DWC 2019 Nepal Team Empowering Communities October 18, 2019

Posted in on October 18, 2019

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Developing World Connections trip to work with Creating Possibilities Nepal in villages near Lamahi (Dang Province) is set to go after over a year of planning. The team consists of ten from the US (6), Canada (3), and Italy (1 US citizen) that will be arriving in Kathmandu from 9-13 October. Once there, we’ll be meeting with Dinesh and Nura from Creating Possibilities before flying and driving to Lamahi.

As the team leader, I can say that it’s been a lot of work–but very rewarding work–as I work with the DWC staff (Gerry Shea and Patti Miller, primarily) to recruit volunteers and work the logistics of the trip. I’ve been impressed with DWC’s communication throughout the process as well as the enthusiasm of the volunteers. As we’re all going over the final arrangements and getting the last of our questions answered, the excitement level–tinged with a little anxiety–is fairly high.

I decided to volunteer to lead this trip soon after also deciding to retire from the US Air Force after 37 years of active duty service. I’d arranged an Air Force Academy-sponsored service trip with DWC in June 2014, taking five Academy cadets to Cambodia to do similar work and was so impressed by the organization at that point that I made a personal commitment to continue my relationship with DWC and sign-up to lead a trip on my own once retired. Gerry Shea was great about providing that opportunity and the response from several friends and others to the trip has been gratifying.

Four of those going on the trip are long-time friends of mine and also retired US Air Force officers, including two other brigadier generals, one retired colonel, and a retired lieutenant colonel. All five of us have technical backgrounds as scientists or engineers and four of the five have deep academic roots as professors, too, so the dynamic should be interesting. The team is completed with the daughter of one of the generals, a pair of Canadian female friends from the Toronto area, a semi-retired American man living in Italy, and another Canadian lady from British Columbia.

Four of us (Mike, Grace, Kevin, and I) will be meeting in Istanbul to take out final flight into Kathmandu together and we plan to meet Hal–our earliest arriver, getting there on 9 Oct–at the Kathmandu Eco Hotel in the Thamel part of town. The current plan is for the five of us to walk around for a couple of days, possibly arranging some short tours to Bakhtapur and some temples, before uniting with the rest of the group (except for Mark) for dinner on 12 Oct. We’ll all be in Kathmandu by the morning of the 13th and then we’ll meet with Dinesh and Nura for a visit to the Creating Possibilities offices, a set of briefings about the trip and our work, and then a welcome dinner that evening arranged by Dinesh at Saktar Restaurant, walking distance from our hotel.

The trip to the Denver airport was uneventful. I decided to try a new parking arrangment since I’d be gone for four weeks and parked at the 6st Ave and Pena Blvd train stop since you can get a 30-day parking pass there for only $48. The train stop is a short walk away and I had just a nine minute wait for the next train ($5.25 each way). All–in-all, it was 35 minutes from parking spot to check-in counter at the airport–not much different from the actual airport parking economy lots that are $8 per day and require a 15-20 minute shuttle bus ride. Check in went smoothly, too, though I did have to move one pair of work pants (my Air Force utility pants) from my checked bag to my carry-on, dropping my checked bag from an overweight 51.5 pounds to a svelte and acceptable 49.5.

It was good to see a Facebook post from Hal Rhoads who’s currently in Doha awaiting his connection to Kathmandu. He’ll be the first among us to arrive and I’m hoping that his visa processing and hotel shuttle pickup go smoothly.

I’m trying to come up with a sleep strategy for my back-to-back red-eye flights (ORD-IST and IST-KTM) but I think everything will be a failure. When you’re going almost exactly to the other side of the world (actually 11:45 different because of Nepal’s weird time zone), you’re going to be wiped out no matter what you do, so I’ll just try to sleep as much as possible (thanks, Ambien!) and work my way into Nepal Time when we arrive by walking around in the sunlight as much as possible.

 DWC Team Leader, Marty France

Posted in on October 18, 2019