Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘village’

The Kindness of Strangers

My Forgotten Path Home
41KTXR9-obLA Novel by Tim I Gurung
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

This novel is all about the 2015 earthquake in Nepal that killed over 8000 people and injured over 20,000, and, it has very little to do with the earthquake. Mr. Gurung dedicates My Forgotten Path Home to the dead and survivor’s of the quake in the acknowledgments, and the story revolves around May Andrelina Applehouse, who is found in the rubble by an Australian couple, but the essence of the story is about Nepal, its people, and finding a “place” called home.

When May returns to Nepal at age 27, for the first time since leaving at age 3, she discovers that it is not what she had imagined, and finding her birth parents will be much more difficult than she had anticipated. Helping her in her search are Inspector Raj Komartamu and his assistant, Officer Mangale Magar. Even though she is not familiar with anyone or anything, May feels like she is “at home”. The journey begins in Kathmandu (the capital), and then extends to the countryside.

May is amazed with the beauty outside the city. “The morning fogs around the valley had not dissipated, cobwebs of gossamer and the nearby jungle were visible, and birds were still reluctant to fly away from their warm nest.” With the help of her new friends (Raj and Mangale) May looks near and far for her parents, and eventually makes a decision which brings her even closer to the Nepalese and her understanding of what life is like for those in the capital and farming the land in small villages.

My Forgotten Path Home is similar, in some respects, to the storyline for the wonderful film Lion, in which a young orphaned boy in India is adopted by an Australian couple, and then returns as an adult to try to find his mother. Mr. Gurung’s story however, takes place almost entirely in Nepal and feels almost like a personal memoir, though it is not in the least. My favorite aspect of this tale is the genuine kindness and gentleness of all those involved. Everyone treats one another as family, whether they are related biologically or not. This is a novel written with heart, that touches the heart.

Advertisements

The First Treehugger

A tall tale from Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

The redwoods in Asia, being especially tall, were a favorite of Abbott Tova. She loved to climb as high as she could and observe life from above. She saw wildlife, people in the village, travelers on the road, and her sisters in the community below. Seeing that her excursions climbing the ancient ones were made in secret, she often witnessed events and scenes that others were not aware of.

images

One day, she saw a herd of rampaging river otters approaching the village and was able to scamper down the tree and go warn people of their approach just in time. Many lives were saved. Some thought the Abbott must be clairvoyant for knowing of the approaching otters, not knowing of her climbing feats.

On another day, the Abbott watched a bandit attack a lone farmer on the road and steal his money. She knew who the bandit was and was later able to assist in his capture and testify at his trail, as to what he was wearing that day and at what time it had taken place.

There was the time Abbott Tova saw Sister Kiva sneaking off with Sister Bhakti to make love in the meadow. In that case there was no need to do anything, other than turn her attention elsewhere.

As was the case with Abbott Tova’s ability to remain still and blend in with her surroundings in the garden for hour upon hour, so it was in the trees where she often lost track of time and became so engrossed and selfless that she could feel the sap flowing through her veins and her limbs transferring the sun’s light into energy through her skin.

Without it being called so at the time, Abbott Tova was the first known tree hugger. Her actions gave rise to a long line of environmentalists and forest advocates, including, Pocahontas, Johnny Appleseed, John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, Chico Mendes, Wangari Maathai, and Julia “Butterfly” Hill. It also gave her a great advantage in “seeing” the future, making predictions, and others believing she was omnipotent, which she would never deny, nor confirm.

More vast and small stories at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

Uganda Village Banking

From FINCA (Foundation for International Community Assistance)

Celebrating 20 Years of Village Banking in Uganda!

FINCA Uganda, the first FINCA Subsidiary launched on the African continent in 1992 is celebrating 20 years of providing life-changing financial services to both urban and rural clients throughout the country. So it was fitting that, as a show of appreciation, FINCA Uganda returned to communities in which it operates, especially its inaugural community of Jinja, by providing clients and their families with access to free health screenings and hands-on care.

So far about 10 of such events have been carried out at its branches in partnership with AAR Health Services, where they have provided, among other services, voluntary HIV/AIDs testing and counseling, body mass checkups, blood pressure testing, nutrition counseling, family planning methods and HIV/AIDs control measures, as well as general health consultations, all at no cost. The health screenings have been open to FINCA Uganda’s clients and their families as well as to entire communities.

