Spring 2011

 

As always it has been quite a journey this time as there is always something special that occurs in Nepal. I had bought couple of laptops and beamers for several schools.
Two days before departure I decided to weigh all the material. Allowed was 23 kg, it was 32 kg! However I tried to combine it all it didn’t work out. So finally I had to leave 2 beamers behind but I will take those with me in fall. I agreed with the schools they will practice with PowerPoint presentations. If that works out they will get the beamer (sort of projector). Why I didn’t buy those things in Nepal? Because these are much more expensive over there, a beamer even double the price!
I flew through London Gatwick (a lot of delay and checkpoints) to Doha and then Kathmandu.
Arriving at Kathmandu my taxi was already waiting to bring me to my hotel. In advance I had made a schedule for all projects and meetings.

First thing to do on my list was a conversation with Sarala, the wife of Prakash. Prakash has passed away last year in a plane crash. Naba, my Nepalese friend, was present at the conversation. Cost of living is very expensive at Kathmandu and we talked about training for becoming a seamstress. She is doing that right now but it is not proceeding that well. We also talked about looking for a possibility in living at Gorkha as there are already relatives of Prakash living there. It is all a lot cheaper over there and they also have fine schools. Sarala is going over there and I expect they will look for a place to live over there. I was happy to give her € 1.100, -- as a contribution for the education of the 2 boys, house-rent and cost of living. I agreed with her that Naba (of the trekking agency) is my contact person and that we would like to know how things develop in the future.
Many thanks to all that contributed to this donation for Prakash his family!
The rest of the day I visited some shopkeepers I know for many years now and who invited me to drink some chai (Nepalese tea). At home I never drink tea!!!

CHITWAN

On March 13th I took the bus to Chitwan. I called with the owner of the bus and he gave me 2 seats. So I had my backpack next to me. Laptops and beamers also came along. Some things were planned to arrive a bit later. The journey was great but it is a long ride (from 7 till 13.30) including a short break. At Sauraha the jeep was already waiting to take me to my hotel. I quickly unpacked all to have an overview of what needed to be done. I took my schedule as a lead but things worked out differently…
There were exams at all schools, so forget about the schedule. Visiting the schools during exams is a bit tricky as everyone is quite nervous then. But with the contacts I have over there I succeeded in it though limited. The last ones to take exams was class 10 and then the holiday started. So I had to reschedule all drastically. Instead of 1 school a day it were 2 schools a day to visit.
Furthermore Ram told me his son was going to be dedicated to becoming Brahmaan. This can be done as of age 8 or 9. The ceremony lasts 2 days. 300 people were invited.

The first day was all about a lot of rituals and people arriving in fancy clothes that go sit around a sort of tent made of bamboo. A lot of offering was done.
The 2nd day the head of Ram his son was shaved all bald and he got a white thread as a symbol of being a Brahmaan as from now on.
I had seen this at Kathmandu once but only for about half an hour. They started at 8 in the morning till 8 in the evening and really dozens of people are witnessing this ritual. I filmed all and I hope to make a film of it in the future.

Besides this delay in time there was also the Holy-festivity. It is the festivity of celebrating the new season/springtime with throwing colors and water. This also lasted for 2 days.
Somehow I did manage to visit all schools and women groups and buy material for the health post. At the back of Ram his motorbike, with 2 laptops and beamers. I constantly felt I could fall off any minute.
The Kaparkhorischool, Mohana school and Malpur all got their things.
I managed to make some pictures of students working on their exams. One of the women groups was working on micro finance. It seemed that 2 projects for cultivating mushrooms had bought straw only for half a year. Now the straw was done so they couldn’t cultivate mushrooms anymore. They know now they have to do a better planning on this and buy enough storage for a whole year.
In October we will start 2 new projects. We have some money reserved for this. Electricity is still a big problem in wintertime. At Chitwan there was power for about 2x 5 hours a day. So that means there was no power for 14 hours. That is why we bought a generator for our health post at Bachhauli. Capacity 4,7KW. It helps to keep the refrigerator cool which can be done with only couple of hours power a day. Also bought a lot of testing sets. The government doesn’t supply those. They have to buy those themselves. We bought test related to diabetes, uric acid, liver, pregnancy test, HB and other blood tests and some chemicals too. We checked with 3 companies and as there was no commission charged we stayed within budget. Many thanks to our sponsor!

