Week 5 in Sirutar!.....The week of Teej Festival
On Monday we visited Maiti Nepal along with Lamatar (The other group of volunteers in Nepal ). The place was amazing. It brought tears to my eyes. Maiti Nepal in Nepali means "mothers home". It was founded in 1993 as a non-profit, child rights and women rights organisation to find sustainable solutions to issues related to trafficing. The work they do is amazing. They are involved in the protection, rescue and rehabilitation of survivors of trafficing. The site of Maiti Nepal that we visited provided homes for the women and children . The homes support the psychological, medical and educational needs of its members as well as providing shelter. There was a clinic onsite and the Teresa Academy. The Teresa Academy was established in 1998 to provide comprehensive education for orphans, underprivaileged children and vulnerable children who could be lured into abuse, exploitation and trafficing. It provided education for street children aswell, especially girls. I was shocked when I got there and seen sooo many children. It doesn't bear thinking about where these children would be without Maiti Nepal. What I found even more shocking was it doesn't recieve any Government support and its funds rely on donations. This is one of the organisations that I would like to hold a fundraiser for at some point back at home. Help/ideas would be appreciated because I wouldn't know where to begin.
This week the same work continued on the project site.....carrying sand from nearby, making cement, building walls and digging out trees. It was a clear week so we finally got an amazing view of the Himalayas from our village, Sirutar. Teaching this week was.....effort. I had an older class, around 15/16 year olds. Every student had a differemt level of English which was difficult. There was this one boy who had obviously sat down with an English dictionary and looked up the longest words he could find just to win the rest of his classmates at hangman, not knowing the meaning of the words. He actually had one word neither Alice J or I had even heard of.
So this week was Teej. This is a festival where the women pray for handsome husbands or pray that the ones they do have live long lives. They do this through fasting, without water, and by singing and dancing. They also wear red saris. One little girl who I spoke to had told me that she doesn't believe she will get a good husband because many Nepali men get drunk and beat their wives which was quite sad. The celebrations lasted the entire week and began with at feast that took place at my house. I walked upstairs and was shocked when I saw like 30-40 other family members all sitting on mats on the balcony. I have never seen so much food being cooked. It was amazing. Then the singing and dancing began and I got pulled up to dance in front of all these family members, not knowing what the hell i'm doing of course, just wiggling my hips and wrists. The family seem so nice and they are all close which was really lovely to see. My other sister and her cute little daughter came to visit again for Teej. One night we had the most random dinner. Well it was more of deserts for dinner. There was a variety of different deserts....doughnutes, cake, sweet things, apple, mango, bananna and yoghurt. It was so random. I was on a sugar rush after that.
On the Saturday it was the festival itself. I collected my sari during the week from the local women who was making it for the festival. Then all the girls and me went and bought accessories to match from the local shops...eye liners, bangles and ear rings. On the Saturday I got up early and went to Charlye and Choles' to get ready and their mum helped me put on my sari.....so complicated. Of course it just had to be the warmest day yet and there we were all wearing saris, fasting and not allowed to drink water. It was so hard. I totally deserve to find one sexy husband after that. In the afternoon Charlye, Chole, Jazz and I went along with Charlye and Choles' family to the local temple. My family were already there and later Alice O'D turned up with her family. There were so many women in red saris gathered, singing and dancing. I suddenly felt not red enough cause my sari was pink but sabina said it was ok to buy pink. My sister, Reshma, was up dancing. I tried not to make eye contact. I turned away for a second and by the time I turned back there she was in front of me pulling me up to dance. So there we were again, all up for more singing and dancing. The day after food was allowed and rice had never tasted so good. The day after was also a Holy Day and Reshma had asked me if I wanted to go to another party after dinner, so my mum, two sisters, niece and I went to my Auntys house for more singing ad dancing. I hadn't a clue what they were singing but the atmosphere was great. I also had another dinner and supper while I was there.
What else did I do this week....oh yes....washing!! May not seem like a big thing or even worth mentioning but believe me hand washing is a big deal. "What do you miss from home"?....me,"A washing machine!" I HATE hand washing. Seriously it takes like 2 hours to wash some clothes and there is actually no point because they will still be dirty. If they don't stink I actually don't care anymore if they're still dirty. I' just gonna abandon my clothes when I leave here cause they have annoyed me that much. Oh and when I was hanging out my clothes, my family had their gleaming white clothes out. My white towel was still brown so I was too embarassed to leave it out beside theirs so took it back to my room to dry.....it was ok though cause it smelt good.
I'v also began to draw whilst I'v been out here. I have never had the time to do that at home. I mite choose Art to do at my express day (when we get back to the UK we have an express day where we share our experiences by expressing ourselves though things like drama, music and art). This week the presentation was presented by Jay and Alice J and it was on poverty and development. 30% of Nepals population live below the poverty line of just $1 a day. It is the 14th poorest country in the world and 80% of the population rely upon subsistent farming. Its development is hindered by limited access to health, education, roads, electric and water. The increase in population has lead to unsustainable use of its natural resources.