Take on Nepal. Take on hope. Take on love. Take on passion and determination.
These were the unforgettable, irreplaceable and absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful 21 days of my life.
During my trek to Batase Village, I asked my beautiful Nepali sister who was carrying an oversized backpack up the countless stairs if it was so ‘heavy’. She smiled, looked into my eyes and stated, ‘not heavy, happy’. This is what Nepal taught me. This is what transformed me.
4 days after my high school graduation, I got on the plane to Nepal with one backpack. Not knowing who I would meet, what I would eat or what incredible adventures were waiting for me. Even though my plane ran out of fuel and we ended up going to India, not Kathmandu, I was so excited. I arrived in the beautiful mess – Kathmandu with a little bit of fear and a whole lot of anticipation. Touring, trekking, walking and walking, eating dal bhat, chatting and enjoying every step of the way led to our village life. As a student fresh out of high school, it was challenging but absolutely rewarding to become a teacher in a foreign country.
Their eagerness to learn overwhelmed me, their passion to chase their dreams wholeheartedly inspired me. There are too many memories. Far too many. From walking with a wild rhino in the middle of a street, eating amazing street food and riding in a rickshaw like there is not a single worry in this world, canoeing in the misty mysterious morning of Chitwan, walking to the village school with hands in hands, going to the hostel early morning to get flowers in my hair by the wonderful children who make my heart smile, seeing the sunset over the mesmerising mountains with my favourite people, brushing my teeth in front of the Himalayas every single morning, sharing deepest secrets and stories with people that showed me different languages, different cultures don’t matter because hearts can communicate beyond it all, climbing hills, falling in mud, laughing our heads off, knowing how precious tomato sauce and honey can be, going on late night walks, smiling and saying Namaste to every person down the hill, getting licked by goats, drinking lychee juice, trying new meals such as spicy fried grapefruits, having countless Tibetan breads and potatoes, watching the shooting stars over the unforgettable sky of Batase, listening to heart-warming music by amazing talents, eating the most delicious food by cook dhai and drinking countless numbers of tea every day, learning new things every hour, late night chats with my sundar boys that I love so much, being absolutely careless and free and to every single day in Nepal that made me fall in love with life again and again.
How could I possibly describe the happiness I felt into mere words? How can I possibly explain all the emotions and moments I have never felt before? How would I express my joy, my excitement, my utter happiness and the immense love I received from strangers who are now my brothers and sisters? I cannot. I simply can’t encapsulate the phenomenal journey I went on into few paragraphs because every single moment on this trip has made me speechless. But what I can tell you is this. I have met the most beautiful human beings on this planet. So pure. So kind. So sweet. So strong. They made me feel so loved each and every moment. They made me feel so beautiful, free and alive. So valued. So precious.
They gave me so much when they have so little. I will never forget the time when this six year old girl ran up to me and gave her last precious chocolate bar and told me she will never ever forget me. I will always remember the smiles on everyone’s faces when I handed them their printed out their photos and letters from Cairns State High School. I will forever cherish the hours, the seconds, the memories we have created together and my heart aches, my heart breaks into little pieces when I think of their faces. Their smiles. Their eyes. I miss it all so much it hurts. I cherish them every day and remember how I can now call this place another home that I will definitely return to.
I used to exclaim that somewhere in the world, there is some boy or girl, and that some boy or girl has a dream. That some dream can only come true if some day somebody decides to stand up and speak up and do something. I believe that somebody can be anyone. You. Me. Us. Now it is no longer just some boy or girl somewhere in the world. I know these people now. I know their names, their faces, their stories and their dreams. From getting to know them, holding them tightly in my arms, looking into their beautiful eyes has reaffirmed me that we have the power, we have the potential to make their dreams come true. It is possible. It is worth it. So many people doubt our abilities and question how can we possibly, how can one person be capable of anything so great? But now I strongly believe that one extra person can be the difference which will create change.
I saw their potential, I saw how determined and ready these students are to learn and to take on the world. But I also witnessed their pain, their tears and their lack of support and love. We have so much, so much that I felt ashamed of my minuscule problems and complaints. But there is no need to feel so sad, with awareness and realisation, we need to stand together. Now is the time. I encourage, I ask, I urge you to use your talent, your skills, your time and heart for these people that deserve everything good in this world. I wholeheartedly recommend you booking those flight tickets to Kathmandu right now. You will be transformed. You will be renewed. You will be awakened. You will feel the happiness you never ever imagined to encounter. You will realise that this was the best decision you could have ever made. My one advice for you is: be prepared to be emotionally attached to everyone and everything you encounter and when you come back home, you will start planning your trip back. Nepal will become the home you miss.
Everything and everyone on this trip has healed, inspired, touched, challenged and absolutely changed me for the better. There are so many lessons I have learnt on this once in a life time voyage after leaving the toughest year as an International Baccalaureate student. But one stuck with me the whole way through. I realised again and again, I saw many times, I felt over and over how beautiful this life is. Despite our doubts, despite the pain, the hatred, the complications, the obstacles and the heartbreaks, I have learnt that life is beautiful.
Life is so unbelievably beautiful and I am so thankful for everything I have and also have lost. Everything happens for a reason. This trip certainly happened for a crucial reason. I went to Nepal because of my passion in human rights, and I have come back with absolute certainty that I can, and I will devote the rest of my life for those that are unheard, forgotten, mistreated, voiceless, and hopeless and deserve every opportunity to chase their dreams with security and hope.
Finally, I would like to say the biggest thank you from the bottom of my heart to every single person I met on the planes, the buses, the hills, the cities, the villages and the unforgettable moments. But my special thank you goes to the guides. Especially to Sandip, Dinesh, Mane, Phulmaya, Anil and Suresh. They are not just ‘guides’ who give you the best experience, they are my brothers and sisters who I cannot live without. They are my family. They are the people that make my life worth living for. They are why our world is so beautiful. Thank you for holding my hand. Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for giving me hope. Thank you for teaching me how beautiful life can be. Thank you for looking after me and thank you for making me feel so loved. I love you all so much. I love you guys too much. Even though this trip has ended, my journey, our journey has just begun. So together, let’s TAKE ON NEPAL.
~ Christina Lee, 19 year old, Law and International Relations Student at Australian National University.
© Take on Nepal 2020