Very positive news was that our hospital trained women as maternity nurse. In every of the 9 districts at least one woman is trained. They have sort of backpack with necessary equipment for assistance during childbirth and after the baby is born. They can weigh the baby and they have a checklist so they know what to look for and how to act if something is not all right with either the mother and/or the baby. There are no costs charged.
When someone has to go to hospital for the delivery only the costs of ambulance are charged, being 6 euro/ 600 rupees. At the hospital at Bharatpur all is for free. It would be great if another 9 women could be trained in the near future.

On behalf of Suroj, Sita and Asmita (the blind students) we would like to thank the people that supported them. They all go visit the University and are still waiting for the exam results. Sometimes that can take about 7 months…

Construction is taking place at the Belcischool as well as the Jhuwanischool but also the training center for women. It is financed by the government. Nepal Pariwar was at the base of building classrooms and training area and now the Nepalese government is taking initiative for expansion! Fantastic.
Of course we visited the Training- en Education center for blind that is in progress. The building is getting its planned shape. Next fase is getting the roof finished and finish the plaster and painting.
Estimated planning is it to be finished in November. Of course we will keep you posted.
We also are in contact with an organization at Bharatpur (40km from Sauraha).
There was also an eye-camp where I met a Dutch eye specialist. I am also keeping in contact with him as I want an eye and dentist camp at Ghorepani. Of the 130 people at the eye camp there were 12 people with cataract. They all got surgery the day after and are able to see clear again now.

Sauraha is not the nice village it was 3 years ago. Construction is going on everywhere along the main road. Big hotels, shops and restaurants. When there are many tourists it is crowded at the jungle. Elephants are marching head to tail to give a glimpse of the rhino. Yes, I am member of honor of nature organization. I brought them an old laptop of mine. I was invited to join them on April 6th for rhino counting at the entire area of Chitwan. They do that every 2-3 years. Unfortunately my planning was too tight. Asked if they were going for tiger counting in October. There was no date set yet but the tigers are still counted.

Had some trouble with a spot at my back. It seemed to be an abscess and I needed surgery on that. Ram and other Nepalese advised me to do surgery at Pokhara. This wasn’t in my planning just before me leaving to Pokhara and the mountains.

POKHARA

March 28th I drove with private car of Hari Shankar Aryal (owner of Rhino Lodge at Chitwan) and Crown Himalayas (Pokhara) to Pokhara. All packed up, 7 people in a small Hyundai. I was sitting sideways in front because of the wound at my back. I lost count how often Hari his cell phone rang but it was frequent and of course not handsfree. Occasionally he stopped. The ride took 4,5 hours. Hari drove very concentrated and one has to watch all sides as the traffic runs in from every corner wanting to blend in.

After settling in at my room Han took me to the Charak Hospital at Pokhara. I was not looking forward to do so but I had no choice. After examination the surgeon (Mahendra KC) said I was ready for surgery. I was not the only patient. I had to take off my shoes and socks and got sandals. I entered a place where 3 other patients were waiting and I could change my regular clothes into green surgery outfit. I could enter the Surgery Room fairly quick and I could lay down waiting what was to come. At 4 the started cleaning and local anesthesia (which was felt clearly). They used lots of Betadine and I saw the doctor and nurses wearing surgecal masks and sterile cloths. They made an incision so the wound was open and could heal better. I will spare you further details but after 40 minutes all was done and I could leave surgery room on my own feet. Hari was waiting at my stuff. After having done the necessary payments I was able to go home. Total costs: 95 euro for surgical clothes, surgery material, medications, registration etc). Following days I had to change bandage twice so I could leave for Tirkhedunga and Ghorepani on foot. Trackingpermit was for free again. At Pokhara I rapidly selected boxes with bandages and children toys. It was send by someone from Holland to there. Some was for the Tibetan Refugee camp (bandage and toys), some bandage for the Health post at Chitwan and stuff for Ghorepani, Tirkhedunga and Ulleri. Thank you.

