Holi 2017

I can’t believe it’s been one whole year since I last celebrated Holi in Kathmandu. This time round we all (every volunteer and staff member) rented a few busses to take us straight from project to Kathmandu for our 3 day holiday. The journey was horrible, torrential rain, crazy bus driver and what felt like endless traffic. However these 2 old AHV faced popped up out of nowhere and hitchhiked their way on to our bus!

Old AHV Faces

I spent a few nights at Ronni’s house which was cool as she lives right next to the monkey temple and has 2 adorable little cousins.

On the actual Holi day it was just like last year. I had forgotten how much I hated walking the streets of Thamel. If I ever do it again a private party like last year is defiantly the way to go. However, I still enjoyed it and we had loads of fun heading out that evening.

Holi

Holi

Shradha’s Wedding

Shradha is a wonderful lady who works for All Hands and I was lucky enough to be invited to her wedding. I was only able to attend one of her wedding events, but I had a great time and it was a nice insight into the world of Kathmandu weddings.

I started the day by getting ready at Roni’s house, where her mum helped dress me in my new saree.

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The wedding was held in a big venue, with lots of food, seats, drink and dancing going on. When we arrived we greeting Shradah before joining in the festivities.

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Prithvi Wash

I got back to Nuwakot this week and found out that Prithvi had re-opened, (the same day I returned), for the completion of a WASH, (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) program. There was such a nice small group of volunteers that I said I was up for volunteering for a couple of days before I went back up to Bachchhala.

My Bee Sting

I spent one day on site…. loved it… got stung by a bee… had an allergic reaction to both the sting and the medication… then got knocked out of action for the week.

In total I must have spent about 2 weeks with the group and loved every minute of it. Not only did we have loads of fun on site, our evenings were normally quite eventful and our access to good food was plentiful.

On site we were constructing 3 things, a septic tank, soak pits and the toilet block. When I left we had finished the soak pits, almost finished the septic tank and had just started the walls to the toilet block. I think the project took about 6 weeks in total to complete.

My amazing Team

A special shout out to Team Exotic And Dances, (who may or may not have formed after my departure).

Prithvi WASH Team!

The Soak Pits

The excavator had already dug us out a nice pit, unfortunately it wasn’t deep, long or wide enough so we had to spend a few days digging away to move out the excess dirt.

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The Septic Tank

Luckily the hole for the septic tank was just right, mostly we just had to assist the masons by ensuring they had enough bricks and masala – lots of sand sifting and hand mixing in the heat!

The Toilet Block

I didn’t have a lot to do with this at the start as Neha and Karla did such a good job at tracing out the building ready for us to install rebar and pour the foundations. Again a lot of this work was masala mixing!

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Crazy

I really enjoyed my time on site. The team was amazing, hard working and a lot of fun. We would eat snacks at chiya and get to order anything we wanted at lunch! – a luxury compared to Bachchhala. Chicken Kaja set was by far my favourite.

We also had our fair share of crazy locals who would pop up and lend a hand throughout the day.

 

 

Base

Being close to the town our evenings were not as limited as they were up in Bachchhala. We could easily pick up great food, sometimes ordering take away and other times cooking for ourselves. (I even found ways to get free cheese!) Wojtek discovered the local tailor, Steph became a hairdresser, Nabaraj would dance the night away and Praj was… well Praj.

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I went back to Prithvi and took this picture of the completion. The team did an absolutely amazing job and it was a shame to leave them, however Bachchhala is my Nepali home and after a while it was calling me back.

Finished Site

One Year Ago Today

One year ago I spent my first/the first week on the Bachchhala School Site in Nepal with All Hands Volunteers. Little did I know that week would change and influence my life over the course of just a few months.

I’m sat here during my 3 week break in India thinking about my time at the Bachchhala school. I have never lived in such an accepting community. They have experienced so much together, and it shouldn’t take a disaster to bind people, but AHV has opened up this village to the world. Not only are they gaining a safe learning space for their children to learn and grow, they have made friends for life from all over the world.

Our first few weeks/months on the site were challenging, getting the supplies to site, finalising the plans, sourcing an excavator, wind storms and the rain. Whilst I was gone the site was shut for almost 2 months due to poor accessibility in the monsoon. During these months a small team stayed behind and stabilised the land. Something we had previously attempted but not committed to.

I have come back this year know all those challenges, grateful of the progress and to see this project through to the end. I would strongly encourage anyone to consider joining me, even if only for a short time. This isn’t the only project that AHV has in Nepal or around the world, but come and help make a difference with All Hands Volunteers in Nepal.

To support All Hands in Nepal click here to visit my Just Giving page. You can also find out more about All Hands and the work they are doing across the world by viewing the All Hands website.

