Back from Nepal

One meeting - and hope that I can help them again and again...


September 2009. During a one-week homestay with Lhapka (our local representative in Kathmandu) and his wife Rita, 

I was fortunate to experience their everyday life of these Nepalese friends. The children we support in Kathmandu, and their families, knew that I was in Nepal and I spent the first few days anxiously looking forward to meeting them. Unfortunately, thanks to some bad luck, when student Tenzin Woeden and his mother decided to spontaneously visit me at Lhapka’s house, I happened to be out of town, breathing the fresh air of Pokhara for a few days. Upon my return to Kathmandu, I was delighted to find a short but touching note that Tenzin had left for me. It was thus my turn to go to their place! Lhakpa and I zigzagged through town on his motorbike and, after a few kilometers of avoiding holes, other vehicles, dogs, cows and a lot of other surprising things, we arrived at Boddnath, in front of the house where Tenzin and his parents lived.

We entered into a dark and narrow hallway and walked up the 4 flights of steps, meeting all the neighbors along the way! Finally, we arrived in front of a small door. Lhakpa knocked at the door, calling for Tenzin. His mother opened the door, a big smile on her face, and invited us to enter into the small room they called home. Everything was there: three beds, a small table to eat, a closet, an altar and a rice cooker. The kitchen was in the hallway along with the weaving machine that Tenzin’s mother uses to make Chhubas, which are traditionnal Tibetan clothes.

 

Tenzin’s father was on the bed, helping his wife to prepare the fabrics. They were waiting for Tenzin to arrive to have lunch. I was so very moved to finally meet them, and their smiles spoke eloquently to me. Lhakpa translated our conversation, during which they didn’t stop thanking me and the organization for helping their son go to school.

Tenzin finally arrived and the meal was served. Although Lhakpa and I had already eaten, they insisted on serving us a big glass of milk (!) and potatoes. It was hard to refuse, but I soon found it hard to digest with my full stomach! But it didn’t really matter

because the atmosphere was pleasant and their home was friendly. The walls were covered with mandalas, family photos and pictures of the Dalai Lama. On the closet, there was even an old photography of Tenzin alongside the former school principal and my parents!

Remaining true to himself, Tenzin was a little shy and reserved, and only said a few words. His mother was a bit worried by this, but made it clear that she is very proud that he is studying.

Before leaving them, we went up to the roof to take a few pictures together. The goodbyes were emotional, the hugs lasted long, and it was hard to leave them without knowing if we would see each other again. 

During the return trip on Lhakpa’s motorbike, I promised myself to try my best to keep the organization alive. I will remember this shared moment for a long time: the smiles of Tenzin’s parents and their tremendous gratitude. It doesn’t take much to make a family happy, just a bit of time and a bit of money....

 

Céline Roulet