When I first ate dal bhat in a local home during Trek Phase it felt very surreal. The notion of asking a complete stranger to cook for 20 people for no more than £30 at short notice is far different to anything I would normally be doing in UK.
This has not been lost on me whilst in the village of Adhikari Gaun in Community Phase. Narmaya who is Aama (mother) in my host home is so generous to myself and Jared, my meal mate. She is always insisting we eat more food, even though we are often full to bursting! Additionally she fusses all the time about whether we like the delicious food – me too cha! (it’s delicious!) – which she kindly cooks for us every lunch and dinner time.
Despite our Nepali being terrible and the host family’s English being limited, after a few days, I started to spot similarities between Narmaya and my own mother. My mother is always fussing over guests too, doing everything for them and over-feeding them! Both have such a welcoming and caring nature and always want to do the best for you. As a result I have started to feel more at home here in Adhikari Gaun than I ever thought possible.
This is the culture here in Nepal – you quickly become a part of a big family which everyone is welcomed into regardless of culture and background. I haven’t experienced anywhere quite like it before. Family is very important to Nepalis all year round but it was especially apparent when we celebrated Holi on 12 March. Narmaya hosted the whole NE2 team at her home for breakfast (we usually have porridge in the shelter) and dinner. The day was very special as Narmaya’s family, who we’ve come to know, were all there and it was lovely to spend more time with them.
Narmaya said: “I’ve really enjoyed being a host mother to this particular group of volunteers because Holly and the others have really got involved in family life. They have often helped prepare the meals and we’ve enjoyed cooking together. It’s like having a bigger, international family!”
The day reminded me that Mother’s Day was approaching in the UK. This day, which luckily falls on the first day of changeover so we can hopefully contact our Mums, is when people in the UK really show appreciation for how much their mothers do for them. This is especially the case for me this year as, being away from home has made me appreciate all that my mother does for me, big or small, from making me a cup of tea each morning, to listening to any problems I am trying to solve.
Mother’s Day in Nepal, known as Mata Tirtha Ausi, falls exactly one month later, on 26 April, this year. On this day, people pay homage to their mothers, presenting her favourite food, clothing and various other gifts.
Being accepted into Narmaya’s family and the rest of the community has definitely made the work we are doing building earthquake resilient houses together even more fulfilling. By welcoming us into their home with such kindness, they have made our job building three houses in Adhikari Gaun not only easier but a real pleasure and privilege. The experience I have had has highlighted to me the importance of Raleigh’s work here. I have come to understand that although everyone comes from different cultures and speaks different languages, family – especially mothers – are so important to us all and should never be taken for granted.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Photos: Daisy, Holly, Min and Ujwal
26 March – ‘changeover’
28 March – 7 week programme Venturers depart. 10 week programme Venturers deploy to Phase 3: community