Namaskar Sathiheru (friends),
So much has happened since we last updated you!
During our last week in Namsaling, we conducted workshops for community members from Wards 3 & 4 of the Maijogmai Rural Municipality. Bhupal presented about water, sanitation, and hygiene, Noah talked about his practicum project with water conservation, and EWB students talked about water quality. We presented at the Ward 3 office over two days and more than fifty people came! In our presentation, we discussed important water quality parameters and how they impact human and environmental health. We shared the results from testing thirteen different water sources around Namsaling and even did practical demonstrations on how to test parameters. Pradeep, a NCDC employee, helped to translate for the team. Pradeep’s enthusiasm presenting was incredible, and helped keep everyone engaged. Many people asked questions and were especially interested in watching us perform experiments testing nitrate and hardness content. Our make shift Bunsen-burner was a great way of getting people’s attention.
It seems that people in Maijogmai are invested in learning more about safe drinking water! Both NCDC and people from the local government are interested in creating a comprehensive water quality profile of the region to better understand how water is impacting health. The Ward has purchased field kits for water quality testing and we are all excited to see where this will lead in the future.
Leaving Namsaling was bittersweet for the team. While we felt good about the work we had done, it was difficult to say goodbye to our friends. The morning we left, Yam Kumari, our homestay mother, presented each of us with tikka, flowers, [insert word for scarf things], and gifts. She even made us each an extra cup of milk tea. Almost everyone from the Shukrabare Bazaar came to take pictures and say “feri betola” (see you again). If you were wondering, selfies are also an important part of Nepali farewell culture. Many people waved as our Jeep drove down the hill towards Ilam, and it felt as though we were leaving a second home.
After the long drive across the Terai to Kathmandu, we met with the Association of Mechanical Engineering Students (AMES) at Kathmandu University (KU) again. That week, the KU student union organized a strike, resulting in school being canceled. Luckily, AMES was still willing to meet with us and found a spot in the library even though much of campus was closed. At the meeting with AMES, we talked about the work EWB-CU Nepal has done, and types of EWB projects around the world. This meeting gave us a good opportunity to learn about the work AMES students already do, share our EWB team’s plans, and talk about how our two groups could collaborate in the future. We discussed the idea of engineering towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and it was exciting to hear the KU students’ fresh perspectives.
On one of our last days in Kathmandu, we met again with Kiran Karjit, a friend of our team mentor, Lisa. Over homemade veggie momos, we shared our summer experiences and hopes for EWB-CU’s future. Talking to Kiran gave us a refreshing outlook on our team’s projects and objectives, and a chance to reflect on on the summer thus far.
On US Independence Day, the team said goodbye to our mentor Bhupal over Thai food in Thamel, Kathmandu. Bhupal, like the students, is excited for EWB-CU’s future working in Maijogmai, and reminded us that he will never forget the time Eliza got corsani pepper in her eye (or the second time).
The following day, we left for Pokhara to begin trekking. We spent nine days hiking to Poon Hill and Annapurna Base Camp. Trekking gave us a great opportunity to practice our Nepali, and many of the guides and hotel owners were very surprised by our vocabulary. Although we endured miles of stairs, leeches (which were traumatizing enough to give Evan reoccurring nightmares), and rain, seeing the sunrise over the Himalayas at Base Camp made it all worth it.
We fly back to the US in less than a week. We are likely still unprepared for the culture shock of adjusting back to life without Dal Bhat, but we are incredibly grateful for the summer we’ve spent in Nepal.
The Summer 2019 Travel Team
Eliza, Evan, Cosmo, and Hayley