Monday, July 3, 2017

We are in Nepal Y'all! Part 1

The James Gang (my family) have embarked on the most exciting adventure. We are heading to Nepal. Just outside of Kathmandu to be exact to a school called Children & Youth First, Life Vision Academy. www.cyfnepal.org 
Working at Crisis Text Line has giving me this amazing opportunity to volunteer for 1 month anywhere in the world, as long as I'm volunteering. I came across CYF haphazardly but knew it was the place for me. I originally was looking at another organization in Nepal, and that fell through and the news went out to other orgs, and Amanda Brown, the USA President of CYF contacted us to join them. Amanda and I talked about the girls of child bearing age, dying by suicide, having anxiety and depression and not talking about it. They are fearful of being sold off to human trafficking or forced marriage. This is where I could step in. I could talk with the girls at the school and counsel them in ways to help with anxiety and depression and ways to cope and see signs in their classmates. I could train the staff of how to listen and empower the kids when they come to them for guidance. I just knew this was my place, I was destined to go there and be part of that community. 
The most beautiful thing about this adventure, is I get to take the whole family! We did a gofundme campaign for help and so many amazing donations came flooding in. I felt so blessed and loved. I was not going to disappoint anyone who was gracious enough to help us. We were going to change lives, but truly, as a family we would be changed as well. 
After more discussions with Amanda, we determined the best skill set that the boys and Kevin could be doing there to help.
Kevin, being a video game artist, could help the children create a game while we are there. This will give the kids a fun time of learning, with artistic ways to express themselves. 
Zander, a natural at the program Scratch, will help the kids, design the layout of the game they would like to do. Very basic of course because we are only here for a month. 
Gibby, being the youngest volunteer they have ever had, will be in classes with the kids, embracing them and helping them learn more English, and provide help with reading to the peers. He also is creating a documentary. A point of view of a 10 year old American kid. He will be doing interviews and filming while we will be engrossed in the activities with the kids. I will help him with some of this, but the ideas are all his. His creation. He is the Director! 

We left Detroit, Michigan June 28th, 2017 and headed to Toronto for one of our layovers. We were just so giddy about going across the world! We boarded our flight on Turkish Airlines on the biggest plane any of us have ever ridden in. It was pretty cool. We are heading to Istanbul. I can sleep pretty much anywhere, but the rest had a bit of a hard time. We were 3 hours aways from Kathmandu, and guess what? Someone broke the toilets on the plane. No, it wasn't us, though it is something that would happen to us. We had to turn the plane around and land in Baku for about 2 hours, on the plane. Ugh, that was not a fun time. We took off and finally made it to Kathmandu. 

So, remember this is the first time we have EVER traveled like this. Kevin went to Poland for his brothers wedding but it was a quick trip and he was alone. This time all of us together. It was a bit nuts. 
Culture shock kicked in. We had to get our visas, we needed to exchange our money, we got in the wrong lines, we were tired stressed and just wanted to meet up with Haushula, who founded CYF. After another security point to get our luggage, we finally made it out of the airport. All the people, all the cars, and then a beautiful voice saying..."Jen!" and it was Haushula, in a pretty purple top. She was a breath of fresh air. We make our way to her Jeep and she takes us through the city and sharing about the culture and what we are seeing. The fluid motion/chaos of the traffic was so neat to watch. No stop lights, just honks and swerves and eventually we made it to the place we were staying for a few days before the school. Super Home, a B & B sort of place. A friend of hers owns it, his name is Buffy, and we were finally here! 
Samanta, Hausula's sister, and her boyfriend took us to dinner that night. We walked around the town and found a lovely place called Sun Cafe. and Kevin finally had his authentic Nepali Mo-Mo's, Zander enjoyed some Mushroom Curry, and Gibby and I played it a bit safe with Chicken Tika Masala and Naam (soooo goood) and he had a chicken burger. The conversation quickly steered towards video games, and anime among the boys and Samanta and I commiserated over their obsession. It was a beautiful night and we went back to Super Home and crashed! 

Next day, we enjoyed the breakfast that was made for us by Sapana, the house care taker. We were still a bit tired but the boys and I explored a bit around the streets, taking pictures. Seeing many street dogs, which made Gibby sad, but the people do care about the animals and people give them water and food, so that was comforting to know. 
Hausula's husband, Anurag, came to the house to take us 'touring' it was great to have a local tour guide with us. He took us to Patan City. I can't even share how gorgeous it was. It was magical. Like a old fairy tale. Such history and beauty, but also destruction from the 2015 Earthquake, the largest Nepal has seen. But seeing the rebirth and restoration was really inspiring, the Nepalese are fighters and would not give up. 
Anurag took us to the Patan Museum. Mind Blown. The intricate details of the stone work and wood work from the 17th-18th century. The beauty and stories of all the Gods and Goddesses. They say there are over 4000 of them they worship. Saturday is their 'Chill Day' as Anurag shared. People in the streets, hanging out, enjoying the weather, laughing and eating. It was amazing. We went to dinner and Kev and Z got a traditional Nepali dish, and Gibby and I expanded our palates a bit, but still 'safe', since we have the choice. Anurag, took us through these small streets where motorcycles and scooters weaved in and out. "Just stick to the left and you will be fine." Good to know! I felt like we were in some kind of kung fu movie, waiting for people to jump out and either Dance or Fight. It was awesome. Kevin would have totally explored more but of course wasn't going to leave us alone, which I'm thankful for! 
Oh, I forgot about the taxi ride! 5 of us, crammed in a taxi. Gibby sat on my lap but best to take 1 taxi than trying to figure out 2. We made it back to Super Home, completely inspired and in awe of the beauty of this country. It was a good day. Do what you love! Or as my husband says "Things don't have to be perfect, to be perfect."  (Picture: us waiting at the airport to start the adventure)

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