Saturday 16th saw Mayte and I standing alongside of the ring road standing in the dust and dirt waiting for a taxi which had been organised to take us to Shining Stars Children’s Home which is in the Kathmandu Valley not far from where I did my training.
The trip to the home was a last minute decision as we were going to go into the centre of the city on Sunday and watch the Holi celebrations from the safety of one of the rooftop restaurants but everyone told us that it would not be safe and that the streets would be full of drunken youths.
We found out later that it was a wonderful day full of people including families dancing and having a great time.
We decided to travel on Saturday afternoon so that we would be off the roads on Sunday.
The taxi eventually came to pick us up, it had been waiting at another place, we had got into the wrong taxi once as Mayte was sure that she recognised the driver from another trip.
The trip to the village was the same as all the others, death defying runs up the wrong side of the road, head ons avoided by 1 second and of course the constant horn honking and never any road rage.
We were just coming into the village when we saw Jessica who is a very young volunteer from New Zealand and she has been here one week and working at the home.
She and two of the boys were off to get some chickens to eat the next day.
The taxi driver took the opportunity to let Mayte and myself off and unfortunately we didn’t find out he did because the next section was steep and rough.
I thought I would die before I got to the front gate of the home.
Well, we opened the gate and we immediately surrounded by a large group of teenagers who wanted to know who we were, where we had come from and how old are you?
What a lovely welcome. The kids are not really orphans, they have at least one parent but they come from villages a long way away and the majority have been at the home for over 4 years.
The youngest is 12 and the oldest is 20, 9 girls and 19 boys. Hari is in charge and he is about 35 and married, he is so proud of his ‘children’, Didi cooks and there is also another man.
We were totally surrounded by kids until it was time for Dhal Baart which as you know I utterly despise but for some reason it tastes so much better when you are out of the city, I think they use different spices and I enjoy it very much. We got our food and then had to sit on the floor and eat with our hand, at least the kids were too busy eating to notice how nice I wasn’t sitting on the floor.
The evening was spent in the common room where we had a great time, you would never believe this but one of the boys asked if I wanted to play a card game with him and he came back with a huge fist full of Woolworth animal cards and we proceeded to play ‘concentration’ with about 60 cards, needless to say it took ages.
Mayte showed them a magic card trick which involved me hiding my face, she layed out 9 cards and then I had to find the card they had chosen while I wasn’t looking.
The trick was that Mayte would place her finger in the position of the chosen card on the top of the remaining cards which she held in her hand.
Well after about 8 goes we had everyone standing around us trying to work out how it was done. By this time I had convinced them that I could feel a vibration from the card and they were all trying to feel the vibrations.
We stopped playing and about 15 minutes later one of the boys came out with a card trick book and told us he had found out how we had done it. We couldn’t believe it.
Mayte and I were staying in the home in the sick room which I have since found out rarely happens so we were very lucky as the volunteers stay in host families and don’t spend the evenings with the children as they don’t come out after dhal baart.
There was no running water in the toilets so they were not all that nice but I found a toilet in the office area which I used and fortunately one was a western style which is appreciated especially after a meal of spicy food.
The next morning one of the kids knocked on our door to tell us to hurry up as they wanted to start the Holi celebrations but we had to have morning Dhal Baart first.
The celebration is about good defeating evil and according to their mythology there was a war between Gods and the bad lady was defeated and the throwing of paint and water is a celebration.
I think it is a huge excuse for everyone to paint each other and the surrounding area every colour of the rainbow.
Mayte had bought some paints with here and Hari had also bought a heap of paints and 2500 water balloons.
The paint was laid out, balloons thrown into the air and then after we had all been Tikka’d which normally involves the placing of red paint on your forehead, today I meant getting your whole face smothered in paint powder.
Of course the moment you add water to the activity it becomes a lot more interesting and of course messy.
The next 30 minutes was pandemonium, kids running everywhere, the dog jumping on anyone who stood still long enough, kids hiding inside the house and of course any adult within firing range.
