Welcome!! I am glad you have decided to join me. I arrived in Tulispur on Friday the 8th, after a short flight on Buddha Air and 3 hour car ride. I would have preferred to take the awesomely named Yeti Airlines, but alas schedule and safety overtook name sweetness in the decision making process. Our subsequent ride was scenic, bumpy and allowed me to try Dhal Bhat for the first time. Dhal Bhat is the national dish of Nepal. It is rice served with a light lentil soup that the diner mixes together on their plate. It was delicious, however I learned an important lesson and that is NEVER finish your plate in Nepal. As I was finishing my rice and before I could react our gracious host was pushing a pizza pan worth of rice on to my plate. I valiantly tried to consume this plus the additional dahl and chutney I was given, but after consuming more rice than Chipotle uses in a week I had to admit defeat. This is a lesson I am constantly learning, but it seems the threshold for additional food for guests at most homes is not finished so much as halfway done.
When you arrive in the Terai, the plain that makes up the southern half of Nepal, the first thing that hits you is the heat. As we drove the wind felt like moving heat. It hit 43 C (108ish) on the 8th and it’s been pretty similar ever since. Rachel and I are sharing a 1 room apartment, with no ceiling fan, a bucket shower and squat toilet, but we do have Indian satellite TV, when we have power which is about 30% of the time. Additionally I put up my mosquito net so hopefully the 100 bites I got in my first days in Kathmandu will be the high water mark for the time here.
As for work it is exciting getting into a new challenge. I have gotten to know the work of BASE very well. However, I have learned that in Nepal the only day off is Saturday. Not only is this messing with my internal clock, causing me to constantly think it is one day later than it is, but it also rubs me the wrong way. If I remember my history correctly the USA fought the Spanish-American war over the right to a 5 day work week. On the positive side it is not the 7 day weeks I worked in El Salvador and does allow us to do more work, which pleases me.
My cohort Rachel Palmer and I have been helping BASE to edit their annual report. They have 13 programs covering health, micro-economic development, environmental restoration and of course children issues. Using this and conversations with the BASE workers, especially our liaison Pinky we are developing a work plan for the next few months. This will include creating a database and tracking to help improve the trailing of bonded child laborers and where they work. This is an important step to helping eliminate this scourge in a systematic way. We will also be working with Child Friendly Villages and helping develop plans to expand and fund the fight against bonded labor.
I will leave it here. I believe that internet capable of uploading a blog is going to spotty at best. Therefore I will most likely be posting several blogs at a time and will put the date that they were written under the title. This way my thoughts will still be chronicled and you my loyal reader, or more likely my mother, can see the evolution of my thoughts and experience. Also for those of you who cannot get enough, I encourage you to follow me on twitter @donalexkelly. I do have better access to twitter and try to update it once a day. Thanks for reading and if you need me this Sunday I’ll be working.
Posted By Alex Kelly
Posted Jun 24th, 2012