“A lesson like no other”

4 Mar

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Indira writes of her experience visiting school in Karkineta….

This term I returned from an amazing holiday in Nepal to my school in Sydney. I found myself pondering what life would be like if I lived in Karkineta, a remote village in Nepal’s west.

Visiting the school in Karkineta was an experience I will never forget and taught me one of the greatest lessons in life… How lucky I am! It is now clear to me how super privileged I am to go to school in Killara.IMG_3901

As soon as we were in sight, climbing up the hill towards the school, children gathered outside to watch us. We walked in the front gate to a welcome like no other, all 700 children lined up to make a tunnel for us as we were greeted by the Principal and the teachers. 700 pairs of eyes watched and 700 pairs…

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“A lesson like no other”

3 Mar

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Indira writes of her experience visiting school in Karkineta….

This term I returned from an amazing holiday in Nepal to my school in Sydney. I found myself pondering what life would be like if I lived in Karkineta, a remote village in Nepal’s west.

Visiting the school in Karkineta was an experience I will never forget and taught me one of the greatest lessons in life… How lucky I am! It is now clear to me how super privileged I am to go to school in Killara.IMG_3901

As soon as we were in sight, climbing up the hill towards the school, children gathered outside to watch us. We walked in the front gate to a welcome like no other, all 700 children lined up to make a tunnel for us as we were greeted by the Principal and the teachers. 700 pairs of eyes watched and 700 pairs of hands waved. After being given a flower necklace and a scarf, I walked through the tunnel whilst children my age put flower petals in my hands. We were like complete strangers from an unknown world and surely we did not deserve such a welcome? I cannot imagine an Australian school putting on such a greeting. I felt honoured but I also felt undeserving and was saddened by the dirty faces that looked at me with shining eyes. I was lost for words and overwhelmed, I had never felt so out of place in my life but I know that this welcoming school environment taught me an invaluable lesson… to be grateful for the opportunities which have been, and will always be, available to me in Australia and the small things in life.

The Principal took us to his office where each of his staff introduced themselves and I noticed that through the wooden bars on the glassless windows children watched. We were then shown around the school. I looked into a year 7 classroom, and sitting there on the dusty floor and on dusty benches at dusty tables, dusty girls and boys my age had their lesson in the dark classroom with few resources. Never before did I think for one second that this was what I would be seeing, and standing in the doorway I thought of how grateful I am for my school and education.

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Feeling empathy, that they do not even have a classroom with lights, I walked out into the playground, a brown dusty yard smaller than a soccer field. Children ran around and played and what made me smile was a group of girls playing happily with nothing but some leaves tied together. As we walked out of the school followed by many children, I felt ashamed and uncomfortable knowing what I take for granted and I walked up the street in silence.

That evening I thought to myself, what would it be like to live and go to school in Karkineta? Each day walking up the steep mountainside in the chilly morning air, and starting lessons in a classroom cramped with my whole year struggling to see in the dim light. At lunchtime simply playing with leaf bundles… But I felt stupid to think I could be content without a full stomach, clean uniform and iphone.

It still confuses me how many of us in Sydney have almost everything but are still not content, while people in Nepal have near to no belongings and can be happy. But I think it is because of the people they love and not the belongings they have that makes them happy.

In life we don’t really need phones or the TV or anything other than something really valuable – having the ones we love around us. I question whether we deserve or need many of the material things in our lives when we take them all for granted.

Karkineta school opened my eyes and has shown me just how privileged I am. It was a lesson like no other.

Indira

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“Sorry, there’s no good hotels here!”

7 Jan

We’ve had some exceptionally full days since landing in Kathmandu on the 30th of December so we apologise for the delay posting some stories! To begin with here’s some of our experiences from our two day visit to Kapilvastu where INF works across a range of areas. This experience is written from Selena’s (INF Australia’s Personnel Manager) perspective:

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After a morning in Kathmandu and temple visit to Patan Dubar Square we headed for the domestic airport where we were weighed with our bags before boarding a very small plane to Bhairahawa. From there we boarded a “bus” (no seat belts, rickety seats!) with our luggage loaded on top to a very small village in the Kapilvastu area. We met with the INF staff at Taulihawa (their office was lit with a “super silent” generator that was chugging away noisily). They welcomed each of us warmly with a lovely bunch of flowers and explained and apologised that there were no good hotels in the areas. On approach to our “hotel” all was dark. The owner wasn’t home and the generator not working. After a neighbour unlocked the compound we settled in and enjoyed a meal, dal bhat, at a local cafe which was run by some extremely poor but very happy Nepalis.We were all in need of a good night sleep after an exciting day.

