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Running away from Home

Period of adjustment

NEPAL | Thursday, 18 February 2010 | Views [313]

I don’t like to be crude, but that first day at the village home, it was all about the bodily functions. Yes, the lack of electricity took some getting used to, but I thought that was kind of fun. The really earth shaker was getting used to the lack of toilet paper. I was still getting over my bout of food poisoning so this became an issue in the wee hours of the morning. Of all of the wise purchases I have made in my life, the headlamp I bought in Thamel ranks in the top ten. Not only was I able to find my way to the squat toilet located in a small enclosure next to the barn, but I was also able to duck most of the hobbit-sized entryways that were in this quaint village home. The location of the toilet was a mixed blessing. Yes, one had to put their shoes on and stumble out into the dark, but if you do anything in the toilet that causes an odor, you can just blame it on the buffalo. Always look on the bright side. As if this adjustment were not enough, Mother Nature, that cruel b****, decided to hit the “restart” button on my cycle. So I was quietly doing hand laundry in the Himalayan night cursing the fact that I was born as a woman while the other members of my party were sleeping off the effects of Aama’s millet wine and a belly full of daal bhat.

The library was supposed to open at 7:00am that morning but we all overslept. After a morning snack of popcorn and milk tea I headed to the library with Saroj and Bhai (little brother) the quiet fellow I had met yesterday while my life was sprawled all over the Pokhara bus station for everyone to see. Kathryn required another half hour of getting ready before she could make it to the library. I had seen the library in photos, but I hadn’t realized how small it was. It wasn’t really a library either. They had a small selection of books, some puzzles, games, a modest collection of art supplies, and some sporting equipment. There were teaching posters on the wall, math, geography, letters, etc, and that was about it. The volunteer who had originally set this up called it the Sunflower Community Resource Center. I was there for about 15 minutes before the first child arrived. After an hour we had quite a crowd. I was supposed to keep an attendance sheet so I had to go around asking the children their names. I struggled with spelling the Nepali names and Saroj got a bit short with me, like I was doing it on purpose to be insulting. I like Saroj, but sometimes I forget that he is just a young man.

Kathryn finally arrived and I was so happy to have some help. This was not so much like a library, but more a daycare center. The language barrier did not help either. They shouted their demands at me and to get them to be quiet, I gave them what they wanted whether it was the Shoots and Ladders game or pencil and paper to draw. They didn’t seem to have any concept of an indoor voice. I am not used to being around small children (the average age in this group was seven), and I realize that if I want to teach English for a living, I need to get used to being with youngsters, but at least in an English class you are working toward some shared goal.

The morning session of the library was quiet compared to the afternoon session. They descended on us at 3:00pm like a pack of hungry dogs on fresh road kill. I was overwhelmed by 40 to 50 children all shouting at me in Nepali and grabbing with their dirty little fingers. I handed out all of the games, puzzles, and sporting equipment which included two volleyballs (there was a net outside), two Frisbees, two jump ropes and a cricket set. The big kids took the volleyball away from the small kids and started up a game. I spent some time in the library putting out supplies so that the kids could draw, but they drove me crazy when they would scratch out some small picture after five minutes and then they wanted me to praise it and put it on the wall. I told them to keep drawing, keep drawing, but they had already gotten bored with it and moved onto something else. Even with some of the kids out playing there were still 30 of them in a room that was 15’x21’. I went out to keep tabs on the sporting equipment and to play a little Frisbee. I started tossing it with one of the kids and then the others wanted in. Pretty soon, I was tossing the Frisbee with a crowd of Nepali children shouting “mine, mine!” I tried to get them to throw it to each other, but they always threw it back to me and started in again with the “mine, mine!” They were so desperate for attention, for approval that it was almost more than I could take. The two hour library session completely drained me, but I was satisfied that I had survived my first day.

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