Tucked between the Chitwan jungle and the side of the main highway between India and Nepal, we found ourselves meeting these beautiful children and mothers, handing out clothing to the impoverished children that had missed out on our winter clothing run. Their personalities come through, some are shy, and some scared. Their curiosity about me – this smiling, crying red-haired woman, with Bino – who needs no explanation! Getting a packet of dry noodles and juice, was like Christmas to them. We also distributed our monthly support of kai (food) to those most in need.
A mother showed me her hut, where someone always must stay awake at night in case of animal attacks. Elephants could turn up on their doorstep to trample crops and buildings, or even worse, tigers. It was the same hut where her husband hung himself last year, the despair got too much for him. Where she, her daughter and her grandchildren still have to live, haunted by the memories. The well with the toxic water, the land now poisoned by all the industry going on around it – it’s almost a tease, here is water, but you can’t drink it, or it’ll make you sick.
Again, the surrealness of seeing the area I’d seen only in pictures Rabindra had sent, to be standing there, understanding what it means for them to live in such abject poverty. It was an incredibly emotional experience for me. I spent a lot of my time here crying because of the injustice of it, the sadness of knowing I get to live in New Zealand, and they have to live there. Crying because I can feel their exhaustion. All I could think was, how can I help more, what can I do? My heart broke, and I fell in love with them.
The tarps they used to live under is now a toilet building – a luxury they had never dreamed of. Seeing the inside, scarcely furnished (no need for a bed when you live under a tarp) but safe, and theirs. Although I did meet the children, unfortunately, we didn’t get to meet the whole whanau, both parents were out gathering wood in the jungle. It’s an incredibly humbling feeling, knowing you have been able to make such positive impact on others’ lives, from half a world away, and maybe we’ll never meet. But, as I sit on my nice couch, in front of a nice fire, I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to achieve, I know I always say that but how can I not? This is what sustainability in action looks like, this is what making the most of the privilege I have looks like, being born where I was, to the people I were.
We finished our visit at the local school, Red Angel Academy. We met some incredible people who do their best to support the Chepang community with the limited resources that they have. Something you’ll always find in Nepal – those with next to nothing but still the determination and willingness to help others.
We are looking at the best way forward to continue our work here but in the meantime, we will carry on taking care of those most in need; it costs approximately NZ$60 to provide enough food to support one family a month. If you would like to help us support this community, or any of our work, then we’d be ever grateful to have you join us on this journey. Please get in touch here.