14 May Namaste from India!
Cock a doodle doo… About 5am, I wake up to my first morning in Nepal to the sound of a rooster. Really? A rooster in the heart of downtown Kathmandu, in the middle of the tourist hub, Thamel! That is funny and new. Later as I walk past multiple shops, restaurants, internet cafes and hotels I could see that things haven’t really changed in the past 6 years when I immigrated to Canada. The same old buildings, pollution, noise, electrical cables wildly hanging loose everywhere, thousands of chaotic neon signs and the the same dim look in people’s eyes as they wait for customers. I had once lived here and as much as I loved the place I had always longed to leave for a better one. To escape the mess, to be in a promised land, land of abundance, freedom and opportunity. Now after six years and becoming a Canadian citizen, I am returning with a mission. I am representing Operation Groundswell and coming with a group of North Americans. Operation Groundswell as the name goes has the wellbeing of the world at its heart. OG provides safe and ethical travel plus volunteer opportunities for the participants to gain valuable first hand knowledge of developing countries. This time I have come back with a new sense of responsibility. I have come to understand development on a deeper level, to learn more from the locals and from my participants, to make new connections, to look for new possibilities and opportunities.
Since my first day in Thamel, Alan, my co-trip leader and I have met the villagers of Tibetan refugee camp where we organized homestay and village activities with the young and energetic regional youth congress staff. We travelled long and hard on a bus all the way to Leh and met the most wonderful Cynthia, the founder of HEALTH Inc, who beautifully arranged for all of our needs and led us through some of the most remote villages you can imagine and has prepared for us an absolutely amazing program at Domkar Barma School. Back from Leh, Alan is in Patiyala making sure our program is in place at the school for the deaf and blind and I am making final preparations for our group’s arrival in Delhi.
I must say that apart from it being the most fun and beautiful trip, it is not the easiest and there are many challenges. I believe we have come together to face those challenges, learn new lessons and enrich our experience. I am positive that everyone will return with a lifetime of memories and laughter to share. Tomorrow we receive our wonderful participants and I can’t be more excited. Our long wait is finally over and we are ready to embark on this journey together. Listen, I can almost hear the footsteps of my first participant arriving. Gotta go…