Turning the Wheels

Kids grow up quick in Nepal. They have to support their parents, raise younger siblings, and help out in the fields before and after school. When in school there’s often a lack of teachers and many of the children sit in the class unsupervised. Poverty and hardship breed creativity and resourcefulness, whether it’s a kite made from rubbish for play or packets of noodles as shoes, or using an old bicycle wheel for playing.

In November 2011, I visited Kathmandu, a few villages around it and Okhaldhunga which is a remote and rural area in the Eastern part of Nepal, staying with and observing the daily life of local people. I was taking pictures for an upcoming exhibition that will showcase life in Nepal and raise funds for the non profit, Volunteer Initiative Nepal (VIN).

Nepal is a poor country which is reflected in it’s infrastructure. Water and electricity are hard to get. Traveling the short distance of 230 km between two cities can take locals one and a half days by bus. My interest was looking at how people live day to day life in difficult conditions. How they work, eat, play and laugh together. My intention is not to paper over the cracks of the hardships of their lives but to show how they maintain self-respect and a level of normality in constantly challenging circumstances.

During my visit, communication wasn’t easy. The younger generation helped a lot thanks to some education in English, but where that failed, smiles and gestures and the natural openness of the people was the language of the day. At the end of the trip I was left reflecting on the contrast between, the modernized world with the imminent stress of the credit crisis, the over-consumerism and the self-centeredness; and on the other hand the reality of living with hardly any material goods but with a sense of love and belonging.

This project was done with the cooperation of VIN and Friends of VIN and I thank them for their support.

 ~ By guest blogger and professional photographer, Elisabete Maisao Dos Santos. Elizabete lives in Holland & recently visited Nepal to photograph for a fundraiser and exhibition benefiting VIN which will be held in Spring 2012

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2 thoughts on “Turning the Wheels

  1. Firstly, you have a beautiful website! After reading it all, I decided I would write and see if you could give me the straight answer to some questions I have. I am considering traveling to Nepal to work in a monastery, orphanage or anywhere I can help. I know this sounds crazy but the two issues that I’ve read about that frighten me are “rats” and “water”. I know that the water wouldn’t be safe to drink, however, if it is used to prepare food, wouldn’t the food be tainted? And I’ve also heard that rats are simply a part of life. I happen to have a severe phobia about mice and rats and don’t think I could face one! Since you’ve experienced living there, could you please comment on that? Thanks so much! Kathleen

    1. Hi Kathleen, Thank you for following the website! I’m glad to hear you are considering Nepal for volunteer work. Let me assure you, rats are not a problem there as far as I could tell. It is a valley surrounded by mountains & I doubt the weather is fit for rats to breed. At least I didn’t see any during my 10 days stay there. I have seen more in New York City!
      As far as water is concerned, you will need to maintain the same precautions when traveling to any third world country. Drink only bottled water, don’t take ice, eat fruits that have skin and don’t have anything raw. As long as the food is cooked, the water borne germs will get killed. You still need to watch where you eat from (I would avoid street vendors & wherever I see uncovered food with flies hovering around) and you will be fine.

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