The past two weeks have been very intense and very informative. We moved into our Kalimati apartment which is on the roof of a building. The roof is awesome- you can see the whole city and on clear days a glimpse of the Himalayas. Downstairs there is a little shop called Gupta Sweets and of course we have befriended the owner (Gupta) and he always provides us with dudh (milk) and chipati (pita). All of the neighbors (there are a ton of them- we're on the roof...) always say namaste and laugh at us because apparently we are just really funny. Kalimati is home to one of the biggest vegetable markets in the city so everyday we go there and get fresh vegetables to make dinner. I'll eventually get over there with my camera because its an incredible sight. Everywhere we go we get started at because we are the only foreigners in the neighborhood- even the owner of the place we eat lunch everyday can't get over the fact that a group of 7 crazy white people eat Nepali food.
We have visited every group we work with in the community and divided the work this past Sunday. One of the Israelis (Stav) and I are in charge of the youth movement. TbT founded a movement called Hami Yuva (We Are Youth) and there are 4 different chapters in Kalimati. Some are stronger then others but all are extremely motivated and willing to learn. Stav and I will be working with the facilitators to improve their guiding and programming skills. The teenagers we have met are incredible and inspirational. At the meeting with the older youth (9th-11th grades) they asked us to teach them English and computer skills so we will be holding those classes three times a week. In addition to the classes, Stav and I will meet with each facilitator once a week to help plan their events for the groups. Then we will go to the group meetings and give the facilitators feedback on the activity. Its pretty cool because I get to utilize a lot of the tools I learned at camp.
We are hoping to work the facilitators to plan a lot of different events and projects. One of them will be a big theater project aimed at raising awareness about education and the importance of staying in school. A big problem in the Kalimati community is the school drop-out rate. A lot of kids can't handle school and work and opt to leave school because work=survival. We will also help run an environmental campaign using photography to raise awareness about the poor conditions at the local school. Garbage is an everyday part of our lives- we look at the street and its filled with garbage, look at the river and its filled with garbage, look at the school and its filled with garbage. We've all been meaning to get masks because the air is so polluted but we've been kind of lazy. All of that must sound awful but we're used to it and it makes us see how important our work with the youth really is. Through this campaign we will hopefully provide the schools with garbage cans and teach kids how and why it is important not to throw trash on the field or in the river. There are a lot of opportunities and resources available in the city so we are really excited to get started.
Living with a group of 7 people can be really stressful sometimes (especially when its a mix of Americans and Israelis...) but its a great learning experience and we have a lot of fun. We make dinner together everyday and spend our evenings hanging out (usually by candle light because the electricity goes out) or if we're lucky we get to watch a movie on my laptop. Not having internet is really refreshing- not that I don't want to talk to all of you but its so nice not to sit at the computer for hours. When we have free time we explore the city, go to the local vegetable market, and find new Nepali restaurants. At first I was kind of upset about being in the city because I wanted to experience city life but now I have come to love and appreciate all it has to offer.
This is my second Thanksgiving away from home (Nativ being the first time) and this is the corniest thing in the world, but I realize how much I have to be thankful for. I'm thankful for traffic lights, electricity, hot water, a house, a mattress, food, and of course friends and family. The people in my group are thankful that tomorrow I will not be cooking their dinner and instead will be making Thanksgiving decorations :)