Karie Cross

Karie Cross (Backward Society Education - BASE): Karie studied English and political science at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, where she graduated with honors. In Arkansas she also interned in Governor Mike Beebe's communications office. At the time of her fellowship, Karie was working on a Master’s of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, with a specialization in International Development. Karie also served as a teaching assistant at the University of Maryland. After her fellowship, Karie wrote: "I feel as if I should never be afraid of anything ever again. I have gained confidence, cultural sensitivity, networking skills, technical skills and self-sufficiency. I see myself as someone who can really make a difference. All I have to do is have the strength to try something new."

Last Lessons from Nepal

23 Aug

It’s my last week at the office: thus, time for final reflections.  When a 10-12 week fellowship gets cut to a mere 6 weeks because of Indian bureaucratic messes, it’s unbelievable how quickly the  measurement-defying Nepali time can go.  I feel a bit as though this summer has galloped right past me, and I’m watching its receding back and crying, “But wait, I’m not finished with you yet!  There’s still too much to learn, and I will miss Nepal too much!”

BASE staff teaching me how to be a Nepali woman

So what have I learned? 

Children are incredibly vulnerable, and we must protect them from exploitation at all costs.  Most of them are unable to stand up for themselves, so they rely upon us to take notice and DO something. 

Rescued child laborer Sangita of Santi Ekala Bala Child Club, photo credit: Michal Kaczor

“Happiness” does not equal development.  Just because children laugh and play here, just like they do in Maryland or in Arkansas, does not mean that they have no need of health care and education and affection from their families.  They are content with the bare minimum because it’s all they’ve ever known.  But in a country of corrupt politicians and no social safety nets, one accdent or illness in an impoverished family can mean years of labor for an innocent child.   Subsistence living is a constant risk, even if it looks happy from the outside.

I’ve been weighing my options and contemplating my future all summer long, and it’s official: I want to dedicate my life to this.  Hello, PhD in human rights?

And on a lighter note:

2 gallons of cold water in a bucket is perfectly adequate for the morning shower (?) (bath?).

I really can eat dhal bhat every day and not get tired of it.  I’m already dreading a dahl bhat-less existence in the US.  (Although I’m going to try to cook it very soon!  Who wants to come over for Nepali food?)

Tastes better if you use your hands!

Nepalis are some of the warmest, most generous, and most considerate people that I have ever met.  Is it possible for an entire people group to be universally kind-hearted?  There’s a lot wrong with this country (e.g., they can’t elect a prime minister, the lack of bridges paralyzes transportation during the rainy season, and 2.6 million kids are working instead of playing and studying), but they’re definitely doing something right.  Americans could learn a thing or two from Nepalis about hospitality and taking the time to really talk to each other and build deep relationships.

Finally, take a look at my latest video.  (One more to come, but it’s long so I’ll post it from the Land of Fast Internet sometime next week.)  There’s not much new information here if you’ve been following along on the Child Friendly Village initiative, but my goodness, these kids are cute!


Thank you so much to all of my readers, commenters, donors, and well-wishers.  Even though I’m so far away from most of you, I haven’t felt lonely or abandoned for a single minute.  Your support made this incredible experience possible for me, and I really do believe that together we have made a small dent in the child labor problem in Nepal.

Posted By Karie Cross

Posted Aug 23rd, 2010

1 Comment

  • Pam

    August 23, 2010


    Good work Karie. It certainly sounds like the Nepali people have touched your heart. Safe travels!

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