Wednesday, October 2, 2013

First Day in Nepal

We had a great (and very busy) first day in Nepal.
Got up early and went to visit Ama Ghar which is one very cool children's Home in Kathmandu. This home was truly amazing- built using all sustainable building practices. They had so many cool things in place from biogas digesters and water saving ideas. They designed the home to utilize the light in the most effective way. The rooms that were needed for use in the morning and evening were positioned where the sun rose and set. Maggie Doyne is hiring the same architect to design the new Kopila School which is super exciting. We even pitched up this 87 year old hitch hiker on our way out of town..

Then we did a bit of site seeing as this was Zenda's first time in Nepal so of course she had to buy a sing bowl. So Pradeep, the shop owner is demonstrating the different ways to use it which will come in handy if she ever wants to sport a bowl cut or open a hair salon in China!

 and this is Pradeep- Nepals best Taxi driver. 
This guy can navigate these crazy streets like Mario Andredi on speed! I don't know how there are not more accidents as the combination of obstacles one must avoid is crazier than any video game I have ever seen. I met this great guy 8 years ago and he has been my driver ever since- I just love this man! If you ever visit Nepal and need a driver- this is your guy!

Here is Zenda visiting the beautiful Dunbar Square one of Kathmandu many sites to see. The carving and brick work here is very beautiful. While we were at the Ama Ghar Home we were treated to a tasty lunch but my stomach did not like it as much as I did. So while Zenda was enjoying the beautiful sites I got to tour some amazing Nepali toilets along the way.... (and yes! I just love this country) 
 I am thinking of making a toilets of the month calender which I am sure would be a huge seller.

and this is a typical Newar home. 
You can distinguish it from the drying garlic and corn hanging it from the rafters. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The final count down...

Yesterday was our final day in Kathmandu and what a great trip this has been.
I have to say that Sunday was probably one of the most exciting, productive days ever.
We met with ten of the local women and distributed the Sawyer water filters so they could start a new water program in their local villages. It was so exciting to see these women assemble their new filter and try them out. First we filtered the well water which they use for wash or have to boil to drink.
Each of the women took turns cleaning the filter and everyone was a little nervous to drink the water from the well but eventually did once they saw us "Tourist" drink it.
The best part was when one of the women (the one filtering the water in the above photo- we called her the captain after this) asked us about filtering the water from the pond.
 I am not sure where this water comes from (nor do I really want to think about it) but all I know is it is the dirtiest water I have ever seen. So we took the filter and went to the pond. This pond was full of plastic, garbage and everything imaginable and was totally green.
Utsab comparing the before and after cups of water.

I was a bit nervous to drink the pond scum water but I knew that this would be the true test of trust. I drank the first glass- soon others joined in and we toasted the occasion. We even had some men from the village come by and ask for a glass of water.
Everyone was excited and amazed with the filter and I was thrilled the next morning when I wasn't sick...
That is one amazing filter!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

What a wonderful 2 weeks...

We are back in Thamel for the last leg of our trip after spending the last 17 days in Surkhet.
We had such an amazing time.
Although things are difficult in Nepal, I always enjoy my time here. The people are great.
We don't have the comforts of home that we are used to like electricity, water, and everything is hard.
But what you do have is lots of time to visit.
Taking a walk into town was one of my favorite activities or just a walk around the neighborhood, chatting with the local kids. These walks were always an adventure.
Back in Thamel, we spent a lovely evening with my friends Lucky and Daisy and their 8 other siblings. They made us a huge Muslim traditional dinner. I am not sure what the dishes were called but they were very hot and spicy. We had fish and chicken, rice, and eggs and lots of other delicious dishes.
This family is very funny. I really like them as I can relate to their sense of humor and the big family attitude. We really enjoyed the company and all the good laughs.
We also ordered some beautiful purses they make from recycled saris and other traditional hand woven Nepali fabrics. They are very unique and I am excited to add their handiwork to our line of goods for sale.
Today we are headed to Bungamati Foundation Nepal to deliver 10 Sawyer water filters for a new women's program.
A Big Thanks to the Fairfield Soroptimist for the grant to support this new program to bring clean water to Bungmati Village.
We used these filters at Kopila Valley the last few weeks and they have been working like a charm.
We took it to the river at Holi and drank the filtered water... It was good and clean and no one got sick. We are also excited that we didn't not add to the plastic bottle garbage situation as we only bought bottled water the first night we were here in Nepal.
We are looking forward to getting a follow up on how these filters are working.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Create, Imagine, Dream

Maggie asked us to paint something bright and happy on the blank tin wall at the entrance of 
Kopila school and this is what Mary, Kristin and I came up with.  
The students are so appreciative of the work we do here- lots of wows! It's so cute...

We also painted this big canvas sign for the wall near the school cafeteria. 
These are a couple of lines from the Kopila School song.  

 I have been watching this couple work on this house since I got here. 
Everyday when I walk by, I always say nice, nice and they didn't understand what I am trying to say to them. So two days ago I asked at the school how to say "beautiful" in Nepali. 
As I walked by the house on my way home later that day, I said rumro and gave them a thumbs up! 
Now every time I walk by they give me a thumbs up and say rumro and give me a big smile and laugh.