The paint ran out and by this time instead of water balloons they were using buckets, bottles, basins and watering cans to throw the freezing cold water over each other and of course us.
The water was cold but at least the sun was coming out every so often.
A few of the older kids and the other volunteers decided that they would go into the village to join in the fun there and I decided that enough was enough and I had very little interest in walking that treacherous piece of road again stay there.
We took the opportunity to take a shower while some of the kids were absent, the boys had taken over the shower area on the roof so myself and 2 other girls went to the back of the kitchen and proceeded to fill up a huge basin with freezing cold water.
The bathing in the villages is in the open and to save modesty the women wear a sarong style dress that has elastic at the top and sewn down the side, they have two of them.
The first they put on and then manage to struggle out of their clothes, wash their hair and then with their arms inside was the rest of their body, rinsing of with many buckets of cold water, they then slip a dry sarong over their head and take off the wet one.
All of this is done without getting the mud and dirt back over them.
I had been lent one of the outfits but there was no way I was going to do any more than scrub my arms, neck and face and wash my hair.
Those kids were shaking with the cold as they pour the cold water over themselves, I have no idea how bad it must be in winter, they do exactly the same thing but they said that they do it faster!!
The others came back about 1 hour later with stories of paint, water and a lot of fun, they too went up for a shower.
Shower finished and now it was time to kill the chickens and pluck them and give them to Didi to cook.
The older boys took much pleasure in dispatching the chooks and they were plucked in a few minutes. Must admit I was hanging out for chicken meat, didn’t care if it was just killed.
The afternoon was spent talking and just ‘hanging out’, there had been a program worked out which included ‘pass the parcel’ and dancing and singing but this didn’t happen, the kids where just happy doing nothing.
About 1800 we all gathered in the common room and 3 of the girls danced to traditional music to steps they had made up and they did a great job.
After they had finished, a call rang out ’Sister your turn’ and so we had to do something. I had been doing the Hokey Pokey in class and Mayte loved it so we dragged everyone up and they did it with us, of course when it came to shaking their butt the whole room just broke into hysterical laughter.
I think everyone loves doing the Hokey Pokey here, from the youngest to the oldest. I am teaching them a few songs.
The bell went for Dhal Baart and we streamed down to the kitchen and yes on top of my pile of rice was a beautiful stew which contained chicken pieces. Unfortunately I didn’t eat fast enough to get in the line for ‘seconds’ before the food ran out.
After the evening meal we all trooped back up to the common room where the small TV from Hari’s room had been taken up and it was quickly surrounded by 16 boys and Hari.
It was great to watch them as it was the first time that Nepal had entered the 20/20 and the Government had promised they would keep the power on for the whole game which was pretty unusual.
The whole room erupted everytime the Nepalese cricketer hit a run and even more so when a Hong Kong batter was out. The team lost to Bangladesh the next day and won against Afghanistan the following day.
A fantastic effort and the whole country was ecstatic.
Unfortunately on Monday we had to leave this little oasis and return to the city the next day and noon found us back into the dust and noise and outside the Basandara classroom ready to start again.
We had our bags with us as we were going into Thamal after Balaju to stay the night as there was a volunteer’s get together that evening.
Poor Mayte had become quite unwell during the morning and by the end of the lesson she was looking quite green and so decided to leave me to do Balaju and she when into to Thamal to go to bed in the hotel room.
It has taken her quite a few days to get over it, in fact it was not until Friday that she had her first meal which was in Thamal and it was a sandwich and chips.
I have been here over a month now and loving the warmer weather and sitting in the sun and especially love the ladies I am teaching.
We had a great storm last night, it started off with a hugh dust storm and winds that blew off lids of roof top plastic tanks and bombarded the birds who happened to be flying past with rubbish bags.
The lightning and thunder followed with a bit of rain and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees in a few minutes.
I am starting to make plans to see some of the sights in Nepal, think I will take some time off next month.