Nepal's Banksy was here!

Nepal's Banksy was here!
Strong message, Simple words

Friday, 27 June 2014

To Take or not to Take ........ we ponder.

Getting away from much of the 'stuff' we have amassed over our married life, presents a great attraction to us. This does not included our five wonderful children and two grandchildren, but does include the 'useful artefacts' that fill our lives. Discovering that our luggage was limited to 30kgs each plus a further 7kgs hand baggage offered a clue that we would only be able to take essential equipment and little clothing. A dilemma exists in that we will be arriving in Kathmandu during the hot sticky monsoon, which officially started on the 24th June, and we move on to Jumla in mid-August where the temperature will slowly fall to -15c during the long, dry, winter months. All this without prospect of heating in our accommodation. Those who know have advised us that we can buy anything in Kathmandu and take it with us to Jumla. There lies the real problem!! Buying lots more things and shipping them up on two local flights, seems far from right. I also have a vision of my very dear, late friend Bob, who was a fantastic cook and seemed to be able to perform wonders with his kitchen utensils; a single aluminium pan, a razor sharp bone handled table knife, and a glass milk bottle for rolling out chapatis. 

What is our solution I hear you asking? Well, in part I must admit, that it has been to buy more 'stuff' here in the UK. In defence we have invested in some decent, discreet, warm clothing, solar powered lighting, small second hand camcorder, a couple of Gerber multi tool knives, water filter (donated by Bfit, Beaminster), and some First Aid supplies, to name some examples. We have ignored others who said we must take enough sterile wipes to clean hands after handling money!! Sorry Diane. The prospect of filling our bags with cleaning equipment and toilet rolls is less than appealing.

Joking apart, we are taking those essentials to make life liveable without presenting a huge barrier to integrating with our community. We want to be able to record some aspects of our changed lives and the work we will be doing, be able to make interesting posts on our blog, and maybe use video clips for training. Again following advice from previous volunteers, thanks Alison, we are going to leave our large suitcases behind and pack much of our kit into two recycled plastic containers that will double up as rodent proof storage when we reach our final destination.

If in doubt leave it out.
The e-flight tickets have arrived and BBC Somerset wants an interview. More of that next time.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

People, knowledge and now language!!!!

The countdown to our new departure date of July, 9th, has already begun. Before leaving we wanted to set up our blog as a contact point with all our friends and family. We have been amazed at the interest it's generated having had over 300 views in the first couple of weeks. Not quite going viral but beyond our expectations. A spin- off has been that we have made contact with other volunteers who have worked not only in Nepal, but also in Jumla. Our conversations with them have been packed with useful hints on what to expect, from the need to take warm clothing to meet the challenge of the cold nights, the usefulness of vegetable seeds and the likelihood that we will be sharing our accommodation with a few rats!!!

All these people, and VSO, have stressed that learning Nepali will enable us to create those links that will build confidence not only with our local community, but also in us. English language is commonly taught in schools, so some will want to try their skills upon us. However, with such low literacy rates in our local area (10% in girls and 20% in boys), to speak Nepali will help, we hope, with building trust and acceptability.

All this very is fortunate since we both feel that learning another language is one of the many benefits of our placement. VSO provide some on-line training and we have eagerly thrown ourselves into the task, as the following video clip shows.

There are over ninety different languages spoken in Nepal, lets hope we are learning the right one! Fortunately, we will be getting up to 150 hours further language training in Kathmandu, which will be accompanied by an induction into Nepali culture, before we fly on to Jumla.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

We'll miss.......

We will really miss our old dog, Meg and all of her canine friends!! I am sure that she will soon get used to life without us and will be happy at home. I wonder if we will be adopted by a Nepalese dog to keep us company on our walks.
 Simon and I have always grown our own in the garden or allotment. Hopefully we can do the same thing in Jumla once we get used to the growing conditions. We are not used to being at 2700 metres so that will be a challenge! We have been enjoying our early potatoes - we'll miss them!
 Having been brought up at Start Point (below) I will really miss the sea. Nepal is land locked but I am sure that mountains, rivers and lakes will compensate.
Leaving family and friends behind will obviously been our main loss. Hopefully we'll get some good photos of them on a blog coming soon.........

Saturday, 14 June 2014

VSO --- all about bringing people together.

One question that everyone seems to ask is 'what are you going to teach the people of Nepal?' Having had a few weeks to think of the appropriate answer, here it is at the point of making our final preparations. We are going to facilitate change by finding out what people need, then help them to find the answers, always leaving the ownership of solutions and development with them. The short answer is we are going to 'teach' people nothing!!

However, knowledge and it's use is vital to success and sustainability, and so over recent days we have built links with people who are experts in different areas. Some of the people we have visited:

Paul Taylor, seed production, Pearce Seeds

Mark Rogers, Melplash, apple trees and bee products
We have been told that the farmers of Jumla grow rice and cash crops of apples, coriander, mustard and radish seeds. Small numbers of goats and poultry are kept and honey production is established.
One of the many challenges is helping find solutions that fit with subsistence farming in an organic area, at 2700m, where the main mode of transport is goat, buffalo or human.

The other mantra of VSO is 'expect the unexpected', so that's what we are doing!!!!!


Thursday, 12 June 2014


Hi followers. The Bridport News has been great and published an article on our forthcoming VSO placement in Nepal. Rene, the reporter, has given a bit of background and our blog address, allowing you to find our story.

Jude and I are to travel to Jumla, a district in mid-west Nepal to work with an NGO, Surya Social Service Society (4S). The ethos of 4S is very similar to that of VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas), with aims of lifting very poor families out of poverty to enable them to have more control over their lives Also promoting gender equality in a country where women and girls do much of the farming work but are subject to discrimination, and ensuring all development projects encompass climate change impact.

Now for the latest news----- we have had a delay in our departure from late June until 9th July, when we fly out to Delhi and on to Kathmandu to start our in-country training. Current temperatures of 45C in Delhi start the realisation that life is about to change in a huge number of ways. Napali language training has happened alongside our pre-departure training over the last few weeks. So the delay will give us more time with our family and time to get this blog up and running before the flight.

Share this time with us as we say goodbye to family and friends, make contacts who may help our future challenges and leave on this placement in Nepal which is a tourist destination and yet is the poorest country in southern Asia.