Tag Archives: #nepalearthquake

Luke ~ The People of Nepal – Ashok

How do you know when travel impacts you deeply? Which journeys give you the most powerful memories? These thoughts have been bouncing around my mind furiously since I returned from Nepal. Nepal left a deep imprint. Every time I ask myself why, the answer is simple. The people.

I met Ashok Bhujel, a young Nepali man in his early twenties, one day as I returned to my guesthouse in Changu Narayan. He helped with all sorts of daily chores around the guesthouse. He greeted me with a warm smile, and open arms. I could not even begin to have a want before he would anticipate it and help me out.

Ashok is a dreamer who likes to think about the possibilities for his friends and family.
Ashok is a dreamer who likes to think about the possibilities for his friends and family.

I got to know Ashok better over the next three weeks. He is a dreamer. Whether he was inviting me to sit with his friends and trade songs on his guitar, or teaching me about the political, educational, and economic struggles of younger Nepali generations, Ashok dwells on the possibilities, not the barriers.

I have been keeping touch with Ashok occasionally. It was his messages to me a couple weeks ago that both gave me great relief that he was ok and sadness for his upcoming struggles. Ashok, like so many in Nepal, has lost everything – his home and his job – due to the earthquakes. He has a new wife, Nena. Together, they were starting their life together in Kathmandu when the earthquakes struck. Rather than relay his story to you, here are his own words from our recent conversations. I asked him to tell his story, so I could share it with you.

“Okay Luke Iet me start. Well I was working in starview and she had a singingbowl healing centre in Bhaktapur Dattariya. One day I took one of my costumer to her centre and then I meet her. Her name is Nena Nepali.

She is very good as a person. So I liked her at first sight. I took her visiting card and then slowly we came close. Well she is a town girl and I belong to village. She had lots of big dreams like to be a big successful business girl…”

Ashok and Nena
Ashok and Nena

“And one day she took me to her home I met her parents. They had a small shop too. Her parents and her 3 yrs old brother all are very nice people. After that slowly I talk about her with my parents. They want to meet her too.

Then I took her my village. My village is 150 km away from Kathmandu. It’s a rural place, completely a small village. I hope u can imagine. She was so afraid while we were on bus coz it feels like we r riding on elephant. It makes me laugh remembering her face on bus in that day. After that my parents liked her. So after that we fix the date and get married. Then I got job doing Thanka paintings.”

Ashok and Nina on their wedding day.
Ashok and Nena on their wedding day.

“But I didn’t have still home to stay. So I was sitting. With her parents. Life was going slowly okay u know but now my sweet home in village is no more. My family is staying under tent. I don’t even know. Do they getting foods or not. My wife shop is also gone and with that all her hard work and dreams too.

Seeing around how and what earthquake brought to our normal life still today we cannot sleep well. Thinking about how to start all when it’s gonna be normal like before my heartache tears rolls down. What to do how to do? I don’t have any idea. In one side I think about Nena and in another about my parents. She is a elder child of her parents and I must also. We both are feeling helpless brother. But still haven’t giveup our hope.”

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Ashok and Nena are some of the many people in Nepal that will receive help from the donations you make to our GoFundMe fundraiser. Please contribute today.

Luke ~ The People of Nepal

The news has been horrific. Many of us have seen the images and videos of the destruction in Nepal as the country shook repeatedly over the last several weeks. The wonders of an interconnected world bring the heartbreaking losses into all of our lives.

Yet, I am struck by how different this disaster feels to me than the others that have come in recent times. The difference is, of course, that the people hit this time are my friends. I do not say this to take away from the many people who endured the horrors of the tsunamis in Japan or Thailand, the earthquake in Haiti, or any other natural disaster. I say this, because I hope that in sharing the stories of my friends in Nepal, you too will be touched by their humanity and help them.

This is the first of many posts I will be making where I will tell the stories of my Nepali friends pertaining to the earthquakes. While it has been difficult to wake up every morning to countless messages from Nepal recounting the tragedy (13 hour time difference), it is nothing compared to the challenges that they face every day. In a country where life was difficult before, the earthquakes have taken everything from many.

Suman Bhadel, a chef in the village of Changu Narayan, supports both his parents and three younger siblings.
Suman Bhadel, a chef in the village of Changu Narayan, supports both his parents and three younger siblings.

One of my friends who has asked for help is Suman. I smile every time I think about the first time I met him. I had just strolled through the temple complex in Changu Narayan, a 4-th century village in the hills outside Kathmandu, and was meeting my travel companions at the little open-air restaurant just outside the temple gate. As I was walking up the stairs leading to the elevated pavilion, I was greeted by the warm smile and boundless energy that Suman is never without.

Suman explained that he would be our waiter and chef. It turns out, this 22-year old runs the entire restaurant by himself in addition to managing the small wheat, rice, and potato fields his family relies on for food. He supports his mother, father, and three younger siblings. He learned to cook while working in restaurants in India before returning home to work at the restaurant at a small guest house in Changu. Did I mention he can cook? Suman made, without a doubt, my favorite chicken dishes in Nepal.

As we got to know Suman more, he invited us into the community to experience their culture like we were family. Whether he was bringing us to the evening Puja (prayer session that is mostly a musical jam session by a local family of musicians) or taking us on picnics, Suman made us feel at home.

A great honor came one day when Suman invited all of us to accompany him on a 3-hour hike into the hills to attend the village’s annual festival to honor the hindu gods Ganesh and Vishnu. We were treated to a traditional ceremonial goat sacrifice that culminated in a delicious roasted goat feast. As we were walking back to Changu in the golden sunset over Kathmandu valley, we learned that we were the first visitors to attend this ceremony.

We were the first visitors to Changu to be invited to this festival, where sacrifices were made to Vishnu and Ganesh.
We were the first visitors to Changu to be invited to this festival, where sacrifices were made to Vishnu and Ganesh.
Locals from Changu Narayan await the feast after the sacrifices.
Locals from Changu Narayan await the feast after the sacrifices.
A happy group with full bellies makes the 3-hour walk back to Changu Narayan after the festival.
A happy group with full bellies makes the 3-hour walk back to Changu Narayan after the festival.

The messages I received from Suman in the days following the earthquakes were heartbreaking. Like many people in Changu Narayan, Suman and his family lost everything. His family’s home was destroyed. The restaurant he worked at is gone. He has no income, and he is the sole provider for his family. They are now sleeping under a tarp at the village’s Bus Park. Suman tells me that it would cost $3000-$5000 to build a new basic mud home for his family. Considering that his salary was about $35 per month before the earthquake eliminated his job, he has no way to pay for it.

The destruction in Suman's village, Changu Narayan, is extensive. Photo by, Balkrishna Baj.
The destruction in Suman’s village, Changu Narayan, is extensive. Photo by, Balkrishna Baj.

In the midst of all of this tragedy, there is a positive note. Suman just got married May 8th. Amid all of the loss and destruction, a glimmer of happiness still shines through.

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Suman is one of the many people in Nepal that will receive help from the donations you make to our GoFundMe fundraiser. Please contribute today.