Tonight I got together with my Nepal group for the first time since we returned from out trip in July. We were giving a presentation on our experience on Alternative Break in Nepal, talking about what we saw, what we did, and how we hope to continue helping the Dalit Rights Movement gain momentum. I didn't realize until today just how much I missed everyone, I wanted to cry with joy when I saw them. The trip was a life-changing experience and going over there really made me realize how good I have it here at home in the US. I try not to slip into complaining about trivial things, but I catch myself doing it. I have to remind myself that my problems are not really that big of a deal, especially in comparison to the situations that others find themselves in.
Anyway, while we were getting ready to give the presentation on our trip, I was trying to pick out one experience that really struck a chord with me, one thing that I could say that would make others fully understand how great Nepal is, how wonderful the people are, and how much they need our help, and how amazing the whole 18 days over there were. And I realized it was impossible to pick out one experience that stood out or adequately convey the gravity of my trip. What really made the trip special was the fact that DB, our trip leader, is from Nepal and brought us to his village, used his network to get us access to organizations and leaders (including the Prime Minister, for crying out loud!) and really allowed us to see the "real" Nepal, the non-touristy version, and allowed us to build real relationships with the Nepalese people we spent time with. The picture at the top of the blog is of me and Sanu, DB's sister-in-law. She is quite possibly one of the nicest people I've ever met, and I miss her each and every day. It's amazing how much you can grow to care for somebody in just 18 short days.
The trip to Nepal has given me an amazing opportunity to do volunteer work with the International Commission for Dalit Rights (another NGO that DB has founded - he is incredible). He is likely heading back to Nepal to pursue a career in politics early next year, so he needs to turn the helm of his organization over to some of us from the trip. I couldn't be more excited to be a part of this organization and I'm looking forward to devising ways in which we can help support the Dalit Rights projects currently in Nepal, while figuring out ways to help these organizations eventually become self-sufficient. I think it would be amazing if we could eventually create a scholarship fund for a student in DB's village to come to the US and go to high school here for a year - so many people from DB's village of Laghuwa have never even left the hilly area they grew up in. In fact, many of them had never even seen a Westerner until we arrived. A trip like this would give them invaluable English skills and open their eyes to the world beyond their doorstep. DB is one of the few who has made it out of the village and traveled; it would be great to give others a similar opportunity.
I'll periodically post updates on this blog about the progress of the ICDR and the Dalit Rights movement in general.