Finishing what I started

returnnepal

I’m off to finish what I started.

Or rather more accurately I’m off to look at what I started but someone else finished.

In November last year I took part in the Nepal House Build Challenge with the charity ActionAid. Along with 24 other volunteers we each raised £3100 and travelled out to Belapur in a remote area of north west Nepal to build houses for the former bonded labourers Kamiaya people. We spent a week living in their village and working alongside them, sharing the everyday joys and tragedies and forming close ties. The people I went with and the people I met out there all made the experience utterly unforgettable. Since we left, we could only lay so many bricks in one week, local Nepalese masons have continued working on the houses, funded by the money we raised. Unfortunately my trip was cut short by a combination of indiscretion and stupidity on my own part.

Now I’m going back with a chap who became a good friend of mine while I was out there and coincidentally works for ActionAid, to visit the village again and see the houses finished. Returning to this place is going to be really emotional, although being a man there is no way I’m going to (let them see me) cry.

We’re also going to India for a few days (Andrew’s doing some filming for the UN), visiting Chandigarh, famous for it’s architecture by Le Corbusier. Now that’s cool. I think it’s going to be an easing in way of going to India, as by all accounts,  it’s much more Westernized than many areas. Compared to some the utter poverty of Kathmandu it’ll probably feel like home!

The only drawback is the number of flights we’re going to clock up in order to get round both countries and visit not just the village, but a couple of other ActionAid projects. We’ve got 5 internal flights plus the long hauls in and out of Delhi making about 30 hours in the air not including waiting around in airports. If you believe in all that carbon off-setting bollocks, which I don’t (you’re really in denial if you’re paying someone to make yourself feel better about jetting off to the south of France), then I’m doing more than my share of shortening the life of this planet. That is not, however, my main objective.

Hopefully I’ll be able to write something whilst I’m out there, probably from some grotty little internet cafe where half the keys don’t work on the keyboard. As anyone who’s been travelling will tell you (and I wouldn’t call myself a seasoned veteran of the modern adventurer lifestyle) it’s wonderfully liberating to be so far out of the bubble we generally live our lives in. For me, this trip is really about broadening my experiences. I don’t feel I can legitimately  argue the case for charitable giving without seeing it first hand. Also, as a nation, the Nepalese are the nicest people I’ve ever met.

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