Phew! what a whirlwind few days since you last heard from us… Theres been a lot going on here!
On Monday, Ashim from Bring Thoughts to Action and I took off on a motorbike for a 2 day research/ assessment trip, making plans for the next phase of our work- a big secret project, which you will no doubt hear all about soon.
First stop, Pranesh Mala’s farm in Kathmandu, to see his custom made rammed earth brick press, and earthquake proof housing design, we were all very impressed. and he had ducks!
Next, the two of us made the long ride up through the mountains to the town of Bhangritar, Sindupalchowk. The town is 10 minutes from the site of a colossal landslide that happened last year, claiming many lives. We picked our way over the mountains of rock and debris that still lie there, far below us, the bodies of those who could not be removed. It was a haunting experience.
We met Ashim’s father, a teacher at the local school, and had a few meetings and talks about the site plan for a new project there. That evening we stayed at his house and talked with the family. Ashim’s grandmother made us comfy beds on the floor, and after months of intense volunteer work, the two fell asleep almost immediately.
The next day, after a hearty Dal Bhat breakfast, we took off once again, headed for Bhummlu Salle, the town where SGDR had worked for 3 weeks previously, building shelters and a school, to make further plans for our new project. At the town at the bottom of the hill we met Rajkumar Lama, a trusted friend, who is our partner in crime in Salle. after a welcome cold coke, we set off up the long, bumpy hill. A steep path of loose sand and huge rocks, hit hard by monsoon rain and landslides, It was no easy undertaking. Wal’s poor bike!
In Salle we drank hot sweet tea with Raj’s family, and talked of micro-financing, women empowerment, and special skill training. Raj has some very forward ideas on these topics, and it was an enlightening talk. After this, we went to see the site, and talk to a local welding expert, and a bamboo master craftsman… Things were looking good for the new plan. With the sun about to set, we took our leave, Back down the hill. Wal’s bike had just had its clutch plate and wheel bearings replaced, but the steep descent not only undid all this good work, but we also lost a foot pedal to a boulder in the middle of the road.
At Dholal Ghat, we ate a snickers, and parted ways, and I drove up the hill in the fading light to rejoin the build team in Hokse . As I walked down the hill, the entire village seemed to shimmer and glow in the dark, the walls were on! in just 2 days, the entire village had been organised to collect all of their tin, bamboo, and door materials, and work in synchronicity to erect all the walls together at once. Every return to Hokse comes with a huge step forward in progress, but this was perhaps the most noticeable change so far. We drank Roxie together, and fell asleep under the shelter.
In the morning, the real extent of the progress became clear… The toilets fully walled and plumbed to the two huge double septic tanks which had been dug by Simon and Chris. the 2 1,000 ltr water tanks operational, and the cement wash stations complete, with the addition of a tiny pool ladder, rafts and diving board made by the lovely Martha. The build team has now been sweating away, day in, day out, for over 6 weeks, and the fruits of their labour are now coming clear. From the days at the drawing board 2 months ago, to the very real village we now have, Its really quite hard to believe.
That day also happened to be Glenn’s birthday, he spent the day with the locals, and helped the doctor and leader to build his walls, when night fell, we prepared him a Mediterranean feast of many dishes, Shakshuka, Hummus, Flatbreads, Tahini, and Cocktails. For dessert, Martha and I made an apple pie dessert island, complete with a tiny Glen, and a tiny Wal, and in tiny Wal’s hand, a tiny little J! It was a sweet and well deserved celebration for the Team.
In the morning, we had another sad goodbye, as Martha Breeze packed up her things for the drive back to Kathmandu. Sad indeed, but, we did drink Lassi find some nice tiles in Banepa. Oh Nepal, theres nothing quite like it!