Sunday, June 12, 2011

My volunteer experience in Nepal

I’ve returned to Ukraine. Nevertheless someone has stolen my bag with all my documents including passport, all my money and laptop in India I’ve flown to my country almost without problem and now I want to write really big post about my being in Nepal and volunteer experience.

First days, Kathmandu

1 arrived to Kathmandu 1-st of March. The temperature in Kyiv airport before my flight was -20 but in Kathmandu it was +25. Nevertheless such hot weather all people wore winter clothes. There were few cars at the streets and a lot of motorcycles. But not people or architecture impressed me in the great degree but dirty air. Due to smog it was impossible to see anything situated farer than one kilometer. Ukraine is not so clean country as I wish it to be, and there are many industrial towns inside it with big plants that make pollution, but air in Kathmandu was even worse. 

The reason of pollution lay in that there are very few trees in Kathmandu and many old unprepared monocycles and tracks produced by TATA motors that are very dirty. In addition approximately one half of road are not covered with asphalt and numerous vehicles kick up a dust. 

The streets in Kathmandu were very impressive for me too. There is not pavement near the road and cars beep all the time. Near the roads a lot of shops and café that covered with thick share of dust. There was not electricity half of time. When I walked in the evening first time I was afraid to go inside any café for eating. They look so hostile that I thought that people inside can kill me. After 15 minutes of my walking around the street several guys suggested me to buy all types of drugs that I even know and bought prostitute for night, but I refused.

Next day a manager of organization that organized my visit [name] tried to cheat me for $150 but I refused to pay him more money that we discussed in first. As I understood in first day (hereafter this conclusion proved out) all organizations that invite volunteers are very corrupt and their managers stole 70% of volunteer’s money spending them for traveling and buying motorbikes and another expensive for Nepal things. Organization in which i worked was not exception. And what was interesting, people who work in such organizations even did not understand that they do evil but guess that it is fair business.

Arrival and first days in the to village

In third day of my being in Nepal I departed to village Progatinagar in which I needed to work. I went to destination 6 hours and during this voyage through the window I saw real life of village people of this country that work in agriculture. It was a stone age. People do not have any agricultural technology and they till the land with buffalo. In addition people experience shortage of living and agriculture area. Hence they need to create big stairs in the mounting and grow corps there.

In the village director of school J S met me, I introduced myself to teachers and they for me and first night I spend in directors house having interesting conversation with host.  In first, with pride in his voice he gave me two thick brochures with name “Lions Club of Nawalparasi Directory”. There were written biography and contacts of presidents and vice presidents of one of Nepali charity organization. The picture with contacts of JS was printed inside these brochures. As he explained he was not only director of school but also vice president of charity organization. I asked him what is this organization do, what are its goals? What does this organization achieved during lust 5 years, and what are its objectives for next 1, 3, 5 and 10 years. He could not answer me intelligibly to majority of these questions.
“I do not know our goals for 3, 5 and 10 years, it is very long period of time. But I know my objective for one year”, - JS told.
“And what is you aim for one year?” -  I asked.
“To become a president of this organization”, - he answered.
“What are you going to do in seat of President of  Lions Club”?
“I will expel [several names that I can not remember] from this organization because they are very bad”….

After that JS complain me that budget of Lion Club is very small, $25 000. And in the same time told me that they spend $5 000 every year for printing brochures about management of organization. He was very sincere with me and he really believed that this brochures are very important and not wasting money of western donors.

Attitude to women

Women are not people in Nepal. For example in first day of my being in village when I spoke with director of school his small daughter (approximately 12 years old) prepared all food. During eating she was not allowed to sit with us and like waitress she all the time asked us what we wanted to. She had her dinner only after we finished, and after that washed all dishes. JSF did not help her to do anything. Men in the Nepali buses never offer the seat to pregnant women. One time I saw pregnant women with two children sitting at the bus’s floor between seats and breast-fed her daughter. No one suggested her seat. But I return to my story. In first day of my living in Pragatinagar I was in panic. I thought “What am I doing there?”, It is possible to die from the boredom in such solitude. Happily this apprehension was premature and I had really nice time in this village in future.

