On our last full day volunteering at Maya Universe Academy I decided to go on a goat hike with Didi, the resident goat herding lady. Didi, meaning older sister, doesn’t speak any English, and doesn’t read or write Nepali. So, I am grateful to hear that my companion will be a Nepali guy. Hello translation!
She walks the goats around so that they can graze. The walk is difficult… but not necessarily in the traditional sense. We are walking directly on the side of the hill, off the path, and in the brush. I use small trees and sturdy plants to hoist myself up as the goats complete their search for roughage.
She points out a structure in the far distance that looks a bit like a lifeguard’s chair, but way bigger. She tells us that it was built by her grandfather, so he could watch over all the crops and make sure there were no monkeys. Right after she says this I spot a monkey in the trees. We come to an area where the goats can run free, and we entertain ourselves by eating ants and wild cilantro (coriander) plants. For lunch, instant noodles that are SPICY! A welcome difference from the usual dal bhat that I had for breakfast… and will probably have for dinner.
When we arrive back at the school grounds the rest of the group is in the middle of a bracelet making workshop. We are learning how to make the bracelets that Impact Everything sells in their store to support the school. And boy, believe me when I tell you IT’S SO HARD. This is the most difficult bracelet making I’ve ever done in my life, and these women do it with ease and beauty. Mad respect.
The intricate weaving pattern proves to be too much for most of our group, and I walk away with a half-finished bracelet. Grateful for the opportunity to see where sustainable Nepali products are coming from I am in awe as one of the ladies uses a sharpening block to grind the colorful stones into a perfectly round sphere.
After the workshop we get ready for dinner. Tonight, we have a local dinner in the village. Our host is the woman in charge of bracelet making. She lives a short walk from the school grounds and we sit outside on a seating area, on the porch, and on some chairs. We are joined by the other volunteers and teachers. Some of them actually rent places in the village because they live here for upwards of 8 months.
The director of the school remarks that it’s so nice to be able to give to the local community in this way. She remembers 8 years ago when the school consisted of a few teachers and one school building. The dinner is delicious! Chicken and chapati (a type of flatbread), with a side of a locally brewed spirit… only for those of age of course! The night progresses and we learn so much more about the school, and the impact it has had on both the students and volunteers’ lives.
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