FINCA Uganda’s Marketing Manager, Simon Ahimbisibwe, said that Jinja holds a special place in FINCA Uganda’s history as it was the location of the subsidiary’s first branch.

“At FINCA Uganda, we believe that a healthy body makes for healthy banking; that is why we brought these services to the people free of charge,” Mr. Ahimbisibwe said. “We will continue to engage in such services that impact the lives of our clients positively, especially as these services are sometimes not easily accessed, mainly due to logistical challenges”.

FINCA Uganda currently serves more than 54,400 clients through a wide variety of products and services including Village Bank Group Loans, Solidarity (Small Group) Loans, Individual Loans, Local Currency Loans, Savings, Money Transfers and Insurance. More than 3,000 Village Banking groups can be found throughout its service areas, and loans average $395. FINCA Uganda employs more than 570 men and women who mainly come from the local communities, and is recognized as one of the local financial services industry’s top employers.

FINCA Uganda holds the distinction of being the first Microfinance Deposit Taking Institution (MDI) to be licensed by the Ugandan Central Bank in 2004, and is able to offer services that include savings, loans and money transfers at all of its 27 branches country wide.

FINCA Uganda also holds the distinction as being one of FINCA International’s primary programs to pilot new products and services, and has successfully implemented ATM services, a solar energy loan product, and youth-focused savings programs including Smart Start and StarGirl. Both savings programs target youth aged 10-24, providing education about the importance of savings as well as additional life skills such as soap and candle making and other handicrafts.

Child Marriage

MAYBE SOMEDAY, BUT NOT TODAY
from CARE

Legally, Mukeshwari’s marriage should never even have been a possibility. She was only 15 years old. But Mukeshwari lived in Thuadabri, an isolated rural village where it is traditional to give girls in marriage soon after they reached puberty. And her grandfather insisted. “The boy is good; the family is good,” he said. “This chance may not come again.”

The groom was an older man, a driver living in a nearby village. Mukeshwari agreed that he might be a suitable match, but that was beside the point. “I didn’t want to get married,” she says. “I wanted to go to school.”

Early marriage poses a host of problems for girls like Mukeshwari. Girls who marry young are less likely to finish school and have fewer economic opportunities. They are more likely to undergo physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their husbands and in-laws. They often have little or no control over when they have sex or when they have children. And when they do become pregnant, adolescent girls have a much greater risk of complications and death than older women.

Under other circumstances, Mukeshwari’s parents might have intervened. But her family was poor, and her parents had left to look for work in the neighboring state of Maharashtra. So when she learned that her grandfather had arranged her marriage, she had no one to turn to but her friends – and Parwati Sahu.

Parwati is a CARE-trained volunteer health worker in Thuadabri. Though her primary responsibility and expertise is working with mothers and young children, Parwati and the other health volunteers CARE works with are also trained to be “change agents” – individuals who help transform the way their communities treat women and girls. Parwati had worked with Mukeshwari and other teenage girls in the village to discuss health issues, including family planning and early marriage. She knew right away that Mukeshwari’s marriage was wrong, and that something had to be done to stop it.

Parwati went with Mukeshwari, her friends and other volunteer health workers to confront Mukeshwari’s grandfather. But he was adamant: He had made an agreement with the boy’s mother and he intended to carry it through. So Parwati went to the panchayat, or village council, and presented the case.

Fortunately, Parwati and Mukeshwari had the law on their side. The panchayat voted to stop the marriage until Mukeshwari was at least 18. Faced with the community’s overwhelming decision, her grandfather had to give in.

This was the first time an early marriage had been stopped in Thuadabri, but it won’t be the last. With Parwati’s help, the village formed a committee on early marriage. The committee visits the houses of families with adolescent girls, discussing the problems of marrying young and making sure no early marriages are arranged.

As for Mukeshwari, she’s back in school and happy. “I don’t want to marry anyone right now,” she says. “I want to be a doctor. I’ll come back to Thuadabri and make sure everyone here stays healthy.”

