'First Day, First Impressions
Last night we arrived in Kathmandu.
Immediately after leaving the airport I remembered why I love this country so much. I was greeted by a smily face, who was not deterred when I told him I already had somewhere to stay. His name was Jeetendra and he ran a small hotel in Thamel. He told me tourism was at rock bottom after the earthquake and people in the industry where just aiming to survive the season before trying to rebuild their business in the coming years. I shared a chai with Jeetendra whilst waiting for my parents to arrive and he told me how his friends journeyed to rebuild a small village in the South of the Kathmandu valley. I was moved at his story and his values in life, how he aspired to build a small home for his young family in the valley. Walking through the streets of Thamel and Kathmandu, the lack of tourists is obvious. Normally filled with harem trousers and pasty faces, now only locals running their quiet shops and hotels. It is worrying for a country so reliant on tourism to be affected in this way.
I was initially pleasantly surprised at how clean the streets where and how the majority of buildings had been repaired in the Thamel area. When travelling to Khagendra, I saw a makeshift town of corrugated iron and beside the world heritage site 'Buddha stupa' a tented community of monks all displaced by the quake. The streets around the Stupa where almost as I remember except for the aforementioned ghostly lack of tourists, cafés and shops all open but business slow. I was shocked to see the damage to the Stupa itself, normally magnificently white now piled rubble beneath a bamboo scaffolding. This feels like a city on the mend but I think that it will take time to heal. See the picture below of Budha Stupa before and after the earthquake.
Arriving at Khagendra New-Life Home, I saw the large grass area at the front of the building flattened and slightly turned up, people had used the area as a tent and temporary housing area following the quake. It is a rarity to find a clearing so large in the city. The roof on the Khagendra building looked brilliant on approach and it feels like it has given the building a new lease of life. Inside the walls are brightly painted (thanks to a team of recent volunteers) and the floors swept clean. It was great to see all of our friends in the home and it seems their general and nursing care have improved since our last trip. There are many more residents, some temporary but I think their are currently around 49 permanent residents. When talking with Som (Care worker) and new manager at the home, it seems that they hope the service will be able to expand in the future to accommodate more residents. Later Som shows me the area beneath the roof could be sufficient to build a further floor with a number of rooms. This was just a passing comment but it was good to see Som's passion and ambition to offer a home to more people with disabilities in Nepal.'
Keep following for more updates in the week.
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