I left Nepal more than six months ago for this extended travel and visit to North America, ending up in Mexico City just a little over a week ago. Apart from re-connecting with friends, I have been making presentations at schools and colleges about my life and the work we at COMMITTED do. I have also appeared on TV while in Hawaii to do the same. Following the earthquake, I have also been raising funds for emergency relief and reconstruction of Thangpalkot.
Earlier today, I visited Montessori Del Pedregal, the elementary (primary) school where my dear friend Mariana’s kids went to. Only the youngest remain at the school. Following the earthquake, the sixth graders had raised some funds for COMMITTED. At the school, I talked to three grades — 4th, 5th and 6th.
Apart from introducing them to the country of Nepal, I talked to them about schooling in rural Nepal, specifically in Thangpalkot and what the earthquake has done. I contrasted their classroom to a typical rural government (public) school classroom in Nepal. How the rural Nepalese children — the children living in the areas devastated by the earthquake — had very little to begin with. I talked about how they had lost, to the earthquake, even the little they had.
I told them how after the earthquake, the students in Thangpalkot are in Temporary Learning Centers. Their classroom walls and roofs made up of corrugated iron sheets! They are lucky if they have a bench to sit on.
I also told them how even after almost six months since the earthquake, the government of Nepal had yet to make public the new building codes for reconstruction to begin. How COMMITTED has not begun any reconstruction for that reason, even though winter is approaching and without proper shelter, there will be more casualties.
The idea was to give these Mexican children, living in a world completely different from those in Thangpalkot, an insight into the children COMMITTED works with.
They were attentive, curious — asked questions — and at the end expressed an interest in raising funds again to help the children of Thangpalkot. These children in Mexico, half way around the world from Nepal, as many other children outside Nepal I have talked to, displayed considerably more empathy and concern for the plight of the children in our country and wanted to help more so than our leaders, who living in the country itself, couldn’t be living in a more distant world and couldn’t be any less concerned for their plight (and that of other Nepalese).
The images coming out of Nepal recently have been of leaders adorned with garlands and khatas (ceremonial Tibetan scarves) following the formation of the new government, just as was the case following the promulgation of the new constitution (on September 20), in spite of the fact that a vast majority of the population — the earthquake victims, the victims of the conflict in the south, others who felt excluded from the new constitution and were agitating in Kathmandu, those whose lives have been completely disrupted by the shortages of fuel and other essentials following the economic blockade of the southern borders by India, etc. — have faced nothing but pain and suffering for over five months!
But they congratulate each other for the position of power they have ascended to, they congratulate each other for the chance and opportunity to continue to play with the lives of the people of the country…that’s how I see it anyway.
I hope I am wrong.