It’s been exactly one month since I arrived in Nepal, which feels weird because in some ways it feels like it’s been forever, and in some ways I feel as though I just arrived here moments ago. Time is always a little screwy like that though, so I guess there’s nothing surprising there.
Since the last time I checked in, some pretty significant things have happened. We are currently dealing with a Petrol (gas) shortage, because India isn’t very excited about Nepal changing the Constitution. It’s very difficult to find articles that aren’t biased in one way or another, but here is one with some basic information. Essentially, India refuses to give us gas and other essential supplies. What it means for us volunteers is that we can only take certain vans on certain days, (if the license plate ends in an odd or even number) and even then, if an odd number van is supposed to drive that day and they don’t have enough gas to get us to our sites (which can be up to an hour away) we are then down a vehicle, and not able to go to the worksite. It doesn’t only effect driving however. Our generators run on petrol, which are used in the field to power our drills and other power tools to build the homes. We also lose power for roughly 3 hours each day (it’s scheduled for load shedding), so during that time we need to use generators to keep the base running smoothly. The gas we cook with is not available easily, and if it is, it is expensive. So we have been trying to conserve as much as possible, because there is really no telling when this will all be over. All of those things considered, we really do have it lucky in the sense that we have the resources to overcome most of these obstacles, where as many other people here do not. We also have incredible, dedicated drivers that drive us to work at 7am, wait for us all day, drop us off at 4:30pm, then go and wait in line for petrol for the better half of the night. Us team leaders are trying to organize something for them to show just how appreciative we are of our incredible Nepali family.
A little bit of exciting news!
It has been announced that by November 15th, All Hands Project Nepal will be fully moved out of the city of Kathmandu, and into the district of Nuwakot, where we will be rebuilding schools, and most likely finishing up the 50 homes project. We are all very excited for this change, and from what I’ve seen in pictures of Nuwakot, (I pronounce it “new-uh-coat” and nobody ever corrects me) it is absolutely breathtaking. Some of the sites we will be working on are only accessible by a suspension bridge over a river, which is pretty terrifyingly incredible.
There is a lot of work that will need to go into moving the base, and it is apparent that the staff here are all doing everything they can to make sure that goes as smooth as possible which is reassuring. They will be moving some volunteers over as early as next week, to start setting up everything and getting us situated. Some things will definitely be different in the sense that we have easy access to literally anything we could ever need here in Kathmandu. We have little shops on our street, bars and clubs up the street, hotels and hostels on every corner, and plenty of exciting and fun things to do here. Nuwakot will not be like that at all. I am personally much happier about Nuwakot than I am about our current base. Although I did have an incredible time out at the clubs last night, I am much more excited to throw myself into nature, and see the stars and possibly the Himalayas daily than I am to have more options of places to go at night. Plus, while many volunteers go out literally every night, I’m normally home at night playing cards or watching movies with the other homebodies.
This week in work
This past work week has been great. We are putting up the last few homes for this area this week, and our 35th (I think) home will be completed by Wednesday at the latest. Earlier in the week I lead the structures team, digging holes in precisely the right place and then putting up metal beams to hold the rest of the home up, but more recently I have been team leading with another person on the Walls team. What that entails is putting Galvanized Iron (essentially just slabs of tin) onto the sides of the house. It is one of my favorite jobs because we are the last team that works on the home before we hand it to the homeowner for them to put the permanent parts on the home.
In other news…
We are holding a fundraiser this week! I have agreed to be an Auctioneer in this Tuesdays Auction. It is an awesome way for us to be able to spend some time together on base, while auctioning off goods or services so that we can raise money for children previously living in an Internally Displaced Persons camp, who are moving back home over the next few weeks, but have absolutely nothing still in their school. We are trying to raise at least 300$USD just from us volunteers to purchase things like posters, notebooks, markers, and even desks and other various supplies. Some of the goods and services that have been offered are, an all-expenses paid date with one of Project Nepal’s favorite volunteers, or a massage from a volunteer that is a masseuse back home. We are trying our hardest to have every single one of us auction off at least one thing, even if it’s something as simple as doing your dishes for a week. I will be happy to let you know after Tuesday just how it all ended up. If you would like to donate, please use this link. (If you can’t donate, but still want to help, share my link! give.hands.org/nicolette) If you have anything you would like to send out to Nepal to be auctioned off at our next auction, please let me know! I can find a way to get it out here. (Maybe a USB with movies and TV shows on it?! I certainly would pay ridiculous amounts of money for the full series of The Office)
Some of us volunteers on our day off met up with a woman who does henna tattoos, who had previously stopped one of our volunteers on the street wearing an All Hands tee shirt, to give her a free henna tattoo. So we met up with her at a coffee shop to get henna from her (we were willing to pay of of course). What we were not expecting was for her to be the most vibrant, wonderful Nepali woman, who was so thrilled and happy to be working on us. She had us guess her age after talking to her for a few minutes, and our guesses were from the 23-29 range. She turned out to be 17 years old, and knew so many languages I couldn’t keep up. She loved hearing our accents, (I was with a Californian and someone from London) and couldn’t stop impersonating us. If we said a word she didn’t know, she would write it down, and continue to say it until she got it correct, and in the right context. I was overwhelmed by how absolutely happy she was, and so intelligent. I have never met someone so dedicated to knowing everything she can. She ended up convincing us to sing for her, and we honestly had the most amazing hour with just her and us, which we ended by her grabbing our phones and taking selfies with us with different filters on. The last word we taught her was picky, because she continued to take photos until it was perfect and with the right filter over it. We left the experience with so much more than just a tattoo for the next 2 weeks. Her energy was contagious, and the rest of the night was wonderful because of the mood she put us in.
I do still miss home a lot. I see posts and pictures all over Facebook of everyone I love back home doing things that used to be a part of my daily life and I can’t help but feel such a longing for that, but time is already passing so fast here and I’m sure that soon enough I will be back in the states looking at pictures of Nepal just wishing I was back here. There is so much change here though that it makes it difficult to settle in, it’s hard to get used to things here when people are always either coming or going, especially with this new base move. I am curious and excited to see just how we all react to the big move, and what exactly that will look like for most of us. More will be revealed I guess! This is going to be an exciting week and I can’t wait to update you guys again once it’s over!