Nepal: Fun times with refugees and locals

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A day with refugees

23rd December 2015

I started the day walking towards the West of Durbar Square all the way up to Siddha Pokhari. It’s a rectangular pond built during the 15h century and during special festivals, devotees take holy dips into the pond.

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Towards the south is the local bus stand and down a narrow alleyway, I saw an old man meticulously working on something. I ended up working straight into his workshop. He used to be in the Nepalese Army and his main task was  training new recruits. During his spare time, he learnt the art of knife/sword making.

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Working on his handmade knives

“My father need to kill time and keep his mind sharp. He enjoys it so we opened a little shop to keep the family busy,” said Mr Raja. A long-time inhabitant of Bhaktapur, Mr Raja lives with his parents, his wife and daughter. While his father was showing me the knives, the women in the family were busy pumping water and preparing meals. The fuel crisis is tough but Raja said that as long as the family is together then they can survive through anything. 

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Hanging out with the lovely family

I saw some UN tents whilst walking around the three rectangular ponds towards the west of the town. After talking to some locals, it became clear that they are all victims of the two earthquakes. I thought that Bhaju Pokhari would be similar to the other two rectangular ponds. Instead,  I was greeted by rows of blue UN tents. The pond is now gone and it might be filled up during the wet season. If that is the case, what will happen to these people?

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The government did help but now they have to fend for themselves.

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While it is important to see the main attractions and do some sightseeing, having lunch with these people and teaching photography to the kids is much more meaningful.

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It’s good to see these kids still attending school although learning is just studying on their own - time for my photography lesson

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Photo taken by 12 year-old Kapor

We had a simple lunch consisting of momos, peanuts and water. It was perhaps the best lunch that I’ve had in a long time. What made it memorable was the long chats, games and quiet times spent with the children. If all of them have access to education then they can break this cycle of poverty. If they are provided with equal opportunities then they are capable of achieving anything.  Life IS unfair. Death is fair and that it just sad. It was a sad moment as I waved goodbye – Yes, I bought them lunch but what about tomorrow? What about the future? It has been 7 months and improvements are slow not to mention the fuel crisis and water shortage. When will things improve for them?

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Women waiting for water

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There are some 6 fairly scattered camp sites around Bhaktapur. People still stay in tents donated by the Red Cross and UN. Funny enough, all of the tents came from the Chinese Red Cross and  UN -China. Living conditions are basic and supplies are in shortage however the camp area remains safe and peaceful. Life goes on.

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DSC01088 Strength through optimism and determination

The only restaurant opened near the Dattatraya square was hidden behind some blue curtains and as I sat there eating,  I thought about the country and her people.

DSC00582Nepal is still recovering from the two earthquakes and by visiting the country at this precise moment, I realised that I am incredibly lucky and pathetically weak. Why?  I’m floating around trying to make sense of life and occasionally feeling sorry for myself while the locals are courageously getting on with life and possessing the capacity to smile despite the hardship.                                               Bravo Nepal! What a memorable day.