Well hello there all you poor, unenlightened people of the past!
I have seen the future, and it is, well, dirty frankly!
You see, while you poor sods slog out your days in the dark technological age of 2007, I am here, sloshing through the mud and sewage of the future. Time travel may seem like some crazy science fiction concept to many of you, but I am in fact writing to you from Kathmandu, Nepal, in the year 2064.
(Although in fact, the very essence of writing to you instantly across a gap of 57 years may well result in parallel universes, causing a rip in the space-time continuum, the consequences of which, as many of you will know, could be disastrous!) Continue reading →
Still nothing about Jeetu, although his older sister came by (who knew he had one?) and told a rather terrifying story about their older brother, who lived in their village and upset a few Maoists a few years back, so the Maoists took him into their village square and very slowly removed his hands and feet with a machete. Obviously, he’s no longer with us, (he bled to death) but it gives everyone even more to worry about, as Jeetu’s brother clearly has enemies in the village, and they might know who he is.
Well, I’m afraid we’ve still heard nothing about Jeetu, it’s been a week so we can only hope and wait at this point.
I must admit that I’ve been waking up in the night, wondering where he is and if he’s found somewhere to sleep, especially when it rains.
The rain is so loud it frequently wakes me up, from the regular rhythmic tapping to the sweeping rain that builds up into a thundering torrent. It crashes down onto the concrete and is sometimes so loud I’m amazed anyone can sleep, but somehow they do!
Well the Teej festival was lovely – all sorts of people dropped by and as it’s the “girls” festival we all got adorned with tons of glass bangles (I got 18 squeezed onto my wrists altogether), beaded necklaces, and put on heavy eyeliner and lipstick. I was tikka’d and had flowers thrown in my hair, and Aamaa insisted I wear a rather lurid pink sari. We sang traditional songs, and danced a lot, and then the boys danced and sang to entertain us.
Me and Amaa
Me towering over Mina and Sabina like an amazon!
Me in the hideous pink sari with Amaa and her friends and family
Well, school is going well, the first week was exhausting, but it’s been very successful and the kids seem to love it. I’ve timetabled lessons from 10am til 3pm, and I’ve never seen kids so eager for school before!
I think because they’ve been literally doing nothing for months, and have been so bored (their tv’s been broken too!) so the idea of anything organised, even lessons, is quite thrilling.
I was downstairs at 9.30am on the first day, getting things ready, and the kids all filed in and sat down in silence waiting. I told them they still had half an hour to go to the bathroom/run around outside etc, (plus I was waiting for the two trainee teachers to come!) but they were so keen they just sat there, waiting quietly!
Well, Omar is ok, although he hasn’t come back to the orphanage, he’s been sent to his guardian’s house and the police are going to try a bit harder to find his family.
Now, on to more pressing news!
On Sunday, at 4pm, 3 bombs exploded simultaneously across Kathmandu. One was on a mini-bus, one was at a bus stop outside a school, and the paper didn’t give details of the third one, except that it was somewhere in Sundhara.
2 people were killed (one was a high school student waiting at the bus stop) and lots were injured, including 5 people who are still critical.
Priya and I have decided to start a ‘school’ here at the orphanage, as the kids not only desperately need an education, but also something organised to fill the days!
I divided the kids into 4 groups based on age and ability (for example, Mina is 13 but has never been to school before). I made a timetable that includes English, Nepali, Maths, Science, Geography, History, Music and Art.
However, as there are 4 groups, instead of planning 6 lessons a day, it’s more like 24!
A tad daunting!
Luckily there are two very sweet 17-year olds, at college studying teacher training, who come in most days to help teach, so between them, me and Priya, we should be ok! (Fingers crossed).
Every day starts around 5am, when the kids are scrubbed and washed (mostly outside with the garden hose). Sajana hates it and her screams usually wake me up at about 6am!
Then it’s time for exercise and prayers, and the grand washing of clothes – quite a performance!
The clothes are passed from bucket to bucket, vigorously scrubbed with soap and rinsed by the boys. Aamaa presides over the whole affair, sitting regally on a stool in her nightgown in the courtyard, filling buckets with the hose, giving instructions and generally directing the whole operation. There seems to be mountains of laundry every morning (not suprising with 34 kids!), and although Aamaa let me wash my own clothes, the boys all scoffed at my poor technique and insisted on scrubbing my clothes “properly”!
I tried to help with the kids’ clothes a few times, but after scrubbing a token shirt, Aamaa smiles kindly at me and says rather firmly “Maya finished now, ok?”
Well, to answer the burning question, I did try a bit of goat in the end, as no-one else would, and that seemed like a real waste!
It was ok, but not brilliant.
This email is soooo long I’m going to split it into parts.
I arrived in the orphanage on Saturday afternoon, (25th August) and was welcomed with open arms.
Nirmaya, the house mother (who insists I call her Aamaa, which means mum) is a lovely, large, cuddly lady of about 50, who sold her land two years ago to set up this orphanage. She had found 4 kids on the streets and taken them to a government orphanage, but the conditions were awful and shortly afterwards the owner died, and the kids were scattered. She took the four kids back to her house to care for them, and then thought, if I can look after 4, why not 40?
Sabina, Amaa, and Prita
Her oldest daughter, Priya (27) lives with her father and husband at their family home (Aamaa lives at the orphanage, but her husband doesn’t – something about men not being as loving with children!), but she comes in most days to help.