Where do I start?? I don’t even know – maybe to say that I have been having problems with the internet so sorry for the blog entries coming in bunches. As well this is another long one as it covers several days.
Right now I feel like I am miles away from the orphanage but I am just in Thamel – I needed a hot shower (or 2or 3) and a clean space. Pat and Jessica left today so I will be on my own for the next 8 days or so. I am sad as they were not only great company but they worked so hard and were so easy going. And they did anything I told them to do – even when it could have killed them. It really wasn’t my fault but it all had to do with Fanta. I now know what it is and what it taste like but at the time I did not – we were waiting for our favourite taxi driver in front of his wife’s work – a little restaurant. He was going to be there in 5 or so minutes – his wife comes out and gives us “Fanta” – I give them the look and say drink it all – so they do – however she comes back out and fills it again – no big deal. Once we get into the taxi I say see it wasn’t that bad drinking “Fanta” – they both look at me and say that was Tang – made with their water. OOPS – I thought it was Fanta. Anyway we did survive as she used bottled water for us. No big deal – wants a little bit of Tang !!!
We certainly worked hard cleaning the shower rooms, squat toilet area and kitchen. We used so much cleaner that you could smell it by the front gate – I think we ended up using 4 bottles of cleaners. We enlisted the help of the other volunteer, Auntie and some of the children that weren’t in school. So armed with rubber gloves and scrubbers off we went to each of our areas. Pat cheated as she had the boys clean the squat toilet area in the boys’ area – they did do an excellent job. It is very hard to scrub concrete walls that are painted - we found this super duper cleaner which I will be bringing back a suitcase full of (I wonder if it is toxic? It doesn’t matter it is fantastic) but it took some of the paint off the walls – but it looks clean. We also put up some screens in the two bathrooms and two shower rooms so we can keep the windows open (cuts down on the smell) which keeps the bugs out. You think the mosquitoes are big in Alberta – nothing compared to these – flesh eating things that would poke right through your arm – not really but Jessica thought so. They are about 2 inches long – the biggest one we saw was about 4 inches – I am not scared of bugs but this one did scare me.
We did such a good job of cleaning that we killed the home where the – what we believe to be some type of parasite – worm like creatures that came crawling out of the girls shower room drain. So off we went in search of bleach – not easy to find at all – we finally found it the next day at the big supermarket store and poured it all over the floor and down the drain. The concern is that the girls sit on the floor to wash their clothes in that room as well shower without shoes. My job next week will be trying to get the girls to shower with their shoes on – they wear plastic sandals so they can easily wash everything down including their shoes.
After a day of cleaning we decided we needed some fun – we were a little tried but the kids came home from school – we needed something easy – we decided to blow bubbles. The thing that I find no matter how tried you are the children seem to bring your energy back. We had so much fun – especially after the volunteer showed us how to blow super big bubbles. It was so much fun and the children just had a great time.
The next day we took Auntie and two of the older girls – Doma (I want to bring her back with me) and KimJong shopping. They dressed up in their best clothes – they look so good. They all needed bras, underwear and feminine hygiene products. As we were shopping for bras and underwear Auntie came to me and asked me – she doesn’t speak English so she can of dragged me towards the purses – she really wanted one. So she picked one out - she was so happy. After our shopping we went for lunch. Auntie had never been in this type of restaurant before – it is more American style were the tourist go – she was just looking around. What I forgot to tell them was that all the workers in this restaurant are deaf – it is a place I found last time I was here and really felt they were doing something amazing as deaf people here would not have any real work or be paid even lower wages – this place helps. I should have said something as Jessica is speaking really loud thinking wants with this guy. Once I told her she just laughed – it would have been good to know before. It was one of those days that was such a happy one but yet sad. Sad that I know this is nothing – they need so much more. The feminine hygiene products will not last long – we were but somehow forgot to buy the reusable ones in Edmonton before we left. That will be something to bring for the next person that comes this way. We also know that 2 pairs of underwear will not last long. The look on their faces is something to remember – they were just so happy – especially Auntie. Here is a woman who looks after 23 children – 24/7 – no breaks – works so hard and has so little. She does have a home for her 3 children and herself – but her life changed so much after her husband died – she lived in a roam mountain village near her family – now she is here and there is no end in sight – without this place to live she and her 3 children would be homeless.
That evening we start our candle making – Pat and I brought 100 lbs of soya wax – heavy to carry around. However they will be able to make lots and lots of candles and as well gain a skill. We are teaching them how to add colour to the candles and scent. Pat found these wonderful pots however we can only make small batches at a time. We brought moulds, wicks and everything else to make the candles. We are finding that there is a big interest – on Wednesday of this week I will be teaching two of the guys that are involved with the orphanage as well as Raju (my son) – to make candles. Candles are big business here due to the regular power outages – they are amazed that the candles can burn up to three hours – they don’t really believe us. But they will see.
The candles turn out wonderful – and we will be making another hopefully 3 batches before I leave – I will bring a few back with me so people can see what the children did. I want to teach them how to layer different colours as well – this will make them look even more amazing. Every bit helps – we are trying so hard to think of ways to make this home better for the children and make them generate income so they can buy things that they need so much – basic items like shampoo, toothpaste, etc. As well as improving their diet of rice and daal. No protein at all in their diet. One of the reasons why so many of the children are so sick.
