In October, Mary Lou and I had the pleasure of returning to Nepal, a country we visited in 1978, and which has had a place in our hearts ever since. It was certainly a different experience from 39 years ago. The city of Kathmandu has developed a dependence on the private automobile and motorcycles, to the point that the word “traffic” is just another way of saying “parking lot”, along with really poor air quality.
Our journey this time was motivated by our participation in the ANSWER program. We were accompanied by other wonderful sponsors from around the country. Our first introduction to ANSWER came 4 years ago when Earle Canfield visited our church in Spokane. He spoke of the great need for basic education in the country, especially for young girls, who were impeded by the male dominated culture. We decided to become sponsors for Smriti Adhikari, who was 12 years old and in 7th grade. She has since become a wonderful young woman, and we spent a delightful day touring the city with her and with another ANSWER student, Pabitra Bhandari, who is currently in law school.
While in Kathmandu, we met the staff, most of whom are ANSWER graduates. All of them are marvelous individuals dedicated to the concept of “Pay It Forward.” They are using their skills to enroll and support new students from all over the country. We had the opportunity to participate in this selection process, both in the Kathmandu area and in a more rural village near Pohkara. It was here that we met, and decided to sponsor Aashsharya BK, who is now 11 (our granddaughter’s age) and in the 6th grade. In addition, we worked with staff and students painting two new houses that they built to replace some of the student’s residences that were destroyed in the 2015 earthquake.
It can be very disorienting to arrive in a foreign country, especially one as poor as Nepal. After a short time though, we were able to walk out of our hotel, know exactly where we were and where we were going, and feel comfortable just being a part of an amazing section of humanity that is so different, and yet so very much the same. We are happy to be a part of the ANSWER family, and plan to spread the word to our friends and church community.