Kathmandu to KU: Leaving the big city
We have had two more very productive days here in Nepal since our last post (Are you surprised?). We ate more delicious Nepali food, drank a lot of tea, and traveled from Kathmandu to Dhulikhel.
Yesterday morning, we visited the Pashupatinath Temple - a famous and sacred Hindu worship complex erected in the 5th century. Only practicing Hindus can enter the temple so Ashna and Bhupal went in while Megan and Courtney waited outside the entrance. Hundreds of people passed through the temple and worshiped on the sacred grounds with beautiful rituals and flowers during the short time that we were there. We walked to the temple from the homestay along the sacred Bagmati River and witnessed the many many tin, wood, and clay huts along the banks where people lived. It was humbling and eye-opening to see how many people live in these conditions and how many hut sites are still in ruins after the 2015 earthquake.
After lunch (dal bhat), our mentor John Galetzka arrived in Kathmandu in style as an old friend of his who is a distinguished helicopter pilot in Nepal drove him from the airport to the homestay. We took inventory of the many tools John and the travel team brought to take to Kalinchok and discussed our busy itinerary for the next couple weeks. We went to dinner with John's friends, Annie and Suresh Vaieya, who live in Kathmandu and were wonderful to talk to about life in Nepal and also the MHM work that we are doing. It was a calmer day which gave us plenty of time to do work, journal, and play with our host brother.
Today, we had a conference call with the team back home in the U.S. early in the morning. We discussed our trip thus far, goals going forward, and how the rest of the team can assist us from across the world. It was a productive call packed with information and tasks to accomplish. We then commissioned a jeep ride to Dhulikhel where we settled into our very nice hotel (with hot water!!) and met the engineering students from Kathmandu University who will be traveling to Kalinchok with us. Dhulikhel is southeast of Kathmandu and is situated in the hills. However, as John happily pointed out, we experienced a "temperature inversion" so it was much warmer here than in Kathmandu (thanks, geologist!).
This was a very productive meeting as we discussed our schedule and plans for work in Kalinchok and our partnership between the two universities. The students and professors at KU are working to get us drone flying permission in the Dolakha district (Kalinchok) and have helped us translate our written surveys and trifold brochures to give to students and community members in the village. We are working closely with and supporting the KU students during this trip and are excited to help them form their own Engineers Without Borders - International team and potentially start their own projects. For now, Samita will lead the MHM workshop and focus group with the school girls and all of the KU students (Prabin, Dipak, Anurag, and Samita) will help us with the latrine assessment and drone surveying (hopefullly!). The students said that they are most excited about applying their engineering knowledge in the field after learning in a classroom for many years.
Tonight, we have been sitting by the large fire in the lobby of the hotel doing work, enjoying hot drinks, and taking in all the warmth we can get. We all miss indoor heating back home but are so glad to be here. Tomorrow we will travel to Charikot where we will hopefully meet with government workers of the Rural Municipality and discuss our projects and objectives.
Warmly (not literally),
Courtney, Ashna, & Megan