Hello everyone! Now I am back in Spain and soon I will return to my work and to my normal everyday things. After so many emotions, I think that it will be good for me to get back to my daily routine, although I will miss my family and all that I have experienced during these last two intense months in Nepal.
It was the first time I had climbed to Langtang after the earthquake and what I found was a great shock. Despite having seen it in photos, I had a very hard time getting there and seeing the destruction in person. I was close to turn around, to return, I felt I did not want to continue and I did not want to go back to Langtang… The memories of my mother and my childhood invaded me and I could not believe that everything was gone and that I would never see many of my old friends again…
But luckily I was with my father, my sister and Kunga (her partner), a group of Italians and also a couple of Catalan volunteers who came to help. Thanks to the people with me, I felt very protected and I was able to carry on with the task that we had proposed at the beginning of this trip. All of them gave me a lot of strength and understanding.
This trip began in Spain, when Luciano, Martín, Fabio and Sara contacted us from Italy because they wanted to help in Langtang. To achieve their goals they had created an association called Nepal Reconstruction. We had Skype conversations to get to know each other and immediately we all felt very comfortable working together. I was really happy with their motivations and also the ideas that they proposed so we set dates to be able to go to Nepal and Langtang together.
At the same time Cesca and Sergi from Barcelona contacted us (through GRAE firefighters who had gone to Langtang on a humanitarian mission months ago) and finally Jesus from Valencia. They wanted to live the experience of volunteering in Nepal, and although we explained that in Langtang the situations and living experiences can be very difficult they still seemed keen and I even think it may have motivated them more … In the end they adjusted their planned dates so we could all make the climb to Langtang together with the group of Italians.
In Kathmandu when we all got together and met in person for the first time we made strong connections from the start. During our time in Kathmandu we spent a few days with my family and also some time planning the expedition.
It wasn’t long before we left Kathmandu and started the trip. A daylong bus ride to SyapruBesi followed by another day to Bamboo, Goratabela and finally Kyangin Gumpa (the last village before Langtang at 4,000m altitude). Here we spent 4 days where we shared many talks and laughter as we enjoyed the beautiful landscapes rising slowly from the river. On the way we were stopping constantly at the houses of local friends who invited us for cups of tea and to eat something …
Once we reached each of our destinations, Langtang, Mundu and Kyangin Gumpa, we began to evaluate the situation of each family of survivors. We entered each house and took the time to know the survival stories that they wanted to share with us. All of the families were all my neighbors and lifelong friends … I already knew the situations of each one, but I had not had the opportunity to speak with many of them, not even in the Yellow Gumpa monastery / refuge in Kathmandu just after earthquake. They were very intense days and I always felt very close to the volunteers and could feel their emotions and sympathy regarding the situations that the families had lived through. I thank you infinitely for your support and understanding.
After speaking with the families we decided, together with Nepal Reconstruction, what would be the best strategy to help, and for their part the volunteers started working with the people who were in the most desperate need of help. They worked hard for the 10 days we were there, and they knew how to open up to Tibetan culture and adapt to the customs of the locals, learning as much as they could which is not an easy task in such a short space of time.
I really think that in the end they became one with the villagers and they have gained a space in the hearts of the local people who will always remember them with great affection.
Apart from physical work, one of the important reasons that volunteers come to Langtang is that they give life to the place. The villagers feel accompanied and supported, feel that they are not alone, that they have not been forgotten. It creates an ambience of optimism for the future.
Most importantly, they feel that tourism is returning and, although many have begun to plant and care for their animals, tourism is their only source of income for the time being.
During these days not everything was going to be work, and there was also time for some fabulous treks to some of the mountains with peaks of around 5,000m altitude to enjoy the views of other peaks over 7,000m. Everyone that passes through these mountains say that it is an incredible place and that the Langtang Valley is equally as beautiful as any other part of Nepal.
