During our college final year winter break, eight of us from my batch participated as volunteers in a Health Camp organized by Hotel Monalisa, in Kaule Chitwan. The village, five hours uphill from the Ratnanagar Municipality, was resided by the Chepangs in the majority. We were there to distribute soaps, toothbrushes and toothpaste to about 80 families and teach the villagers about personal hygiene.
In Kaule I could witness an extreme form of poverty. The hand-to-mouth problem was so severe that people had to think what they would eat in the evening while they were half empty stomach in the morning. While we were busy covering ourselves in bulky North Face Jacket, we could see the children running here and there without any warm clothes. Instead of swaddling into warm fabrics, they were reaching out to the cool breeze happily. Ignorant were they, of all the toys and foods the urban kids had. Pebbles, sand and woods were their precious assets. They were pampered by the hills and nurtured by the hardship and poverty.
The faces of the people reflected how desperate they were to see a doctor and their optimism showed that the man, dressed in a white apron with a mystique machine over his neck, would cure their diseases even if he had a glance over them. A capsule of painkiller wasn’t strong enough to cure their disease but the syrup of hope would do the job.
Here we live in Kathmandu with much better facilities and services, but still feel discontent. We complain and spend our time but ignore the fact that we are forgetting even the smallest duties of ours. There they live in a hill where government’s plans and policies haven’t made even the smallest impact. Yet they were smiling, dancing on the beat of their folk song and welcoming the guests wholeheartedly. They were content with all they had. They made me rethink the definition of happiness and satisfaction. They had nothing of what we have but they lived a life satisfied like they had everything. A few dozens of toothpaste, soap and toothbrush distributed, but piles of inspiration to bring back home: I consider it to be the best venture of my life.
By Prashant Bhandari
The writer is a recent A-Level graduate from Budhanilkantha School.