After a long time we were finally back in Gaathi, the host family were as welcoming and hospitable as ever and I learnt from the freezing cold nights of last October and got myself under two blankets.
The next day we took a look at the progress of the water project, which has been delayed as several lager boulders have been uncovered, and the main water source is much further back than originally thought and the secondary water source has already dried up and needs to be dug out further. However after spending two days discussing with the workers and original co-coordinators and Beebal providing invaluable service we've agreed a new spot for the water tank that will provide an overflow returning into the main system. On the way back home we listened to a local musician play a traditional drum while a, (very drunk) shaman danced away.
The next day we spent a good 10 hours travelling to Sothang, a remote community where the lack of clean water at more than a trickle made me surprised the community can even survive. A water source 4km away, along little more than a gravel slope in places, better suited to mountain goats than humans is the next nearest site. At one point our guides were so concerned one was 'carrying' me by my bag and trying to hold my hand from the front, (they of course were wearing sandals!). Once the local elections are concluded in May we'll be looking to connect this source to the community, all things willing and providing we can raise the funding with our sponsored trek this year.
Along the way we met up with Greeha Laxmi, a female community leader and arranged a follow up Mooncup session, potentially at the school she is now president of and got the contact details for the coordinator for our shoe distribution and Academic Reward Program in Golche village.
Sothang is beautiful, but the sight of children 6 years old shooting up mountain paths in bare feet ahead of my desert boots is simply heartbreaking. You arrive, and they give you scarfs as honoured guests, and we leave and they continue to drink less water than I can believe you can live on until we can come again and really help.
This constant reminder of the inequality in our shared existence on this planet and the sheer tolerance of the local people when rich Westerners saunter through their communities, even accidentally showing more wealth and the aura of better, softer living always humbles me. I cannot show enough respect to the members of these communities, and the fact they welcome us at all is a testament to an intrinsic humanity. A pessimist might say that this is because we arrive with the potential for money, but I've been treated like a visiting prince by those who we help and those we do not alike.
So as I'm writing this the staff around me are preparing breakfast, (after getting locked out we treated ourselves to a B&B) which is my queue to pack up, tuck in and ship out to Baglung district West Nepal, (just past Pokhara) where we'll be checking up on the project your emergency response donations funded and looking for a new opportunities with the charity formerly known as GYC, (now Nepal Gaja Development Foundation).
You can check them out here www.gajayouthclub.org.np/
...and you can check in with us after the weekend, (unless we get really lucky with wifi!)