The following post is from Kalli Bunch, a 2014 Global Gap Year Fellow. UNC’s Global Gap Year Fellowship is housed in and staffed by the Campus Y. Find out more about the fellowship on our GGYF Facebook page!
Update! I’ve had to change placements. Don’t worry, nothing bad happened, my coordinator just said that a veteran volunteer was coming back to Nepal and wanted to stay at her old placement, which was where I was living, so I agreed to move placements J I left the tourist town of Pokhara to volunteer up the mountain in Padeli. Padeli is a village in the “hills” (read as “MOUNTAINS” for us foreigners) just south of Sarangkot top about an hour away from Pokhara and Lakeside.
I live with Yam and Bindu, their two children, Dhiru and U.K. (the periods are mandatory. U.K. likes his name with dots.).Yam’s neighbors are his brothers, so I’m also constantly around the family. For now, I’m helping teach at the neighboring school, literally a 10 second walk away, but Yam is trying to set up a childcare program for me to work on since I’m not a big fan of teaching and school gets out for break next week.
Life up in Padeli is extremely simple and everything I ever wanted out of my gap year. In Padeli, many things I was used to in Pokhara aren’t available. There are no paved roads, no supermarkets, no pubs, no traffic, or anything of the sort; just the houses, the people and the animals. Planning my gap year, I chose third world countries because I wanted to experience a much simpler way of living than what I’m used to back home. Don’t get me wrong, I found just that in Sri Lanka and in Pokhara for the most part, but Padeli is exactly what I was looking for. It’s quiet, very rural, very basic, and perfect.
I’m not sure how to describe Padeli, so I’ll break it up in sections.
The Animals: Directly outside my window are two buffaloes; a baby buffalo who I call Kid because I can’t remember his name, and his mother, Kalli Yes, I share names with the buffalo. Kalli is often referred to as “the racist buffalo” because she acts violently towards every volunteer or foreigner she sees, but I quite like her. The feeling isn’t mutual though, sadly.
On the other side of the house are goats. They’re really cute and the woman that owns them is super nice so we get to hang out there often.
There are chickens and dogs that just run around freely, and then there’s Mintu. The family cat. The demon. I’m only saying this because I’m allergic to cats and Mintu likes to sleep in our bed, causing me to wake up feeling like death. The other volunteer, Debbie, and I have a theory that Mintu is a secret superhero. Our theory was proven when we saw Mintu come upstairs with a cape and no one knows how it got on her. Mintu also has a very distinct “meow” which makes me laugh whenever I hear it.
The Necessities: Bathroom: There is one bathroom in the house. It consists of a squat toilet, a shower head, and a window placed right by the squat hole and conveniently, right by Kalli, so you’re always being watched while you’re doing your business.
Washing: We wash our clothes by hand out in the communal well that’s also used for showering and washing large dishes. The well is also my hangout spot of choice because it has a huge tree that provides great shade, and it’s a great place to read. The view is also fantastic.
Electricity: We get electricity almost every night. It’s been storming here all week though, so we go some days without electricity. It doesn’t bother me much though. It gives me more time to enjoy the views outside, read, and hang out with my host family. Wi-fi is non-existent. The only wi-fi option is a hotel up in Sarangkot whose connection reaches our house, but my phone & laptop can never connect to it, although Debbie’s always can…
The Volunteering: As aforementioned, I’m currently helping as a teacher in the school. There are two schools on our road: one government school and one private school. We volunteer at Shree Bal Prativa Boarding School, the private school, because it’s in need of volunteers much more than the government school is. It’s a K-8 school now, but they want to offer higher years in the future if they get more money. Classes start around 10 am and we teach about 3-4 classes a day. We mainly teach English but sometimes we have to teach other subjects like health & physical or social studies. The students think that volunteers are “easy teachers” but that stereotype changed once I got there. I’ve officially been dubbed “the mean teacher” because I’m very big on discipline, haha. Oh well. It’s how I was raised and I didn’t turn out that bad, did I? And as a bonus, if the kids still decide not to listen to me, I can just get the principal, Aatma who is coincidentally Yam’s brother, and technically my “host uncle”. So the mean teacher also has back up 😉
Once school lets out for break in April, Yam is going to set up a childcare program for me, much like the orphanage work I did before, so I’m really excited for that.
And last but definitely not least, The Family: My host family is great. I didn’t really have the greatest home-stay experience in Sri Lanka, so I was a bit worried about having a home-stay in Nepal, but fortunately both of my home-stays here have been good. My host parents are Yam and Bindu. Yam is a teacher at the government school and Bindu is a stay-at-home mother, but she does SO much in the community. She’s the chairwoman of various women-empowering organizations in Padeli. She teaches the women about gardening, distributes seeds, and is also taking seminars to learn about computers and teaching herself English. And on top of all of this, she still takes care of everything in the house, which is already an all-day process in itself. I don’t know how she finds the time to do half of the things she does, but somehow it all gets done. Bindu is a superwoman. Her dhal bhaat is also the best I’ve ever had and probably the best I’ll ever have.
Yam and Bindu have two kids: U.K. (14) and Dhiru (12). U.K. goes to a boarding school down in Pokhara, so I don’t get to see him too often. Dhiru attends the government school near the house. Both boys are typical young boys. They LOVE cricket and music and Dhiru has recently been pressuring us to make him a Facebook account, haha. I love having two little brothers; I’m the youngest in my family, so being the oldest now is so much fun. My host uncle Aatma has two sons; Amish and Akash, and a daughter, Amita, and they come around pretty often so I get to hang out with my cousins a lot as well, which reminds me of home where I’m surrounded by my cousins all the time. The last member of the family is Debbie, the other volunteer. She’s 23 and is a Brit-Fil; she’s half British and half Filipina,currently living in the Philippines. We get along very well. Sing alongs happen quite often in our room, sometimes late at night when the rest of the village is asleep. Sorry…
That pretty much sums up Padeli! The village is amazing and the views are great and I’m so happy I ended up getting placed here.
Views from Aatmas’s house.
Views from Padeli
The well for washing clothes and bathing
Kalli the Buffalo
Kalli and Kalli 🙂
View from the house
Yam’s selfie, hahaha
Some of the kids from my school! And the Nepalese/American flags 🙂