Today was our last day working on the Unako House project. My mind is so full of things I want to share, I don't even know where to start...
Our favourite breakfast was served right on time as usual at 8 am. We all love the scrumptious potato medley, fresh roti with honey, hard boiled eggs, plantains (mini bananas) and the juiciest, tastiest mangoes you can imagine! The milk tea was also a favourite morning ritual.
Although the bus ride to the site is about 45 minutes, it is a ride that no one would ever get tired of. Every day we enjoyed the sights and sounds of life in rural Nepal. From water buffalo, goats, dogs, chickens and a few little piglets, to stunning women in colourful saris to copious quantities of children clad neatly in their distinctive school uniforms to families piled onto motorcycles (four on one bike was the most I saw) to people of all ages riding rickety bicycles to women carrying huge, and I mean HUGE, loads of grass or sticks on their heads, to people young and old herding their buffs to jeeps loaded with people inside and out, to mud houses with thatched roofs, to crowded shops - we loved this ride every day!
Arriving at Unako House is always a treat because the 150 children who attend the neighbouring school greet us with such enthusiasm and excitement it would make anyone want to be a teacher!! It didn't take long for the shy little hellos to turn into swarms of hugs each morning. What a nice way to begin work each day.
A lot was accomplished at the site today: chaining two huge piles of bricks to the second floor, grouting, staining metal bannisters and windows, white-washing the walls and ceilings and installing electrical panels. In between all of the work, Katie and Jiwan went to teach a math lesson to the older kids while Noah, Keegan and I went to teach the four primary classes some fun action songs. Keegan's leading of The Hokey Pokey was definitely a highlight and watching Noah sing and dance along made me smile from ear to ear. In the afternoon we had the whole school, teachers and all, sing and dance The Hokey Pokey! (Bill and Len's OCD was in full gear as they worked non-stop all week and couldn't possibly take a break to join us at the school!) To top off all the fun, Katie played Ferrell's song "Happy" on a little speaker plugged into her iPod. We danced "Canadian" style and it wasn't long before the entire field of people was jumping, laughing, dancing, singing and holding hands.....It was a blast!
Miles, Maddie, Jacob, Noah and Jiwan were like celebrities when we arrived but it didn't take long for the kids to fall in love with Keegan and Katie. I guess I can say that I had a few fans as well.
The Nepalese people we worked with on the site were some of the hardest working people you could ever meet and although we could not communicate verbally with most of them, we all worked beautifully together. The teamwork and effort of all was inspirational.
At dinner tonight, Jacob had each of us share highlights of our time here. Miles' highlight was that Bill's vision and two years of planning had all paid off and we accomplished everything that Bill had hoped for. Bill definitely deserves a pat on the back for inspiring us all to take this project on.
The last thing I have to say is how wonderful it was to share an experience like this with our children. Miles and Maddie were unbelievable team leaders with their organization skills, compassion, confidence and humour. Jacob, Noah and Keegan have never worked so hard (ok, maybe Jacob has!) and all three of them made us all so proud as well. Our kids (can I still call them that?) made this trip incredibly memorable for Bill, Katie, Len and I.
None of us want to leave and all of us hope to return.
Nepal, July 2014