Field Note #10: My Observations of Nepal Part 2 - David Cuthbert
In Part 1 of my reflections of Nepal, I focused on the water crises and destruction I experienced during my visit. In this article, I feel compelled to tell you about the people of Nepal I observed and had the privilege to interact with. It was truly an interesting experience to work with folks affected by a national catastrophe such as Nepal, while trying to get back to normal life, all the while helping others to do the same. The Nepal Wine To Water team is a group of young, optimistic, and humble servants doing just that. What is being accomplished by a few, within a mass destruction area affecting millions, is quite amazing.
The core team of Wine To Water in Nepal is made of Nepali locals who are primarily “twenty-somethings”. Their professional roles include engineers, environmentalists, students in under-graduate and post-graduate programs, pre-med students, teachers, writers, business professionals, tourism experts, IT and software specialists, entrepreneurs, and others. In addition, most of them ride some kind of motorcycle and enjoy a good game of cricket whenever possible. They are men and women. They are friends. And, they are all passionate about helping their neighbors and seeing Nepal not only get through this difficult time, but maybe even improve life for its people along the way.
Quite simply, they are game-changers.
I am writing this article because this group of people inspired me very much. They have not only inspired me in my work with Wine To Water, but their selfless attitude, endless hospitality, and optimism despite tragedy, has affected me deeply and personally, as well.
In all cases, our team in Nepal is an extension of our Wine To Water family in the United States. Since its founding, WTW has lived by the spirit that we should be willing to go to the most difficult places in the world to serve others and provide them with water. This is the exact spirit our Nepal team has, as well.
For instance, the WTW Nepal team includes a group of 8 hardcore friends and motorcycle riders (affectionately being called “M8”) ranging from 19 to 28 years old. On multiple occasions they have strapped equipment and water filters to their backs to ride out to the hardest hit places of Nepal to help people they don’t know. Due to their efforts, over 250 families have been provided clean water who otherwise would not have this opportunity. This team reaches areas that many organizations, and even the government, have not gotten to. And, it is quite possible, they never would. These tucked away communities exist all over Nepal, and they are numerous. Regardless, M8 heard there was a need, and they went. In the areas they travel the roads are so impassable they often have to push or pull their bikes through the rubble to complete the job. As I write this, they are preparing for another mission. There is no doubt it will be a success.
In addition to M8, another friend, Prakash Rai, took on an 8-hour motorcycle ride (each way) to reach a community in need of clean water. As I understand it, if he didn’t volunteer to go, it is possible no one would have. After he reached this community, Sano Haku, he conducted an extensive training and filter distribution, then got on his bike and rode 8 hours home. Other than this article, there’s no other public acknowledgement of his extraordinary efforts that have had a direct and real effect on people’s lives. His efforts personally provided 2,330 people with clean water. BTW, Prakash teaches French and is a web developer.
Then there is Suresh and the rest of the core group of WTW leaders, Sandeep, Amit, Nimesh, Manju, Reshma, Roshani, and Neejan. These leaders, men and women, are truly an amazing group of people I am honored to call friends. This group continues to conduct countless site surveys, trainings, community meetings, distributions and build Wine To Water relationships across Kathmandu Valley. In addition, they manage a database, organize all local supplies, and handle logistics. Quite simply, without this group of individuals, 20,000 people who have clean water today, would not. All of them have other full-time roles and are dealing with earthquake issues of their own. They are living examples of people putting others before themselves. Humbling.
Beyond the practical and amazing work of this team, I was most impressed by the spirit in which they work. They fearlessly take on very difficult tasks in very difficult circumstances to help others and help their country. Being around their selflessness, humble service, bold optimism, and relentless work ethic is truly awe-inspiring. They have affected me deeply.
In addition to these folks, there are so many others who have supported, opened their homes as needed, specifically Sirjana and Sujan, and have done distributions, trainings, and other work to serve Nepal in support of clean water. It is truly a community effort in every sense, and Wine To Water is blessed to be associated with such people.
In my time in Nepal working side by side with these friends, it reinforced the importance of relationships in the work Wine To Water is called to do. Despite the obvious geographic and national differences between those of us in the States and those in Nepal, or any other country for that matter, the water crisis belongs to all of us. It does not belong to all of us for the reason that people struggle with water issues in every country, including the United States. Rather, the water crisis belongs to all of us because we are all people, and too many of us who live on this planet are suffering from it. In my opinion, the crisis that happens to exist in Nepal right now, should not be considered solely a Nepali problem. This same principle can be applied to any country. All too often, we (all of us) tend to look at these issues through the lens of a country’s boarders. Rather, the water crisis is a human problem. And, through working together and in building relationships, we all have the opportunity to do something about it. I’m grateful to be in this fight with you.
In closing, as you can easily observe from my two articles on Nepal, my experience there has had a profound impact on me. First, it is humbling to see the destruction that a natural disaster can have on the lives of so many. Second, it is encouraging to see people, despite enormous odds, taking steps forward to rebuild their lives and that of their families. Third, it is empowering to see the real and significant impact of people’s love and service of others, in the midst of despair and rubble. Nepal has shown me all of these things.
Despite the odds and the challenges, Wine To Water is blessed to be able to work in this amazing country, with amazing people. God willing, we will be there to see Nepal rise from the rubble, like the great mountains that surround it.