Fits of laughter could be heard from our room when we realised the sink had no pipe going anywhere but to the ground directly below which explained our wet shoes with toothpaste! One of our party was struck down with a “bug” during the night (I strongly suspect the airport lunch which we unwisely partook due to the plane being delayed ..it was our decision whether to fly and how we were suppose to gauge the visibility due to fog I have no idea). Amazingly he recovered with a smile the next day and made it to day 4 of our Nepali tour.

Good for him as it truly was a life changing day spent at two remote villages within the Kapilvastu district. First we met with the INF community mobilizers and team leaders and listened to their work within the community of Maharajgunj and their day to day challenges. Primarily that of encouraging women to come out of their homes to be involved in the community (many once married don’t leave their home for any reason, including childbirth) and the second major challenge is the attitude of the community towards NGOs – expecting handouts to build immediate things rather than work together towards sustainable development. Importantly INF aims to empower the people through teaching new skills, changing attitudes in particular to women and encouraging community participation. We heard of one female INF staff member who overcome the pressure for her to stay at home after marring by gaining an education and employment as the men in her family were unable to work due to illness. Through her work she has been an example to other women in the village and attitudes are slowly shifting with recognition that an education can lead to employment and much need income to feed and provide for the family.

Following on from meeting the INF community development staff we visited a successful self help group at Darkhasawa, Rajpur. 35 women working together in a cooperative have started a successful mushroom business. The business, which is in the early stages of development was well researched and already showing signs of success. After a government grant and subsidised seeds they sell it on the highway for a small profit.

We also visited a small village, Milijuli, to see toilets that have been constructed in an open defecation free zone and are helping to improve sanitation and hygiene standards. We were also privileged to meet a wonderful lady who was treated badly by her husband after a spinal injury when falling from the roof of a house. INF has helped to change her life through providing medical assistance, a wheelchair and special toilet.

Next we were shown how the local villagers are taught to bore water…..this is a backbreaking task and I wonder whether Oliver (10) will, in the future, take for granted how easy it is for him to pour a glass of water.

As we ended the day with our simple meal of dal bhat again and fell asleep on our rock hard beds we were reminded just how privileged we are to live in Australia where water is easily accessible, toilets are never in short supply and women aren’t confined to their homes. We have such a great opportunity and responsibility to walk with the people of Nepal and empower them with the skills and opportunity to live lives of dignity and purpose.

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2014 INF Australia Vision trip to Nepal

1 Jan

From 29th December 2013 to 12th January 2014 a group of twelve people from Australia are visiting Nepal. We range in age from ten to sixty and have different nationalities, backgrounds, experiences and preconceptions but we are all involved with INF in some way and are keen to see more of the work that INF does in Nepal, and the wider impact of Christian development work here.

Half the team have arrived in Kathmandu and are slowly find their way around, the other half of the team are en-route.

For some it is their first time in a developing country and crossing the road is a challenge. Walking from our hostel to find food this evening we bumped into two sets of INF workers and stopped to chat on the street. It seemed very natural to stand around chatting, giving introductions and hearing the news, as cars and motorbikes whizzed past, taking time to understand and build relationships.

Please pray for those who are still travelling and that we as a team bond quickly and are open to all that God will have us learn here!

“And they ate cake for breakfast”…and then rode elephants

19 Nov

Apologies for the length between this post and the last, we have been running on a very crazy & tight schedule here, up at 6am most mornings, (and even 4am once!) and in bed as soon as we’ve eaten dinner and shared in devotions. Our exhaustion however, is a testimony to the amazing amount of things we’ve experienced in the last few days, things we’ve somehow managed to fit in to our last whirlwind days in this country.

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“I’m surprised you would even say hello to me”

15 Nov

Another two days have whisked by of being on the road, visiting INF projects and meeting some very interesting and inspiring people. It’s amazing to think about how much we’re getting through each day and I think we’re all looking forward to our break in Chitwan National Park, finally giving us an opportunity to reflect upon all that we’ve learnt and see over the past nine days.

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“If I had a buffalo I’d name him Mo-Mo”

13 Nov

We are finally in Nepalganj, the biggest city west of Pokhara, with a strong Indian and Islamic influence, after 13 hours in transit! Leaving Pokhara at 8am after a delicious breakfast of yoghurt, honey and bananas (yes Australians, bananas are super cheap here, woohoo!) we crammed our luggage and bodies into our Hiace van and hit the road ready for a long day of windy, bumpy and congested roads as we made our way west. Time was taken up by sleeping, listening to music, or being graced by Andy’s detailed commentary of our surroundings, keen to share his love of this country and this region of Nepal in particular.

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