By Abby Fabiano
People always say “third time’s a charm”, which as a kid I used to believe was true. Now that I have just returned home from my third humanitarian mission to Nepal, I can say this is not true because I am already so eager to go back. Most people would get bored of going to the same place or doing the same thing multiple times, which is understandable because repetition tends to be a bore. When I was getting ready to go to Nepal for my second and third time, all my friends and family kept asking why I kept wanting to go back to a third world country, after they heard my complaints about lack of heat and hot water. The answer is simple; the humanitarian fulfillment I experience in Nepal, and the experiences I have with all the friends I have gone on the trips with and my friends in Nepal outweigh the lows of the trip.
Choosing my favorite moment of the trip is one hundred percent impossible. Taking part in this trip through Rotary International and in support of the ASHA Project, we are busy on average from 7am-10pm everyday we spend in Nepal, visiting schools and orphanages, going to club meetings, or even just sightseeing. If I had to pick my best moment, I guess the only way to sum it up would have to be the moment our flight took off from Kathmandu airport when we were returning home. It was about 9:30 pm in Nepal and all six of us on that trip were sitting together on the plane. I just remember first looking over at the group, and every single one of us was asleep before the plane even took off because it was a long and tiring two weeks away from home. Then as we took off, I looked out the window and said my last good-bye (for now) to the dusty and chaotic city of Kathmandu. This was the most impactful moment of the trip because it is saying “see you later” to all my friends there that took care of us, all the students at the schools and orphanages we visited, and now made all the experiences we had just a part of our past as we move onto the next chapter.
Not knowing when myself or any of us will return is what makes leaving Nepal difficult, but I have been fortunate enough to be able to stay in touch all year with some of our friends there. It was also very hard knowing it was time to leave this amazing country knowing that we helped as much as we could while there, but knowing that there is so much more that can and still needs to be done. As much as I complain while I am in Nepal, I miss the hectic environment of having to do things like boil water with two coil rods or having to use tea kettles in order to have a hot shower; or even freaking out every-time we would drive somewhere with our luggage, hoping that our suitcases do not fall off the top of the vehicle and roll down the mountain.
Words can’t describe what it is like visiting the schools and orphanages in Nepal, and the pictures do it no justice, but I can sincerely say taking part in these experiences first-hand are unlike any other. Some schools we hiked up a mountain to, or took 3+ hour bumpy bus rides to get to, and some schools we took a vehicle to and rolled backwards down the hill multiple times before our vehicle finally made it. The schools have no lights or heat, many of them are just small buildings with a couple tiny rooms and bleachers for the students. We handed out supplies; such as pencils, pens, notebooks to the students; and it is incredible to see how ecstatic one pencil makes a kid. Most of the kids would be very excited to see us, as many students would even come up behind me and touch my hair because they have never seen blond hair before. The motto of Nepal is “Guests are Gods”, and those experiences are what really proved to me that this is absolutely true. The students and school faculty treated us with nothing but open, warm hearts and waving good-bye to them after our programs were finished was a feeling very surreal.
I could sit here now and write a book about all that I have learned in Nepal from taking part in this mission, all the experiences I had, and how this trip changes my outlook on certain things in life. I remember one night when we had a joint dinner with three Rotaract Clubs in Nepal, and for some reason all the other American students in my group had left to go back to the guest house already, but I was still at the dinner. I was standing there talking to everyone, telling them about my experiences so far, and then all of a sudden I was getting ready to also head back to the guest house and they started saying stuff in Nepalese. So my friend translated for me and said they were fighting over who wanted to take me back to the hotel. The generosity of the people in Nepal is astounding, and that is another reason that I am so anxious to want to go back and continue to help their community.
I think my biggest takeaway from participating in this trip multiple times is that it has made me start to realize what I want to do with my life once I graduate with my Bachelors in Chemical Engineering. I want to continue to work in underdeveloped nations doing both humanitarian work, as well as over time learning how to implement more engineering projects in these countries to give me the opportunity to also put the skills I have learned into use. To conclude, I plan on traveling back to Nepal by January 2020 at the latest, and until then, I will be wishing everyday that I could be back there sooner! NAMASTE