School, firs impression

Although I worked in one of the best school in the region it was resemble to barn. All desks in classes as well as in teacher room were so dirty that it was impossible to touch something without daggling my clothes or hands. But teachers and children were very kind curios and interesting. Teachers all the time asked me about my country, system of education, etc. It was impossible to sit at  school-yard and read the book on the grass under mango tree for me because crowd of 30-40 children gathered around me and asked me about something all the time. Unlike Ukrainian ones they knew conversation English quiet well and it was interesting to speak with them. I felt myself as celebrity that went to casual people all the time. Sometimes they asked me to help them to solve some math questions, and I helped them because majority of textbook was written not in Nepali but in English.

But when I started to read class I was a little bit disappointed because to read two pages of text for children was big problem. Therefore I annulled C++ course after two classes and started to explain them basic things, for example what are blogs, what is rss, what is google docks etc. It stands to mention that not all the children was lazy, several ones really wanted to study. Two students so impressed me that I bought them laptop as I wrote in previous posts. Majority of my time I spent for individual classes with ones who want to study after several weeks. Working with these students was one of the best experiences in my life. I was really happy to do so.

Compared to European pupils Nepali ones do not smoke. But after several week I got to know that majority of them use chewing tobacco because it is cheap and no one can recognize this bad habit.

Almost all students planned to go work outside the country after graduation the school and make physical work there because it was very hard it find job in the Nepal especially inside the village. Average salary in the village was $30 but majority of people did not work at all.

Family in which I lived and occupation of the village people

In second day after arrival I stayed in house of one of the reaches family in the village.  It was reach because father was former policemen and worked as guard in Singapore now sending them money. Mother had a small shop in this village, but sales in it were very low.  In fact all the day she spoke with her friends and set inside the shop doing nothing. 16-years old daughter did all the housework and studied in the school. 19-years old son had finished school and did all the days absolutely nothing. In the morning he ate, after that went to play games with his friend and in the evening if there was electricity he watched TV. I did not see any book in this house except textbooks of daughter.

As I understand later people read very little in this village. In first there is not books in this village and even there is not opportunity to purchase them in the Kathnandu. I visited a lot of book shops in the capital of Nepal and did not see fiction Published in Nepali, only in English. Furthermore all books were very expansive and lion’s share of customers of these shops was tourist. All these shops situated in tourist distinct of Katmandu Thamel.  I found only one fiction book in the school library in English and no one in Nepali language.

Majority of people in the village work very little. Main source of their income was money orders from migrant worker. The son in that family looked up newspapers finding opportunity to move abroad for working often. Two talented student wanted to move abroad for working to but I assured them that it was not good way and they ought to go abroad for studying.

I decided to learnt why this occurred and found out that main problem is children training that is fully different to that of European ones. Imagine such picture: to house in which I lived crowded small child with peace of bred in his hand. Mother and daughter played with him 10 minutes (during this time peace of bread lied on the floor) after that they give him this dirty food; he ate it and crowded outside. Nepali parents did not teach children how to take spoon (they eat using their hands), that they should be clean, how to read and so. In fact children develop before school like pets. They do only easy work that does not require using mind. So it is very hard to them to study in future.

People who do not have relatives who worked abrade and who do not have any business are really poor. They live in clay houses often in one prate of which lived people and in another one animals. Majority of these people can not read and write. But no one in this village starved because rice (the main their food) was chap and fruits was available everywhere.

Nevertheless such environment I felt myself happy because after exhausting preparation to GMAT and studying English before traveling I relaxed first time. After classes I could read during several hours every day. I read “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion” by Yukio Mishima, ‘Oliver Twist’ - by Charles Dickens, ‘Heart of Darkness’, ‘Youth’ and ‘The End of the Tether’ by Joseph Conrad, ‘Tom Sawyer Abroad’ by Mark Twain, ‘The Wisdom of No Escape’ by Pema Chodron, ‘Old Man and the Sea’ by Ernest Hemingway, ‘Buddhism and Zen’ by Nyogen Senzaki, ‘The Invisible Influence’ by Alexander Cannon, Siddhartha by Sidney Sheldon  and several another books names of which I’ve forgotten because I left almost all of the books to my students. In addition I started to do meditations and felt that I became more conscious. It helped me to see my life from outside and to become wiser.   In the evening I usually played tennis or walk around the village and speak with the best students. In addition I travel a lot during this time visiting almost all beautiful places of Nepal. It was really excellent time for me.

