13.12.12, approx. 10.30pm Nepal Time
It’s hard to know what to say at this point. I feel like breaking into a mournful refrain of ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’. All my bags are packed and I’m ready to goooo… OK that’s enough.
So today was my last day with the children at Rasuwa Langtang Liring Orphan Society. I got there early to see them waiting for me, dressed in their brand new hoodies, trousers, trainers and even new socks. They also got woollen hats and backpacks for school. It was lovely seeing them in new things. I was told that they knew they were getting clothes today and were so excited they were up from 3am!! I’m so glad that they are happy with them. In return, I was presented with a Himalayan hat, with fluffy sides and gold embroidery, which I was assured looked very nice!
After a hurried breakfast and an even more hurried change into uniforms, we made our way to school. With many handshakes, high fives and fist bumps, eventually I managed to get them all shepherded into the playground.
I was invited to my supervisor Khyam’s house for breakfast, and I was pleased to meet his lovely wife. She cooked a very tasty meal for us and was kind enough to give me some bracelets and bindi to take home with me. She had heard a lot about me from Khyam and told me she was happy to finally meet me. After receiving generous gifts of Nepali tea and other items, I went back to Gatthaghar. My careful packing yesterday had to be redone to accommodate the presents I was given this morning. I hate to think how much my suitcase weighs now, it is supposed to be less than 20kg, and I’m pretty sure it is more than that!
Anyway, soon enough it was time to meet the children from school. Usually I go to the orphanage around 4pm, so they were not expecting me to be waiting outside the gates for them at home-time. They were clearly delighted, which meant I couldn’t stop grinning either. We walked home and played upstairs for a while, before they gathered downstairs in the common room for church. As usual, I sat and watched them as they sang, read from the Bible and prayed. Afterwards, I sang ‘Oh Holy Night’ to them, as they so often sang to me and I wanted to do something in return. They all cheered and clapped when I finished, which is the best reaction I’ve ever received for an impromptu sing-song!
Unfortunately, once my song was over I knew I had to say goodbye. I gave them a letter with my address and email details so they were able to contact me, and as I was talking to them one of the girls started to cry. That set me off! I tried not to, as I knew the younger ones wouldn’t understand and would cry too, but I couldn’t stop; the thought of not seeing them again for a long time was heart-breaking. I called them all over for a big group hug, then hugged them each in turn. I swear, if my suitcase wasn’t full of Christmas gifts, I’d be smuggling one or two of them back to the UK! (Joking, obviously, before someone reports me…)
I pulled myself away eventually, wiped away my tears and smiled lots to show the little ones it was OK; I know the tears must have been confusing for some of them. We took a few more pictures before I went up to say goodbye to the house mother and aunty. A group of girls held my hands and walked me out to the main path, as the rest of the kids shouted and waved from the roof and balconies. The girls went back inside, and as I walked away, I turned to see two of the boys pelting after me. They walked with me the whole way back to my house before scarpering off again. I was so moved by the children’s reactions, especially when 2 other boys came up to me to hand me some chocolate they had bought with their own money. They also said such heartfelt thanks for their clothes, shoes and other things, and I’m so glad that they were all appreciated so much. I can’t wait to share the pictures with those who donated so kindly.
When I got back to the house, I had some hot, sweet tea to settle myself down, and took snacks like prawn crackers and biscuits with the family. We had a number of guests, and two teachers from the Aastha Women’s school, which I visited a few weeks ago, came to have dinner and ask me about my stay in Nepal. As they were leaving, they gave me a beautiful black and blue shawl, which I will be proud to wear at home. The generosity of the people here is something I have mentioned before, but even I had never experienced it on this level until now. There is absolutely no need for me to be given anything and yet they do so freely and sincerely. It is really humbling.
So, after all the gifts have been given and ‘goodnight’ has been said, here I am. Tomorrow I will be up when the cockerel crows (literally, I swear he is standing on my windowsill at times, he’s so flipping loud!) to pack the last few items. Then I will head up to the kitchen to take chiya and biscuits, then receive tika to wish me a safe and happy journey. I really can’t imagine what it will be like without seeing my Nepali family every day, I will miss each of them so much. They have been incredibly kind, and I can’t thank them enough for all they have done for me.
It still hasn’t really hit me that I am going home. I suppose it won’t dawn on me until I am on the plane, or if I’m particularly dozy, when I get to London!
It is so weird to be writing this as my final post from Nepal. But who knows, I could be back in Kathmandu again and the blog will live once more! Until then, thank you to anybody that bothered to read my posts, and I hope they have been enjoyable.