Today is the day we leave for Kathmandu. We had breakfast at 8am, said our last goodbyes to the staff members of Conscious Impact and packed our bags to go.
From left: Maddy, Mariana, me, Bibek, Aaishma, Sachinn, Pratik, Orion. Missing from this picture is Aayusha who was helping out at the school painting project.
Waiting for the bus at the mini mart. In the photo are resident dogs on the camp. The one on the left is Kavita. I forgot the name of the other one in black.
It has been a memorable week of tough physical labour, laughter, and exchanging stories. I joined this programme, hoping to give back and pay it forward (some of the kindness I’ve received from strangers and friends during my travels). What I’ve contributed are material items like money and goods. But I’ve gained so much more in return, which is intangible – friendship, memories, knowledge, and inspirational stories of resilience. It is one thing to read news about the earthquake and quite another to hear personal stories recounted by people who’ve lived through the devastation. How the Nepalese people banded together to help one another. One lady lost her family in the earthquake and with the help of Conscious Impact and the villagers, they’ve helped to rebuild her life. I can’t imagine how tough it must be for her but she pulled through it and could even welcome us warmly with smiles and all. It is the story of resilience. The Nepali people have shown strength and resilience in rebuilding and moving on with their lives after the earthquake. It is something worth learning from.
Covid had a huge impact on Conscious Impact as they were previously dependant on funds donated by volunteers. There were more international volunteers prior to Covid. But the lockdowns and pandemic meant that less people were willing to travel. During Covid, Conscious Impact managed to survive via monthly donations and they were mostly self sufficient thanks to food grown from their own garden and ingredients obtained from the farms nearby. Read Conscious Impact’s blog post on Covid-19.
The funds donated goes towards paying the salary of the Nepali staff. They have an agriculture team, a natural building team and a youth team. The agriculture team is headed by Kumary who works with Jay and Abee to maintain the garden in the camp as well as growing of cash crops like coffee, mushrooms, and avocados. Conscious Impact produces their very own “Takure coffee beans” which they sell to cafes in Kathmandu. They also teach anyone who is interested to grow the crops so that they too can earn a sustainable income. I’ve heard that they give away some of the avocado seedlings for free to the villagers. More youths will be enticed to remain in the village rather than leaving for the cities since they can make a living this way.
The natural building team headed by Halibo provides support for any infrastructure or building works that are required in the camp or in the village. For the youth team led by Sushmita, they work with youths and children at schools.
After a 4 hour bumpy bus ride, I arrived safely in the Patan region of Kathmandu.