“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”
Though I could have spent weeks exploring other villages throughout the area (I didn’t want to impose any longer in the one I loved), I felt that it had been the perfect experience, and that I was ready to spend a week idly walking around, reading, and writing. I headed back down to the terai, the flat plains of Nepal, where I rented a room at a small “hotel” for four days. I spent most of my time reading and finished six or seven books (almost two thousand pages). I wandered around a bit, but, once again, was slightly put off by the inordinate amount of attention I received, so I spent most of my time on the roof of my hotel.
“It is better to travel well than to arrive.”
During my stay at Hopeful Home I befriended the oldest boy, a seventeen year old who will be leaving the home after his exams are finished in a month. His story could be told as a success story, a young boy from a poor village who is now on his way to becoming a doctor. But there is another point of view, his point of view, which doesn’t often get taken into account.
“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.
“Cheese… milk’s leap toward immortality.”
I have often seen Asians wearing face masks such as this one and have always assumed they wore them for protection against disease. I have finally realized that the reason they wear them is to protect their lungs against the pollution and dust that unpaved roads and large cities unfortunately host. It seems like all construction or road workers wear a mask, and many motorcyclists and pedestrians either have a mask or a scarf pulled over their mouth or nose. After spending some time in big polluted cities (such as this one), and cycling on dusty unpaved roads, I completely understand the necessity of a funny looking face mask. Just blowing your nose, and finding your snot completely black, should be more than enough proof that the air here is indeed dirty.
“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.
“Live, adventure, bless, travel and don’t be sorry.”
Everytime I leave Oregon I learn to appreciate it more. Where else can you ski, cycle, fish, sail, and run all in the same day? It is a beautiful state with wonderful people, and through my travels I have grown proud to call it home. Here is a list of things I appreciate about Oregon and the USA in general.