“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
It is hard to believe I have already been here at Hopeful Home for almost a month. I have fallen into an easy routine: I help the children, notably the three girls in grade four, with homework in the morning and evening, and do my own thing for the afternoon while they are at school. My crew has become the girls (six of them) and the two youngest boys as the rest of them are self sufficient young teenagers and can do their homework on their own. I have spent many evenings after dinner in the girl’s room, laughing, dancing, and singing, as well as letting them look through photos I have taken. Like girls everywhere, they love to dress up and have their picture taken, and as they don’t have many of themselves, I have promises to print some out and give them as gifts once I leave.
“Your 20’s are your ‘selfish’ years. It’s a decade to immerse yourself in every single thing possible. Be selfish with your time, and all the aspects of you. Tinker with shit, travel, explore, love a lot, love a little, and never touch the ground.”
Unlike most Americans who spend their 21st birthday in a bar, I spent mine eating donuts and receiving cute cards and poems from the Nepali children I am currently living with. The quote above, one of my all time favorites, rings very true to why I have chosen to do this trip now rather than after I finish my studies. I believe that travel is the best education, so why not spend my twenties learning, growing, and becoming the best person I can be while experiencing cultures around the world. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I’m in bed by nine (and to be honest, normally by eight), I read the BBC every morning, and I would much prefer to go on a run alone than to hang out with my peers. I’m not exactly your typical twenty-one year old to say the least.
“Her secret of success is that she did it all with passion.”
She asks for extra math problems, she sings and dances as she cleans, and she is always first in her class. Riya, a very small nine year old girl living at Hopeful Home is nothing short of amazing. She was the first one to approach me when I arrived, and I quickly realized that she has the best English of anyone around, even better than her teachers. She is mature and confident, words rarely associated with someone so young, and she is the perfect example of how an organization such as this can give children the opportunity to thrive.
“When you stop doing things for fun you might as well be dead.”
There are teens and adults behind me playing a fast moving game of football, there are children in front of me playing badminton, and beside me, there is a very sweet fourth grader serenading me with Nepali and English songs in her beautiful voice. It is one of those surreal moments where time stops because you realize that everything is perfect. The sun is beating down on the field, the children are laughing and playing, and a small girl is holding hands your hand while singing to you.
“When we are young, we don’t take anything too seriously. But slowly, this set of daily rituals becomes solidified, and takes us over. We like to complain, but we are reassured by the fact that each day is more or less like every other.”
6h00-6h30: Wake up! I usually write or read a bit in the mornings while the children are getting out of bed.
6h30-8h30: Homework time. Many of the children, predominately the younger ones, use this time to finish up homework, while some of the others use this time to sleep in as others draw or clean.
8h30: Breakfast, which always consists of rice and dal. Normally the dal (which is a broth with a few lentils) has chickpeas in it and occasionally pumpkin or potatoes. I then do the dishes as the
children put on their uniforms and gather their books.
“Meaning is not something you stumble across, like an answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life.”
These children are artists, singers, dancers, football lovers, Nepalis, and students. They also happen to be orphans, though that is the last way I would think to describe them since they are so much more than that. There are sixteen children between the ages of seven and seventeen currently living in Hopeful Home, an orphanage in Kathmandu supported by two teachers (and their organization called Ten Friends) from my home town in Oregon. It is not an orphanage in the traditional sense (or at least not how I think of one) as many of these children still have mothers. Thought I don’t know all of their stories, many of the children have told me about their situations and there seems to be a bit of everything: some fathers left, others were murdered, and one committed suicide. Unfortunately it is still hard for women to work and support a family here, especially if they come from small villages (as most of these children do), so the children were sent here when they were young (normally between the ages of three and five) in order to be fed and given the opportunity to have an education. The ones with families see them once or twice a year during festivals, though they all seem to consider Hopeful Home and the community who lives here their real family.
“The journey itself is my home.”
It has been nearly two months since I have cycled, and it will be a few more until I start again. I say I am cycling around the world, but that simplistic answer really doesn’t capture my current lifestyle as the cycling only accounts for a a small part. I am also living, and living takes time.