Small Steps and Giant Leaps
Following the October 2010 Habitat for Humanity Everest Build in Pokara several TNT representatives took the opportunity to visit the Lamjung area and see and hear about the work of Sohadar in the village of Garam Besi. They were joined by Tony’s father John and representatives from Sohadar, Chanman and Tuk Harijan.
It started as the journey of the ‘3 Amigo’s’ Wayne, Wayne and Grant – who we also called Wayne to save confusion, and our fearless leader, the great white hunter, fresh from his jungle tour of Europe- John McClean.
John McClean and Grant McIntosh standing beside the property that Sohadar are looking to purchase for a vocational school and health clinic.
Chanman took us on a journey through the village region beginning at the rivers that fringe the lower edges of the district at an altitude of just over 400m to the surrounding hills that border the upper reaches at an altitude of approximately 2500m. Garam Besi means Low and Hot and we were not disappointed, however by the time we reached the top of the hill our little band of merry men were down graded to ‘Four Old men trekking in Nepal’.
As part of our personal gear we each had a Seychelle water bottle filter supplied by the good people at Seychelle New Zealand (they also let us sell their filters on our website at tnt.org.nz.) The filters worked brilliantly but none more so than the filter pump from Seychelle that we trialled in the village. This pump is light, easy to use and easily coped with supplying all the clean water we needed.
While only being part of the gear we carried personally, the pump is making a huge impact on the quality of water for the family we left it with. The filters are used by the U.S military and take out 99.99% of the nasties out of the water. Most people seem to have access to water; the main problem is the quality. A filter pump in each household would make considerable difference to the general heath and well being of the community.
Overlooking Garem Besi
Wayne Boyd and John McClean with Tuk’s wife and son and Chanman’s son using the Seychelle water filter pump.
We also visited various schools in the district. The classrooms are fairly basic but organisations like ‘Room to Read’ are making significant changes by supplying books and library /reading rooms. This organisation was started by John Wood while trekking through Nepal, saddened by the shocking lack of resources he made the small step of taking a load of books back to a school he visited. 10 years on they have handed out millions of books and built over a thousand schools.
Sohadar has also sponsored 3 teachers into the schools. We were very impressed with the dedication of these young men who are working within the community and schools. The Sohadar vision for the districts includes placing a teacher in one of each of the nine schools in the region.
The classroom where Chanman attended as a pupil.
The only change in the past 20 years are the seats and
desks however a new ‘Room to Read’ wing has been
added stocked full of books.
Early morning in the Village of Garam Besi
There are a number of challenges for the people in the community. Essentially a rural village there are limited job opportunities for the men and a great deal head overseas to places like India and Dubai to earn enough to send back home. Most families seemed to produce only enough food to feed themselves, and consisted mainly of Rice and Lentils.
Cooking is mainly done over open fires and these are generally indoors creating smoky conditions that can permeate the whole house.
Basic medical facilities are non-existent in this community and only accessible by walking great distances and illnesses we don’t even consider anymore are still taking lives.
Whatever steps are taken to assist will need to be measured to make sure the quality of life as it exists is not compromised. My own view on this was that only small steps need to be taken to make great changes.
Things like building flues over the cooking fires and simple Water filters in every household. Most families seemed to have goats and possibly a cow but no one was using the goats’ milk for drinking or making cheese, this could easily become a suitable industry. These are just some small simple things that could make a difference.
We discussed a number of possibilities with Tuk and Chanman who despite now living away from their home village and could be living otherwise comfortable lives have returned to their home Village to make a difference. They shared their plans and dreams with us. A vision that has already been some time in the making and consisting of a number of small steps.
We were especially grateful for the friendship and hospitality offered by Sohadar and the people of Garam Besi. The TNT representatives now have a much better understanding of the Sohadar vision.