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!
Now that I’ve switched placements, I’m living with a new host family (see: “Going Up The Mountain). In my previous blog, I talked about my new family, but there was one special person I left out because I felt that they deserved their own personal post. That person is Kajal.
Kajal technically isn’t a member of the family; she was taken in by Yam and Bindu (my host parents) some time ago. I don’t know much about her back story, but Kajal is originally from the Terai region in the plains. She comes from a poor family of only women and has no brothers, which is an issue in Nepal. Having a male in the family is essentially the only way to insure success for your family’s future. The fact that Kajal’s family was both poor and lacked a male child means that Kajal would essentially have no future. For that reason, Yam and Bindu “bought” Kajal and took her in.
Bindu teaches Kajal everything she needs to know to run a successful family, which is what a woman aims to do in Nepal. From a Western perspective, it may seem oppressive for women to aspire for that, but it’s the Nepalese culture. Bindu teaches Kajal how to cook, clean, manage the house, and all other skills needed to run a family. I know it must be extremely difficult for Kajal to be away from her family and from everything she’s ever known, but she takes all of these lessons to heart because she knows that this is what will give her a chance to make something out of her life. At Yam and Bindu’s, Kajal also gets the opportunity to go to school, so on top of life skills, she’s also receiving an education; an option that wouldn’t be possible at her home. Yam and Bindu truly want Kajal to have a better life than she would’ve had and I admire what they’re doing to help her. If you look at it with a Nepalese perspective, this is probably one of the greatest acts of love there is. Yam and Bindu don’t have much themselves anyway and they already have two sons of their own to raise, but they still decided to take Kajal in and help her. Kajal definitely deserves this.
Kajal is just like any other 13-year-old girl; she just had to grow up a lot faster than most. She works all day from the moment she wakes up to the moment she goes to bed but when she can, she still enjoys playing around, dancing, and watching television whenever she can find time. After she’s done working for the day, she sometimes comes into Debbie (the other volunteer living with Yam and Bindu) and I’s room and we’ll joke around and hang out. She doesn’t speak much English, but she’s learning more and more every day. She has dreams of going to the US one day, so she’s always excited to learn new English words and she’ll teach me Nepali in return.
It’s hard for me to explain quite how I feel about Kajal without getting emotional. She is honestly the most beautiful person I’ve ever met, inside and out. I mean that with all of my heart. She’s the sweetest, most hard-working girl I know and I think she deserves the best that life has to offer. I sincerely hope that her dreams of going to America come true and if there’s anything I can do to help that, I will. I’m so honored that I get to spend the rest of my time in Nepal with this amazing girl.
Kajal doing homework
Me and Kajal 😉