April 2015 – Nepal
My husband and I were privileged to carry two big duffle bags loaded with scarves to Nepal on a trip with Global Dental Relief. We were to work in a children’s dental clinic that was located at the SMD boarding school in Boudnath (a suburb of Kathmandu), Nepal. The first leg of our journey on April 22nd took us to Dallas where we met Cindy Koerber, another K4P volunteer and knitter. She was also carrying a bag full of scarves.
We landed in Kathmandu some 24+ hours later, bags in hand! The entire volunteer group of dentists and dental hygienists was all there by Friday night, April 24. We enjoyed an evening of getting to know each other and looked forward to the week ahead.
On Saturday morning, before our clinic briefing, we had a tour of several important historical sites in the Kathmandu Valley. We were at the Durbar Square in Patan (a UNESCO World Heritage site) where we saw ancient temples, palaces and sites important to the Buddhist faith and culture. We were among some of the last people to see this square before it was damaged minutes later by the earthquake. It was on our way back to our guest house that we experienced the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal.
It became clear quickly that we were not going to be able to experience the dental clinic as the buildings at SMD school were too damaged. Nonetheless, we had scarves to deliver to the children and we could do that. In fact, that project was a welcome relief to the chaos that we found ourselves in with the earthquake. We trudged over the muddy, rutted, damaged streets to the school to see what we would find there.
The school buildings were sufficiently damaged that some were declared uninhabitable. (Editor’s note: SMD school operates as a boarding school, housing students who could either be orphans or whose impoverished families live in outlying regions of Nepal. For example, one student came from a village of 30 buildings, 29 of which were completely destroyed by the earthquake.) The children had been sleeping on blankets spread over the concrete play area under tarps. Although the daytime was warm, the nights were cool. We were able to spend several hours with the children playing, entertaining and distracting them from the destruction around them. Many of the children had likely lost family in the earthquake or did not know about the fate of their loved ones. They had, themselves, experienced the tremors and numerous aftershocks.
The bags of scarves were brought to a location where we were going to give them out. As I looked in the bags to “double check” what we had – a miracle happened. One of the bags appeared to have Peace Pals. Initially, I simply thought that a few had mysteriously made their way into a scarf bag. No, we had found an entire large duffle bag full of Peace Pals. (We later determined it was likely left over from an earlier delivery.) As we gave these out to the children, there was such joy in receiving the gift. It was something to hold on to, something to comfort, something with which a child could share his or her secrets without any fears. We had enough for all of the kids who wanted one, even older kids! It was such an unexpected gift to be able to give out Peace Pals as well as the scarves.
We also delivered the scarves which we hoped would provide warmth and comfort, particularly in the cool evenings. The kids were excited to pick out the colors that they wanted and happily wrapped the scarves around their necks modeling them! What a treat to be a part of this process.
We had enough scarves left over that we were able to provide some to a school for girls and young women associated with one of the guides who had arranged for much of our time in Kathmandu. Karma and his family have used their own money to build schools for young girls whose families cannot afford to provide education, shelter and food. The young women provided us with a musical program, a tour of the school and its gardens, along with lunch. Their enthusiasm was infectious as they got us all up to dance with them. They too appreciated the warmth of the scarves and you can see in the picture, they wear them with pride.
Please consider being a delivery agent for K4P. We rely on delivery agents to spread the work and word about K4P. Delivery agents are the important link at the end of chain – without delivery agents, our ability to get out knitted goods to needy recipients is limited. It is a wonderful opportunity to experience first hand the joy that a Peace Pal, a scarf, a hat or a blanket can bring. When children or families are facing trauma or crisis, it is a very simple gesture that is so very powerful. It is healing one stitch at a time.
One does not have to be a knitter to be a delivery agent. In our group, there were dentists, dental hygienists, knitters and non-knitters who all participated in the delivery efforts. I think it goes without saying everyone was thrilled with the opportunity, particularly in light of the earthquake.
Please keep the people of Nepal in your thoughts, prayers and hearts.
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