This is the first in a series of pictures and stories from a recent trip I took to Nepal with Kina Social Ventures. It's about girls. It's about beautiful, intelligent women with no opportunities. It's about pollution, monkeys, dogs, Buddhism, Kina Social Ventures, The Small World, cell phones, loud speaker systems made out of Pringle containers, goats grazing on marijuana plants, but more than anything else, this blog is about how desperately children in poor countries must struggle to get an education. It's about Kina's efforts to "empower girls to rise above".
And it's about traveling with a privileged fourteen-year-old boy in one of the poorest countries in Asia and seeing it through his eyes, the soldiers, the guns, the knives, the yaks, the garbage-filled river banks, the burning bodies, pollution so bad it leaves your eyes constantly stinging and makes your throat burn. It's about walking in the mountains, up and down, up and down, down, down, down, for many days breathing air as clean as you could wish for.
It's also, however, about elephants.
I will tell my story in as many parts as it takes, and for as long as it takes. Sometimes, I'll just show you pictures. Sometimes I'll rely on words. Tell me if I go on too long. It's you I want to please. I'm listening. I promise. If you're bored, just say.
We're all virtual friends here and we can do anything we want. But in Nepal, you can't do anything you want, not in the real world, not in the virtual world. You can't even count on electricity, except in buildings with big generators. Power comes in spurts, a few hours in the morning, a few hours at night, and you learn to live without lights and, unbelievably, without the internet. But if you want to go on taking your cushy North American life for granted, stop reading now. Go watch American Idol or throw your money away on a gambling site or upgrade your iPad to an iPad Whatever.
Animal-loving boy wields camera
My son loves animals and he controlled the camera for much of the trip. Thus, in this blog, you can get an idea of what a dog lives like in Nepal, or a monkey, or a water buffalo, or a pig. You will meet elephants and oxen. Maybe even a rhinoceros, but you'll have to keep coming back for the rhinoceros, because, like the elephants, you wouldn't have seen that until the end of the trip, if you'd accompanied us to Nepal, and you wouldn't have gone there in the first place, if you hadn't have been traveling with a boy who loves animals. The trip to where the elephants dwell was long, sweltering. The rewards were few from an adult point of view. And yet, for my son, that part of the trip yielded the richest payoffs. Anyway, I did get the camera sometimes, and so you WILL see people. Beautiful, wonderful people.
The dogs of Kathmandu are an impoverished crew. They live in the street without much to eat and sleep in the heat. But all night long, they conquer the town with loud barking 'til dawn.
Photographs of dogs of Kathmandu, where more than 25,000 strays roam the streets (Street Dog Care). Meet some dogs:
Country dog. He didn't get off the chain much. Kids came and choked him and threw things at him. They hugged him, too. He barked protectively all night. Throughout the area live dogs that look exactly like him. One big family of filthy black fuzzy dogs.
Dogs photographed by Eli Krag