Wednesday, October 5, 2016
When Plans Change...
October 4-5, 2016
Today was a nice rest for us, and yet it was one of the most important reasons that we needed to come to Nepal. The driver picked us up at 8 AM and we drove out of town in the other direction to meet with the Red Cross. They are actually with the Danish Red Cross but are I think mentoring the people in Nepal. We are not sure how that works. This meeting took the morning and we were done and back at the hotel by noon.
We have a project that is very important. Most places in Nepal have water coming out of the mountain and they can access the streams, which are not polluted like they are in Africa, although they are not probably as clean as if they were accessed and filtered. Nevertheless, they have a lot of water in Nepal. However, this area is high up on the mountains where there is no water to be had. They hike down and back up a steep hill to access a spring. The project was to pump the spring water uphill to a tank, then another tank, and then another. Then distribution lines would be taken to households or near households. The elevation was high enough that the improper engineering caused the project to fail. Transformers blew up, pumps didn’t work, the spring box was poorly designed, etc. We finally stopped giving any money as everything broke down quickly and they wanted more money for pipes, which were useless without the water.
This is a shallow but large pond of water next to the offices of the Red Cross. I don’t know how many years it has been collecting moss, but there are fish in this pool that are living; how they are alive is a wonder. It was solid, green slime…
Finally they appealed to the Red Cross who decided to use their earthquake funds to get the project started again. We had the meeting today with the district engineer, the representative from TRUST whose project it was as implementer, our site monitor, the local Red Cross, Oliphant’s and us. A young gal from the Danish Red Cross presented what they wanted to do: to retrain the community, get community money saved, involve the government, re-engineer the project, and come up with a plan that might work. Another tank or two will be added to keep the elevation down from tank to tank and perhaps redesign the spring box. If they can do this right, we will then release or use the rest of the funds that we have left in the project. We felt good about the plan as it follows our criteria. Once they come up with the plan and costs, they will implement the project. We also will be partnering with them and not TRUST to complete the project. E/S Oliphant will return to the States next June, and so they hope that this project will be moving right along and nearly completed before they leave.
After the meeting we spent a leisurely afternoon. Jim even took a swim just to say that he did. It was windy on top of the hotel and the water is ‘refreshing’, so he did not last long. It is the pool with no fence at the top. There is a nice view. We tried to find a pharmacy, and eventually we did, but they didn’t have what we wanted. We were walking and it was warm, so we gave up on finding another one and went back to the hotel for a much-needed nap.
Taking a very short swim in the ‘refreshing’ pool 8 floors up with no fence at the side and back edges. It is a beautiful view from up here on this side. The business side is not so pretty with muddy strips between the road and the buildings, electrical wires strung everywhere and only a few pretty buildings. The residential sections are much prettier, and the country this time of year, beautiful.
Wednesday: Our car showed up at 8 AM and we’ve been awake since just after 3 AM so we had plenty of time to get ready. This time CHOICE was with us as we would be looking at a couple of their proposed projects and a couple of completed ones. Kiran Neupane accompanied us on this jaunt. CHOICE set up the vehicle so we had a different driver and car. We were happy that it was not cramped like the last one—this one was a roomy jeep-type but still, Kiran had the rumble seat in the back, sharing his space with the luggage. Unfortunately we had to go down the same road even though we turn off of it before the torn up highway. We would have more logically stayed there and completed it all together except for the meeting, which we could not change, and because it was so important.
Weaver’s were not accompanying us on this trip as they are involved in Helping Babies Breathe—lots of paperwork and set-up to do. They also work on wheelchair distributions. These two couples split the humanitarian responsibilities. Obviously Oliphant’s are the ones in charge of water projects and they also work with the food initiative. Both couples also participate in the Branch and have callings. Elder Oliphant was just called to be the executive secretary to the Branch Presidency; I think the others work in Primary.
As we drove along we were stopped so that the driver could pay a bribe. During festival times the police get bribes or keep you stopped for two hours. They select cars that they think can pay this bribe, which is about $5. We have a certain routine on this road, knowing all the bathroom stops that are decent, and always eating at the same place where they have good food. We had driven about 4 hours when we arrived for our lunch. We were so happy when it only took us one hour to get out of town. This was because a great many people are already out of town celebrating one of their big festivals. This took an hour off of our trip.
At the restaurant you can walk down and take a picture of the river that snakes through the canyon. It is muddy because whenever it rains the dirt comes with it. During the dry season it clears up a bit. At one spot on the road we could see that the rains the night before had filled the road with a lot of mud.
After our lunch we were walking up the long stairs back up to the parking lot and as we did so we met some American’s with some NGO coming down. One man stopped us and told us that they had just left a big traffic jam caused by a rock slide across the road. He said that they estimated that it would take at least 3 more hours to clear it. After sitting in it for two hours, they turned around and decided to stay at the hotel there (at the restaurant), or head back to Kathmandu. I couldn’t believe such a gift as this, to be at the right place at the right time to get this information. We discussed our options. We had at least 4 more hours to get to Besishahar in the Lamjung area, which was exactly where these people were going and even staying at the same hotel we had planned on. So we added the 4 hours plus at least 3-4 more hours to clear the jam and it just didn’t seem like such a good idea to go. We turned around and went back to Kathmandu. We had just taken a 9½ hour ‘Sunday’ drive…
Along the road we occasionally pass through a town in a wider spot. Some towns were inundated with mud.
We arrived at our hotel at 5:30 PM and invited the Oliphant’s to dine with us, telling them about the pork chops that Jim had enjoyed the night before. They went into the dining area while we went up to our room for a minute. We came to find that the bed had been made into twin beds so we asked the hotel to fix that. We were puzzled. It turned out that because they have been doing a bit of renovating and had been painting that they wanted to move us up to an ‘executive’ room. So, we packed up and they moved us to the exact spot, only 2 floors higher. I was surprised that the room was not any larger, but noted that it was a king size bed instead of a queen, there was a fridge, an ironing board and iron, and a tub shower and magnifying makeup mirror. So, it has been an eventful day! We have regrouped.
This is a typical site in the main city. If there is dirt beside the main road, it is muddy during rains, and dusty when it’s dry. Either way, it isn’t pretty. In contrast the countryside is lovely.
Tomorrow we will write reports, maybe swim, and in the afternoon go to CHOICE and be fed a wonderful lunch. All I can say is that life is interesting and one has to ‘roll with the punches.’
Back at the Shambala.
Love, Jim & Karen