INTO THE MOUNTAINS

March 31st the taxi was ready with Khem the teacher from Tirkhedunga and the chairman of the school. Another teacher joined us later on. The drive took about 1,5 hour (45 km) across bumpy roads, sand paths and 2 wading rivers. It wasn’t all comfortable so quick after surgery. The taxi took us to Birethanti, a bit further. The carrier that was send from Ghorepani was already waiting. He only had to carry my luggage and day backpack and some bandage and toys for the 3 villages. It was a great walk without any backpack thanks to the surgery. Within record time I reached Tirkhedunga in about 2 hours and 20 minutes. The first step was taken. Only the carrier was there with me, the rest had dropped out of the tour.
Then I went to the new building of the Shree Bhagawati school. I received malla’s (flower garlands) and a tika. A sponsor had given money for 50 new tables and chairs. But it was not ready yet. Priority was at building a new hostel at that moment. I had decided not to pay the money. After some deliberation I payed 60% as the wood was already there but wasn’t prepared yet. In a letter at the sponsor they promised all will be ready after October 16th. I say goodbye to the teacher and the chairman and I leave for Ulleri with my carrier, more than 3000 steps up. It was cloudy and slight rainy. Perfect weather for walking. High humidity however. On our way up and with some shelter against the rain we reach hotel/restaurant Super View after 1,5 hours. That is where we will stay overnight. Khem, the teacher wants to show me a traditional house and a library. The house is made of bamboo and loam. The family is in the living-/bedroom cooking in a hole in the floor. Then we visit the library. Two ladies work here as sort of afterschool-care. The get payed through Gifts and I decide to support them. And I have another surprise for them at Pokhara. Wooden puzzles, cuddles and some Duplo.

Next day the 3 of us leave, the carrier, Khem and I. Khem is recognized everywhere and I lose track of him. The carrier is also gone and just as I think it is getting a bit easier after one hour Tak is there with his horse waiting for me. I have to sit on the horse. Which I do as Tak has left very early this morning from Ghorepani as Jan (dai, big brother) should not become too tired. That is their opinion. It was not that bad. Fortunately i could walk every now and then as the path was too steep for the horse.
It was an easy ride for me and arriving at Ghorepani people were welcoming me. Also malla’s here and a whole meal with momo’s, soup and toast. My bandage got changed and I could start the last climb to the top of Ghorepani. The police checkpoint waved at me, they need not see my permit.
I was welcomed by a committee of the drinking water project. I got the necessary flowers and garlands and I got to cut the ribbon and start the machine. The speech of last year had proven its effect. The waterstation was ready. At the 3rd month there was a positive balance of 300 euro. A great achievement.

All hotels were supplied with a 20 liter watertank. They pay 400 rupees for that and they can sell it for 1200 rupees (12 euro). The tank is put upside-down and the bottles can be filled through a tap. I tasted the ‘first’ glass of water and it tasted good. So reason for a small celebration with thanks to the contribution of Klaas. I did not do that much anymore at Ghorepani. Only a meeting with the whole village the next day. I had some medical supplies for the health post, some toys for the children and the annual contribution. As the health post also has a positive balance this will be the last time we contribute.

