Greetings from a smoggy and dusty (but somehow still really sunny) Kathmandu!
I had hoped to keep this short, but that didn’t work: So much has happened just in the first week, and I wanted to let everyone know right away.
I arrived in time for Dashain’s biggest days. Dashain is a 15-day holiday, and the most important one for Hindus. I was delighted when one of my bhais (younger brothers) invited me to spend the last week of this holiday with him and his family in his family’s village. So, 36 hours after I’d arrived, I was leaving again just after dawn. We traveled for a grueling 13 hours — road conditions in the mountains were treacherous and traffic accidents were everywhere, it seemed.
After traveling for an hour down the Gagar Kola (the river that runs through this area) in complete darkness for the last leg of our journey, we arrived in Sindhuli Beltar and collapsed on our platforms to sleep.
I will repeat what a wise man (I think it was John Lennon) once said: Life is what happens when you make other plans. I had planned to just settle in and get my bearings for the first week of my stay. Then suddenly on the way to Nepal, I received Akkal’s invitation.
Akkal is Tamang, and my week in one of the poorest areas of Nepal was a surprise and a great treasure, and was also overwhelming in many ways. This is a tribe whose culture and customs are slowly dying with the new generations.
I spent the past week immersed in their life and in love with my large, loud, newest family. I bathed and washed my clothes in the once-majestic Gagar Kola. I tried, unsuccessfully, to shoo a huge rooster from my tiny room made of bamboo strips and thin mortar.
Akkal and I have taken videos and interviewed the elders here. We had the opportunity to interview elders who were more than 90 years old — unheard of in Nepal. One elder was a member of the family that cleared the land and founded the village when he was a child, and still remembered some of those days. In one series of videos, I asked Akkal questions and he answered in Tamang, a dialect even his daughter doesn’t speak. He had a chance to talk about his world and what he loves about it, and what he fears for it.
I hope to make two short videos out of what we have, but I’m trying not to plan and instead let Life take its course. All I had was my digital Nikon camera, so we’ll see what can be done with it all.
Donors, you will have exclusive access to the folders on SmugMug, where all the raw footage is stored right now. Look for a separate email in the next few days with information on how to access these files. WARNING: There is a folder with graphic scenes of a goat being butchered after slaughter. I will warn you as to which link contains these videos. Also, it turns out I’m a demanding and bitchy director. Yikes. My only excuse is that it was hot and I was getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. And my hair was a mess.
Apologies again for the length of this email. During the next three weeks I promise that I will check on the elder care center in Pharping (which is crumbling down the hill due to a landslide!), on the progress of the children’s home at Corona School, and will check on the children at Sampurna Children’s Home. We have a great responsibility to ensure your donations are being used appropriately, and we take that responsibility very seriously.
But first, to another of Life’s surprises: During the first day I had in Kathmandu, another bhai, Dil, told me if I’m interviewing elders I should also travel to Pokhara. So, off I go tomorrow on another (supposedy) 8 hour trip to document stories there.
After that, I’m pretty sure I’ll be back on schedule…but I’m reminded of those wise words about making plans.
Any and all donations are immensely appreciated in order to advance our mission of improving life for impoverished children and elders. Since all donations are going to our programs in 2019, this trip is coming out of my pocket. This means your dollars are going even further. If you’re interested in helping, please click here.
I hope everyone is happy and well, and I’m sending lots of love to all of you. Thanks for your help in making small differences that add up to great things for others.
P.S. If you’re on Instagram, look us up: @global_humanity_initiative
“For every child, hope; every elder, a home.”
The Global Humanity Initiative