Adrienne Henck

Adrienne Henck (Backward Society Education - BASE): Adrienne graduated from New York University with a Master’s degree in International Education. After her graduation, Adrienne worked at PCI-Media Impact, an NGO that uses creative media and story-telling to mobilize people and communities in sexual and reproductive health. Adrienne also taught English for three years with the J.E.T. Program. When she undertook her fellowship, Adrienne was preparing to pursue a Ph.D. at Penn State University. After her fellowship, she wrote: “I know that (this) experience is going to have a lasting impact on my academic and professional career. I loved Nepal and plan to return as soon as possible. I definitely have a newfound appreciation for how much we have in America."

A day in the life of a Peace Fellow in rural Nepal

22 Jun

Because every blog needs a little personalization, I thought I’d share a typical day in my life here in Tulsipur.

7:00 AM  Good morning!  Although others have been up since sunrise, cooking, tending to animals, walking to their jobs, I finally wake up, thinking:  the air is so cool.  The reality of later being drenched in sweat is distant, unthinkable.

7:10 AM I throw a towel and bottle of mineral water (for brushing teeth) in a plastic bag and trudge out of my apartment, down to the next landing and into my bathroom, a concrete room with one hole, two buckets and a lot of mosquitoes.  Brr, the water is so cold at first, but I like the feeling of clean.

8:00 AM  Tea time!  I head to the local tea shop for some sweet milk tea and cholasamosa, a delicious mix of mashed up samosa, curried chickpeas and a sprinkling of red onion.  I am not surprised to run into a few BASE staff, also enjoying a cup of chiya.Chiya and Cholasamosa:  Breakfast at the neighborhood tea shop (photo:  Adrienne Henck, 2010)

8:30 AM  Before starting work, BASE staff often sit in a courtyard under a giant rubber tree, reading the daily newspaper, talking about politics and exchanging personal stories.

9:30 AM Blogging, social networking, reading the 13 new emails from my mother asking, “Sweetie, where are you?  Are you eating enough?  Is everything OK?”Office Space: The BASE Child Labor team at work (photo: Adrienne Henck, 2010)

10:30 AM Around this time I expect some unexpected plan for the day to be announced.  I head out with the Child Labor team to visit a school/orphanage/village.

12:00 PM  The heat and humidity creeps in.  The unreliable Nepali electricity goes out.  No fan, ugh.

1:30 PM  Nepalis typically only eat two meals a day, in the morning and at night.  Sometimes they eat a small mid-day snack.  I feel like gluttonous American for requesting lunch, but my body is protesting the cultural assimilation.

2:00 PM The power comes on, and I rush to charge my computer and mobile phone.  Nepali electricity is a mysterious force that I understand even less than Nepali politics.  I certainly do not not take it for granted.

2:30 PM  The power goes out.

2:35 PM  The power comes on.

4:00 PM  I learn that an insurgent group has announced a nationwide strike for the following day.  While strikes are not uncommon in Nepal, it means that all shops will be closed, no motor vehicles will be allowed to move and my plans of visiting the Children’s Peace Home in a neighboring town will be cancelled.  Sigh.  Personal goals aside, it also means that schools will be closed, and children will once again be denied their right to education.

5 PM The workday ends.  If it’s Friday then I’ll be back in the office on Sunday, because it’s a six-day work week.Kamala cooks: Eating dahl baht at this family-run restaraunt is one of the hightlights of my day. Despite the pensive photo faces, they are a cheerful bunch.  (photo: Adrienne Henck, 2010) 

6:30 PM You know, I thought I would get tired of dhal bhat, the staple Nepali meal consisting of rice, curried vegetables and lentils, often with some raw cucumbers and pickles on the side.  So far, though, it tastes like mom’s home cooking to me!  Maybe that’s because Kamala cooks it for me every day at her family-owned restaurant where I invariably take my dinner.  And maybe, also, it’s because I eat it in the excellent company of Sorita, Bobina, Sithel and Suhendra, my three new sisters and brother.Bobina cuts tomatoes: After school, all the children help out in the family restaurant. With no complaints, they chop vegetables, wash dishes and serve customers food and drinks, including hard liquor. (photo: Adrienne Henck, 2010)

7:30 PM I rush home so that I can wash away the day’s sweat and dirt with a bucket of water before it becomes dark.  Three-inch cockroach who guards my bathroom:  because of you, I am afraid to use the toilet after dark.  One day, perhaps, we will be at peace with each other.

8:00 PM  The sun sets, and the power goes out, this time for the scheduled daily load-shedding.  The darkness of the Nepali countryside is coal black, amplifying the evening chatter of neighboring familes.  Should I read a book by flashlight or give in to my impatience and go to sleep?

10:00 PM  Expecting the unexpected has become my routine.  And even that thought is comforting.  I sleep.

(Note:  The above account grossly underrepresents the actual number of daily power outages.)


For an much more detailed and even more entertaining account of life in rural Nepal, check out this excellent blog.  Melinda is a volunteer at the Children’s Peace Home where several former child laborers, rescued by BASE, are now living.

Posted By Adrienne Henck

Posted Jun 22nd, 2010


  • Tereza

    June 22, 2010


    What a great post! Your writing makes your experience vivid and a thrill to read. Your photo entitiled Kamala cooks is gorgeous! Thank you for sharing so much of your life with us. I hope I have some adventures to share soon as well.

  • Stephanie

    June 22, 2010


    Great photos. Thank you for sharing.

  • Chris

    June 24, 2010


    So well written and descriptive, I hope it is not as hot there as the DC area.

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