi for the location and owing to a communication breakdown between myself and the driver ended up somewhere near, but not actually at, the location I was to be at by 11am. As it was 10:45am when I left the taxi, or it left me, still not sure about that, I hurried off in what I hoped was the right direction.
Why I hurried was of course a momentary lapse of memory. There's 11am, and then there is 11am Nepali time, which could mean anything from an hour or two different. I arrived at the destination and entered a room filled with exactly three people. Sure enough, in keeping with Nepali time, by 11:30am the room was full.
I was the only non-Nepali in the room and frankly still wasn't sure why I was there. I did recognize several other people in attendance but before I could speak to them, someone took the podium and starting announcements in Nepali, a language I know only a few words of.
One by one people were called to the stage and given awards for being social contributers. I supposed I had been invited by one of the recipients to witness their receiving this award. I was wrong. My name was announced, I was requested to join the others on the stage as the announcer told the crowd about my work for the past decade in Nepal and my current work at Nepal Youth Network.
It's quite an honor for me to be awarded by the youth of Nepal and be recognized by them. I am certainly glad I made it and made it on-time and on Nepali time. (and yes, it does say for "her" outstanding performance. No, I am not a her, but it's Nepal and that's how it goes)