Thursday, March 22, 2018

Pictures, Nepal

A typical room in the home of a Nepali family.  This is typical of most that we have seen. 

'There is always room for one more': the guy is hanging on to the bar and the man behind him is holding him into the vehicle.  We even see school buses loaded to the gills with children.  

This worship place was recently added to the Riverside Springs Resort where we stop to eat each time we pass by.

The men from CHOICE decided we needed to hike to the source of the spring, which was somewhere by those homes on the left of the picture.  They said it was a 1 hour hike; again, it looked like a 3 hour round trip.  We told them we believed there was a spring as they said, and if we did this hike it would take up too much of our day. 

This is a typical room in one of the houses that was built here as emergency relief after the earthquake.  This is just one side of the home--they all had another side; some were separated by a solid wall and others were left more open or accessible to the other side. Everyone was given $3,000 and then taught by skilled technicians on how to properly build their homes.

This man had a solar panel that he was using to charge up people's phones.  We don't know if it was a business for him or if he did it as a service.

The man with the large family built this nice kitchen that was attached to his home.  It was the most updated one we saw in this area.

The man who had built room additions to his home because they said he has a large family.  Here is added a loft.

The cows on their concrete so that urine slides into the ditch.

The urine from the cows slides down the ditch and is separated from the waste.  They use all the human and animal waste for cooking, fertilizer and pesticides.

A more typical cooking area outside the home proper.

This is how they turn urine with bio-digestors into methane gas for cooking. 

Another grand, old tree!

It's a lovely setting for this hotel that used to be a municipal building.

The foliage around this hotel. 

This is the view from the hotel we stayed at one night that is high in the mountains.  From their hotel you can see this view of the entire valley and also the Himalayas.  But this morning all you can see is smog.

Nothing cuter than a little Nepali child!

They only collect water 2 hrs. in the morning and 2 hrs. later in the day.  They cue up their cans waiting their turn.

The people here requesting a water project said that they are the oldest city in Kathmandu--1700!

This is the water committee for the community requesting help with their water project.  Wild boars were tearing up their water lines.

Last days Nepal

March 18, 2018

We were up at 5 and gone by 6.  Rakesh had places to be and then flew back so there was the four of us plus our driver and his brother in the car.  Once again the spoiled child (me) got to ride up front because of my neck.  In my childhood I got to ride shotgun because my parents didn’t want me to throw up in the car.  I no longer get carsick, thankfully, and in fact can read if the road is not too windy.  Today on the long trip home to keep me from getting antsy, I read and also played a couple of games on my phone.  It seems to help, otherwise it is rather stressful so it helps to pass the time.

The 7-12 hour window to get home suggested by Rakesh as to be normal, was quite correct.  In fact, if it were not for one thing (our driver’s flat tire), we easily would have made it in 7 hours, but still, we got home after lunchtime—we were blessed.  Leaving early paid off as the traffic was light until we got closer to Kathmandu, and then the city was normally congested with constant stops and waits with our driver wiggling around to try to get somewhere.

On the way home were able to stop for a nice breakfast at the Riverside Springs Resort that we always go to, and then went up to the parking lot to see that our driver was not there.  He’d gone out to eat (for local food) and got a flat tire.  When he finally returned, his brother was not with him.  He said he had gotten another ride.  The entire time he was driving he constantly heard from his family.  I could tell because I heard children’s voices on his phone—so cute.  He was a nice man who is Buddhist and he appeared to be very religious.  The majority of people in Nepal are Hindu. 

It was so good to get back.  We could tell that the driver really needed a bathroom!  I feel his pain…we all do after a long jaunt like that!  He had driven as fast as possible as one can in often totally stopped Kathmandu traffic, and then upon arriving jumped out of the car to use the restroom.

When we got back to Wilkinson’s house I then discovered what the problem was with my computer--it was their whacky service there, or just the location.  E/S Pocock who live next door have no problems with their connections.  The Pocock’s have a daughter and son-in-law visiting who knows a bit about technology so he came over to try to help Kenney, but in the end it still had a problem.  They determined that it must be the location or the service.

Tomorrow Terry and I will take the day off.  I will stay here and write reports and she will go to her language school.  Even if they flunk their final test, the really important thing to not be kicked out of Nepal is to go 80% of the time.  The guys are going to check on one project that we will close as soon as Jim sees it, and a couple of future projects Rakesh wants to propose in the Kathmandu area.  I was surprised to hear that Kathmandu even extends past where the highway begins out of the city—it is rather huge.   I am looking forward to a leisurely day here.  We depart for home late tomorrow night.  It has been a good trip, made fun by being with this couple, seeing old friends we have worked with before, and meeting new ones and having new experiences.

