Field Note #148: Family in Dahakhani
The village of Dahakhani has been the site of our longest project since the birth of Wine To Water Nepal. We started going to the community in January of 2017. My first trip into Dahakhani was in late February. Not knowing what to expect, I went into the community and met with all the community leaders. Because of my Indian ancestry, the Nepalese were confused at my similar appearance to them and disappointed when I could speak no Nepali. Through my translators, they began to understand that I was the International Program Manager with Wine To Water and would be visiting the community frequently throughout the project.
Presently, I have visited Dahakhani about 7 or 8 times. Each time I go the community, they have been happier and happier to see me. This is not to boast but to say I have built relationships with this community over time. I have led teams of volunteers that all leave after their work is done in the village. I, however, have had the very special privilege to continue to return. The villagers have taken notice of this, and I have become friends with many of them. They know my name, and I know theirs. We laugh over our lack of communication, and we smile a lot. This human exchange has been an incredible experience for me.
Honestly, I have struggled in one area. I personally have had a hard time connecting to children. I am not sure if it is my 6’2 stature that scares them or they in their “little-ness” just scare me. Whatever the reason, I have not connected to as many children in the village as volunteers and many of the staff have. But that all changed on the July-August volunteer trip. I was coming down from the RVT tank by myself when I heard this girl screaming “Pavan-Dai!!” Now, many of you at first read may ask why it would be good to have someone say your name and a word that resembles “die.” But the word “dai” in Nepali means older brother. This little girl that I had never spoken to or played with called me her big brother. I was immediately struck with emotions, and I realized just how lucky I am. I have been adopted into this family of people who cannot even have a full conversation with me, but they love me, and I love them.
As the project comes to a close, I now realize that I am not just leaving a community that now has water. I’m leaving my family, and the thing that brings me comfort is to know that they are in a better place than when I first met them. And not least of all, my little sister Ria has a tap outside of her house where she can collect her water.
- Pavan, Nepal IPM