Matheran – My short visit in Mumbai

As some of you may know, after visiting Nepal in January I headed back to India for a yoga retreat. However as always my trip in India started in Mumbai with a flying visit to see Pooja.

One of the things she recommended was to take a short weekend visit up to Matheran an old English Hill Station, now declared an eco-friendly motor free zone. This is such a wonderfully peaceful place, which was unfortunately on strike when I arrived. So after having difficulty finding accommodation I set out to walk around the many mini walking trails.

Mid-walk I stupidly slipped and fell on my ankle, with no one around but a man and his pony to rescue me and take me back to my hotel. Because of this I took very few pictures as I became bound to my hotel. But here are some I took before the incident.

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Bachchhala Site Progress – My First Week Back

What’s happened since i’ve been gone

Since I left back in 7 months ago in June there have been a lot of changes on site. Due to the monsoon season a lot of the building construction was put on hold, so that work could commence on stabilising the land surrounding the buildings.

Site!

When I left in June the first building hadn’t even reached ground level. Now we have one building and the second is at 1st floor level, almost ready for the ceiling/floor slab to be poured. You can also see in the image the the baskets that make up the gabion wall that retains the land the classrooms are built on.

The clear area where the debris from the damaged school site had been cleared

The other biggest change that had occurred in my absence was the removal of the old school building debris. This image shows the site where the original earthquake damaged classrooms had been. Last year I helped with the demolition of this building and it was so nice to see the rubble having been cleared. The school has since been using this space as an outdoor learning area and as a playground.

To see some before images click here to see my original bachchhala post, click here to read about the demo week and click here to see what it looked like when I left in June.

What I got up to in my first week

Rebar Team

It won’t come as any surprise to learn that rebar was a big part of my first week back in Bachchhala. I spent my days on site with the most amazing team bending diamonds and rectangles for the 2nd building’s 2nd floor columns.

Bending Diamonds

New Rebar Station

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I wasn’t bending the rebar, I was up on the 2nd floor of the 2nd building tying the rebar. There was also a team building and painting the formwork for the next concrete pour.  Job wise, it was either work with the rebar or be in the sand sifting team, where we had to hand sift all of our river sand deliveries to clear out the pebbles.

Tying the Rebar Floor

Finished Rebar Floor

We had to hand sift our sand deliveries

To support this project click here to visit my Just Giving page. You can also find out more about All Hands and the work they are doing across the world by viewing the All Hands website.

Returning To Bach

So I finally made it back to my mountain side home, Bachchhala school in Rate Mate Tupche. It feels so nice to be back. The village instantly welcomed and greeted me. I got offered tea, snacks and food… at times it was too much to fit it all in! The funniest thing about my return was the newly erected community board, with no notices…. just a picture of my face!

The New Camp Site!

Without stepping foot onto the site the biggest change around here is the new camp. From what I can tell there is just the original water tank and a few showers that remain from my original trip. The place has really been built up and it’s great! A big common room, dorm rooms, a kitchen, an office space and much more. It really is luxury now.

First Wedding of the Season

My return to the village wouldn’t have been complete without attending the first village wedding of the season. ½ day at work and then a whole afternoon of food and fun dancing.

 

 

 

 

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I went to Bhoj Dai’s one evening with Maya, where he and his family held a small ceremony to make us part of his family. It was also his daughters wedding and we had a nice evening eating way too much food and drinking raksi.

During my first week we were also invited to celebrate Chinese New Year up with the nearest Tibetan community. It was a night of food, raksi and dancing.

 

 

 

 

Kritika and the baby

Celebrating the birth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kritika had her baby! To finish the week, 11 days after the birth we all attended a celebration party at Ram Krishna’s house.

Prithvi School Is Finished

The since being back in Nepal I have spent the week working towards the completion of the second school in the area, Prithvi.

We had the hand over yesterday where the principle put on a big celebration for the donors, school kids, masons and volunteers. It was a lovely occasion and a great way to hand over the school ready for it’s new life.

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This has given me a real drive to help work towards the completion of Bachchhala, the school I was at last year, hopefully i’ll be up there soon and I can share it’s progress.

 

To support this project click here to visit my Just Giving page. You can also find out more about All Hands and the work they are doing across the world by viewing the All Hands website.

Nepali Bull Fight

I spent the day with Praj, Sushil and his family. I had food with his family before heading out on day trip to a bull fight carnival. Which was actually quite fun, and not as fast paced as I thought it would be. I didn’t understand a word of what was going on over the tannoy but had a really nice day with friends, I love that they really open up these local experiences to me.

Afterwards they took me out for food at the most amazing chicken tandoori restaurant. I love the food there.

I’m Back!

I’ve made it back to Nepal, and the first thing I did was hang out with this lovely bunch!

Though about an hour after this picture was taken I got really ill. Think I caught the flu on the plane and it knocked me out for days.