March 19, 2018

I worked on our Trip Report and again realized that the e-mails would not go out because of the apartment/Internet problems here and will send out letters when I get home.  Terry went to her language class.  I had to go to the China Southern office to find out why we no longer had seats (as shown on the Internet), but we still had seats—this is good.  We showered and packed and then in the evening went to Pocock’s next door to eat a meal prepared by the wife of their driver Momo.  He is not yet a member of the Church and neither is his wife, but his son got baptized recently.  I found out that he is waiting till his father dies so as not to upset him and tradition.  He is very proud of his son who is learning to play the piano.  I think his boy is around 12 years old; they just have the one son.  Momo is such a pleasant young man, always smiling, and the food his wife prepared was really good as she left out those Nepali spices that light us on fire.  We enjoyed the evening visiting with Pocock’s and their daughter & son-in-law and saying our final goodbyes to the Wilkinson’s—they have been such wonderful hosts and we got along great!  Momo took us to the airport, which is rather close to their apartments.

March 20, 2018

We spent a lot of hours waiting in airports as many flights had been delayed plus some long layovers.  We flew China Southern for the first time this trip and it was okay except when we have had to wait in the airport.  It seems they do have nice places in those airports, but where we have to wait is very cold and there is no place to rest.  The seats are okay but there is no place to lay down and the floor is tile.  On the way back in between flights we passed the time by playing Skip-Bo.  On this last wait in a Chinese airport there was no food to be had except in one vending machine.  Finally when it got close to departing they brought us some drinks and a package with some tiny crackers in it.  The airline seats on the way here on the long flight seemed rather uncomfortable, but for some reason, on the way back I was able to find a comfortable way to sleep, which I did a lot of on the longest flight.  We knew that there was going to be a ‘touch down’ on the long flight, but we had no idea that we would be de-boarding the plane.  I guess they needed to clean and restock the essential items for the passengers, so this took an hour or two more. 

When we arrived in San Francisco our flight home was also delayed as they were late and also had to circle above the airport, waiting for a turn to land.  We arrived at our home about 10 PM.  It seemed to take forever to get home, but we are home, and all is well. Any time a plane doesn’t crash, it’s a good day!  I managed to unpack and start my wash, and passed out after midnight when I finally got to bed and slept till 9AM.  It’s so good to be home!  It’s so good to brush my teeth in the clean water that comes out of my faucet.  And I love being in a good bed and taking a long, hot shower.  Life is good!  We leave for West Africa in a few weeks…till then.


Jim & Karen, E/S Greding, Mom & Dad

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Pictures, Nepal

This is the State flower, a gentleman told us...

Note the homes stuck on the hills, and even across the way on the ridge...does anyone ever fall off their mountain?  (Note the terraced gardening).

A man collecting water at the old source--it takes 1 hour to fill one of those cans.  The new project, nearly completed, will remedy this.  This project began in 2012, so it has been a long time coming.  They should have water in their taps at the end of the month!

Jim watched these men building this house and thought what a good job that they were doing, using rebar and cement!  We don't always see good construction in the countries we visit.

Just another beautiful old tree.  We see many in our travels.

The LDSC plaque written in Nepalese given to the Chilaunepani group, the good project that the Red Cross took over when it stalled because of poor management and corruption.  They had funds leftover from the earthquake that they were able to use to complete this very important project, one of the best that was needed.  We will continue to help financially and oversee its completion.  Kiran Neupane is next to me, the Red Cross engineer in front of Jim, and the Red Cross manager for the project next to Elder Wilkinson.

This is the highest and third tank for the Chilaunepani project, perched on the top of the mountain.  It has been difficult getting the right engineering to get the water from way down below at the spring source, and up to the tanks and then distributed into taps near their homes.  Their arduous walks will no longer take up their entire days.

Jim usually has something to say about their construction methods and asks them to secure pipes in a better fashion.

Cornerstone Ceremony, Nepal Style...

March 17, 2018

We did depart at 7 AM as planned with Rakesh’s driver, who we determined very soon was much more cautious than our last one who always seemed to be in a race, with a typical pass-on-the-curve Nepali mentality.  Rakesh doesn’t travel much by car because of the ridiculous amount of time it takes to get anywhere, and also the horrible condition of the roads, so he flew instead.  This is getting to be a very good idea.  For instance, it is 190 Kilometers back to Kathmandu (about 120 miles) from the area we drove to today, but it will take anywhere from 7-12 hours to get back!  Part of it is because of the rocky dirt roads, but much of it is just traffic and trucks breaking down or accidents.  On the way here we were stalled on the highway for long periods of time.  We did, however, make it in time across the place that closes for roadwork for most of the day.  If you arrive after a certain hour, you won’t be able to get where you want to go.  

