Sunday, April 19, 2009
Dream A World of Good, Part 2
A few months passed before I heard from the cricket team I was sponsoring in Nepal, then I received a lovely photo of the team with all of their new equipment and everyone in a white T-shirt that said, A World of Good, Inc. The former head man's eldest son wrote to me with his thanks and kept in touch to let me know how things were going in Nepal.
Things were not going at all well in Nepal. The difficulties with the government became worse. The king was losing control and started to arrest members of the Parliament, 'for their protection,' he said. I cannot take sides on these issues--it is not my place and I have friends on opposite sides of the issues. But I can tell you that friends of mine were being squeezed from both sides. If they cooperated with the Maoists the Government could arrest them. At the same time, Moaist representatives would come to people's homes or shops and say you must give us money or we will hurt members of your family. Anyone with a little money or the perception of power was in danger. Bombs went off in the business district and strikes were constant. Tourism began to dry up and shops were failing.
The following year I returned to Nepal to visit my suppliers. It was the off season, but even so I had never seen it like that before. The tourist area of Nepal looked like a ghost town. Again, while I was there, there was a strike and I found myself throwing pebbles at a suppliers window to let him know that I was down below and wanted to come up to shop. (Go back to The One Eyed Monkey of Swayambu to read about strikes.)
The headman's two sons invited me to come to see them play cricket, and since I couldn't get much work done anyway, I followed them down dusty streets past cows and goats to a large flat area near a river. We walked straight toward a brick wall that seemed to go on for about a quarter of a mile and had no door. The brick wall ended perpendicular to the river bed. There was a sheer drop about 30 feet to the rocks below. The boys told me to hang on to the end of the wall and swing one foot around to the other side. I felt like a kid again sneaking through the neighbors garden to take a dip in a forbidden pool. On the other side of the wall was a great expanse of flat ground with a few blades of grass. I could see several areas where cricket games were taking place.
I saw our team right away because many of the boys were wearing the shirts that I had given them. Up close the shirts looked a bit shabby, and one of the boys told me that was the only shirt he had. I have a hard time understanding comments like that. Did he really mean that it was the only shirt he had or the only shirt he had to play in?
The boys suited me up in their new equipment, a face mask, pads and a bat. I was raised on baseball and had never watched a game of cricket before. Did you know that games can last 8 hours a day for up to 5 days! Anyway, they laughed at me trying to hit the ball and we had fun.
When I left Nepal this time the two brothers promised to keep writing to me. And they kept their promise. A few months later, I received another note from the headman's eldest son. Their father's shop was failing and he and his brother were going to drop out of school and go to work. At that time, the brothers were about 11 and 13 and if you read the first part of this story, you know that school is why the gentle headman left his village to come to Kathmandu in the first place. It was a very sad situation.
My husband and I struggled with this for a little while. Wealth is a matter of perspective, we don't think of ourselves as wealthy, yet we can clothe and feed our own children and send them to a public school. So, we have enough. I asked around to see if anyone I knew would be willing to sponsor these kids through school, but no one was volunteering. Really, who would? Who is any closer to these boys than we are. So I wrote them back, "You need school more than cricket. If your father can provide everything else for you, we will pay for the education." That was how we came to have "nephews" in Nepal.