Called to Serve

We have loved traveling and being with family for the past two years but we felt the call to serve another mission so here we are in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania for the next year.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Nepal - CHOICE Humanitarian Project

On December 4th I (Wayne) left on a two week trip to Nepal via Jinan China.  I stopped in China for 3 days to visit friends and then continued on to a humanitarian project in Nepal sponsored by CHOICE Humanitarian.  CHOICE Humanitarian is an organization that is working to help relieve poverty in small villages in several parts of the world by empowering people to improve their lives through health, education, and economic development projects.

I was fortunate that I was traveling to Kathmandu via China because 
my flight landed in Tibet and then went right past Mt. Everest on the
way to Nepal.  It was a beautiful clear day and  the scenery was spectacular!  
I was lucky to get this picture from the window on the plane

Kathmandu is a busy, bustling, tourist friendly city with lots of interesting things to see.  I arrived around noon and only had one afternoon before we went to our village the next day. After checking in to my hotel I went to see one of the main attractions, the Boudhanath Supta.

This Supta is a very famous Buddhist shrine that I spent an hour 
walking around taking some beautiful pictures.

I especially liked all the colorful prayer flags.

The next morning a group of 18 volunteers boarded a bus and traveled 7 hours
 to the village we would be working in for the next 5 days.

22 bricks!

We arrived in the village of Bhorletar (pop 2500) situated in a beautiful valley below some towering peaks of the Himalayas.  The highest peak in this group  is 26,781 feet above sea level.

When we arrived at the village,  much of the town came out to greet us and lead us in a procession to the small college where we would be housed and where our project was to take place.

 In Nepal when someone special arrives they get the FULL treatment!  
Flowers, special scarfs, and red powder, red powder and more red powder.

 CHOICE Humanitarian is working to rehabilitate this small college (180 students) that is for very poor students that live in local villages up to 3 days walk away.  They had already repaired roofs, installed window frames, and added another floor to a classroom building.  We were there to help students and community members to paint the buildings.  Later, glass is being added to the windows and a computer lab is being developed for the school.

 OSHA approved scaffolding.


 Women gathering wood near the school.

One morning we hiked through the village and up a hill for about an hour to a very small 
settlement to see some of the other projects that CHOICE has been involved with.  
Some (if you saw the movie Meet the Mormons) might recognize Bishnu Adakhari, the director in Nepal.

Here is a farmer, his wife & grandson

Pig raising operation.  Farmer borrows $250 from bank to buy pigs and builds pens, 
6 months later sells the pigs for $1000 and pays back bank and raises more pigs.  CHOICE 
is teaching these subsistence farmers how to borrow money and expand their operations.

Biogas system.  Animal manure and human waste create methane gas that is
 collected and burned in kitchen instead of a wood cooking fire.
CHOICE has helped over 1,000 villages in Nepal over the past 18 years.


 Every night villagers would come and play music, dance and have us join in.

One of the CHOICE staffers that LOVES to dance.

Men I met in the village.  GB is wearing a traditional Nepalese dhaka topi (hat). 
He was a soldier in Croatia.  Many Nepalese men have been soldiers in 
various conflicts around the world.

After our stay in the village I traveled an extra day to Pokhara, 
a  scenic area near the Anapurna Range.

There were some great views of the high mountains and I even did a little hiking.

Buddhist Peace Memorial

After Pokhara I flew back to Kathmandu and had one more afternoon free
before my trip back home.  I chose to go to the Pashupatinath Temple.
It is a Hindu temple situated on the banks of a river that flows into 
the Ganges, so it is a very important location.  Hindus believe that the dead 
should be cremated as soon as possible after death.  This temple performs an 
average of 50 open air cremations per day, 24/7.

It was very interesting watching several cremations at various stages being conducted.

After the cremation is complete then the ashes and remaining wood are pushed into the river.

 These Hindu monks were more than willing to have their picture taken...for a price.

The trip was a great success.  I got to see old friends from China and participate in 
a worthwhile service project in Nepal.  I had the added benefit of of some beautiful
scenery, new friends, and new cultural experiences.

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