Update from Manma!
Hi everyone. I just got to Manma, which is no easy feat during the monsoon season. Yesterday I walked 3 and half hours to the doctor’s house in Pili. This morning I got up bright and early and walked another 4 hours to Manma. It’s been about 25 days without internet so I figured it was time to check in with the world. As was the case last year, the lack of outside contact can be immensely challenging at times. While I’ve had time to think, work, and read I find myself missing the news, incoming phone calls, and ESPN. I’ve done my best to call people where I can, but do to the rains and spotty service it’s been difficult recently.
On a side note, (related to the rain) I’m sending all my best to the people of Surkhet who are experiencing terrible floods. Most of the people reading this know that I spent time working in Surkhet two years ago. The recent news of yet to be identified death tolls and property damage has been hard to stomach. I was recently talking to a friend who works in Surkhet, and I find it hard to believe that they are only 100 miles away….sometimes it feels like we live in different worlds.
As for Oda, things are moving along pretty much as I expected they would. The journey here was a challenge, and it to round out my last post it ended up taking three days. On day one we managed to snake our way through the mountains to Manma. Rains and road closures prevented our passage to Sarabara (the nearest roadside village) and on the second day we enlisted the help of a dozer to get our supplies to from where the car go stuck to the doctors home in Pili. From there people from Oda met us, and carried our supplies the three hours to the clinic and home.
Upon arriving in Oda I was greeted with a very warm welcome…and strangely it had felt like I never left at all. In previous visits, I feel like there has been a “warm up period”. By that I mean, a couple of days of feeling each other out before falling back to where we were. That was not the case when I got back this time, and we really hit the ground running. I think all the time sitting in Surkhet helped, and by the time I reached Oda I had re adjusted to life in Nepal and was ready to get back to work.
After a few days of making the rounds, and getting up to speed on some minor changes to the clinic I quickly got back into the routine of teaching. Unlike my last extended stay, I am alone now which makes things a bit more complicated. Initially I was teaching at the top school, and tutoring the down school kids in the afternoon…a schedule I liked. Unfortunately, that schedule did not work out for everybody and in order to accommodate caste and political tensions I’m currently splitting my time, spend three days a week at each school. In the evenings I teach the High School kids from 5:00 to 6:30. They walk an hour and a half to school, so since I am unable to spend time with them during the days, I do my best to see them after school.
Outside of the aforementioned headaches, I am really excited by the progress that has been made with regards to education and more specifically English. While we are still in the nascent stages of our program, while walking around the community you can see the cogs turning in the children’s minds, as they attempt to put together a proper response when I ask them a question in English. Their desire and enthusiasm for leaning is contagious and the day really flies when I’m at the school. A day does not go by where I wish I had a few more hours to give to them to help satiate their curiosity.
As for some of other updates, we’ve established a relationship with several of OdaNaku’s Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHV’s) and the recently constructed ADRA birthing center to help with the distribution of birthing kits. It turns out two of them are on our village board, and have been very receptive. Just the other day, the first baby was born with the help of the supplies provided by the Love A Momma community. I look forward to providing more updates with regards to our efforts to supplement and improve maternal and neonatal care in OdaNaku and the surrounding VDC’s.
The lack of outsiders has also been really helpful with regards to studying Nepali. Rather than spending the mornings chatting I’ve been drinking my coffee and putting a couple of hours of work in on a daily basis. While I still have lots to learn, and the lack of formal classes has been difficult I’m optimistic about the progress I’ll can make before heading back to the states at the end of October. As you would expect the uptick in Nepali proficiency has enabled me to deepen my relationships with the community members, and as the language barrier continues to fall I’m excited for these relationships to expand.
Looking forward I’m very excited for the next 5 weeks. Karan gets back in roughly two weeks, which coincides with the end of monsoon. With his return, we plan to start developing a site specifically for the Foundation outside of our current home. The importance of this development cannot be understated. There is still a lot we need to work out, but I will be able to provide much more information in my next post.