If you had told me a year ago that I would be traveling to Nepal not just once, but twice, I would have called you crazy. And yet, here I am… back once again amongst the bustle, smog, and always-wonderful people of Kathmandu! After a somewhat grueling 37-hour transit from Seattle to San Francisco to Seoul to Singapore to Kathmandu, Cameron and I finally stepped off the plane onto the tarmac and breathed in that semi-fresh air that signified we were home. Pradeep enthusiastically greeted us at the airport and gave us beautiful flower malas to welcome us, yet his smiling face was really all the welcome we needed.
We have been staying at Chunta’s home in Thamel for about two days now, and I am already blown away at how different this experience in Nepal already feels compared to last time. Six months ago, when I first arrived in Nepal and was confronted with entirely new people, customs, foods, etc, I was often somewhat overwhelmed in spite of my best efforts to go with the flow as much as possible. This time, however, it feels less like going to a mysterious foreign land and more like returning home. The people know me and welcome me with smiles, the once maze-like streets are now familiar, and the smells and sounds bring back fond memories. Things which would have completely stressed me out last time (our checked bags being lost in transit, for example) are no longer world-ending occurrences, because I know I have people I can count on to help and that everything will work out in the end. Overall, I feel much more comfortable and at peace in Nepal compared to the first time, and I can already tell that that distinction will make this trip even more impactful for me than the last!
Cameron and I will be staying in Nepal for roughly a month and a half this time around supporting current CCF projects and evaluating them as they proceed. First and foremost, we will be returning to Baseri, where the Earthbag model homes are nearing completion and the rebuilding of the health clinic is almost ready to begin. Along with Denise Attwood and Ric Conner, our role will be to aid in construction, engage the community in the process of rebuilding their new clinic, and supervise the process to ensure that it remains true to its purpose and within its budget. After a week or so in Baseri, we will be traveling east to Ghat Besi, where the CCF-funded reconstruction of the village’s primary school is already underway. Our hope is to live in that village for around 10 days, helping with any further work on the school and overall getting to know better the children and community that will benefit from it. Personally, I am extremely excited to be spending this time in Baseri and Ghat Besi, as I have been much more involved with the planning, fundraising, and execution of these recent projects than any of the past ones we evaluated. That increased personal investment makes me all the more eager to see them come to life. Additionally, we will return to Baseri after Ghat Besi and possibly head west from there to trek back to Sertung, a village where CCF has donated clothing and blankets recently and wants to survey for possible future aid projects. It is crucial that we continue to support and foster relationships in all of these villages so that CCF can continue to work effectively and efficiently in proving aid and making a difference in Nepal.
Though we are only spending a month and a half in Nepal this time around, we will not be returning directly back to the United States afterwards. At the beginning of May, Cameron and I will be traveling to Greece to volunteer in Syrian refugee camps with the organization Third Wave Volunteers. Based on constant media updates from Greece and Syria, and in talking with friends and contacts who have spent time in these camps, it is clear that this situation is a massive humanitarian crisis and that volunteers are desperately needed to help with the protection and restoration of dignity of millions of exiled people who were forced to forsake everything they own and flee their war-torn countries. Though we can never fully comprehend the depth of devastation of their situation, Cameron and I hope that we can use the skills we have and, most importantly, our common humanity, to help just a few of these affected people.
Of course, throughout our time in Nepal and Greece we will be documenting and blogging as much as possible so that we can continue to provide an honest picture of these constantly evolving situations around the world. I sincerely thank all of our readers for supporting CCF and our blog – the work we are doing becomes ever more significant if it can also help educate others. Blogging and journaling in general helps me process what I’m doing and draw more meaning out of it, so I am extremely thankful to get to share these experiences with you! More pictures and videos to come as well!
Wishing you all the best from Kathmandu,