18.10.2008 26 °C
It is very hard for me to think that I will be returning home in a couple of days. It seems like a life time since I left - yet it only has been 8 weeks. Has this been a life changing experience? Right now I can't even think about that as my mind has been stretched to the limit - I can not even begin to explain what I have seen and experienced. The constant assault on my senses daily - the sights, sounds, smells, taste and touch have been to hard to process all at once. The sights that have broken my heart due to the effects of poverty to a depth that I could have never thought possible, rag pickers (street children) picking through garbage to sell useable items in order to eat and the beauty of the Himalayas and children playing (20 games you can play with rocks); the sounds of horns blaring, dogs barking and people constant and never ending to the wonderful sound of Tibetan music and children laughing; the smells of garbage rotting on the street and pollution to the wonderful smells of the different kinds of spices and chia tea; to the taste of water buffalo, goat and mutton to the wonderful taste of bananas, squash shoots and mustard leaves; to the heart breaking touch of a street child and a mother desperate to get milk for her baby to the hugs and kisses of the children of the orphanage. In 8 short weeks it has been a lot to process and to fully comprehend.
I was able to gain a better understanding of this country and all the issues it faces. The minimum wage is 125Rs (90 cents) a day Nepal is a country with one of the highest child mortality rates - 1 in 16 children dies before the fifth birthday - in that number a third die even before they are a year old. Education is not free so the poorest families do not send their children to school; there are no teachers in many of the remote villages; children are removed from their parents or given away as they can not afford to feed them; some children are adopted but usually for a profit by the agency placing them - and the majority of the time parents are still alive but say nothing. Health care is expensive when you only make 125 Rs a day - the average hospital visit cost between 2000 - 3000 Rs. Food and fuel prices are going up so more people are ending up in situations of extreme poverty. And I can go on and on. It is a very hard life here as it is in any 3rd world country.
I will do some work for the orphanage in Canada which makes be very happy. Looking for volunteers and fund raising. Volunteers would have opportunities to work in a remote village teaching English or the orphanage. When I went to visit the orphanage this week I was able to meet some wonderful volunteers that really, really care for the children - I am so happy - these children need so much including being loved and cared for. Things will be changing in the next several months that will only improve their living situation. It can only get better for them.
In thinking about all of this I am surprised that my culture shock to a certain degree was a lot less then I thought possible. Most of it had to do with "doing without" - it was more of a giving up of things and working around things - no paper towels to grab when someone spilled something, no appliances, no big supermarkets and department stores, no TV, limited food options, hot water, etc. Really the very basics and I survived. Living with a Hindu family in an orphanage and then with Buddhist nuns - experiencing day to day life that was so totally different then anything I knew. But after living here I can't help but wonder if I took someone from here I brought them to live with me for 8 weeks what would happen?
I remember some wise words someone told me - you have this type of experience and it will change you. You will look at things very differently upon your return - that is when the culture shock happens. Something else to look forward too !!!!
Not a brilliant last blog entry - my excuse is that I have a bad cold and my head feels like a giant cotton ball !!!! I will sign off now and thanks for reading.