Mero naam Lynelle ho. Tapaai:ko naam ke ho?
My name is Lynelle. What’s your name? I have been in Nepal now for three weeks. I came here by myself but I have not been alone. I am living in the Tibet Peace Guest House in Kathmandu, which is functioning as home base for all the VIN volunteers. Some of us are staying here and some come down on the weekend from placements in Buddhist monasteries, orphanages or host families in the village of Jitpur. The volunteers are from all over the world, but we are a family here. We have travelled from the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, Belgium, Bulgaria, Norway, Japan, South Africa, Australia and Tasmania. I have already been to four parties since I arrived: a birthday party (with no electricity, we sang songs while one volunteer played his mandolin), a going away party ( I learned how to play Bagh Chal, a game like chess but with tiger and goat playing pieces…guess what the tigers are supposed to do to the goats…), a big Dasain party at the VIN office (comparable to an office Christmas party back home, but with goat for dinner and dancing to Nepali disco music) and a house party to receive Tika (a blessing involving getting your forehead coated with a concoction of red pigment, yoghurt and rice).
I am becoming good friends with Jenny, who owns a café and bakery in England called The Fine Food Store. Jenny and I have been together just about every day. Because of our business experience, we have been persuaded to stay in Kathmandu and work in the VIN office instead of living in the project community. We have been writing and editing documents for incoming volunteers, presentations, brochures, solicitations for sponsorship and discussing the organization’s strategic plan. I have also been asked to conduct a staff workshop on writing proposals in English. Our contributions are especially useful to the organization, as many of the other volunteers are young and lack professional experience. At the Dasain party, it was determined that I was the oldest person there, including the VIN staff and board members. So now I am “Didi” which means “older sister” and all the board members have declared themselves my brothers. My Nepalese “family” keeps growing the longer I stay.
My husband arrives tomorrow, so he will join the family here. I know that his experience here would not be complete without spending time in the project community. So I have arranged for the office to do without me for a week so we can go to Jitpur. We will be taking over the post of another couple who left last week. We will be high up in the hills staying with a host family. During the day, we will be doing educational activities with local kids in an Early Childhood Development Center. Coloring, painting, singing songs and playing games will seem like a fun holiday after the serious work I have been doing for the last three weeks. All this entertainment will not come without a price; village life here is extremely primitive. Bathing will be done with cold mountain water from a spout. There may or may not be electricity on any given day. Eating Daal Bhaat (rice and lentils) for every meal. Being eaten by mosquitoes at night. One of the volunteers recently woke up with a rat on his face. Tigers are a real threat at night; one of the VIN orphanages lost their pet dog to a tiger two weeks ago (poor doggie).
A village teacher told us the story of how he was walking down the road and saw a tiger in front of him. He was so afraid that he just fainted right there in front of the tiger. When he woke up, he was still in one piece and the tiger was gone. I guess the tiger wasn’t in the mood to eat chicken!
I have been to the village twice already and the folks there are very welcoming and friendly. The kids are so excited to talk to visitors and follow you around asking lots of questions about you and where you live. They love the opportunity to practice their English and think it’s really cool when you can speak some Nepali. When visiting someone’s house, you sit on the front porch and have a cup of dhudh chiya (tea with milk and spices), some fresh-made yoghurt or spears of fresh-picked cucumbers with salt (women cut them by balancing a sickle-shaped knife on the ground with their feet and pushing the cucumber across the blade). After a few weeks of the chaos, noise, traffic, dust, and sheer crush of people in Kathmandu, I am truly looking forward to a week of quiet in the village…and a juicy piece of fresh cucumber.
Community and Office Administrative
Sep 13 to Oct 22, 2009