Laura’s story so far…
Well, how to sum up the last few days is going to be tough. I’ve never done manual labour like it; we grafted so hard and it’s been amazing to see the progress we’ve made. You wouldn’t believe the way that they’re building the housing though… So labour intensive with no machines whatsoever! The lads that were working on the project digging the foundations were earning £1.50 a day! Not even enough to buy themselves a beer after a tough day at work, never mind afford their living expenses. We’ve been doing loads of digging, stone walling, block work, pointing and finally at the end of today they started to put the door frames in. The community were so impressed with our work and after we’d finished today we had a big celebration with dancing and music it was really touching.
We left on a massive high but went to see three families living in private rented space straight after, which was a massive contrast to what we’d seen on Phase 1 of the community project. It’s common for a landlord of a fairly big house to build rented accommodation in their yard. The families were living in a terrace of three single rooms with one outside toilet and tap to share. The cost for the space was equivalent to £20 a month!! It was really quite emotional seeing how they were living. One girl had been living with her mother in the same room for 18 years but was soon to be moving to one of the houses Homeless International is helping to build. It will finally allow them to move to a far better house with two rooms and a kitchen.
All the Nepali people we’ve met so far have been so unbelievably lovely and humble people; it really makes you appreciate what we have.
We start the trek tomorrow so we’re likely to be out of radio contact for four days until we’re back for our hike. I’m really looking forward to it and hoping the weather clears up soon because we’ve only had a glimpse of the mountains on the plane and briefly this morning, because of the fog. We’ve been taking loads of pictures and videos so should have plenty to share when we get back.
The food is incredible I’m in food heaven right now! Although I’ve been advised not to eat the chicken, salad, ice cream or fruit, I’ve been eating whatever we’ve been given and still not been ill so far (touch wood)! Thankfully we’ve got a doctor travelling with us who does a morning check in with each of us to see how we’re getting on. Unfortunately, five people didn’t make it out today because of illness. Really hoping my stomach of steel lasts!
Wish us luck on the trek.
Matt’s story so far…
It’s crazy out here! Flights were good with some great films (ha ha!). Kathmandu airport was really different; it was small and they didn’t seem to care who was coming or going. Then we walked to a van with our bags and a small chap walked me behind van and asked me for money! The hour car journey was certainly a different experience. The traffic was insane. Everyone loved the sound of their horn and a couple of bikes hit our van. I saw a scooter hit a girl on the leg. There’s raw chicken for sale on the side of the road. There are people just sitting and staring at the traffic. Police are in middle of the road guiding traffic. The buildings looked really run down and unstable. It’s such a different world out here.
We headed to Kathmandu airport for 10am check-in and 11am flight. We were delayed so waited around for two hours extra. It’s such a busy and hectic airport with not much security at all. We eventually flew to Pokhara. The plane was a tiny thing; very cramped and we weren’t sure we would survive the flight! When we got to Pokhara, my first impression was that it wasn’t as hectic or full on as Kathmandu.
The properties looked better built and slightly more up market. We headed to the community challenge sight in the afternoon. We went on roads and saw loads of people were waving to us on the coach, and people working very hard. When we arrived and pulled up, I could see loads of people in a crowd up ahead.
When we stepped off the coach, all you could hear were these roaring loud cheers. We walked through them and they were clapping, cheering and throwing confetti all over us. My hairs were standing on end to see the reaction of these people on our arrival. How much they appreciate us coming and raising all the money we have. It gave me a lump in my throat as I walked through a line of children high fiving everyone. These people were treating me like royalty when I’m no better than them. It was one of the best experiences of my life. We then had a welcoming speech from the Nepalese people. It was a great day.
On the third day we got up nice and early so we could make good progress on our challenge. First stop was at a village where previous houses had been built on the same challenge we were doing. It gave us a real insight of what the finished homes will look like. We then got to site for 9am and got straight into the work. First job was mixing cement, wheel-barrowing it to other team members and repeating this over and over again. Then I got stuck into putting part of the walls up with the cement and stones they had there. I then helped out putting soil into the foundations to help build the rooms up. The day was going really well. After lunch it was a hard afternoon of pick axing and digging up trenches ready for the foundations. It was a hard day’s labour and such an insight to their work. All the Nepalese kept calling my Arnie all day and smiling; it was such a great atmosphere. I also found out at the end of the day that one of the young labourers takes home £1.50. This really surprised me, they all work so hard.
Matt and Laura are in Nepal with Reall (formerly Homeless International) helping to build homes in local communities. If you want to show support for the great work they’re doing, any donations to Matt or Laura’s Just giving page are always welcomed.