So, yesterday I ventured into Chabahil, which is an neighborhood in Kathmandu, to pick up one last pair of shoes for Surendra, one of the oldest kids at the DRC. Not only is his English excellent, he is wildly bright, full of life and I think the best bargainer I have ever met. While he is a thin, 14-year old, his demeanor and level of seriousness is that of an adult man when it comes to shopping. The microbus would only take us part of the way because there was a "program" taking place. It was a protest in a very busy intersection. As we walked closer and closer, we could see huge clouds of black smoke lofting through the air. (As a side note, it's very common for people to burn garbage here, so I'm used the smell of strange things burning now.) There was a protest for the Prime Minister to resign (as another side note, he's an 80 year old man that's been in office for ages and sounds like he is quite clever, but perhaps not that effective anymore). There are hundreds of people and some police all in the mix and the burning is 3 large rubber tires in the middle of the street. I'm not sure that burning toxic materials is the best way to attract people to your protest, but I'm not protest advocate, so.... However, the mobilization was interesting to witness and in a country where 8 different political parties can't agree and even organizing the national election process is a huge process, I support their efforts.
A new volunteer arrived this week. Maiko is from Japan and people always find us an interesting pair. We explain that she is from Japan and I'm a Japanese American. She's very sweet, from Kyoto, but attending college in Michigan. She's jumped right into the flow at the DRC with lots of enthusiasm and it's been good fun.
Since my ankle has been healing, I haven't taken the kids on any walks, as I'm just not confident pushing any wheelchairs up the steep, rocky hills. So, 2 days ago, she took the kids out for a walk and about 18 kids went in all. Not knowing the area, the kids ignored my suggestion of taking her on a less strenuous walk, they ventured up the super steep hill to the Gumba Buddhist monastery. It was quite a climb for her first walk, but she's a trooper. On the way down the hill, one of the kids got carried away and accidentally, one of the girls her wheelchair fell out. She broke her arm and got a concussion. Poor Gita.... She's better now, but it gave us all quite a scare. We have learned some valuable lessons about what the children are capable of. Honestly, I have seen these kids do things that make my heart jump, but they are completely capable and have no problems. My level of trust and comfort for what they can do in wheelchairs has really grown. They also take care of each other in such a loving and helpful way, it seems that they are looking out for eachother. However, accidents do happen...
As a treat, I took 12 of the tween age kids to the local market to shop. They each spent 200 rupees ($3 USD) and could buy whatever they chose. Looking back to my tween years, I'm sure that when I got money to spend freely, I bought candy, went to movies, toys or other odds and ends. These kids chose shirts, belts, watches, backpacks, a few little transistor radios, and scarves. It was fun to go with them. Of course, Surendra went along and was an awesome bargainer, making sure we got the most for our money. It was a very productive and fun shopping excursion.
I'm in my last week in Kathmandu and the thought of saying goodbye to these kids makes my heart tear, but hopefully, I'll come back this way someday. Hope you are all happy and healthy!