Monday, March 28, 2016

Days 28-29

Days 28-29 (March 28-29)

On day 28 we awoke to our final morning in Nagarkot. We had breakfast and then cleaned out our room and packed. When finished, we talked one last time with all the people here at the house. Our driver came to pick us up and we sadly waved ‘Good-Bye’ to our new friends.


Our next stop was a pashmina factory in Bhagtapour. The owner met us and showed us around his small factory. The people there were working so very hard. All that’s done by machines in the West is done by hand here. They had 2 big looms that were operated by 2 guys. They did repetitive movements all day long. After the factory visit, he took us to his store to show us the finished products. We talked to him about buying his products from Nepal to sell in the US so we could return the profits to Nepal where they can be used to support the people here.

At 1 pm, we met Sonam and his aunt and uncle at one of the hotels for lunch. We had an engaging conversation with them. Sonam’s uncle talked about his businesses of selling to the world Nepali carpets, jewelry, pashmina products and Tibetan wood carvings. We were so intrigued that we went back with them to their house where we were shown some incredible pieces of art. He is also interested in our project. His website is:

Today we learned that the smog has gotten so unbearable that the government had issued a warning that everyone should wear masks in Kathmandu. Apparently some of this polluted air is coming in from Rajastaan, India. At the end of our visit with Sonam’s family, the sky turned a grey, yellowish light and a big storm came in. After it rained, the air felt much cleaner – what a relief to be able to breathe.

Back at Aparna’s house, we had our friend Raj waiting for us, as well as Sita, Prabhat, and a friend of Sita’s, who is a journalist/lawyer/judge. We said our ‘good-byes’ and then used the rest of the evening to wash up and start packing for the trip home.

Day 29: We are going home today at 5:35 pm and fly to Doha where we will spend the night. The flight is 5 and half hours but since Doha’s time zone is two hours and forty-five minutes behind Kathmandu’s, we arrive around 8 pm Doha time. We then leave at 8 am on Wednesday morning and fly 16 hours to Dallas.

This has been an amazing trip where we have met so many wonderful people whom we now consider life-long friends! What a blessing to be able to share love with those who are from a very different culture. We have found, though, that we always get more than we give in these beautiful encounters where the infinite is shared between and among those in this world. Nomenclature (the use of names for things) becomes irrelevant when love is the medium of exchange. Further proof that love is the only solution to our problems in this world.  

Good-bye at the airport. Some of our friends took us there for a last farewell - until we meet again!
Well - we had a little surprise waiting for us on the plane. Conrad had told me, that we might be able to see the mountains if we would sit on the right side of the plane. Well, we were placed on the left. However, soon there was a mix-up. Two other passengers were assigned the same seat as we. To our surprise, the flight attendant asked us to get up and follow her and placed us in business class (sweet!!) - on the right side. Here are some pics of these amazing Himalayan mountains, that we had not really being able to see, from above the smog.

Days 26-27

Days 26-27 (March 26-27)

Todays plan was to go to Nagarkot. In the morning, before departure, a woman who wanted to experience the Healing Prayer came to us. This lovely, middle aged woman has suffered all kinds of physical problems. She told us that when she was young, a man could pick out a woman and make her his own by merely putting a colored mark on her head. If that happened, the woman had no choice but to marry that man. She said something like that happened to her. A man wanted her and bragged that he would marry her but it didn’t happen. When she married another man, the spurned man spread rumors in her community and her husband held it against her. She said that her husband acted like she was an un-honorable woman. To this day she feels guilty about something that never happened and has been continuously humiliated by the rumor. We prayed with her and she cried and felt. It is amazing how destructive self-judgment is. Most times there is no truth to the judgment but that does not make it any less damaging. She is not alone with this – there are so many women suffering from self-judgment and feeling un-worthy. Unfortunately, that is how many are treated from a very young age and they start to believe the lie, carry it with them and over time become ill.

On our way to Nagarkot, we stopped in Bhaktapur at a friend’s house. Aparna was going to give a talk about the female body to a group of twenty-five or so women and we came along. First she introduced body-tapping, which is the same exercise she had performed yesterday at the children’s home. Then I (Ute) followed her with a body-shimmy and sound. Just as with the children, I then taught the women the African call and response children’s song. Finally, we taught them about healing prayer and everyone practiced with each other.

