While I was working on my blog post yesterday night, around midnight a new earthquake hit Nepal with the strength of 5,5 on Richter’s Scale. I could hear the dogs barking outside my window, and many Nepalese woke up, they told me today. No damage was done. The epicenter was at the same place as the big one in April last year, which had the strength of 7,9 – around 80 km outside Katmandu. It was an interesting backdrop when we took off early this morning to climb up to a remote village heavily damaged by the earthquake last year. Khursani Bari is the name of this village located 2700 metres above sea level.
The photo above is interesting. It is taken through the open window of the school toilette. I discovered that this must be the bathroom with the most splendid view I have ever experienced! The photo of the year on Blue Music Blog?
Getting up to this village of 160 inhabitants was like climbing the mountains with a solid Jeep. The “road” was extremely narrow and bumpy and rocky, and 10 cm from the wheels was the abyss and sure death. This ride rate among my top ten of dangerous adventures in cars.
Fascinating, though, purely fascinating. The road ended up there where the school was rebuilt with the help from Nepal YMCA and the fundraising organized by World YMCA.
Nepal is a fantastic country; today I had a surreal feeling of walking among the clouds. At times we were actually looking down at big commercial airplanes descending towards Katmandu Airport.
On the way up among the mountains we could all of a sudden see the Himalayas floating amongst the clouds. The mountain tops more than 8000 m high stood out up there like white mountain peaks seemingly without roots or contact with Mother Earth.
Midway we stopped for a cup of Masala Tea, the aromatic and tasty Nepal Tea, based on Cardamom, Cinnamon, milk and tea, all boiled together.
The owner of the teahouse is a board member of the local YMCA and his son was an interested observer of these foreign guests to his teahouse.
It is a real challenge to photograph the depth of the landscape as the mist is almost always there, but hopefully you get a faint image of the enormous dimensions of the mountains and the valleys in these wonderful parts of Nepal!
The school was placed on the only tiny flatland in miles distance, and the schoolyard was fenced in by barbed wire to keep the children from falling into the abyss surrounding us on all sides.
I had a strong feeling that I could fall down everywhere I turned, a strange feeling of balancing on the roof of the world.
In Khursani Bari no house was left standing – the whole village was completely flattened. When Mukti from Nepal YMCA came there as the first representative of any help organisations, only the Army was there to help people.
Mukti handed out rice and blankets, bought with YMCA collected funds, and started to work with the inhabitants of this remote community.
On the top of the world in the schoolyard the whole village was assembling, pretty much like it use to be when they celebrate harvest, or weddings. Dances and songs and joy. In between there were lengthy speeches expressing the feelings of the villagers.
Everybody participated, and it was a rich display of singing and dancing and religious rituals and ceremonies. All in honor of the guests from the World YMCA.
YMCA were letters written in gold in everybody’s hearts and the gratitude to Mukti and Nepalese YMCA was without borders or limits, and we were generously taken into this place of honor.
Two elderly gentlemen were dancing and singing the history of the village, and towards the end the YMCA played a significant role in the development of the song.
After enjoying the best of the local culture for a long and fascinating time, it was finally my turn to give a speech and then to hand out new school uniforms to the kids.
The gratitude of the kids were great – a full new school uniform is not coming their way every day.
The faces of the villagers told their stories, stories of hard work to make the dry land grow vegetables and corn to give them a livelihood, but also stories of close community and deep belonging to their own cultural and religious roots – stories of integrity.
As Nepal is predominantly Hindu, this village belongs to a small minority being Buddhist, and the people also belong to a separate tribe and have their own particular culture. This culture we got the chance to enjoy fully during the day!
Young girls were dancing welcome dances and dances for weddings and harvest feasts.
In one room in the new school building there is a room for Women Empowerment. I was proud to be invited to inaugurate this room with four sowing machines. The women of the village was eagerly demonstrating their skills in using the new equipment, which would have been modern in my grandmother’s time, but still working well on the top of a mountain.
Man of the Year? The elderly women passing by Michal was carrying an incredible load of hay, and this in altitudes of 2700 m.
Finally it is time to say good bye to the good people of Khursani Bari and hit the road again. We were seriously contemplating to walk down to the main road, but eventually trusted our good driver and climbed together with him in his jeep down the steep and scary mountain sides.
Behind us numerous ruins and primitive temporary huts, all with smiling Nepalese inside. An incredible people offering warm and friendly fellowship.
On the mountain peaks there were like mountain islands and here they were growing mustard plants.
The busses were all overcrowded with people hanging on outside the lorries!
A glimpse of the narrow “road” creeping along the mountain sides.
All along we could witness what an earthquake of 7,9 strength does to the civilisation.
It was all a very moving and heart warming experience and it was one of those very special days, when you felt that all details and all elements came together in a deeply meaningful way, and you were together with 160 villagers on the top of the world on a Nepalese mountain peak and celebrating the good work of the YMCA.