My stay in Nepal, 2011
Nepal - for many, the first associations are Mount Everest, Yeti, and poverty. I was one of them, and I was curious to find out what the country really is like. Not only this was my motivation to join hands with hands, but also the opportunity to do good and help people who do not have the same privileges as we do.
With a big bright smile and wide open arms Sarada, the mother of the orphanage, picked me up from the airport. I felt comfortable and welcomed from the very first moment.. When I arrived at the orphanage, excited children surrounded me with curious, big eyes. The first encounter with orphanage life was real Nepali: Everyone sat on the veranda to do meditation and afterwards they sang the Nepali national anthem and other traditional songs. One little girl sat on my lap the entire time and played with my watch fascinatedly.
I was very lucky because during my stay in Nepal the children did not have to go to school. They kept me very busy every day, doing their best to teach me the names (which I found very difficult to remember!) and some bits and pieces of Nepali. I spent the days helping with the cooking and cleaning up, playing games with the children or helping them with their homework.
As a reward, I got a real insight of the Nepali culture. I celebrated one of the biggest Hindu festivals with them, helped preparing the house and the food, went to a real Hindu temple and simply saw what everday-life in Nepal was about. Kira, one of the organizers of hands with hands, gave me an insight in the Nepali life from a western point of view; Sarada served for the Nepali perspective. The four weeks were absolutely intense, I did not only learn a lot about Nepal, but also about myself. On top of that I was able to do a short trekking tour to see some of Nepal's absolutely gorgeous landscape.
My aim in life has always been to change someone's life. I do not think that by staying in Pokhara for four weeks I was able to change someone's life. But I did have an impact. No matter how old they are, the kids are always going to remember that there once was a German volunteer at their orphanage who taught them card games and played Volleyball with them. The mothers can absolutely cope with the mass of work themselves, but my appreciation gave their work a value. I noticed that no matter how hard they work, there is always a helping hand needed - not necessarily for helping with the household, because all of the children have their chores to do, but to comfort the kids and pay attention to them, even if it is only drying off their tears from a fight or soothing their wounds. I have everyone from the orphanage in loving memory, still think of them almost every day and can't wait to go back there to see how the kids have grown up.