Goodbye Village life…
School trip over it was time to return to the village one last time. Steve would be tying up plumbing loose ends and I would be teaching English – we were both looking forward to returning.
The 10 hour bus trip back to he village was every bit as bumpy and hairy as we’d remembered it, but we arrived safely and in glorious sunshine – it was good to be back.
Nothing much had changed since our time away except for the arrival of Kat and Ed a young doctor couple also volunteering with Community Action Nepal and unbelievably from our home village of St Agnes in Cornwall – it’s such a small world. We all got on like a house on fire and spending time together was a lovely connection to home. Unfortunately they were leaving the following day, but we planned to meet in Kathmandu before going our separate ways, us to Myammar, them to continue their work with CAN. Kat and Ed have a blog called Doctors without Motors – well worth a read, especially as they travelled across India by bicycle before arriving in Nepal!
Our last couple of weeks in the village were spent in a tent. A reminder of family camping holidays, it brought back fond memories and was a mini adventure we enjoyed for a while. In the confined space we agreed that tidiness was the key to happy cohabitation, but sadly our plan was short lived. With inevitable mess and dirty washing building up around us it wasn’t long before our new accommodation lost it’s appeal!
During our short time together Steve, Kat, Ed and I set about building a bonfire to burn some rubbish. We surrounded it with a little stone circle and foraged for anything combustible we could find to keep it going as long as we could. Villagers chipped in by adding unconventional fire fodder such as old wellies, broken plastic chairs and batteries. The former burnt with a nasty looking blue flame, the later fizzed off in various directions – we all stood well back! Following the bright clear days the evenings soon became chilly, our fire was a welcome respite from the cold.
Steve worked on showers and solar panels for some of the villagers and provided water supplies to the school’s long drop toilets.
One of his most notable achievements during our last couple of weeks in the village was the production of some of rather tasty Raksi – the locals home distilled hooch of choice. Drunk hot it’s a warming treat in the cold evenings – it was a job Steve took very seriously…
The Nursery school teacher was back from her Maternity leave and so now not needed to help with the youngest children I taught English to classes 1 – 5. The children were a joy to teach and my days passed quickly. Working in Melamchi-Ghyang School has been an absolute privilege and an experience I shall never forget.
I spent a wonderful afternoon sat in the sunshine with classes 1 to 5 using art materials generously donated by Huish Primary School in Yeovil. The youngsters especially loved using the paints – some of them had never painted before! It was great seeing them so creative and so proud of what they’d produced.
Steve and I introduced rounders to the school. A little improvisation was needed with equipment – cricket stumps as substitutes for rounders bats worked a treat. It was a nice change from the usual game of football and both the boys and the girls loved it.
We were invited to various homes for farewell feasts, one of which was at a Tea House where a couple of film makers, Tony and Clive, were staying for the night. They asked if they could interview/film us the following day which, having had a couple of Raksi’s, we agreed to. We have no idea if any of the footage will be used, but it was fun to have been a part of it and it was lovely meeting and spending time with them.
We’d also been asked to write a piece for the award winning Nepali newspaper The Tourism Times about our Everest Base Camp Trek – this is it.
We were invited to a wedding (our 4th since being in Nepal) at the neighbouring village of Nakote. We walked the easy downhill trek there, but opted for a lift back with the locals – by truck. In Nepal that means on the back of the truck, hanging on for dear life… With the menfolk singing and dancing all the way to the village it was an experience we shall never forget and not one we plan to repeat anytime soon!
Our final day at the school ended with the obligatory appearance on the assembly stage. We thought our luck was in as there was a power cut and so no microphone, but sadly it didn’t let us off the hook. Following a genuinely heartfelt speach from Purna the headmaster about us leaving the village it was our turn to say something. Luckily I managed more than tears on this occasion and Steve was as composed as ever as one after the other we said our emotional goodbyes. We allowed ourselves a little proud moment as we received a large round of applause from the whole school before being presented with khata after khata from Purna and all the teachers. It was an incredible gesture of warmth from people who had so openly welcomed us weeks before and who were now our friends – we will miss them all.
We lived in unheated, ramshackle accommodation and endured freezing temperatures. We experienced 2 earthquakes and regular power cuts. We ‘enjoyed’ once weekly bucket showers and a shared compost toilet. We had mountain mice (more akin to rats) as bedroom companions AND WE LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT. For us though it was easy – we knew we could pack our bags and walk away if ever it got too much. We could return to our warm cosy home, or we could travel to anywhere in the world that took our fancy! We would thaw through and we could take a shower. For the people of Melamchi-Ghyang life isn’t that sinple.This is their everyday and always reality, this is their post earthquake existence. Occassionally they reminisce, but mostly they look to the future, not to the past. We could not fail to be humbled by the community around us and their response to what life had dealt them. We left the village with work already in progress – the new road is under construction and the rebuilding of the school’s hostels and classrooms is due to start soon. Our hope is that in the not too distant future this beautiful village and it’s outstanding school will be returned to it’s former, pre-earthquake glory so that the local people can once again enjoy their lives in peace and relative comfort.
We cannot thank Purna and Janghmu, the teachers, the pupils and the community of Melamchi-Ghyang enough for making our stay in this wonderful village so very special. Our words cannot ever do justice to our time there.
On Saturday 25th February we said our final, tearful goodbyes to the people we’d spent so much time with. We walked out of the village looking back only once. Our volunteer work had come to an end and it was nearly time to leave Nepal – where had the last 5 months gone?
Here are just a few of the very special people (in no particular order) who became our friends:
Phurpa my Nursery and Kindergarton class teaching friend – Jhangmu who fed, watered and looked after us – Rangen who helped me with English classes -.Kami who looked after us in Kathmandu and guided us in and out of the village – Purna the headmaster, who took us under his wing and showed us the ropes – Tashi who looked after Steve in the forest – Kami Lama who did the same – Karma and Karsang for giving up their room for us – All the staff and pupils of Melamchi-Ghyang school who welcomed us with open arms – Community Action Nepal and Murari who made all this possible and last but not least Corin an English techno whizz who runs his own charity Yolmo Connect providing computers and training to people in rural areas of Nepal and who loves the village as much as we do.
We would also like to say a huge thank you to the pupils, parents and staff of Huish Primary School in Yeovil for all their fundraising and support. Also for the wonderful home made cards and hand picked craft goodies they sent over for Christmas. We’ve been touched by their generosity.
Our final days in Nepal were spent relaxing, sending home our winter gear and planning our trip ahead. We submitted our article for the newspaper and said our goodbyes to Kami and Tashi who’d looked after us during our stays in Kathmandu. We celebrated my birthday with Kat and Ed in Thamel. A lovely evening made even more special by a surprise cake – with candles! It was the perfect end our Nepali adventure.
We will be back
Kate and Steve – Melamchi-Ghyang, Nepal
Nov 3rd 2016 – Feb 25th 2017