Edit: This is from the afternoon of the third, but I couldn’t get it to post until now.
I’m exhausted and sunburnt. I’m at the Mountain Fund farm in a village west of Kathmandu about and hour and a half walk uphill from the highway to Pokhara.
The morning started with moving some timbers, then shoveling gravel into a truck so it could be moved to the construction site. Short break for somewhat of a breakfast, then we went back to refill the truck with more gravel. The truck had to leave, so instead Scott and I walked/climbed up a mostly dry ravine in search of the sources of water for the farm, one of which isn’t working. That was a good time, and we found one of them covered by a landslide.
From there it was real breakfast time…dhal bat. I think that was around 930 or 10. Back to work, this time working on the construction project, a building of homes for women and families, each a single room made out of bags of earth. Tamped down a layer of bags to level it, helped moderately with some of the other pieces of it, and got completely sunburned on my arms despite applying spf45 twice.
That about did me in, and I’ve been pretty useless since around 2 this afternoon. I found some shade and Steripen’ed and drank a lot of water. The Nepalis keep working, and it’s not so much their rate of work that is impressive, though it is, but their ability to stay in the direct sun working hour after hour. Lunch, apparently, was around 4 pm, and at 5 now I find myself the only one not back up the hill constructing.
The building walls are almost raised, after which they’ll be covered with concrete and topped with a concrete beam and a roof. A Canadian school group that was here recently helped a lot, but most of the work is done by a rather large group of hardworking Nepalis, a mixture of farm residents, local volunteers and paid craftsmen.
I’m happy to see this place, the friendly people and their efforts here. I did some work, mainly in those morning hours before heat exhaustion started building. I like, though, that this isn’t a project languishing until volunteers show up to help. Our help is minimally effective. Instead, it’s been, as Scott put it yesterday, a bit of a Recovery Act for the village, employing suppliers, a truck driver, a bulldozer operator and the people doing the actual construction. That on top of the fact that the people living here now in the more limited space are working on their new homes as well.
All in all, we’re all better off with me at home working my job and sending money to employee local people than to do the kind of thing I did today. I’m not saying it’s bad to be here, but it’s more of a gesture of goodwill and an experience for me than any substantial assistance to the community here.
I’m not sure how long I’ll stay, but I haven’t decided to run away in the morning or anything. Perhaps the next time someone is leaving for Kathmandu I’ll take my leave. We’ll see.