Each day in this country builds on the last, forming relationships with people who have a vision for the children they seek to help, by exposing us to the culture and people of Nepal. Today, we visited 2 historical sites. We were taken to the scenic temple perched on the hill, surrounded by monkeys that stole the show: Swayambhunath. It was a blend of the religions of Hindu and Buddhism, the huge bronzes of the various deities and magnificent temples, the colors of the trees and then the backdrop of the city with mountains in the distance. Truly a visual treat for the eye!
Our second site was the Home of the Good Shepherd, a hostel for 9 of the older Mitrata girls who were now in college. It is lovingly managed by three sweet Catholic sisters. As soon as you walk in the welcoming building you are greeted by first class hospitality and warmth. We were seated in a reception room, fed and watered with yummy veggie pakodas and some local chaat (a crunchy snack) with fruit juice. The girls moved around with smiles and served us, laughing and hugging old faces that they remembered from previous visits. You could just tell they were blossoming where they lived. It was safe, peaceful, and they were loved and mentored by the sisters.
The subtle message I took away from this visit was that Mitrata carefully selects each child and they place them for maximum development so they will be able to pursue their dreams. They protect the children and guide them from the time they enter their care till the time they are able to fly on their own. We got a special treat (us ladies) to visit their bedroom upstairs. It was one large room with windows all around, the canopy of fruit trees and songbirds, a quiet neighborhood. The girls had 9 bunkbeds, cabinets for clothes, a dining room table with a small kitchen to wash their dishes and bathroom. It was clean and filled with their own decorations, school books on the shelves. It was perfect for them! We left with pictures and hugs and thanking the sisters and the girls!
Our final visit was in the Patan Durbar Square. It was another UNESCO World Heritage site that had the historic palace that was built from the 13th century. While it had suffered blows from the earthquakes in the 1930’s and the recent one in 2015, there was progress in the slow reconstruction to bring it back to its original glory. My only regret was we were seeing this at the end of the day. It deserves a whole day, with a museum that I was too tired to see. But the architecture, the carvings, the history…what a spot. All of us shared a memorable ending up 7 flights of steps or more…to the top of a restaurant that overlooked the palace and its buildings, the city stretched out with good views of the mountains and perfect sunlight for pictures.
Going home was another adventure! The traffic was nothing less than horrendous. It was a sea of vehicles and motorcycles who had the advantage to navigate through a parking lot of cars that did not move. But we had the best driver, Raj. I think after 40 minutes of no movement, even he was looking for that golden opportunity to making it happen. And he did! Somehow, he pulled through, with horns and rolling down the window and talking to other drivers. We were sitting in the front of the van and had a clear view of what was going to happen.
There is nothing that can be more exhilarating then racing through narrow streets with people, cars and motorcycles coming AT YOU! And…he just kept going. Us girls in the front were holding our breath, some with their faces in their hands, and our unnamed gal in the front seat…well let’s just say…when we made it home…the bar was at the top of the list…no bathrooms needed! It was a blast! I never had so much fun!
If you haven’t been to Nepal, you don’t know what you are missing. It tests your heart, mind and body. It confronts you with beauty, organized chaos that works and the resolve and humility of the people who press forward with patience and politeness. Thank you, Mitrara for showing us and exposing us to this wonderful country! We learn as much about ourselves on this trip as we do to the people we are here to discover!
- thoughts from child sponsor, Cindy Nevett, who is traveling with her husband and son
Good Shephard Hostel
Patan Durbar Square