When it comes to procrastination, I think I’m the queen.
I have been wanting to write this post for a while, and it took me two YEARS to finally get around to it.
I think part of me wanted to make this post perfect, since I felt that this travel story that I’m about to write deserves the best. Everything that had thus far come to my head never sounded good enough – I don’t even know if this post is going to cut it.
It took a terrible earthquake that practically damages Kathmandu to shake me out of this mentality, and I decided to write this post about the kids in Nepal, because I’m thinking of them, and I’m praying for their safety.
I went to Nepal exactly two years ago on a mission. I had never been much of a charitable person, and definitely not someone who would proactively make time in the weekend to help people in need. And for that, I felt genuinely horrible, as if I were a very evil person. So I decided that perhaps a trip to the poorest country in Asia would make me more charitable.
I expected the living conditions and the tough terrain of Nepalese mountains would teach me a thing or two. And I did learn something from them. But the credit for the best lessons learned should go to the kids, really – I went there to teach them some Mathematics and English, but I came home feeling that I have learned so much more from them.
Here are some life lessons that I had the privilege to be taught by the wonderful kids:
Go the extra mile (or two) to learn
I remember complaining in my head when I arrived at the mountains and found out that we had to wake up at 6 AM the next morning to prepare for the materials because the kids are scheduled to start their class at 6 30 AM. Grudgingly I set my alarm, only to be woken up the next day before my alarm went off by the chirpy noise of the kids outside! The kids were there an hour early! What made me feel even more ashamed of myself afterwards was that I found out that some of them lived two hours’ walk away, which means they woke up at 4 AM, just to attend the classes that we were going to teach! I never recalled having so much motivation to learn, even though I had all the access to education right at my doorstep…
There is a lot more to fun in life than just the internet.
The kids that I met lived in the mountains, and they were as active as any kids without access to the internet and modern gadgets could be. They ran around playing football with each other and climbed everything in sight: brick walls, trees, etc. For someone who has acrophobia like me (who trembled after three steps while doing rock climbing), I find these skills extremely admirable.
This may be selfish, but sometimes I wish the kids will never be exposed to our smart phones and tablets, so they will always play outside and get to know their mountains as much as they know their best friends.
Be kind and never look down on people.
I came towering 1.65 m tall and supposedly carrying with me a bag full of books and knowledge to impart to them. I should be setting examples. But the moment I was put on uneven slopes, I was useless. I barely dared to walk let alone teach them stuff. And the kids, without hesitation and a single trace of contempt to this city girl, rushed over to help. A little girl held my hand throughout, this boy gave me a stick he found on the roadside, and another gave me a flower to encourage me to keep going.
Show people your gratitude, boldly and colourfully.
I don’t know why sometimes we are so hesitant to show our love and gratitude to those who have helped us. But these kids in Nepal, they thank you, and they do so boldly. I was given three handmade bracelets, a dozen cards full of outpouring of love and countless tight hugs from the kids for the two days I was in a school in Kathmandu, that I felt extremely undeserving to this splurge of love. I wished I could have helped them more and not just built this bond with them and left them two days later, not even sure if they had learned anything useful or when I would see them next.
The earthquake in Nepal is devastating. Whilst I’m relieved to hear that the kids in the school that I visited in Kathmandu are fine, the school walls and some of the buildings collapsed.
It is heartbreaking to see this poor yet beautiful country ruined by the 7.8 magnitude quake.
My thoughts and prayers are with them.