 I just love taking photos of the women in Nepal, the colors and their beautiful faces makes a great combo- it's like a photographers DREAM!
Typical Nepali style Home on Laundry day!

Tonight I walked into town to try to locate some cough drops for Mary's sore throat and took 4 of the children with me to act as translator. 
Its nice to know these kids our just like mine, as they tried to talk me into buying everything in the store. We made it out with 5 packs of cookies, 2 bags of candies, 16 tooth brushes and I few items we needed here at the house. We also purchase tangerines and peanuts from a few vendors along the way. 

At one point there were two baby goats running in the street almost getting hit by a couple of motorcycles. 
A women was on her balcony screaming something. Through a quick game of charades I figured out they were her goats and they got out of her house, so I picked up one of the goats and then another and carried them to her door and put them thru the crack of the door and closed the door so they couldn't get out again.
When I turned around, I realized I had a whole audience watching me. 
There are so many baby goats this time of year here and I am just in love with them. 
Every time I see them I want to pick them up and snuggle them. 
The locals seem to find this very amusing. As goats are food, not  pets, so for someone to hug them must seem pretty strange.
I think I might just try to smuggle a few of these cuties out of the country....

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Happy Holi from Kopila Valley
Kristin and Mary @ Holi Festival


Monday, March 5, 2012

Update from Kopila Valley

Things here at Kopila have been very busy.
We got the water filters assembled and ready for distribution.
Maggie made a list of the various hospitals, clinics and NGO's for us to place the filters.
We gave the first one to the Care group which trains women to deliver babies. The women was very excited to receive it and was impressed with how easy the system worked.
Mary and I also started a painting project yesterday. We are making a big canvas sign to hang in front of the school entrance.
Painting is very challenging here- you have to learn to improvise. With the use of a piece of string, a book, bucket lids, bottles and various other tricks to measure, it all worked out fine. With the exception of several little late night foot prints, it looks pretty good!
Getting paint here in Surkhet is quite a task. You have to order paint and then wait for the power to come on so the paint can be mixed- that can be a few hours or sometimes longer, and then when you get your paint it is often not close to the color you ordered.
One great lesson I have learned from working in Nepal is you need to be flexible and some extra patience comes in handy too.
Kristin worked with the men to repair a stucco patch at the front gate of the school. They were very impressed to see a women who knew how to stucco and the patch turned out terrific. Now with some touch up paint- it will look as good as new.
Yesterday and today there is a strike in Nepal where everything is closed. Which means we have 40 little kids hanging around the house all day. Mary was on the roof trying to do a little yoga and had several little faces looking up at her from her various poses. So much for meditation but it least it was good for a few laughs.
With all the kids at the house all day we decided to play Catch the Flag yesterday. It was boys against girls. It looked like a scene out of the movie Brave Heart when all the boys were heading in our direction. After losing a few rounds, we came up with a new strategy where we formed a human chain and had the smaller kids behind us. We would let the boys through our legs and the little kids would sit on them. Some of the kids where so small and light, that I could just scoop them up in my two arms and toss them back like a bowing ball. This strategy worked out pretty well as we only lost by one point. I haven't had that much fun or played so hard in a long time, it was a blast!
Tonight I am thinking we could set up some water bottle pins and bowl with human bowling balls, if its ok with Maggie. I know the kids would be up to it because they keep coming thru my legs wanting to be thrown again and again.

Last night at satsung we distributed tote bags to all the kids at Kopila Home. Maggie has been working hard on recycling projects here at Kopila, so the girls at Activity Days at my church helped to make tote bags for each of the children
All the kids where happy and had a tote bag fashion show.
 Little Maya came into our room this morning with the tote bag strapped on her head- like a doka basket.  It was to cute!
Now they can use them instead of plastic bags when they go shopping!
More painting projects lined up for today and tomorrow is (the festival of colors), Holi Day.
We are planning on taking all the kids down to the Bugmati river to celebrate and play. Should be fun and very dirty.... I will keep you posted.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


It is Friday and we (Mary, Kristin and I) finally made it to Surkhet.
Thought we weren't going to make it this year after finding out our flight to Nepal
was cancelled on Friday afternoon, but all is good!
Arrived at Kopila Valley yesterday evening after a 3 hour drive from Nepal Ganj Airport.
The drive was beautiful! Saw lots of small villages and views straight out of National
Geographic Magazine.
The road was bit bumpy but our driver was very good at navigating the turns.
We are happy to report that things are progressing at an amazing speed at both Kopila
Valley school and home.
Maggie and her team have been working hard since I last visited and we got the
welcoming tour of the new school and addition to the home.
Things look great... I am impressed at how the aftermath of construction is barely visible.
The gardens are back in place and new fences are up, everything looks fantastic.
We received a warm welcome from the children and had our first satsung-
This is like a big circle time family
meeting where compliments are shared, problems and concerns are expressed,
then some prayers and songs
and finished of by break dancing and a treat... very fun!
The kids are all doing well and have grown so my much in a year-
lots of new teeth at Kopila!
Maggie has lots of projects for us to keep us busy, we will be doing some murals
and repainting the t.v. room
to lighten and freshen up its appearance.
Today we are going to check out downtown Surkhet to see about getting buckets
for the water filters and hunt down other supplies.
Hope you all are doing well at home and keep you posted on our progress....