Until you’ve experienced 3 weeks without the simple comforts that most of us take for granted, we all have a tendency to live as if the way we live is the norm. Yes, I believe past generations in our own country have lived without many of our modern comforts, but this is 2014 and to fully grasp that there are mass pockets in foreign civilizations that still live without most of what we have – or even a lot of what past generations in our own country had is a real eye opener. Here’s a glimpse of life in a rural and impoverished region of Nepal (November 2013):
Showering, washing dishes, making coffee, mixing cement are all drastically different on the other side of the world.
Here was my shower experience for 14 days. Literally at fast drip speed. We were fortunate to even have a shower head in our 2 piece bathroom – and we were one of two rooms in our hotel with an actual toilet. There was no sink – the drain in the floor was where we spit our toothpaste – the gheckos in the ceiling cracks must’ve been entertained by us squealing Westerners when the cold water dripped down our bodies or when we gagged when brushing our teeth! (I still gag even at the mere thought of brushing my teeth)
No toilets – although it has recently become law in Nepal that each household should have a toilet, most rural households do not. We met Chhukanya on our jobsite; mother of 4 and recently widowed. Her 14yr old already started working (jeopardizing her full time school commitment) to help earn enough to sustain everyday life. Chhukanya did not qualify for her widow’s pension because she did not have a toilet. In swift order, my GAB friends and I got permission from our volunteer leader to take on an extra-cirricular project – building this woman a toilet! We dug the hole and helped form the rock foundation. On December 24th we received a picture and a memo stating that her toilet was complete, she now is in receipt of her first widow’s pension cheque and that simple toilet even made her eligible to receive her own citizenship papers! One toilet…..and how many toilets do most of us have in our home in the western world??!!
(Note: She makes the equivalent of $2.00CDN/day. The toilet cost $100CAD)
Most rural Nepali’s live out their day to day life’s activities in the “front room” aka their front yard.
Many shower pump stations to bathe, wash dishes and wash clothes. While in Nepal I learned how to prime a pump because running water flowing out of a pump is something that needs to be worked at. Some mornings at our ‘hotel’ there was not enough water to make morning coffee for 14 people.
In the west we buy fancy dish detergent. The Nepali ‘natural brand’ detergent consists of ash mixed with dirt – a little grit to create and abrasive element and crumpled twigs are scrunched together to be the scouring pad. *Note: I have a full blog post dedicated to kitchens.
Wheel barrow – although there is evidence that the wheelbarrow has existed since 408 BC in ancient Greece, they are still not a common sighting or construction aid in modern day Nepal.
We moved 40 tonne of boulders by hand – in the form of a human chain line. In those lines we also moved water, sand, cement in large plastic bowls (a large mixing bowl size). We had an ‘ingoing” and “outgoing” line.
We shifted sides; and shifted right to left to ensure we didn’t overwork one side. It was definitely an upper body and core workout!!