While we make candles the rest of the children watch “Cars” – they love it. And they are glued to the TV – there a little behind Canadian kids but we will teach them how to be glued to the TV set before we leave – only joking. It has been raining so much that we have not been able to do soccer yet. I am hoping to do that Saturday – if it does not rain and things dry up.
The next day is Pat and Jessica’s last day – we are planning on a whirl wind tour and shopping of Nepal. I take them to the places I like best – unfortunately when we get to Pashupati – the big Hindu temple and a very holy place – it happens to be a big day for burning of the bodies. I am really interested as one of the ceremonies is a Buddhist funeral – which is interesting as this is a Hindu site as well their funerals are much more colourful. I get the sense that Pat and Jessica do not share my interest. As well most of the Holy men are out – I am not sure where they are – usually there are a lot of them. So we leave. This place is also the place for the forgotten – elderly people and extremely handicapped. It is difficult to see this as these people are more than destitute if that even makes sense - In addition to this there are a lot of people just asking for money and we are being harassed by every person selling something. These people trying to sell things know some standard phrases like – it doesn’t cost to look – maybe you buy later.
After that experience we need to return to Patan as Pat needs to buy more singing bowls – so off we go. As we finish our shopping – we see the children or they see us and come running to us. Three volunteers – or people who know the children and spend time with them – have taken them on an outing – to the zoo – I would not recommend going to a zoo in a 3rd world country – not good as the children discover and then they take them on a tour of Patan. This is the tough part – they take the children out all day and they do not even have water for them. The children are thirsty and drink all our water. They also want to come with us – much to the upset of the volunteers. We need to be careful as we do not want to be viewed as stepping on their toes. Two of them have been involved on-going – I already know that they had issue with me – the children and the others involved with the orphanage talked about me coming back to Nepal and how excited they were – I was basically viewed by these people as the one the children talked about – how special. I try at every opportunity to ask their opinion about things and to praise their work and efforts. That’s all I can do.
After the children leave – we go shoe shopping – we decide that only people with very small feet can shop for shoes here as well. We are again followed by street vendors – however we discover they offer better deals then the ones in the stores – lesson – buy from street vendors and bargain – they will drop their prices quickly – very good deals.
The last place I want to take Pat and Jessica is my favourite place at the bottom of the Monkey Temple – the three big golden Buddha’s - they are impressive. Last time I was in Nepal I spent time here as I found it peaceful. Pat is memorized by them. But we must leave as we need to get back to the orphanage.
By the time we get back Jessica is very ill – she is so sick. This really isn’t the place to be sick as – sorry this is going to be gross – puking over our little balcony – as that is the only place – I could not image puking in the squat toilet – now that would be gross. When she has her moments of feeling a little better she does come out of the room – we give all the children those glow bracelets and necklaces – we shut off the lights. We have a lot of fun – they then want to dance – they have a CD – that would be disco dancing – you may not know this not only can I do Nepali dancing but I can disco. We have so much fun and just laugh and laugh !!!
The next day which would be Sunday here – but Saturday in Edmonton – Pat and Jessica are leaving. We have another sick child – Ramesh. It is something that is hard to figure out what is going on here – the outside of one ear looks like the skin is peeling and it is all infected – the ear is bleeding – it looks like from the inside and very swollen glands on the one side. No fever – it is just so odd. We will go back to the doctor.
Pat and Jessica must leave – two of the guys from the orphanage come to take them to the airport – they present each of them with a certificate and a Buddhist scarf – this scarf is given to someone you wish to honour on a high level. It is something like when they say Namaste to you and hold both hands in front of them – the higher the hands the more they respect you. Auntie cries when they leave – she is sad – they have been so good to her and they made her laugh – she gives Jessica her little tika – it was so sweet.
Off they go – they have so many suitcases that I cannot go to the airport – that is alright as I need to take Ramesh to the doctor. The doctor will not be in until 5:30 – however if you would like a ticket to see the Doctor that cost 200 rupees. We have a ticket.
I start investigating why the children are getting ill. They have different sores on their bodies as well. I discover that when they moved to this new place the children were doing much better – then the water supply changed so they ended up using well water – since that happened the children began getting sick. I don’t really know if the parasites that were found in the shower room could or would be in the water supply. That with the lack of protein could be the cause as they cannot fight off anything. New plan – Pat and I spoke about this before she left – the need to add protein to their diet – Jessica’s boyfriend Josh gave her some protein powder – we will use that to make rice pudding – or I will try to do this. As well add some eggs to their diet. To add protein to a diet when you never have had protein needs to be slowly – we will start with eggs for a few days then the rice pudding with protein powder added in. The other news is that the guys from ENPHO are finally returning today and Raju phoned me to say they will put the new water system in this week. This will also require learnings.
So much to do – in the next days that I have remaining – I need to just keep doing and not think about all this – I know if I do I will just cry – I feel so helpless – so much – to little – I guess I can only do what I can do. After a stay in the hotel I feel renewed – and clean – I make a list and schedule of things that need to be done – it’s a long one but I will do it. I also would like to give a list of things that volunteers can do when they are here and some suggestions – maybe that would help.
Now it is time to return – smiling, happy and just doing – there is no time for tears.