It takes a lot of work, time and investment to become a doctor. But by staying in school, Mukeshwari has kept the opportunity open. With Parwati and the rest of Thuadabri firmly behind her, it is entirely possible she’ll succeed.

Help girls like Mukeshwari escape child marriage >

Weaving a Better Life

Weaving a Better Life for Her Family
from FINCA

The business of weaving is a family affair for Catarina Castro Cac de Lux and her husband. The 30-year-old and her husband have earned their living over the past seven years by weaving beautiful scarves, blankets and fabric for skirts, which they sell in their village of Aldea Pachaj, Patzite, Quiché Guatemala.

While the business has provided the family with a meager income over the years, there was never enough to ensure that their five children—ages 15, 12, 10, 8 and two-and-a-half—had more than small amounts of food with which to nourish their growing bodies. Sending the children to school was also a luxury the family couldn’t afford.

Catarina and her husband knew that if they could purchase another loom, they could increase their production, so Catarina joined the Pachaj Flowers Village Bank group and took out a loan, which she used to purchase a second loom. She was also able to use a portion of her loan to buy thread in bulk, which was not only a wise choice with regard to increasing production, but also a necessity, considering where the Cac de Lux family lives. Once the rainy season sets in, it’s very difficult for the villagers to travel to larger markets to access materials, so Catarina made sure she had adequate supplies on hand to continue production during this particularly challenging time of year.

Catarina is proud to report that, as a result of taking out her Village Bank loan, she and her husband have increased their production two-fold, making it possible for them to continue to work to expand their weaving business. She also says that the increase in income has allowed her to buy a greater variety of foods for her growing family and, best of all, her children are now able to go to the local village school.
Catarina and her husband are very grateful to FINCA for helping them to create a better life for themselves and their children.

You can support Catarina and people like her here >>

Juanita Visits the Commander

Another excerpt from the exquisite novel Ebba and the Green Dresses of Olivia Gomez in a Time of Conflict and War by Joan Tewkesbury.

Juanita Visits the Commander

Juanita stood in the General’s Commander’s living room. He was watching the Miss Central Committee Beauty Pageant on TV. As the master of ceremonies read off the names of the five finalists, the Commander picked up a bottle of purple liquid and dropped twenty-five drops of whatever it was into a glass of purified water, stirred it with his thumb and offered it to Juanita. When she declined, he shrugged and drank it himself, shuddering as it slid down his throat.

“Best thing to ward off smallpox,” he said.

He plopped the glass down on the marble-topped table edged in gold leaf and patted the cushion next to him on the sofa. Juanita waited a moment then took a deep breath and sat down beside him even though she didn’t want to.

“Look at those dogs!” the Commander shouted. He was referring to the final five Beauty Pageant contestants.

“Where’s that soap opera actress or that blonde who sells toothpaste in the ads? These are dogs. Peasant dogs. How can you give a prize to ugly women like that?”

He turned and gave Juanita his full attention, looked into her eyes, then down to her lovely full lips then back up to the feathery mustache of delicate fur she had ceased to wax since her husband, the Sergeant, had burned up and died. It was something her mother had insisted she do when it started to flourish at puberty. Her brother had hated her because he hardly had any mustache at all.

The Commander couldn’t take his eyes off Juanita’s upper lip.

“You see,” he boasted, “it is one of my duties to wine and dine whoever wins. She will come to this house for an evening with me and none of those dogs are worthy…”

“Commander…” Juanita interrupted, but he just kept talking.

“… Unlike you, Mrs. Chavez.” The General’s Commander stretched, lifted his arms and moved toward Juanita on the couch. He was totally transfixed by her furry mustache. Juanita moved to the very edge of the cushion as the bathing suit competition continued to blare on TV.

“Commander, I have come to ask…”

“Anything,” the Commander interrupted in a whisper. He began leaning forward, tilting his head closer to hers, completely captivated by the dense, dark growth spreading a hairy frame for her mouth.

“Do you know, Mrs. Chavez, that I have fathered one hundred and eighteen children?” Juanita ignored the remark and continued in a firm voice.

“About my dead husband…”

“How can I be of help?” The Commander interrupted again and smiled.

“I would like to see…” Unable to restrain himself any longer he lifted his hand.

“Excuse me,” he interrupted,” but there is something right there…” The Commander leaning forward further moved his finger toward her mouth, but Juanita didn’t stop talking.