First we went to the hotel, which is one that we have been to before, but now it is much improved.  Last time this gorgeous hotel didn’t turn on their air conditioning till the nighttime and the bed they gave us was just a box spring with no mattress.  We had to take the cushions off the furniture in order to sleep.  This time we were happily surprised to see that we were able to cool the room down when we arrived in the middle of the day, and then we sat on

 the bed—it had a mattress this time (but we heard from Wilkinson’s that they got the box spring)!
We ordered our lunch and had some downtime but soon Rakesh had shown up to meet us and we got ready to go.  We are here for a big celebration, a cornerstone ceremony for the upcoming approved water project.  These people do it up big, with tent made out of beautiful fabric.  There was a very large crowd and Rakesh had gotten the Mayor, a Member of Parliament whose father used to be the Prime Minister, and doctor that is a Member of Parliament who spoke English.  Not very many people in Nepal speak English so we sat for an hour and listened to them speak Nepali.  Then we left our chairs to go to the cornerstone ceremony, and then headed back to our chairs to hear the rest of the speakers.  We discovered that someone had taken our waters so they had to find some more for us—so funny!  The speaker that entertained them the most was Kenney Wilkinson.  Since he has learned some Nepali and was able to speak with them mostly in their language, again we didn’t get to hear but a few words in English, but Kenney is the only one that gets them to laugh.  For the others they just politely clapped from time to time.  The speakers were members of the water committee and the dignitaries.

A very colorful place to have a meeting.  In the back there were a couple of banners concerning the project noting our funding. There were a lot of people there.  At one point they played their anthem and it was really a pretty song.  I filmed it so I could remember it better.  On the left the man nearest the podium was the MC.

Afterwards the people all wanted to get pictures with the few dignitaries that showed up.  They also played some of their favorite songs to dance to, so once again the women grabbed Terry and me and so we danced again.  It was time to leave, but they got us back to dance again and again.  They sure like to dance!  It was a bit more fun than last time because I actually had the energy to do it (my sore throat has happily disappeared).  It is warm here, but occasionally there was a breeze so that it was fairly pleasant.

The Cornerstone ceremony: We drove part of the way and walked the rest to the spot where the large tank will be, a short distance away.  They had dug a small, square hole in the ground.  Then the religious man did a bunch of chanting.  It was hard to see since everyone was crowded around the hole, but at a certain time they put a few bricks in the hole, Jim being told to do one of them and he almost goofed it up by putting it in too soon, but he grabbed it back just in time!  Once all of the bricks were in the hole they added the red dust that they make the Bindi out of and put it on the bricks as he chanted some more.  They also added incense to burn and some typical plants or grasses or flowers and some food as this was going on.  As we left the spot to go back to hear the rest of the speakers Rakesh told us that they used to do a sacrifice, usually a goat.  When that got too expensive they began to sacrifice chickens; now they just add a little food and plants!  During the second half they served us slices of apple and some grapes on a tiny dish. .  I think the whole thing lasted a couple of hours, but it seemed longer.  The ones in Kenya were usually 4-6 hours, so we are grateful!

The cornerstone ceremonial hole where the tank will be built.

This is the first easy day we’ve had.  Even though the drive here was long and tedious, we had time to rest before the ceremony, and returned to the hotel an hour before we all met up at the restaurant, Rakesh joining us.  Lucky guy, sometime tomorrow he will fly home.  We decided that we’d leave at 6 AM to hopefully beat the traffic—we could see the long lines going the other way, and we were often stopped, so hopefully it will be an easier trip back to Kathmandu.
Here’s hoping…

Terry on the left, Jim and I together, Kenney in back.  The two gentlemen in front of us, one by me and the man next to him, are both rather important and everyone wanted to take a picture with them.

Dancing girls….


March 16, 2018

I awoke at 4 AM when Jim was having trouble sleeping and then I never went back to sleep but he did, of course, ha, ha.  I finally got tired of lying there so I got up and worked on my computer.  There was still no Internet working so I couldn’t send out a letter.  But one great thing did happen.  The rains had stopped and Jim went to rinse his hair by leaning over the tub.  He was surprised that finally, the water was warm!  I was so excited that I hoped in the shower and sort of hosed myself off—it was warm, just, so I saved washing my hair for another time; I was grateful for it nevertheless!

We had our breakfast and left for the day’s activities.  Of course, there we were at the base of the Himalayas, and because the rain had stopped, they were in full view.  I can’t help it—I just have to take another bunch of pictures of the mountain!!  They are so magnificent!

View from our hotel, the Himalayas.

