Yesterday I was strolling, more like fumbling, with my cane, my Support Service Provider Roni and Surjan through the ancient town of Patan. Patan lies alongside the Kirtipur Valley and is a suburb of Kathmandu, Nepal. Journeying through the barren, rocky, brick-cobblestone streets with Roni holding my arm and the cane feeling the floors for any drastic change in surface. With my trusty cane, I am able to look up and gawk in awe. The architectures of multi-tiered roof temples and sprawling Newari worshipping and teaching houses make Patan romantically ancient and mesmerizing. My eye would dart from one carefully engraved Newari window to the gargoyles that hang on the corners of temple shingles and then it’d dart to the people of the area donning colorful, traditional Buddhist and Newari clothing. Everyday I find myself amazed by this country and what brought me to call Nepal home.
To make a long, long story short: I flew to Nepal on April 5th as one of the legs on my around-the-world solo journey early 2010. Needless to say, the 2 weeks I spent here were incredibly memorable that I decided to extend my visit to two months, forgoing India. I fell in love with a Deaf Nepali artist, and found myself as a moderate Buddhist at soul, and then I met 20 Deafblind here and there. My heart and mind and soul told me to return, and I did.
November came swiftly with bitter cold as I greeted my boyfriend and Kathmandu, and found myself wearing thicker clothes than I had last May when it was above 90 Degrees Farenheit (35 Celsius) and sweating like a pig.
The romance continues with my artist, and the desire to think up a project to help the Deafblind I have met in parts of Nepal grew and grew as I met 9 more DB. After receiving a dated survey by CBR, the international organization for blindness and rubella, I decided it was time someone stepped up for the 214 Deafblind in Nepal – count them – 214. There is a 5 year old program at the Naxal Deaf School for Deafblind children, but its NGO-funded program closed after Denmark withdrew their sponsorship and currently the government has no plans to integrate the classroom into the Deaf private school funding budget. So, the 7 Deafblind children who attend that class are currently back home to families who cannot communicate with them. A majority of the Deafblind in Nepal are NOT educated, mostly because they were born without sight or hearing thus it’s hopeless according to doctors, teachers, parents. Some parents took initative with the school, becoming involved with their children’s education, but they still don’t receive formal sign language training.
There is a very long way to go. I am fortunate to have Roni here, she’s been a great source of support during this new phase in my life, adding fuel to my passion for a brighter future for the DB here.
If you would like to volunteer with my Nepal Deafblind Project or donate towards my work, which by the way, has NOT been officially sponsored by an interested NGO until later time, but for now, I’m using my own funds to start up this project. Start up resources, extra canes, your volunteer time and a visit would be much appreciated.
I feel connected to Nepal in a deep way. It’s given me gifts that I count myself so fortunate to have in life, mostly the life of my diminishing sight. I have not long left until the ‘end of the tunnel’ or to speak, so I’m taking in the beauty of sacred lessons, architecture, Buddhist teachings, rediscovered passions and just life itself.