Lesson of the Day: SMILING IS THE BEST WAY TO COMMUNICATE
|King of the garbage pile.|
|Climbing for yarn.|
The idea was for me to go and teach them a new skill like crocheted brims and I was warned ahead of time that their skills might be pretty basic and not to expect much. When I got there, they were all knitting like their fingers were on fire and in all honesty, their technical and finishing skills far surpass mine. They all seemed content in their knitting groove and there didn't seem to be any pretense that I would be teaching. Only one girl spoke English, so it seemed pointless for me to give any kind of lesson. How embarrassing that I, the teacher, became the humble student. But I was more than happy to sit with them, enjoy their company and smiles, and knit along with them.
I just happened to be working on a bulky infinity cowl that is loosely knit on 20 mm straight needles. All the girls seemed to think this was hilarious - I'm sure they had never seen such huge needles. The five year old also thought it was quite fun to be playfully poked by these needles. When I finished, I taught them how to splice yarn together by spitting in to the palm of your hand and felting the ends together. They also seemed to find this spitting very funny - glad I could be a source of entertainment to them even though we couldn't communicate with words. If one of them wanted to ask me a question, they would get my attention with "Sister? Sister!" and then have the one girl translate.
After this visit with the girls, we went inside the home with Shanta and her husband who run the house and have for over 27 years now. They are about 60 years old, but look so much younger. They have saved so many women over the years and she said it is hard at first to earn their trust since many were sold into slavery by their own parents (some knowingly for the money, but some are ignorant and tricked by pimps who tell them that they will take their child to the cities to be educated so they can earn money for the family). Many of the girls are orphans since they are vulnerable already and make easy targets. The going rate for a girl's life in Nepal is about $500 US dollars.
Shanta on educating in Nepal villages:
Shanta on the Rich and Western:
Jackie and I both bought a pair of fingerless gloves (with a mitten flap) from the girls before leaving. Even though I could technically make these myself, I wanted to support the girls and have a memento of my visit with them. They were $10 CAD. In Nepali standards, this is a little expensive and Shanta does have to charge Jackie more for their hats (than Everest) because she has to pay the girls more to knit than they made in prostitution. Otherwise, many of them would go back to it. (Note: As it is still snowing in Canada since I've been back, I have worn these gloves constantly and every single time I look at their bright gold colour, I think of their smiling faces and can't help smile myself. Even if I'm already feeling happy, those gloves and the memory of those girls lifts my heart a little.)
Next, was dinner at the orphanage and Shanta and her driver took us the whole way there. There was a Hindu festival for a new Hindu god happening near her house, so there was tons of traffic. We saw two men on a motorcycle with a live goat between them, a woman with a live chicken in each hand and an orange goat head for sale on a table with its floppy ears hanging off the edge. There were flag buntings everywhere - very pretty and festive. I wish we could have stopped for photos, but they likely would have been never-ending and we had no time to stop. Also on the way there, while we were sitting in traffic, I get a slightly creepy feeling and when I look out the window to my left, I see a little 11-year old boy on a bus just staring at me blankly. So I smile at him and he breaks out into the biggest, brightest grin that hit me right at the center of my heart.
While driving, Shanta told us about another girl who has been with them a long time (Karuna - pink hoodie in the photos). When she was five years old, her father murdered her mother and went to jail. She was sleeping in the streets with the dogs until someone finally took her and dumped her inside the gates of PRC in the middle of the night. Another story was about a girl whose father tried to get her back from prostitution. He was turned away by the pimp again and again until one day he finally caught sight of her up above through a window. He shouted her name and she saw him, but so did the pimp. He grabbed her by the hair and pulled her back from the window and started beating her. The father ran to report him to the police. But by the time they returned, the girl was gone. She was eventually caught at the border and reunited with her family.
The quote of a lifetime from Shanta: "Love is the antibiotic to life." How beautiful is that? She is just so wise and knowledgeable in everything that she says. The girls are very lucky to have her in their lives. I learned so much from her in just a short 45 minute drive, and not just about human trafficking. I could never do this afternoon's experience justice in words.
At the orphanage, we were greeted with the same respect as before. The kids were immediately comfortable with us this time (not so shy) and already had "Jackie Aunty's" hockey sticks ready. We played some hockey (I lost a lot and I swear I wasn't even going easy on these 6 year olds - some Canadian girl I am!) and did a lot of drawing and laughing. They love to draw and now I have a precious collection of sheets for "Kelly Aunty". I tried to record all their names in my book, but they quickly took it over, penning in all their names. They also made lists of things, which I helped them with: flowers and "good things to do every day" (like brush your teeth, wash your face, do something nice for a friend) - too cute!
I gobbled it all down (slowly) and forced down the mutton. I actually refused some at the Everest house earlier for lunch because I saw M preparing it (the only time he does anything in the kitchen) and the sight of the fatty, roiling chunks of partially-cooked meat made me want to hurl. I think it's a family favourite and since men are never in the kitchen helping, my impression was that it is a special treat. Even so, I couldn't bring myself to even try it, although I felt so rude for refusing a delicacy. Anyhow, refusing at Everest was one thing, but I simply couldn't refuse something at the orphanage, so I managed to swallow every grain of rice, painfully aware that this portion of food could be going into orphan's bellies or at least towards their supplies (although I'm sure they are rarely truly hungry here - hopefully never). I over-chewed and worried for my health with every bite - a stressful meal!
At M's, we had some tea and the nightly discussion topic was business practices between small and large companies, collecting on debts owed and so on. Having had some experience doing accounts as an office manager and also as a buyer for an independent company, even I had some tidbits to offer this conversation. It is now 3 am, so I may as well try to squeeze in 3 hours of sleep before I get up to join everyone on a sight-see to Patan, the old town. I can sleep when I'm dead, right?