By: Brittany Wait, Visual Storytelling Fellow in Nepal
…through Kharanitar, a rural village in the Nuwakot district of Nepal still rebuilding after the 2015 earthquakes.
We spent two days working alongside Nepali nonprofit, Visible Impact, educating 15 local girls on accountability and activism. One of our accountapreneurs, Medha Sharma, its president and CEO, and her associate Sharmila Acharya, took Samita and I along with them.
After an eventful ride, in which got stuck in mud and had to move boulders from a recent flash flood out of the way, we arrived. There, we met our colleague Suresh Chand and another Visible Impact associate Sudip Nepal.
The point is that these girls seem to appreciate what they do have, which has made me appreciate the same. They look at me with admiration, but I’m the one who adores them. I’m the fortunate one. I’m lucky enough to know them.
Karuna Poudel, 17, is one of Visible Impact’s 15 social champions from Kharanitar, a village in the Nuwakot district of Nepal still rebuilding after being devastated by the 2015 earthquakes. She aspires to become an English teacher and study abroad before getting married.
I’m blessed to have the opportunity to be here. In Nepal.
With the help of my mentor Ken Harper, who first inspired me to apply for the fellowship, I got the funding I needed to tell stories in one of the most beautiful places in the world, among the most beautiful people.
This occurred to me the moment one of the girls grabbed my hand to keep me from falling, camera in hand, my feet slipping in my mud-caked sandals, as we dodge rocks and deep mud along a trail in pitch darkness on our way back to the lodge we stayed at.
While sitting down for donuts and milk tea in the morning, we got a visit from a local man, Ram Kumar Kandel and his daughter Devi. He told us in Nepali how much it would mean to him to have his daughter, who lives with a disability, to join us in the next workshop.
On Saturday, before sundown, and again on Sunday after sunrise I filmed one of the girls at her home. Inspired by his innovations to make the world a better place, Monika Upreti’s role model is Stephen Hawking. After the 15-year-old and her mother lost their house to the earthquake, she became determined to become an engineer and help rebuild her village. Monika and her mother were so brave to let me into their world to tell their story. Even her mother welcomed me with open arms and even blessed me on our way out.
The ride home felt like we were moving in slow motion. We zipped past a vast landscape of hills that looked more like mountains (but I’m told Nepalis only consider them mountains if they’re snow covered.) and a rushing river surrounded by rice paddies and farmers and grazing cows. I felt a stillness that I never wanted to leave.