Print Edition - 2019-07-10  |  The Blackboard

A journey of hopes and smiles

  • Despite struggling to make ends meet, they understand the most important things in life.

Jul 10, 2019-

It was a balmy February morning when I started my journey from Kathmandu to Karnali province to report stories on climate change. But, before this, I rarely had an opportunity to experience flight. As I immersed myself in the view from my window—the beautiful mountains that glimmered with the morning sunrise—I was filled with excitement and joy for what would come next in the journey.

At Surkhet, the weather was pleasant and the beautiful scenes of rural life soothed our hearts.  Our journey continued mostly on the road; the airport in Jumla was closed. Like the journey on the main road, my voyage into anxiety was slow, as not many people have had a good experience while travelling on the Karnali highway.

The bus lurched and bumped throughout the entire journey, but, at the end, I felt more than fortunate to have travelled by bus. It wasn’t a bad experience at all. I felt like the journey gave me an opportunity to look at the rural life of my country more closely. It made me realise that I hadn’t known my own country. From childhood, I have mostly spent my time in urban parts of the country where basic needs like food, clothes, water and health services were accessible, which is why people tend to take it for granted and just steep themselves in materialism. But here, I watched people struggle to even fulfil their daily needs. Every morning they had to worry about how to feed their children and themselves.

Without any decent domestic employment opportunities, most men in rural parts of Nepal are obliged to work across the border while their wives wait in hope of their return, until next season.“The earnings that our men make working hard in foreign lands sometimes don’t even make it home, they are robbed during their long journey back home and return with wounds and scars on their bodies,” a woman told me.

In their partner’s absence, a lot of women work in the fields. Many toil in the afternoon while even managing to complete household chores. But most of them fall prey to many health problems, such as miscarriage and uterine prolapse, because of such tiring drudgery. Some of the women I talked to said they have lost up to eight children in the womb. The primary reason was most of them returned to working almost immediately after birth. Some of them shared their experience of Chhaupadi—a customary tradition where the women are isolated in huts during their periods.

Despite all the hardship most people, Kalikot and Jumlahad one common feature, happy, innocent faces. No matter the situation, their smiles never faded, they hid their pain behind those smiles. Everyone had a flame of hope burning inside them, smiling whenever we passed by.

Everyone was willing to help and was offering us what little they had—ice-cream made from a mixture of snow and sugar powder or lunch of a plate full of local potatoes. In the midst of the beautiful nature of Surkhet, many sad stories exist but the people living these stories are full of hope. One of the poorest parts of the country taught me some of the most valuable lessons of my life. This journey shall always be remembered.

- Subedi is an undergraduate student at Agriculture and Forestry University

Published: 10-07-2019 10:27

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