Ice Cream, Momos, and Other Thoughts

We’ll start with an adorable picture of Mohit (cutest two year old ever) playing with a balloon, throwing it up in the air and trying to catch it:

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The children got balloons and candy from the guests:

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We took the children to a restaurant yesterday to get momos (dumplings) for lunch. There really is nothing like seeing crazy Asian traffic actually stopped at an intersection for once because of a string of thirty children walking across the street. There really is nothing more terrifying, too, of walking towards the back of said line and watching the cars and motorcycles start to get impatient to start driving again. Don’t worry—we all got there safely.

The kids loved the momos. They got ice cream, then a plate of momos each, and then were still hungry so asked for pizza. Boy, can these kids eat!! Here’s a nice little photo of us walking home from lunch:

Walking home from momos

In other news, at this lunch (the kids ate inside, grownups outside), there was a woman (Corulla) visiting from Austria to the shelter, and three women who have been helped by the shelter came along, too. She spent some time, before the meal, asking them questions about themselves, what they are doing, etc., and I got to listen in, which was really a wonderful thing to get to do!

Lisa (Corulla’s daughter), Muna, Goma, and me at lunch:

Lisa, Muna, Goma, and me

As a side note—I absolutely loved the variety of languages being spoken around the table. Nepali, English, German. Also it was really quite neat to see how English was being used so that someone from Nepal and someone from Austria can understand each other by speaking a third, more universal language: English. Kind of cool to think about, and to witness.

Anyways, on to the point:

Since I have been here I have read about what Raksha does, written about what it does in the form of proposals, and even worked with research data when helping Goma with her thesis, but it was really wonderful to get to listen first hand to what the NGO has done for these women.

They talked about the jobs that they have now—one works as a therapist in a massage parlor, another owns her own teashop. They talked about how all of the different aspects that the NGO provides really come together to be important. How the education and giving skills is just as important as gaining confidence and courage to change their jobs, and do something new.

They also talked about how much the children’s shelter helped. One of the women had Raksha taking care of her daughter for around three years before having her daughter move back with her a year ago. She said this really helped her out a lot, because, not only did she not have to worry about what would happen when she brought her daughter to work with her, and what she would witness, but it meant that Raksha was supporting her daughters education, something that is difficult for a lot of these women to pay for.

For all my time volunteering at Sarah’s Hope (a women’s shelter in Baltimore), I don’t think that any of the women there would ever have let a shelter take care of their children so that they could work on getting back on their feet. I don’t think it would usually be an option, either. It makes a lot of sense, however, especially for these women who have limited work options, and the only thing to do while they are working is to take their children along with them to work.

It is a very different model, however, from the US. At the shelter in Baltimore, progress was made by providing the women and their families living at the shelter with space to live (in dorms with other families), meals, and certain other things (diapers, laundry soap), depending on how much income they generated. They stayed there until they had jobs and could find somewhere to live, and then they were released. (The other way they might be released would be if they broke rules or exhibited bad behavior.) While there, the women took classes in parenting, money management, and other classes to help them along.

It’s interesting to see how the needs change, yet stay the same with the country. They all need jobs, stability, schooling for their children, food, all the necessities to lead their lives. How this is going to happen, though, is very different. Here it might mean letting someone else care for your child while you work on the home situation. Or looking towards a community network to help you work your way out of a bad situation.

In Baltimore it seemed to be much more about the individual, and how the individual could get back on their feet, here it is about working together to get the community back on their feet, and to work towards a better situation for all of them. Now, here’s a bonus picture of Mohit being adorable:

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