The decision process… Following my visit to Tanzania, August 2012, on a month volunteer program where I was temporarily kidnapped… I returned home to face unbearable nightmares, constant paranoia and great fear that I will never travel again. I knew that this short volunteering trip was a test for me before I go on to something bigger and better. I couldn’t bear that thought any longer. I needed to pack a bag and throw myself into a volunteering experience, travel and facing these fears.
It was an acquaintance turned best friend of mine who I got in touch with for travel advice. Through his friends recommendations and recent travels, Keith recommended Nepal! He too was planning to visit Nepal to climb to Everest Base Camp. My initial reaction was “where on earth is nepal?!” I didn’t need much researching to do until I was convinced, it immediately seems the right place for me to get grounded.
A couple of months later. January 2013. The plane lands through the Himalayas into the Kathmandu valley, with the sun tinting the mountain peaks crimson….it was magical. The incredible energy I felt from the mountains led me to apply immediately for a 3 month visa. With the luxury of time (6months off!) I could make decisions very much on my gut feeling.
Nepali people are primarily Hindu and there’s lots of Buddhist influence especially with settlers from Tibet. Although Kathmandu can get intense and insanely chaotic, if you allow yourself some time you can few so much beauty in its architecture, the colors, the smiles and the warmth even in the brutal cold months. The best way to discover nepal is settling in a rural village. Here are the real people of Nepal.
Love … When people ask me why Nepal? Why are you so passionate about Nepal? My answer is simple. Love. During the two times I visited Nepal (January to April 2013 and September 2014), I learned to love myself and accept myself more than ever before. I learned to love others more, even those that I can never seem to get along with, I still grew to love them (which made a huge difference on certain relationships at work too!) but most of all Nepal and it’s people showed me the importance of love. Love as a currency. Love as the basic value to eternal happiness for yourself and those surrounding you. No materialistic object can replace the value of love. It is to me the greatest gift of mankind. The greatest gift that anyone has ever given me.
Love myself. Until a few years ago I don’t think I genuinely asked if I love myself. It was a constant battle trying to be someone else, whether it’s was for my boyfriend or for my parents or for my colleagues. In Nepal I was given the opportunity to begin a new journey of self reflection and looking within. From simply just being with myself, meditation techniques and breaking down barriers with other people.
Loving others. I concentrated a lot of my Meditation practice (I often attended guided meditation at the FMPT centre at the Himalaya Yoga Hotel in thamel or in Pokhara) on breaking down the ego. The self. The egoistic self which I realized was the root of all my hate to others. Until I finally realized that others may have the same suffering and same battles with their ego. So I empathized with them, not egoistically but genuinely. In hope that they too will one day have this realization.
Love as a currency. Love as the greatest gift we can give and receive. This is what Maya Universe Academy is all about. A social enterpreneurship project providing free education to children in 3 rural villages in exchange for love from the parents. Students parents give love to the school by offering their skills and their time. Whilst the school will give back this love to their children through education. Volunteers are giving their love to the school and to the students in exchange for a greater love which is indescribable. For more information about MUA visit http://www.maya-nepal.org
I will be returning to Maya to focus on sustainability. I have a few ideas I will share here and I intend on developing these thoughts at a later stage. When I’m at the school again and discuss with the maya team I’ll have a better idea. Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas too. I think you can all be Mayans somehow 🙂 spread the love and widen this community!
From the earthquake relief side of things… I’ve seen a few broken down homes and facades but nothing serious yet. I will be visiting WCN (Wildlife Conservation Nepal) this week too to get an update and hopefully visit the villages where SOS Malta provided some relief. My objective is to also visit Gatlang in Rasuwa to compile a needs assessment report for SOS Malta and brain storm ideas with the community. I hope to spend at least a week there to better understand their needs and how we can utilize the funds to satisfy them.
In the meantime i will be resting and getting some more rest and meeting my Kathmandu friends (although most of them are visiting family in their villages as it’s Dashain, a Hindu festival).