While in the village we stayed with the family of our friend, Netra. After walking down the hill from the rocky road where we parked our car, we made a short hike through a beautiful cornfield and past a cabbage patch before arriving at amma’s house (amma is the Nepalese term for ‘mother’).
We were welcomed immediately upon our arrival by amma and her big family.
Despite the language differences (I speak no Nepalese and my new family spoke no English) and the fact that I’ve always thought of myself as a ‘city girl,’ Dhungkharka quickly became another home to me.
Where we stayed consisted of two main buildings, two outhouses (one with a squat toilet and the other with a Western style toilet and a shower), and a vast mountainside of land used for crops.
The larger of the two buildings was 2 floors and an attic. The ground floor housed the families animals– goats (and baby goats!), hens, a rooster, a cow, and buffalo.
The next floor had bedrooms for the family and the top was an attic previously used for storing grain and other necessities.
Although the building was still standing, there were several cracks and visible construction flaws that we noticed. How terrifying must it be to sleep here never knowing if an earthquake might come that causes the building to collapse?
This is a very real possibility when you are living in a seismic zone. The second building (where I slept) was two floors before the earthquake caused the top floor to collapse. A makeshift roof now covers the two rooms on the ground floor which have become a bedroom (with three beds) and a kitchen.
Amma and her entire family (her sons, their wives, and their children) all live together in these two buildings. I couldn’t believe the sacrifice they had made by giving up 3 beds every night for our group.
Throughout our stay amma and her family continued to show incredible generosity. They kept us full of dal bhat and tea (more on the amazing food and drinks we had soon) and were so warm and friendly that I forget now looking back that we didn’t actually exchange any words in a shared language aside from namaste (hello/general greeting) and dhanyabad (thank you).
When it was time to leave amma told me that she hoped I would come back soon and not to forget about her before giving me one of the necklaces she was wearing. She spent the rest of the morning hugging me and smiling at me and it made me even more sad to be leaving.
It will be months before I am able to personally return to Dhungkharka to see amma and my Nepalese home, but the experience has only further motivated me to do what I can to help her and her family from here in Hong Kong.
Help support the rebuilding of the local school and community centre in Dhungkharka and learn more about the project through my blog and on our crowdfunding campaign here