Another day as a Nepali Farmer

From the day before, looking down the valley from the rocky outcrop me and Awijit climbed.

From the day before, looking down the valley from the rocky outcrop me and Awijit climbed.

Day 83 – Location: Karmidanda Village, Langtang Region; Nepal

23/11/12

An extra sleeping bag helped with the nightly death freeze, but I had a restless sleep because of a strange problem: really sore ears when lying with my head on the side, enough to wake me up. It’s happened to me before (when I was trekking around the Himalayas) – I thought the cold might be responsible but my ears felt warm to the touch. Weird. Januka was still asleep. She helps at the village medical centre and had been there till 4am helping to deliver a baby. Jhabraj, Awijit and Sophie went to school and Ama went off to whatever mischief old women get up to in Karmidanda.

A common sight in the village, villagers lugging grass to feed their animals. They head out into the fields and countryside twice a day to gather this amount. Cows sure eat a lot!

A common sight in the village, villagers lugging grass to feed their animals. They head out into the fields and countryside twice a day to gather this amount. Cows sure eat a lot!

After breakfast and a read in the sun, I set off for another day’s work in “my” millet field. I spent four hours filling another basket with seed heads. This time I borrowed a cap to ward off the beating heat and I found the work boring but sometimes meditative. Traditional Nepali songs drifted over the fields from a house radio and an occasional local conversation, other than that my only company was the sounds of nature. It was quite therapeutic cutting away. At 2pm Jeneet, the funny little five  year old from next door arrived in my field, wielding a sickle! Ealier he’d passed with his mum and seen me working here, now he was here to help. I watched as he violently hacked away at the stalks, cutting towards himself, and I immediately confiscated his sickle before he needed Januka’s help in the medical centre. To give him a job I handed him the seed heads to put in the basket and tried valiantly to keep him away from the sickle which he kept attempting to grab, determined to be a little farmer boy! Ten minutes my basket was full and I hauled it to the Neupane house, where Jhabraj and Sophie had arrived back from school.

Another full basket of my harvested millet seeds

Another full basket of my harvested millet seeds

I took a much-needed shower before the water temperature became Antartic, and spent most of the afternoon relaxing with the others and playing with Jeneet with his boundless energy. The father of the baby Januka had delivered dropped by with a big smile on his face. Mother and child were doing well. In the evening we chatted away over copious amounts of rakshi, discussing trekking and Jhabraj’s work as a trek and tour guide. I hadn’t realized he had done so much of it – in the holiday months of school he is usually out earning extra money as a guide. When Jhabraj turned in, me and Sophie watched a film on my laptop, it was a bit strange to be transported to the remote Arctic in John Carpenter’s “The Thing” – and then step outside in real life to the middle of the Nepali mountains in a moonlit, isolated village!

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Would you like to stay in Karmidanda village with the Neupane family? Read on…

You want fresh milk for breakfast? Gotta get it yourself!

You want fresh milk for breakfast? Gotta get it yourself!

If you are thinking of viisting Nepal and would like to do a homestay with Jhabraj’s family and see his village, or you need an experienced trekking or private tour guide, Jhabraj is very happy to accommodate you. He can do tours anywhere around Nepal and for trekking, he is very experienced and a safe, responsible guide, having guided on all the major Nepali treks multiple times as a guide (including the popular Everest, Annapurna and Langtang treks). It is also possible to do some spectacular trekking in the Langtang area from his village area so you could always combine a homestay with a trek. Jabraj charges very reasonable prices, he speaks good English, and you couldn’t meet a friendlier, more interesting and hospitable guy! Your enjoyment, satisfaction and safety are his primary concerns. Money that Jhabraj earns from visitors and clients goes towards the higher education of his children, which is extremely expensive for a village family. If you want to hear more, please contact me via this website and I will put you in touch with him. Highly recommended!

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Would you like to help Jabraj’s village community of Karmidanda? Read on…

Village school kids await Sophie's instructions

Village school kids await Sophie’s instructions

Like many outlying villages in Nepal, the village Karmidanda is extremely poor and the community has many serious problems as a result. Almost all the families here are in a lot of debt, living on the breadline on the meagre earnings they can eke out – most are farmers. Other avenues of work are simply not available up here and most families cannot afford to put their children into higher education to improve the cycle. Public welfare does not really exist in Nepal and the area only has one health clinic staffed by volunteers and supplied by charity. If a villager requires hospitisation the villagers have to pool together to get enough money to pay for an ambulance to take the patient 5 hours to Kathmandu and also pay the expensive hospital treatment fees, if they can afford it. The village school was built thanks to charitable efforts but staff wages are low, equipment and resources are always scarce and there are not enough teachers for the number of students. These are just some of the problems that the community has – yet despite the difficulties the community spirit is amazing here, people help each other, they have a smile on their face and they are welcoming and friendly. If you think that you can help with donations, volunteering (incuding English teaching at the school) or charitable projects, please get in touch. Jhabraj has many contacts and can direct you to the right people so you know your money or resources are going directly to the local community and no share is going into anyone elses’ pocket. Some charitable efforts have also been started by foreign visitors who have visited Jhabraj and decided to help the community of Karmidanda – please check out the following websites: (links coming soon!)

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