24 hours of travelling, 24 hours of the warmest welcoming anyone could ever wish for, 24 hours of letting things settle and 24 hours of tomato farming. That gives us 96 hours of this adventure but it feels like forever. All the expressions, sounds, people, scents, flavours and (lack of) routine is finally starting to sink in, the head can rest for a bit, even though the heart keeps pounding extra hard by everything that goes on around me. It's finally possible to sort out some thoughts into something that's hopefully readable, my apologies if it's not.
At the airport we were welcomed by parts of the Horac -family, that Nicole has been a part of since a couple of years ago and within seconds I understood her feelings for these guys. We got to spend the night at their new house and had the best dance party I've ever been to. It was really interesting and fun to get to know them and to hear their stories and Tej, the manager, was like an eternal source of ideas and thoughts. They are such an amazing crew and I look so much forward to spend more time with them.
The 24 hours of settling arrived, which included seeing Nepal in daylight and arriving to KRMEF, Kevin Rohan Memorial Foundation, our home for the upcoming 7 weeks. I will tell you more about this colorful fairytale place in a bit, I'll just sum up these first few days.
So arriving to the farm meant another warm welcoming by the lovely volunteer coordinator Catherine, great food, meeting our Dutch volunteer homies and parts of the amazing staff that works at the farm. We got the day off to rest and explore, so we went hiking a hill (you can't really say a mountain when you're situated next to the Himalayas but by Swedish means, it was a mountain for sure), got to know people and ate more amazing food, before going to bed for a good night's sleep, probably the best I've ever had.
The mind has been pending between pure amazement and valley deep, important and painful realizations and questionings and I'm very excited about where the rest of this trip may lead us.
So, let me continue to tell you about KRMEF, Kevin Rohan Memorial Foundation. This place is like walking around in the earth keepers favorite bedtime story with reality hiding just around the corner. KRMEF was founded 7 years ago, with the goal to become self sustaining and keep a holistic view in everything they do. It involves so many different projects that all aim towards sustainability, both socially and environmentally. Where they have taken it within only seven years time is beyond impressive. They have a vivid bio dynamic farm, exploding in different shades of green and rustic trees with branches bowing under the weight of ripe pomelos (new favorite fruit btw!) that have defied the cold. All the vegetables are sold at the cafe or used to cook delicious Nepali food to feed cafe visitors, volunteers, students and staff. The houses are to a large extent made of cob and tile. They are built with reused glass and plastic bottles, bamboo and other recycled or sustainable materials. Since the Waldorf inspired school connected to the foundation opened up after Christmas vacations there's little kids running around everywhere, playing with puppies or hanging out at the bamboo playground. The Foundation provides the teachers with education according to the Waldorf spirit and parents pay a small amount to keep the kids in school, which goes to learning equipment and food for the kids. If the parents are unable to pay, the foundation offers a scholarship to keep the child in school, and the parents can work for the foundation a couple of days a month to still have full ownership of their kids education.
All the hired staff are locals, around 50 smiling, warm hearted souls. The spoken communication is a bit so-so sometimes, but gestures, laughs, smiles and words in whatever language that comes to mind works kind of perfectly.
The foundation also runs a huge work outside of the school and the farm and provide both free medical care and earthquake relief through rebuilding homes.
Unfortunately KRMEF's work is not free from obstacles. The foundation, along with Horac and many other organisations in Nepal, fight constant battles against corruption, time demanding decision processes, natural obstacles like earthquakes, lack of money and resources. Laws that are not beneficial for their work can be implemented from one day to the other. What is two steps forward through money and a finished plan, can suddenly become one step back by governmental decisions. The struggle for the charity organisations is a never ending story.
It's about learning as much as it is about contributing around here. While helping out at the foundation with chores like picking weed at the tomato garden, we will try to figure out ideas to help KRMEF in their work towards self sustainability. At the time they need to figure out ideas to reach out, like making more people come and hang out at the wonderful cafe, to be able to develop their work.
The head, the heart, the hands. All super important keys to be able to learn and they are all present in every moment.
Weed picking/brainstorming session