Sprouting a new team for Namkheli

Project Bean Sprout is a new initiative by Make Learning Possible to get more volunteers to make a difference to the children attending school in Namkheli Village in the rural Himalayan region of Nepal.

Here’s a reflection piece by Mei Chion, one of the team members:

The Project Bean Sprout team preparing to go the distance to make learning possible in Nepal

Saw the appeal for volunteer for a project in Nepal via Project Happy Feet FB posting, signed up for it and received an email from the organizer – Lester and Sox that we will be meeting at Bt Timah Nature Reserve for exercise and to get to know more about the program. One week prior to the meet-up, got a call from Lester (still a stranger at that time) that air tickets to Nepal via SilkAir are limited and so I blur blur, proceed to book the air tickets within the next 2 hours without knowing anything except that we need to trek to the school. I have been to Bhutan and did a serious 4D3N Druk Path Trek and slept in sleeping tent in the mountains so I thought this trip should be okay – if I can survive Bhutan (my first serious trek), I can survive this – being very positive.

Met Lester and the rest of the volunteer at Bt Timah Nature Reserve and Lester started telling us all about the program and the more he rattled on, the fear in me grew :0. Hmm, we will be staying in guesthouse which is something I have never tried before. But the most horrified thing that I have heard – WE WILL BE TAKING PUBLIC BUS and the journey will be at least 8 hours through the winding road. My heart started to panic and my mind started to run wild though I need to still look cool (-.-). I have never tried taking a public bus up the mountains and Lester and Sox shared that we will most likely be squeezing with people and animals. I start to panic – alamak, I got ‘cheated’ as I have bought the ticket already!!! Can’t say no already…

For all my trips, I have stayed in reasonably good hotels and even if on budget, I will still pick relatively decent ones based on reviews from TripAdvisor. As I usually travel alone to places like Bhutan, Lijiang, Zhongdian (the Shangri-La in China), I would always have my own personal driver for convenience and ease. But but, this time I can’t choose my accommodation and need to take public bus because Lester wants us to experience the way the locals live and as we are on a budget, I have started to doing prep talk to myself ^_^. I told myself, what is wrong with staying in a guest house and squeezing on the public bus for 8 hours or longer? Yes, I will definitely get motion sickness and suffer from severe migraine or the bed may not be comfortable, but hack – we only live once and I am not young anymore! So just go with the flow and as with the Chinese saying – 船到桥头自然直!Think of the kids who are staying in the mountains – they need our help as education is the only way for them to have a better living environment and some minor suffering and discomfort may potentially help these kids to have a better future.

Today, the team finally met at the Project Happy Feet office to get to know more about the organisation and the project and our assignments when we are at the school. We were shown photos of the schools, the kids and how they have progressed, the awesome scenery such as the sunset and most importantly, learning that 100% of the proceeds raised goes to all the beneficiaries – be it Project Happy Feet or Make Learning Possible, makes me feel so much better as I had worked with non-profit organisation before and I know how they typically work and where do the funds go. All my previous fears were almost eliminated – erhm of cos, the fear of motion sickness and severe migraine is not something that can be fully eliminated but all these are no longer hovering around me. Instead, I am now looking forward to my assignment – teaching the kids to recognize numbers and to ensure I exercise regularly to be fit for the trek.

FYI, I have actually packed my clothes and toiletries for the trip which is like 1.5 months away!!! Next up will be to plan for some light weighted comfort food to bring along for the trip such as bak kwa and homemade hae bee hiam to sweeten the trip! I am now so looking forward to the trip with a group of newly found friends who have the same passion. Namkeli, here we come!

Explanations of the Singlish and Chinese words that I have used:
blur blur: clueless
alamak: oh dear
船到桥头自然直: everything will turn out fine in due course
bak kwa: popular Singaporean snacks which is barbecued pork slices
hae bee hiam: another Singaporean dish which is spicy dried shrimp paste that goes well with rice or plain dishes