Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Chocolate, Chocolate, Giving Kids Chocolate


Kids everywhere are so cute and they all love candy, so Nepal is no surprise. Many tourists enjoy bringing candy for the kids they meet along the way. Should we do it? Seldom, if ever, is this a good idea. Here's why:

1. Nepal, and children from other developing nations, tend to only brush their teeth one time a day. Many families find themselves without money for such things as tooth brushes. Candy is acidic and will stay on their teeth a long time. They also seldom go to the dentist, so that chocolate/candy will eventually cause a lot of pain and the tooth will most likely be pulled, not repaired.

2. If you are a mother you will understand why you wouldn't want strangers feeding your children. You could ruin the mother's night with a child who wouldn't eat dinner, but cries all night from hunger.

3. Teaching children that it's OK to take from anyone can cause a problem with boundaries. People in Nepal see tourists as super human, rich and so mysterious. It is best to help them understand we are just human. We are not gods seeking to dole out a random blessing.

4. Our children are so cute and it's nice to engage in conversation, but if you give money or candy you are encouraging them into a life of begging. 

5. Child Trafficking is a thing here in Nepal. I wonder how many children have been lured into the sex trade because they asked a stranger for chocolate. 

When you see places like this with children living there it's hard not to do something to help.

Hospitals are also good places to bring clothing for donating.

What to do instead?

What if you just talk with the child? Teach them a word or phrase. Ask them about their village, how to say a particular word in Nepali or even take them to lunch with you if they seriously look hungry. Although I haven't done it for a very long time, I love to share a meal with a street kid. They almost always want mo:mo, so you don't need to worry about a big cost.

What I'm trying to convey is if you must, if you really feel compelled to share your wealth with children please give something other than candy or money. Take a pen or pencil out of your bag and give it to the child. They will seldom refuse a pen. Pens and pencils can be found all over for about 10 rupees or less. Never take new pens or pencils still wrapped in packaging, to prevent returning it for a partial refund.

Often, especially if you give them a pen, the child may ask for a book. DO NOT fall for this. They will take you to the stationary store for you to buy a $12 dictionary. There are cheaper dictionaries, but they want the hardcover Webster's Dictionary and will only return it 10 minutes later for a partial refund. If you must buy them a book be sure to take it out of the wrap and write their name in it. Or, better yet, open it and act like you are going to write in it and look at their face as they think of a reason to get you to stop ruining it. Then walk away.

It's a great idea to bring some used books from home if you are from a country like the US. Used books can be found in some countries for cheap or even free. Just ask a library, school or friend for a donation. If you'd like a letter for extra luggage we are happy to write one for you under our registered agency (contact: FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com). You don't even need to give us the books or warm, used clothing. If you are going trekking you can just give to people along the way. 

 



 

 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Even More People Suffering; How to Help?

Whether it's Lord Krishna's birthday or my own, just about any day-trip to Bhaktapur is met with a celebration of one kind or the other. This past Saturday found us for the second time within a week celebrating a festival in Bhaktapur. In fact, August has been quite an enjoyable month due to Gia Jatra, these two festivals and my own 64th birthday.


 It's monsoon and there is terrible flooding along our Indian border and into India. Here in the Kathmandu Valley the weather in August is really nice compared to much of the rest of the world. Most of India and the Middle East are extremely hot and Malasia and Eastern Asia are hot and sticky with monsoon. Here in the Kathmandu Valley it hasn't broke 30 degrees (or more than 85 degrees F.) yet this year. Here at the Star View Guest House the rooftop terrace is getting a lot of use with its gentle breezes and village scenes. Even still, we haven't used the room fans much this year.

August sunset over Kathmandu from Star View Guest House, Changunarayan

 This last trip to Bhaktapur, as well as my recent trip to Kathmandu, was met with many young people collecting funds for the people in the flood region. Although I am a bit cynical of social workers, I believe these young people in these clubs can be trusted to be in their integrity. 

 

 
"No one can help everyone, but everyone can help someone'

Our agency, Kay Garnay for Nepal, is also shifting its focus to help the recent flood victims. I know first hand how quickly the world moves on to the next disaster, such as the recent earthquake in South America where 25,000 people died. Now it  seems these Nepali and Indian flood victims, the refugees from Syria, African refugees and starving people and the earthquake victims from S. America all have to compete for the same funding dollars-that is until tomorrow when another group is added to these innocent people. How can I ask for funding for an organic farming project or a women's work initiative when there are so many who are so much worse off? The plight of each of these groups is beyond imagination. 

So, here are my thoughts on our need to be funded verses taking care of those in severe need elsewhere. The most important thing for these people, whatever group they find themselves, is that they participate in their own care and subsistence. It reminds me of the Vietnamese 'Boat People' of the 1970's-80's. They went from being castaways on a boat to serving as emergency room doctors and in other professional fields faster than I ever thought possible. 

 
Our handmade, covered woolen blanket-only $200 inc. shipping and 3 more pillow covers.

As we make progress on our online ventures via NepalWebMall.com or the projects at KayGarnay.org we will be funding exclusively for the flood victims in Nepal. Additionally, we have this consumer-friendly shopping site and use our profit for the flood victims through the end of the year: Nepali Thangka Paintings and Wooden Masks

 

However, we are not asking for money. Although we have a few projects you can make a donation to, we ask only that you support us by shopping for art and handicrafts that support the local people of Nepal. Our profits are only going toward food and supplies for the flood victims until the end of 2017.  This will allow our generous sponsors to use our websites to support us with their shopping dollar.  We have only high quality, handcrafted items made in Nepal.



 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Making Dinner in Nepal





People wonder about food in Nepal. If you have a sensitive digestion the last thing you’ll want to do is go where you cannot eat the food. Nepal can be such a place, and is such a place for me. Nepali eat just about the same food every night, curry, lentil soup and white rice. I am just unable to deal with such foods, which is fine because I have my own cook. Bimala is my Nepali granddaughter and is in college. She has been living in Changunarayan for several years with her mother in the remote village with her grandmother, so she’s been a bit more than a big sister for quite some time. 


Typically, we sit together watching youtube videos and talking about how we can manage it with ingredients available here in Nepal. We recently came up with another winner for Star View Guest House’s menu for our volunteers and guests. We just have a six guest room guest house, so there is no reason to keep a full menu ready for people to walk past. Star View Guest House is literally at the end of the road. A great place to be-after you get here.

We recently came across this amazing looking recipe that we had just about all the ingredients for. Being in Nepal, we find a need to substitute quite a few things for Western recipes. 


This one from Shetty's Kitchen looked good so Bimala made it for our guest, Bre and me. It's called Cabbage Manchurian  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_Z90vQfgqw
This is actually an Indian recipe because no matter how I try to search on youtube for American food it always takes me to Asia.



Served on a bed of white rice, it was the best cabbage dish I’ve ever had. I’m not big on cabbage, but I could have had it for leftover lunch if we hadn’t eaten it all. This is a vegetarian recipe and probably vegan. I'm not a big fan of vegan because if it weren't for milk and cheese people wouldn't raise cows in Nepal.

If you come to Star View Guest House and feel like you’d like to have something from back home just let us know. If you’d like to help Bimala to make it for everyone you can eat free.

I hope this recipe will  be one you ask for when you come to Nepal. Changunarayan is really starting to look lovely as the homes get rebuilt after the earthquakes. 
This is the recently rebuilt Changu Guest House and Restaurant. It's at the front steps of the temple. It's just lovely!
As you can see by this picture, the homes are being built to be safe for earthquakes

Chimichungaon rice up on the rooftop terrace.

Enchalada cassarole with homemade tortillas!