Friday, May 7, 2010

Visiting a mountain village school in Nepal

I had no real plan, just a vague idea that I was going to take some books to Nepal and donate them to the school library of a small mountain school in the Rasuwa District. For several years I have been assisting two boys with their education. I wrote about these boys earlier in Dream a World of Good. Their village did not have an adequate school when the boys were young so their father moved the family to Kathmandu so that they could get an education.

Meanwhile, back in the village, several of the village leaders had been actively working to improve the quality of education in their district. They befriended a group of biologists from Italy and behold, a new school was built. This was a spectacular achievement and one that the village is enormously proud of and I'm sure the Italians are too. When I heard about the school being built, I wanted to see it and make a small personal contribution. Why? Just because I wanted to see where my adopted family had come from.

After the long ride up in the mountains from Kathmandu, we hiked about 45 minutes down a very steep and rocky path on the side of a mountain. Because I had not done any serious hiking for at least 10 years, and I am about 40 pounds overweight, by the time that we reached our host's home, I thought that I had wrecked my ankles and my knees. I was concerned that I might not be able to hike back up the mountain the following day. My adopted nephew and his father were carrying my packs and books for me, and still the local women carrying enormous loads of firewood on their heads passed me with ease.

Tania who is 10 years younger than myself and keeps herself in good physical shape with yoga did not appear to be suffering at all. I think she was overjoyed to be out of the city, on a brilliant day in the Himalayan hills. Everywhere up there the view was plunging and dramatic. I say plunging rather than soaring because I spent much of my time looking down at how far I would tumble before a tree or some rocks would break my fall. The path clung tightly to the side of the mountain and was very narrow in places. A constant flow of life, people, animals, insects all buzzing in harmony moved along the path. This was the kind of trekking Tania had been hoping for since I first mentioned that I was going to Nepal.

When we arrived at our host's home, they gave Tania and me some milk tea and let us rest for a while before they sent us another 10 minutes hiking down to the school. This time they helped me out by loaning me their grandmother's walking stick.

When we finally arrived, the upper school yard was empty, but when we turned the corner around the side of the building, hundreds of students were lined up and waiting for us. Tania and I were both astounded. We had no idea that this would be such a formal occasion.

Let that be a warning to all of you who are planning to travel with me at some point in the future. You never know what kind of a predicament I might lead you into.

The students had climbed all over the hillside collecting flowers and sewed them into necklaces (Mala) for us. Thank God Tania was there because I ran out of space around my neck for all of the necklaces that we received. When we had been properly lavished with adornments. Someone said to me, "Wouldn't you like to say something?" They were waiting for my unprepared speech.


  1. Obviously you made the hike back. Sounds wonderful and I would have loved to be with you.

  2. Hooray! You made it! I'm guessing the very thin air had a lot to do with you lack of stamina and visions of disappearing off every cliff. So fun to see all the flowers. If anyone deserves such a welcome you and Tania do. You caring and hard work can make huge changes in small lives.

  3. Yay, you made it. What's the altitude? The flowers are just gorgeous!
    word verification: copet - cope it? cope with it? You did, indeed.

  4. I'm wondering if your response, in your heart, was and who am i to give a speech? I'm thinking that it might have been, at least, in part. I'm curious to read how it went.

    And I wrote a poem a while back after reading your post about the woman who sat topless. Along the Bagmati, I think I called it. Should I forward it to you here? I think you may not have ever gotten that email.


  5. Hi Erin,

    I love your poetry! If you would like it to be visible here please post it. Or if it is still private,you can send it to

  6. wow!

    what a post, i wasn't worried at all that you'd make it, you had gifts to be delivered, that's a great motivation. the mala are gorgeous, they remind me of hawaiian leis. the photos are great too, i can only hope to be in some situations with you. it all sounds good to me. (except i would not be comfortable giving a speech!)

  7. butternut - i'm speechless! steven

  8. So was I Steven! -Very funny