We departed for our first stop, meeting with the water committee to talk about the upcoming water project for Besishahar.  There was another hike, one I couldn’t go on because my neck was bothering me.  I was jealous.  But it didn’t take too long and they saw what they needed to see and talked with the people—every dry season for two months they don’t have water.  This project will remedy that situation. 

While in this area the Wilkinson’s remarked about how beautiful and clear the air was.  Kathmandu is incredibly polluted by vehicles and dust.  Many people wear paper masks over their noses and mouths to keep from breathing it in.  When the buses and Lories accelerate a huge plume of black smoke spews out of their pipes.  During the rainy season it clears up for a while, but out of the city in the country areas, especially after a rain like last night, it is clear and beautiful. The beautiful landscape is set off by the colorful houses and it is quite a lovely sight.  During the rice season though, it is even lovelier because of its incredible green color.

Kenney & Jim, best buds, with Himalayas in the background, those aren’t clouds.

We proceeded to an area that had lost their homes to the earthquake.  CHOICE and the government and LDSC have been partnering in this area to help them recover.  The government gives them some house designs to choose from, then CHOICE decided upon two for the recipients to choose. They get $3,000 to build it, and then CHOICE provides technicians to help them do it properly.  All had completed them and many improved upon them.  In conjunction with this project, LDSC had helped by doing a food initiative there.  Because of this, they had earned money from their crops and it had only been instituted last year.  It was so interesting because they set up ways to collect human and animal waste, which was put through some process, which turned it into fertilizer and another mix of human waste and other things were used as a natural pesticide.  LDSC built cow sheds with concrete floors and made so that urine is separated and drains down into the process that breaks it down.  The cow dung and sometimes human waste is broken down to be used as fertilizer.  I will send more photo and explanations when I get a chance—it was just so interesting.

We spent quite a bit of time there.  They welcomed us with the lays and of course the red mark on our foreheads.  We visited with the people and saw all their improvements.  They built their own latrines, and many of them had fancy tile in them.  Some added a place to cook and others were fancier and almost looked like kitchens.  We really enjoyed this community and they are SO grateful—it has changed their lives.  The Church will be partnering with CHOICE to build about 40-50 more homes and do another Benson Food Project along with them.  The homes are under emergency relief, another one of the 6 major initiatives (Clean Water, Babies Breathe, Wheelchairs, Vision Training, Benson Food Initiative, and Emergency Relief).  

We had our usual welcome with leis and the red Bindi—Jim doesn’t like getting the Bindi!

A typical home in this area that was part of emergency relief by CHOICE and the government. 

They had to build their own latrines.  Some had tile like this one.  There were two doors in the front because the other side was for showering.  Some were just concrete, but all looked clean and well-constructed.

We finally stopped for a late lunch, and Kiran assured us it was good food.  But even he was surprised at how hot it was.  Kenney ended up with food poisoning, and Terry didn’t feel like eating much after that.  That is probably because they tried to eat some of it—I ate a taste here and there, but it was too spicy for me.  I think Kiran was embarrassed as he mumbled to himself about it afterwards and I could tell he felt bad.  They gave us all some yogurt, that tasted very fresh, that they assured us would make the ‘burn’ go away.  It worked pretty well, and the yogurt tasted good too.  Also, the white rice did not have anything on it.

We traveled around some more, looking at some of the areas for the new homes and food production and some of the things CHOICE has done and finally headed for the hotel.  I guess The Bandipur Resort Hotel is somewhat famous in these parts and we did find some tourists there.  It used to be a municipal building where meetings and training took place, but then they moved to Kathmandu.  Now they have turned it into a hotel.  Bandipur the town is high up and you can see the vast valley and again the Himalayas.  The setting is quite lovely, but for me there was one glorious thing about this place—the shower!  It was magnificent!  It was as hot as you wanted it to be and had one of the finest sprays ever.  It feels so very good to be totally clean again!

I also enjoyed the pudding with those sweet little bananas cut up in it.  This pudding is was what I had for dinner, along with Mango juice.  It was a very long day and I wasn’t hungry for dinner.  Talk about comfort food…it reminded me of my childhood.

Today was a grueling day on the roads again.  Even though they are making a highway and it was graded nicely, most of the roads we traveled on were violent to our bodies.  I think I need to put my neck in a cast.  And once again we have to get up very early and depart with, this time, Rakesh Hamal.  Kiran Neupane and his CHOICE workers departed after they dropped us off, and so Rakesh and his NGO Sunaulo is up next. 

Here’s hoping for a good night’s sleep!  We don’t seem to have a moment’s extra time, so it has been pretty difficult to get anything done when we get to a hotel.  We are leaving at 7AM because of road construction—if you don’t get through a certain area, it will be closed down for the day.  I am hoping for a less vigorous schedule tomorrow.

Till then, happy dreams…