Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Shadow of Everest

It’s a difficult task to sum up 14 days of our recent Habitat for Humanity trip to Nepal, considering all aspects of work, tourism and play. Maybe it was the cultural observations we made; maybe it was the immense variety of people we encountered; maybe it was the landscapes and views that filled our eyes of a totally different world; maybe it was all of the above and so much more…
In looking for a way to best describe the feelings we all shared, I sought to embody all of the thoughts and feelings we conveyed through writing. Each member of our team was assigned with a daily document to catalogue what we saw, how we felt, what we experienced and even how we were changed. Using an online tool, I amassed these journal entries to create an interesting picture.

This graphic demonstrates the words we used most frequently in the largest font. This encompasses what was difficult to communicate about our experience since there is so much to share. Some words are obvious: names, flights, hotels, Everest and so on. But what I found interesting was the enormity of words like team and people. These two words seem to exemplify, at least in part, our trip. Because it was our goal to change the lives of people, most of whom we had never met and most likely will never see again. The first and maybe more obvious group we wanted to help were the people in a small village on the outskirts of Itahari in south-eastern Nepal. It was our intention from the start, in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, to help those who needed it most, and in that way we succeeded beyond measure. We managed to complete two homes in a period of roughly 5 days, through cutting, chopping, cleaning and weaving bamboo and even getting down and dirty with some cow dung to plaster walls. It was with the hospitality of Nepalese people that we were also able to visit the monkey temple and a local school. We achieved a great deal in the short time we had and even better, got to thoroughly enjoy it.
Admittedly, we each grew as individuals, learning about what it feels like to be so far away from home, to trust your friends and team members and to help those who can’t help themselves.
Now, our visas have long since been marked, our boarding passes no longer needed, our legs finally unfurling from tight airplane seats, our jet lag subsided, our souvenirs collected, our aches and bruises mended, our hunger satiated, our regular bathing recommenced, our schoolwork begun… All of our experience, it would seem, has finished.
But that is the true beauty of having gone on this trip. It resonates in our minds, hearts and souls that whenever we see one another passing in the halls or have the faintest recollection, we are reminded of what could be simply 14 days, or a multitude of plane rides, or a five day workweek on the other side of the globe or… The trip of a lifetime in the Shadow of Everest.

Sukhbir Bolina
Team Leader
March in sunsari


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