A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.
Update: As I write this, a 7.8 earthquake hits Nepal. Hope things get well soon!
Nepal’s one of the youngest countries with a median age of the population of just 21.2 years. By comparison, median Bulgarian is 41.6 years old (even in China it’s 35.2 years). On top of that, people look way younger. See that photo by my friend Hristo and tell me if our guide looks 55 to you or if you believe me our porter’s really 20 years old.
There were kids everywhere around us in Nepal. Not surprising, when I browsed my photos, I realised that most of the people shots were children. It sure helped that we visited two schools because one of our fellow travellers works in education (Teach for Bulgaria) but kids were everywhere anyway.
Always on the streets. This little fellow with the $ bindi was my favourite.
Sunburnt cheeks, running around dirty and snots going everywhere. The typical sight.
Kids were always ready to ‘talk’ to us even without any common spoken language.
Yet, if you are a kid in Nepal, your path might not always be smiles. Some people become porters at a very early age with irreversible consequences to their physical development. At best they get 8-10$/day to carry up to 25kgs of tourist bags or 50 dollar cents per kg for transporting loads between Lukla and Namche, for example (a 7-hour trip as a tourist between 2800m and 3400m). Some of these guys were quite young and carried up to 80-100 kilos of things a tourist might crave for…
If you study hard, though (especially if you learn English), you can work in a lodge or as a mountain guide. This guy was the son of the owners and quite good at doing business. Selling banana bread at 20$/loaf at your 4800m bakery requires quite the business flair. Or become a big-city lawyer.
Others worked as helpers.
Another option is probably going to a monastery. A lot of child monks.
Thanks to one of our fellow travellers working in education, we visited two schools, including one of the olders in the Everest region, built by Sir Edmund Hillary. What a great way to get out of the ‘beaten path’ and get into local life. The director of the Khumjung Secondary School gave us a very warm welcome. The school has very clear mission, goals and objectives that are available online!
Yet, it relies a lot on donors to work. Every single one of the facilities had a sign with the name of the person or organisation who donated it – mostly Western governments or tourist organisations. With 300+ students at an altitude of 3800m, I guess keeping a school is a very tough work. Some of the students would come from villages hours away from the school in the mountain and sleep in the school hostel. This room was under renovation as we saw it.
The school had very clear plans for development of students and teachers and passed through regulation assessments. This is a look at the English classroom.
As I mentioned, one of our team members is working for Teach for Bulgaria so a visit to the local branch was inevitable (Teach for Nepal in Kathmandu). While he was talking work, we managed to hang around another ‘off-the-beaten-path’ area, apparently popular among local diplomats and NGO aid workers.
We also visited the school in Monjo at 2835 m. Surprisingly, even in their day off (the school year had just finished), the kids were there in uniforms playing around.
Another very warm welcome and overwhelmed by curiousity.
This guy was ready to be on TV, never shy from all the cameras.
All in all, I guess kids are not different in any country and have similar aspiration. Most of them had smart phones, played pool and listened to Western music.
Even some of the games they played reminded me of what we used to do back in our days.
Including the almighty CN. Talk about being ‘glued’ to the TV.
Some had more basic entertainment but that did not prevent them from having fun
Most importantly, all the kids seemed happy. Dirty but happy. As most of the Nepalese people. As cliché as it might sound, despite all the problems they have, most people were kind, polite, incredibly open, very calm and never showed much distress. That’s something the world needs.
More from Nepal to follow soon. Check also my friend Hristo’s great overview.