This blog started with my second trip to Nepal back in 2006. I resurrected it in 2011 to share information about the projects I've been involved with that benefit young women and children in Nepal. It's still that but now back to its roots of travelogue and outlet for other wandering thoughts. Namaste!
Monday, December 05, 2011
Hey, I've never been on a field trip like this!
Back in October, my colleague Alycia Lee and her cousin Harumi Guiberson went to Nepal to do some trekking in the Annapurna Sanctuary. Alycia had asked me about volunteer opportunities as they had a few free days in Kathmandu after their trek. I suggested they visit DHC New Life Centre, which they did. They spent three days there and on their last day there, they took the kids on a field trip to Namo Buddha Retreat Center and Monastic College. According to the center's website, "Namo Buddha is a supreme sacred place located in the mountains about 2 ½ hours from Kathmandu. It is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Nepal and one of the holiest in the world. It is known as the place where the Buddha, in a previous life as a prince, gave his body to a starving tigress and her cubs."
Below is Harumi's guest post about her and Alycia's visit to DHC New Life Centre and their visit to Namo Buddha. Harumi stated in an email to me "I was a little hesitant about staying three days and two nights at the Centre but after a few hours it was pure joy." Enjoy!
Our Visit to DHC New Life Centre, by Harumi Guiberson (19 Nov 2011)
We spent the first afternoon playing games all in English. Thankfully the kids go to private school in which most of the classes are conducted in English, because our Nepali was limited to a couple of words! The next day we asked the kids to help us find an ATM, internet access and a market for snacks. Eight of kids joined us and we walked and literally dodged Kathmandu traffic for a couple of hours before settling down in a restaurant for lunch and a break before shopping for fruit, chocolate and snacks. In the restaurant it was great fun to watch the kids drink out of the community water pitcher without spilling a drop. Once we were back at the Centre the kids systematically went through the snacks to "fair" share with the others who stayed behind. On our final day we all piled into a van at 6:00 am to visit the Namo Buddha Monastic Retreat Centre (one of the holiest Buddhist sites) and the world's tallest Shiva (Hindu deity) statue which the kids had heard about but never visited. The sites were impressive but what would have taken less than a hour here took several hours on the rough and often unpaved Nepal roads. We topped the trip off with a visit to a local ice cream stand near the Centre. After dinner we had a sad farewell and left for the airport to return home.
It's been almost three weeks since we returned from Nepal and the happy times and faces of the children of the Centre are still in my thoughts and heart. The Nepalese sit on top of the world in a land-locked country squeezed between two giant nations, so it's easy to understand why poverty and illiteracy are so endemic in Nepal. Yet with so little, Nepal has still been the home to thousands of refugees from Tibet and Bhutan. Life must be very difficult for the hard-working Nepalese and especially for these differently-abled* kids who I found to be the most sharing, caring and upbeat kids I've ever met. Beneath their happy, go lucky spirit belies their concern and efforts to get an education and live a productive life. I'm sure Amrit must keep the goal of living a responsible life foremost in their minds. Thank you for recommending a visit to the DHC New Life Centre. A truly rewarding "real" life experience in Nepal. Namaste.
*an expression I heard from Amrit and it really says it all!
PS: Tourist slogan for Nepal is "once is not enough." Here, here! Same can be said for the DHC New Life Center, right?
Harumi with a couple of the girls**
Alycia with SP and needlepoint gift made by SP.
Looking for an ATM
Field trip to Namo Buddha Monastic Retreat Centre
The girls with their house mom
World's tallest statue of Shiva
Yum! Ice Cream after a fun outing!
Amrit (top right) with Harumi, and a couple of the teens.