On April 3rd I leave Ghorepani with both the carrier and Khem the teacher. My bandage is changed again and soon we arrive at Ulleri. They also heard about the water project and they are very interested in having a project like that too. I have told them I would think about that and that I expect the people to contribute in the project themselves too.
Our carrier is going to eat dal bhat and takes my backpack to Tirkhedunga were we will arrive later on. Khem and I are going to Jhili Bang, a village were honey hunters are living. They take wild honey of the cliffs. We walk along the hill over a path that wasn’t a path to start with, were beautiful orchids grow but were there is also a lot of waste and rubbish is spread out.
If Ulleri wants a water project they first have to clean this mess up and burn it all.
It is getting cloudy and we reach Jhili Bang. The honey hunters are occupied with other things and they tell us there will be no honey hunting this year. Governmental regulations. It is a pity cos I did bring my video camera with me just to for this item. Maybe next year. We follow a trail and we end past the village of Tirkhedunga. I decide to walk straight through to Pokhara. That will save me one day and I can’t film anyway. My luggage is brought to Pokhara by a student as it was still at Tirkhedunga. So the student had some extra money. I still felt all in shape despite the descend from 3000m to 1200m. I thought I had no problems at all but after the taxi ride to Pokhara of 1,5 hours I could feel the sour muscles coming up at my thigh and spawns. It lasted for about 3 days. I had not expected that to happen.

HOME

Because of my back I took a taxi to Kathmandu. Took about 6 hours due to traffic jam at Kathmandu. The next few days I visited the Dutch Consulate, had a conversation with a company about clean drinking water. I talked with ACAP and traced a missing microscope that was meant for the school at Tirkhedunga. They also wanted some DVD’s so i bought them a couple like Seven Years in Tibet. They can use that in the hostel. I did not check my mail nor send any. I had a meeting with an eye specialist and dentist about the possibilities for setting up an eye- and dental camp. I had a brief conversation with Naba and the wife of Prakash. She said she would look for options at Ghorka as her kids graduated but were still waiting for results. The children could start at new school then at Ghorka.

And so does the end of my trip in Nepal is approaching. I leave on Saturday in the afternoon to the airport, security does not even check my hand luggage but they do check my other luggage. I have to open it. There is some papers in there they want to check. The flight to Doha leaves in time. En route we passed a thunderstorm. Strange feeling to be amid all these flashes. About 6 hours later I arrive at Doha. I have to wait for about 4 hours and then another 6 hours later I land at Munich and another 2,5 hours later at Schiphol, Netherlands. A taxi takes me home and even my luggage arrived this time. Last 3 times it was different. I have been travelling for 27 hours. The sun is shining; the trees are starting to get their leaves already, a nice time to come home again. But next day I am dehydrated. Did not drink enough. So I slept the whole Monday and drank a lot! Tuesday I felt much better. My wound is also healing well, so all ends well.

Namaskar,
Jan

Two day party for Brahmans (son Ram)

 

The 2nd day, Suroj (Svaghat) is initiated

 

Better education Mapur school with laptop (powerpoint) and UPS. Beamer follows.

 

Kaparkhori work with powerpoint already, now beamer and 2 UPS (safety excess current and en failure)

 

The best school in Chitwan: Mohana. Get UPS, Beamer and laptop

 

Development Belcischool (by Nepalese government!!)

 

Rhinoceros of wood, made in Sauraha

 

The Jhuwani High Seconderyschool (development by Nepalese government!!)

 

The building of the trainings- and Educationcenter for Blind

 

The side

 

Workshop womens group about micro credits

 

Purchase of a generator, incubator and test set for o.a. diabetic, uric acid, HB, pregnancy

 

Meeting with management Nepal Pariwar Nepal

 

A traditional loam house in the hills at Ulleri (700m climbing with over 3000 steps)

 

Teacher Khem en twee ladies for the day insertion of the library in Ulleri

 

My horse waiting after Ulleri in Banthanti

 

Opening Save Drinking waterstation

 

The equipment with tank (200 liter) en bottles

 

Of course I had to taste the water

 

100 roepies for 1 1/2 liter

 

Binu Thapa, nurse in Ghorepani, takes care of Jan's wound

 

Orchids at Jhili Bang (honeyhunting)

 

Farms in Jhili Bang

 

Collecting trash in Kathmandu (Thamel)

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