At this point in the trip the Italian team returned home and we will certainly keep in touch for future projects, the other volunteers continued their trip through Nepal. They all know that they will always be welcome in Langtang.
During this trip I think that since all of the group have been relatively down to earth, there was a good understanding between the humble people of Langtang and the volunteers, this was also helped by the fact that I was there as an intermediary and translator. Normally however there is no one to act in this role as translator, there is no one who is organizing volunteers in situ and this often makes it difficult for those who come alone to help and do not know where to start. Although there is normally a good relationship between volunteers and the local villagers it can be difficult because the locals do not know how to speak English and do not know what tasks to offer volunteers when they arrive. This is partly due to the fact that they have always seen them as tourists and can even be embarrassed to think that now they can be their workers. Little by little they are getting used to it, but still it can be complicated for volunteers that arrive there alone without knowing anyone, without knowing who needs more urgent help, not knowing which tasks are more useful … That is why from here we have tried as far as possible to facilitate these first contacts and that the people who are going to help have the names of the families that may need help and also depending on what they are willing to offer each volunteer in return for the service. Generally right now all jobs are usually physical and very basic, people who go to Langtang as volunteers have to be willing to carry stones & wood, work in the fields, collect firewood from great distances, chop stones and last but by no means least; adapt to the conditions of living at altitude in the mountains without many amenities. Above all any volunteers need to understand that although they will spend less money than a tourist, they must also pay for their food and stay, as the people they are going to help carry their food on their backs up the mountain trails for several days and have no other income right now other than what they can offer the visitors … (10 € / day seems very reasonable).
And as I think that no one can convey better than themselves their own experience, we leave here some texts that they sent us recently that have really touched my heart.
Thank you very much for all Pasang. The truth is that I have come down from the valley with new sensations that I had never lived. On the one hand I have come down sad, Because as you live up there, even if it's cold, is difficult to live the same in another part of the world. But I have come down tremendously happy, because being there has filled me with energy, because everyone has always received us with a smile. Because besides when we said that we knew you, it was as if we were your family and therefore theirs too. I think we have done the best we could, that we have helped a lot and that people are grateful, so we can not ask for more. Today for example he will come to your home Nory with Pasang Temba and we really want to meet him. Sangye also promised us that these days we would have a party at his house, for the days we have been owners... All these things for us are more beautiful and gratifying than if we had been working there and someone would have paid us with money. And everything we owe you Pasang, so thank you and rest assured that we will continue to do everything possible to help !!!!
Hello Pasang! How was the trip back? I hope everything went well:)
Tonight we have already slept in Syapru, after walking an entire day from Kyanjin. Right now we have arrived in Kathmandu. We are tired of the journey but infinitely happy and satisfied by everything lived in Langtang. We've been great with Norie. The first few days we helped her to maintain her house, and when Jesus came we began to help other people of the village, like Phurbu and his mother; To Palsang and to his brother; Norie's brother and sister, and Karmu and Sangie. Los primeros días la ayudamos a mantener su casa, y cuando Jesús vino empezamos a ayudar a otra gente del pueblo, como a Phurbu y a su madre; a Palsang y a su hermano; al hermano y hermana de Norie, y a Karmu y Sangie. The last two days we were at her house came a lot of tourists and we helped her in everything we could. At Karmu and Sangie's house some tourists also came, although as you know, this time we had to deal with the guest house alone. It was great.
The people up there are love. There is still a lot of work to do but I think over time everything will improve and each time more quickly.
Volunteering has been very gratifying for both the Langtang people and for us, and frankly I think it could also work more extensively, with more volunteers, involving more families and more types of jobs. It may have been a little complicated at first to connect with the local people, but every day relationships have been closer and more intense, to the point where we have become fully integrated with the community. Thank you for believing in us.
And lastly I would like to thank once again all the volunteer friends who have spent during this time for Langtang to help in one way or another and with whom we will surely find ourselves in the near future.