Looking back at this photo, I think I look younger now than then. This is a picture of my Nepali friend Radha, my co-worker from a Boston sushi resturant, and I on our last meeting together in October 2012. We are both delightfully full of Thai food.
Radha was a chef at the resturant I waited at. He was a humble Nepali man who had sold everything he owned to move to America . He saved all his American wages and sent them to Nepal to support his wife, two teenagers, and extended family.
Over the course of working together we became friends. I told him how wonderful Australia was and he became interested in moving there. Having interned at a immigration services center, I voluntered myself to advise his visa application.
In the summer of 2012, Radha came over to my apartment on a few occasions and together we tried to find out how he could immigrate Down Under. It turned out that he had missed his window of opportunity. Accepting his limits and appreciating my small helping hand he took me out for Thai food. I gave him a small gift to bring to his children and then suddenly, just like the rest of life, we lost touch. I moved to Japan. He returned to Nepal after seven years in the USA.
When I arrived in India, Radha contacted me on Facebook. Yes, they even have Facebook in Nepal. Radha had shared our Australia research with his son. His son then enrolled in an Australian university and moved! Radha’s family lived in a farming village in the Kathmandu valley. For his son to immigrate to Australia was a generation changing event.
To give a picture of Nepal’s poverty minium wage in Australia is 40 times higher than Nepal. (.50$ to 20$)
Minium wage in Australia can support twenty Nepals…
Inspiring Radha to encourage his son is my most positive affect on anyone’s life.
Radha offered to host me in his home and find a place for me to teach in his village for a few months. Radha had sold everything he owned and left his family behind to make a better life for them. His efforts were a success. When he returned to his village he built a large beautiful home with his savings. He paid for his sons foreign education and even rents propertys in his village to western missionarys.
With adventure on my mind, I accepted his offer to stay and teach in his village for a few months. I’m really curious about economic development. I guess it is in both my bloods my uncle and my great grandfather were professional economists. Here goes a hands-on study of development, moving to a Nepali village to live with a Nepali family.
(Radha’s village is a on the outskirts of Kathmandu. So I will have access to healthcare and vital services not available in the interior… This is for my mama)
Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world with millions under feed. The mountainous country is on par with Haiti and Afghanistan for human development. The are twice daily power-outages scheluded 365. The government is Communist and just came out of a civil conflict in the last decade. Dependency on the monsoon rains creates food shortages. Few people have refrigerators, indoor plumbing, heat, roads, and some areas still don’t have any form of electricity.
The country is also the only legally Hindu country in the world. This means, to a much greater degee than in New India, the caste system is still respected. There is an elaborate ancient social code that still governs the people. Women can have many husbands, kidnap marriages are possible, life expectancy at birth in roughly 50 years old. Those are almost medieval figures.
That said Nepal is the home of the Buddha. The greatest reformer, humanitarian, and person of global influence.
Nepal is a safe country, because as India has taught me poverty and violence don’t have to be hand in hand. I’ve talked to plenty of people who have traveled to Nepal and they agree it is safe. The Australian embassy rates Nepal safer than India, Thailand, and Indonesia. I am not worried about my safety, especially because I will be living with a family. I hope Nepal to be a humbling and beautiful country.
I hope that the Himalayas, my students, and the friend I haven’t met yet will teach me humility, Nepali, and all that good stuff.
The mountains of India are now only steps to Nepal.