School meetings and Nepali politicians

Electricity went out often during my classes. There was diesel generator in the school but school officials did not turned it on because fuel was expensive and there was not money for buying is. I understood why they bought this generator after 10 days of my working. In that day school meeting occurred. All classes were annulled and children and their parents set at the grass outside the school and school officials and politician have spoken to microphone during 12 hours (from 9 am till 9 pm). Some of officials could speak during several hours. Diesel generator was needed for working microphone.  The meeting were more important then classes for them. (I forced them to turn on generator during classes after one month of working only). People spoke all this time about absolutely nothing. For example how Nepal is beautiful, how good the school is, how wise teacher are, how speakers respect each others, etc. such meeting occurred in Pragetinagar every two weeks. During these meetings I met a large number of politicians and presidents of charity organizations. All of them just like Jaishi Sir could not describe their objectives. Main achievement for every organization was increasing the numbers of departments and members. But they did not know for which reasons these departments were opened.   In their opinion it is very important to be a president of some organization. If person is a president another one should respect them only for this. Large part of budgets of these organizations (that was not stolen) was spent for organizing such meetings and publishing their programs. So I want to ask every reader of this blog – NEVER donate money to any charity organization in developing countries. People do not starve there. All money will be spent for such meeting or just stolen.

Nepali bureaucratism and my last days in village

I met Nepali bureaucratism the first and the last time when I got laptop that I bought in Ebay in Kathmandu post office. In first I asked manager of the organization to get it instead of me but he told me that he went to post office every day and it was not delivered yet. I knew that laptop obviously should be delivered and deciding that manager just stole it (this suspicion did not prove true) I went to office by myself. The process of getting laptop took me 5 hours. In first people told me that it is not delivered. I visited a score of rooms and everyone told me that did not know how I can get it and everyone told me ‘go tomorrow, it is very late today’. After two hours of going from one to another room I found this laptop by myself in one of rooms but it was only start of the trial. I visited maybe 30 another rooms with officials and signed several papers in all of them for customs clearance of this laptop. Everyone told me ‘go tomorrow because other officials already went home’. They start to do something if I shouted to them only. I am ashamed for such behavior but if you do not shout for them they will continue to do nothing. In addition I am a choleric and could not to check myself. I clearly understand why manager could not receive this laptop during 2 weeks. It is impossible to describe how happy I was when I gave to students this gift.

At the end of April I stopped to teach computer science to class 11 because their course finished and started to teach basic computers course to small children. It was very interesting experience too. 7 of the May I left village and went to Pokhara, the main touristy city in Nepal where I did not work but relaxed only.

Asian Amsterdam

Yes, I am a bad boy. Sometimes I smoke marijuana. Some people say that it is not drug but I am not agree with them. In my opinion not only marijuana but also alcohol and tobacco are drags. But marijuana is less dangerous drag than alcohol or tobacco, because it is not cause physical addiction and does not make people aggressive. When I worked in Ukrainian newspaper I got press releases from police every day and noticed that 90% of murder in Dnipropetrovsk were committed after drinking alcohol, but I can not imagine person that assassinate another one after smoking marijuana. Maybe it would be good for society if all alcohol be banned but marijuana allowed. (‘Maybe’ is not 100% I am not narcologist therefore can not get correct conclusion about this point).

I arrived to Pokhara, very beautiful town that situated near the Himalayas 7 of May.  At 2 o’clock after staying in hotel I went to the quay and admire of the view of the lake.  I met Nepali boy there and smoke with him a cigarette with marijuana. After that I went to cafe for drinking tea, and met Italy family. I smoked with them marijuana too. After that I smoked it with USA tourists, after that with New Zealand clique. Going to hotel I met girl from UK and smoked with her too. I do the same with several people from New Zealand at the café near the hotel. Staggering I returned to my room and was a little bit afraid that administrator of hotel saw me in such condition but this concern was groundless because administrator not only allowed to smoke marijuana and hash in  the hotel but also sold these drugs to the visitors. [picture of pokhara from the internet because my ones left in the laptop that was stolen]

Next day I decided to stop smoke any more and bought Spanish textbook (I want to learn Spanish because I want to read a lot of books of Spanish authors in first books of Jorge Borges in the original). During other days I enjoyed reading Mohandas Gandhi and studying Spanish in the morning and meeting with tourists in cafes in the evenings.  But all the time everyone suggested me to smoke or buy drugs.

… Continuation of my adventure I will write soon
More pictures you can see in my facebook account


paul said...

Thanks, Nick. very interesting. I'll wait for next part of your story!

Rolipolli said...

Wow, another great post buddy! And nice to hear your experience at Nepal..

Nick said...