The meeting then shifted back to Aparna who had a PowerPoint presentation about the female body prepared. She told us that the women here don’t even know how the female body is made and no one has ever told them how to take care of one’s body. They think the uterus and the vagina are the same thing, for example. Washing the genitals happens by doing multiple dips in dirty water – water that has been used for other things before. There are a lot of cases where women suffer infections in the genital area – often untreated. Aparna was explaining the right way of hygiene, and self-care. Women here have a very hard life. Only three days after giving birth, the woman has to back to doing heavy field work and the women are doing the hardest work. They are the ones who carry heavy loads in baskets with a band that goes around their forehead, they have to squat for hours in the rice field, bend forward for long periods of time in the field etc. The women were very attentive during the presentation. Another great experience here. We feel so very blessed to have been able to get in touch with so many people and to share so much!

Suresh and his family

After the presentation, we continued to Nagarkot where we finally arrived in the late afternoon. Michelle was there with 4 foreign volunteers. Tomorrow we have plans to create a key hole garden. Unfortunately, once gain the sky was filled with a smoggy haze so there were no mountains to be seen. This is a very sad situation. We are still waiting to see a blue sky again!!

Dunbar had started to make tables and benches for the children's center that Aparna is going to run here in her Nagarkot house:

On day 27, we awoke to the sound of a cuckoo bird singing. I (Conrad) have never heard a cuckoo bird in the wild. Today was the first day we actually did some manual labor. Michelle (the woman from British Columbia, Canada) had posted on HelpX the need for help building a garden at Aparna’s and four women answered the call. Two are from France and two are from Austria. The women from Austria had recently been to Laos where they learned how to work with bamboo. We were building a keyhole garden as a project to show the villagers another way of gardening. The keyhole garden is called that because it is built around the shape of a keyhole. The center hole of the keyhole is the compost area and the area where the key slips into the lock is the open area used to access the center. Charlotte (from France) and I (Conrad) began by forming a circle out of rocks that were there. Some of the larger rocks weighed over 60 pounds and so it fell to me to do the heavy lifting although Charlotte (and then Mel, from Austria) were more than happy to try. We rolled some of the rocks because they were too heavy to lift. Once we had the stone circle and inner circle constructed, we began working with the bamboo that had been brought by Aparna, Michelle, and Mary (the other woman from Austria). Aparna has a bamboo stand on her land and she, Michelle, and Mary had gone to cut down the needed bamboo while Charlotte, Mel, and I worked with the rock. When the bamboo arrived, so did Harmony (the other woman from France) and we began to work cutting and shaping the bamboo. Our garden was 11 feet wide with the compost center 3 feet in diameter. We originally laid out the access at random. We then realized it was Easter and so we moved the access area so that it pointed East. It was much fun working with these young people who were all committed to helping those in need. We will post a picture of the finalized garden. Once we finished the stone and bamboo, we began to fill the interior with more dirt. Aparna will use this garden to plant medicinal plants to help the people. To baptize the new garden, we all gathered around. Aparna brought some greens that she put into the compost basket. She was then lifted into the basket (on her request) and Michelle watered the new compost, with Aparna in it. It was hilarious. Ute brought some drums sang a birthday song for the garden and a water song and we all danced along.

A little chick was injured and could not walk, so all the other chicks and the Mom stepped on it and it couldn’t walk and didn’t get to the food. Ute rescued the chick, got it settled in some warm cloth and fed it soaked grains and water. It ate and got more and more animated throughout the day. Ute was worried what would happen to the little fellow once we left, but Michelle assured her that she would take care of it. As they were talking, there was a big uproar when an eagle came swooping down to get a chicken. One of the chickens saw it coming and made loud noises as a warning. The other chickens immediately went into hiding mode and so the object of the eagle’s attack was able to escape its grasp by immediately running to hide behind some debris. This is life in an agricultural area.

In the evening, Aparna organized a little party. We joined in a room with candle light (the power was out again), and took turns singing songs and dancing together. A nice farewell night for us in Nagarkot.