Monday, 25 August 2014

Homestay Experience at Keureni

During our recent trip to Nepal, Angie and I wanted to do something different instead of just trekking our arses off. So we contacted our Nepali friend Raj and he arranged for us to visit the village of Keureni and to spend a night there.

To get to Keureni, we took the public bus from Pokhara to Gorkha Bazaar which was a 6-hour journey. We were seated at the last row in the bus and a fat guy with only one arm was squasing Angie and I to the side. His pants kept dropping whenever he got down at the rest spots and he had a hard time pulling up his pants because he had only one arm, hahaha.

Upon arrival at Gorkha Bazaar, our guides Kapil and his cousin Raj took us by bike on dirt roads to the village of Keureni. The ride was one of the most thrilling for me. We looked like participants in the Dakar Rally and I was hanging on to Kapil for dear life, hahaha.

The village of Keureni is located in a valley:

Before leaving for Nepal, Raj had informed that we could bring stationery for the school in Keureni. Being typical Malaysians, we purchased the items from Mydin because that's the place Malaysians go to buy things in bulk :-)

This is the school that we visited in Keureni:

This is one of the classrooms in the school:

The younger children in the school were just so adorable. Initially they were curious to see us but soon they grew bolder and sang some beautiful songs for us:

It was scorching hot when we were walking around the village that we made a couple of stops to rest under a tree or shade to escape from the heat. Everywhere was dusty and my throat was parched. At the point, I could have downed 2 bottles of mineral water at one go.

There were three girls in particular who were following us around. I guess they were curious at what we were doing. 

After following us around, these three girls mustered up enough courage to ask our names. Christy is the one in the middle. She's the bravest of the lot which makes her my favourite kid in the village :-) 

Currently the main project in Keureni is the building of a community centre so that the villagers can use it for their activities like sewing classes and maybe even computer lessons. 

The idea is to teach the villagers living skills like sewing, craftwork, etc. so that they can earn a living. As what the saying goes ... give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch a fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

The community centre was under construction when we visited the place in May this year.

The community centre is located on a hill, as you can see from this pic.

The building of the community centre and other projects in Keureni are spearheaded by Dorte Just (from Denmark) and assisted by Dipesh Khadgi who is a local.

They are not affliated with any organisation or NGO and are helping the villagers out of the goodness of their hearts.

Double D: Dorte and Dipesh.

Dorte and Dipesh have got some marvellous plans for Keureni.

They aim to raise 40,000 Kronors this year for the following projects:
  1. To finish the construction of the community centre;
  2. To furnish the community centre with beds, kitchen appliances and other furnishings for 4 volunteers who will be joining in October this year;
  3. To purchase whiteboards and other schooling materials for the school that you saw in the pic above; and
  4. To hire a trainer to conduct sewing classes so that the villagers may learn sewing skills and make a living out of selling their handiwork. A kind soul from Denmark had already donated a few sewing machines to set the ball rolling.
The team will also be starting a goat project with the women's group where each family is given a goat to rear for milk and meat.

If you wish to help the village of Keureni, you may contact Dorte:

Ms Dorte Just
Mobile: +977 984 178 7728 (Nepal), +45 6077 6852 (Denmark)

This is the house in Keureni where we spent the night:

The owner of this house used to work in Malaysia. In fact wherever we went in Nepal, for sure we'll meet someone, or at least someone who has a relative who worked in Malaysia. Some Nepalese were even wearing Kuala Lumpur t-shirts.

We shared rooms with Dorte:

Our room - it was hot in the daytime and cool during the night.

Eventhough the village has power supply, the condition is poor - you'll never know when the supply may go off. As such, the folks there hardly have electrical appliances. Only a few homes have television sets and VCD player.

When we were there, everything was in pitch darkness when the sun went down and I had to use a torchlight to move around.

I reckon it's a challenge for the villagers to complete their work and students their homework before the sun sets. In fact, I think this is one of the reason villagers in Keureni sleep early and rise early too.

The bathroom and toilet are located outside the house:

The bathroom and toilet have no lights and water had to be collected to fill up the tong. So we had to ensure that we bathe during the day. I have this habit of bathing just before I sleep which is usually at night (obviously). Thank heavens I had a powerful torchlight with me. 
There's a resident spider in the bathroom too. It is so big that it's size will scare the living daylights out of anyone who is arachnophobia.

This are the 3 brothers who are sons of the owner of the house:

L to R: Mohan, Ranjit and Ishwor

These guys can cook, clean and are well disciplined boys. If you have sons, you'd wish for them to be like Mohan, Ranjit and Ishwor.

These boys love their pets:

The goat's name is Mikhael.

Keureni has many farms with chickens, cows, goats and pigs. Coming from the city, I was fascinated with simple things like watching piglets suckling their mother:

I love the way the goats look at me. It's as if though they are smiling:

So the next time anyone comes to my studio apartment and comments on its size, I'll invite them to make a trip to to the village of Keureni for a homestay experience :-)

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