It was worth it.
No matter how early or cold!
We scampered up to the hotel roof to watch the sun come up.
Last night the sunset was great, but this was incredible!
The children went for a walk, the roof cleared and it was just me and my thoughts. Long shadows danced on a nearby fence as the kids wandered into the distance.
Some things are so easy to miss unless you take time to slow down and look at them from another angle. How often do we miss what’s truly in front of us because we haven’t taken the time to stop and reflect?
I was amazed at having two different perspectives at the same time.
This is exactly how I felt about the beauty all around me. Two perspectives. Mixed emotions. On the one hand I was extremely grateful to be able to see all this. On the other I kept thinking ‘This is the Nepal locals deserve’ not one that is covered in smog and rubbish.
I thought about the lookout yesterday which was spoiled by all the rubbish on the ground. I looked up and watched the sun climb over massive peaks to shed light on a valley swimming in clouds. I was happy and sad at the same time.
I wrote two contrasting poems to capture this. If you’re a Math Nerd like me you’ll appreciate that both poems follow the Fibonacci sequence. (1,1,2,3,5,3,2,1,1)
I felt better after writing the last poem knowing that we were about to do something. With me were 7 rubbish pickers I had been carrying the entire trip. At last we were to make use of them.
We headed to the lookout, stopping a small opening in the forest where we set up a game of giants treasure. While the kids were distracted some of the team snuck away to hide some real treasure (lollies).
The kids raced up and down the steep slope in search of both types of treasure. The hardest thing wasn’t finding the lollies, it was trying to get the kids to keep the wrappers in their pockets after they had eaten them!
One poor child didn’t find any lollies! His mind was on other things.
A guaranteed way to pick up
After we gave Daniel a group hug the bus took us back to the lookout where I explained what we were about to do and why. Heads were nodding as my words were translated. I really felt I’d been able to communicate both the effect of rubbish as it floats down the river and into Kathmandu and the immense beauty of Nepal which is worth protecting. Even Daniel cheered up when I guaranteed that everyone was about to pick up!
I showed the children how to use the rubbish claws and pointed out the many concrete bins. With the vast majority of rubbish thrown around them not in them, I wondered if the bins needed a demonstration too!
Rubbish pickers were handed out and eager kids rushed off to try them out. Bins were filled (like never before!) and the scene at the lookout came a little closer to matching the beauty all around.
Bags and bags of rubbish were gathered until the bins were overflowing.
Changing a culture
A man selling postcards and souvenirs at the lookout stopped to ask us what we were doing. Nick explained what we were up to and discovered that he was also frustrated that tourists would come here for 5 minutes, drop their rubbish and leave. He asked for a rubbish picker. He wanted to show that he cared about his country. He wanted others to do the same.
I was thrilled. Not only would I get rid of excess luggage but we had found someone who was on board, someone who is so passionate about a cause that they take it up themselves. Change will never come if it is imposed on people from the outside. Change comes from within. Our groups cleaning efforts may have lasted 2 weeks at best but now there is someone on the inside working for change. As we left I thought about future trips, hoping next time we come back to Nagarkot the lookout will be pristine.
A dose of reality
Reality struck as soon as we got back on the bus. The children were dropping rubbish out the window. We reminded them of what we had just spoken about and all the cleaning we had done. Embarassed they apologized, but we understood. It’s not as if they can change a life long habit overnight.
It made me sad that dropping rubbish on the ground was such a part of the culture, but like any culture there is always the ability to change. I thought about the man at the lookout again. Change from within. I smiled.