I arrived in Kathmandu after 4 flights, 33 hours, and sleeping on a seat tray, yes the one you eat off of.
Stumbling off the plane from China, clutching my Nepal visa on arrival, yes it’s all worth it to be back here again!
This is my 5th visit to this remarkable country. Twice I’ve traveled here solo to see my friends and help out but the real reason I discovered Nepal is the fact that my son has lived here for 10 years empowering women in one of the poorest countries in the world.
In 2005 he asked me to visit him so I closed up my apartment, took a 3-month break from Palo Alto, put my Van sneakers on, packed 50 rolls of film, and flew to Asia for the first time in my life.
When the earthquake hit Nepal last year, it was a huge re-set for the country, but people make things happen fast here and now things are changing for the better in many ways.
The best thing I’m doing besides walking around the ancient UNESCO world heritage site of Bhaktapur, gazing at temples and drinking up the people who live here is going to the women’s shelter and kicking ass on cleaning, cooking, and organizing alongside the women who live there.
The water installation is nearing completion so the young ladies can take hot showers rather than use a bucket with cold water.
In Nepal you have to live with slow wifi, no electricity at times, and the fact that you may not be able to find things you need to buy like trash bags. But this makes it even more amazing to accomplish things here.
After the earthquake, Beyond the Four Walls built a women’s shelter for displaced girls who were living in tents. They opened the California Cafe serving locals and tourists, employing Nepali girls and it’s now opening in a new location in a garden setting.
The foundation helps girls make empowered choices so they don’t fall prey to child marriage and sex slavery.
It’s exciting to see the water tank go up today. It’s been difficult to get experienced plumbers as so many people need re-construction, but that’s the benefit of having a network of local people in Nepal, knowing people makes things happen faster.
Kind donations from loving people in USA have created the shelter, cafe, and provided schooling for the girls here – it has changed their lives!
You can help this amazing foundation continue it’s work here. http://til.tt/8qrA
This lovely young woman came to the shelter this week and is all ready cooking with gas, working and radiating her positive attitude. She faced big challenges in her family when her husband left but she now has a job at the shelter and is happy to be here.
This vibrant girl has been living at the shelter for a year and is managing and assisting on all projects, going to school and translating Nepali to English as needed. She was rescued from a domestic abuse situation and when I met her 3 years ago was a different girl than you see here. She is confident now and happy to be free.
I’m blown away by every day here. I appreciate electricity and water a lot more than I used to. But the thing that keeps me coming back is the people.
They show me how to slow down and connect to what’s important.
I’m going off grid for a bit to an incredible monastery, Kopan, high on a hill overlooking Kathmandu, no wifi but plenty of love and peanut butter. I’ll get to read books on Buddhism, go to dharma talks, and meditate.
Write and let me know what you would like to know about Nepal.
Mary Bartnikowski, author, photographer and educator is in Nepal until Sept 15, 2016, read reviews on her book she wrote in Nepal, Kitten Heels in Kathmandu, Adventures of a Female Vagabond.
Donations for Beyond the Four Walls
You can sponsor a girl for $10 a month, check it out.