The Oda Project

Essential healthcare and education - giving Nepali communities in extreme poverty a fighting chance

Early Life at Kopila

Well, I’ve been here for two days now…I’m covered with Bites, am run down, and have an annoying cough, that being said I’m having quite a fun time.  The trip to Surkhet was a wild one, which began with an early wake up in Kathmandu and a taxi ride to the airport.  For those of you who haven’t been to the domestic terminal in Kathmandu, I can assure you it is quite the experience.  As soon as we showed up to the airport, about 20 men came up to the car, each grabbing a different one of my bags from the cab.  Needless to say this was mildly disconcerting.  After walking with my “crew” of 10 men to the airport, they all expected some sort of tip for their help.  Then I got into the airport where the Chaos continued, one man grabbed my bag the other grabbed me to pay airport taxes, and another to print my ticket.  After about 1000 rupees in tips, and some serious anxiety I got through the gates and into the actually terminal to wait for my plane.  After about an hour of waiting, they called for my flight to Nepal Gang.  I jumped in the propeller plane, where I most definitely stuck out like a sore thumb, and began my journey via air.  The views were spectacular in the air, and I could see the Himalayas’ outside the right of the airplane.
Flight from Kathmandu
 Upon arriving at Nepal Ganj, a young man, about 16 picked me up and helped carry my bags to his truck for the trip to Surkhet.  Talk about a disconcerting experience.  We were whipping through the streets, avoiding goats, cows, cars, and people.  About an hour into the trip, traffic died down as a result of entering a national park.  This was one of the most amazingly beautiful places I’ve ever been, but also one of the more treacherous.  We drove through several recent mudslides, with about 1 foot to spare from sliding off a cliff into the jungle.  This was not quite what I was expecting and rather than a peaceful car ride to Surkhet, I was extremely white knuckled the entire time.
Drive to Surkhet
The arrival to Surkhet was also interesting, and I was actually able to spot Maggie’s house from a  while away as it is one of the biggest and nicest in town.  Immediately upon showing up, a few children met me at the car and grabbed my bags (I think that is a common there here in Nepal!).  The house manager Tope walked me to my room, and set me up with some sheets and a pillow.  I’m on the ground floor of the house, and have a nice room with its own bathroom.  The one issue thus far has been its location, which is loud with construction constantly going on, and kids ALWAYS running around.   After taking a moment to throw some stuff in my room, I went to meet the three other fellows in the house.  Much to my delight, Ian, Matt, and Safira are all great, and I’ve had a wonderful time with them so far.  After greeting each other for a few minutes, we walked down to the school for lunch, which is the same lunch I’ll be eating for the next 5 months.  This is a staple in Nepal called Dal Bhat, which is essentially rice, beans, and some vegetables.  After lunch, I quickly learned that non-school days can be quite slow around the house, with lots of reading, playing, and other activities.  Towards the end of my first day, I walked down to a local bar with Ian and Matt to grab a celebratory beer for the first day and catch up outside of the home.  THEN, in the highlight of the night we got back to the house for satsung which is the nightly meeting that we have as a house.  The meeting began with a big song welcoming yours truly to the family, and then a long question and answer session in which I answered difficult questions like: “what’s your favorite color”, “what is your favorite animal name”, and “who is your favorite super hero”
After satsung I spent some time doing my best to remember names, and ingratiate myself with the Kopila family.
The Home
Yesterday morning, I woke up at 6 to go for a run before it got too hot.  Unfortunately by the time I got back it was very warm, and I think I sweat for a good 2 hours following my shower.  I did a good bit of reading, played some soccer, and developed quite the following of little guys.  We played Angry Birds for a solid 3 hours up on the porch which was pretty fun and a really good opportunity for me to really get to know some of the guys.  At the same time, the girls were having a little dance party of the balcony, so I showed off some moves with them…especially when Call Me Maybe came on.  For some reason they really enjoyed turning down the music mid chorus, and laughing at me while I continued to go on singing for a good 10 seconds!  I can’t say enough, about how great the kids have been so far.  They are some of the most polite fun loving children I’ve ever come across.  As with all kids, I’m sure my patience will be tried down the road, but right now I’m having a blast just hanging out and getting to know all of them.  I honestly think my least favorite moments have come when a child asks me what their name is and I can’t remember.  I’ve done my best to study pictures, and 3 days in I think I’ve got pretty much all forty down though.
This morning, was really the biggest challenge I’ve faced in terms of how I feel.  You can ask my little sister, and she will attest.  There is something about our blood that mosquitos love.  Sagar, Naveen, and Sundar keep telling me the mosquitos love to kiss me because I’m white…Not sure if I’m buying that though.  Fortunately, I went on an adventure into town just a few hours ago with the other fellows, and I got some calamine lotion to relieve the each, some cough syrup to relieve my cough, and some bug repellent which will hopefully keep this from continuing!  Somehow I managed to get 4 giant mosquito bites on my forehead, which is quite a flattering look.
Walk into town
With respects to an update on my fellowship and goals, I’ve begun to brainstorm some with the other fellows, however, they haven’t had school since I’ve been here and today was a teachers strike so I’ll have to wait until Sunday before having a grasp of what the school day is like. 
Hope all is well back home…I feel like I could write for days but I don’t want to bore you all!  I have had so many new experiences during the past few days, far more than this quick blog post could ever convey.
I’ll write again soon!