Field Note #78: Meet Bishal, the Tree Climber
Bishal is a confident 11-year-old Nepali kid who had never seen someone with white skin until last month. When the volunteer team and I first arrived to the community of Salghari, Bishal was there. He stood off in the distance, just watching our every move, without attempting to get too close. Anytime I (or any volunteer) would approach him or even smile at him, he would turn and run away. After a couple of days, he slowly started to warm up to the group. He took us on a tour of his community, which consisted of climbing trees and blazing trails through the many dried rice and mustard fields. He even took us by the river where kids in their underwear were flipping into the water with lots of laughter, and the adults were fishing for their food for the day.
Bishal was our inside connection to his community. During the well dedication at the school on our last day in Salghari, I sat off to the side with Bishal, who was dressed in his finest clothes with a fresh haircut, and we had a little chat. I asked him why he ran away at first and he explained, “I was afraid, because I had never seen white people before, but now I feel like you are one of us.” My heart was warmed by his answer. I then asked him what his favorite memory was from the past week, to which he replied “Watching Jessica do the Nepali dance, playing soccer with you, and watching and learning the process of digging a well.” This kid amazed me! He admittedly likes school, favoring English class, and hopes to be in the army when he grows up, just like his brother-in-law.
Bishal is just one of the 110 kids at the school that are now benefitting from this well and it was such a joy to spend this time with him last month. I wonder what he’s up to today…