“I would like to see that my husband receives a hero’s…” At that exact moment the Commander’s fingers reached their destination.

“Oh my…” he said, feeling the fuzz.

“Memorial!” Juanita blurted, simultaneously with the touch.

Recoiling reflexively, she said very loudly,”What the hell are you doing?!” This took the Commander by surprise. He wasn’t used to being questioned about anything he wanted to do, but he managed to recover and save face by delicately feathering his fingers, as if he was removing something unseemly from under her nose. He made it seem as if he had saved her a great embarrassment. He even went so far as to drop the imaginary thing into an overflowing beanbag ashtray clinging to the arm of the couch, as he looked Juanita straight in the eye and clucked condescendingly.

“A little something caught in the hair.” Then he leaned back and waited for her to be embarrassed, but he’d miscalculated. Juanita didn’t give a shit. She only cared about getting what she came for, so she stood.

“I want to give my dead husband, Sergeant Alberto Chavez, a military memorial for dying in the line of duty.”

The Commander blinked and tried to recall Chavez. Finally, when he did, the Commander spread his short pudgy arms across the back of the white leather couch. Sergeant Chavez had been a total fuck-up, taken off regular duty because he fell asleep and deserted his men, which was why he’d been relegated to Orphan Patrol, the children’s army and family redistribution. The Commander smiled.

“I’m afraid that’s not possible,” he said.

All of a sudden his tone was official and he turned back to the contest on TV, taking note of the third finalist’s bathing suit as it crept up her haunch revealing a lot of backside that should have stayed covered.

“What do you mean, not possible?” Juanita wanted to know.

“No real rank,” he replied and kept his focus on the television set.

“What do you mean ‘no real rank?’ He fought for you…”

Her eyes were filling with angry tears as the Commander smiled unkindly. “Maybe that’s what he told you to feel important, but I can verify whatever war stories he boasted were not true.”

“Liar!” Juanita shouted and stamped her foot.

The Commander sighed. This was growing tedious. Then he remembered. “I hear you sent the boy we gave you away.”

“Of course I sent him away. It was all his fault. If I hadn’t been so busy day and night… too busy for my husband…”

“My dear, it wasn’t as if you gave birth to him or nursed him day and night. He was only with you a short time…”

“So what?” Juanita interrupted.

“So, you will be moving out of the casita,” the General’s Commander announced.

Stunned, Juanita stopped her fury and stared at the Commander.

“What?” was all she could manage to say.

“We have to make room for his replacement. Besides, we don’t have casitas for widows. Casitas are for military personnel in the General’s service. We’ve let you stay on a bit longer out of consideration for the circumstances of his death… a terrible shock. But since you don’t have any children and you gave the one you had away… One person to a casita is extravagant… unless of course you’d like to think about some sort of arrangement…”

Before the Commander could continue with the rest of proposition, Juanita turned and stormed out of his living room to the front door which she slammed so hard the General’s portrait fell off the wall and knocked over the flag.

In the living room, the Commander lit another cigarette and waited to see which one of the unfortunate, ‘peasant dogs’ would be crowned Miss Central Committee.

Get your own copy of Ebba and the Green Dresses of Olivia Gomez in a Time of Conflict and War by Joan Tewkesbury HERE.

Powerful Roots

From Nation of Change
by Bryan Farrell
7 January 2012

Embracing Tree Huggers: The Powerful Roots of (Un) Armed Environmental Protection

Show the slightest bit of concern for the environment and you get labeled a tree hugger. That’s what poor Newt Gingrich has been dealing with recently, as the other presidential candidates attack his conservative credentials for having once appeared in an adwith Nancy Pelosi in support of renewable energy. Never mind that he has since called the ad the “biggest mistake” of his political career and talked about making Sarah Palin energy secretary. Gingrich will be haunted by the tree hugger label the rest of his life. He might as well grow his hair out, stop showering and start walking around barefoot.

But is that what a tree hugger really is? Just some dazed hippie who goes around giving hugs to trees as way to connect with nature. You might be shocked to learn the real origin of the term.

The first tree huggers were 294 men and 69 women belonging to the Bishnois branch of Hinduism, who, in 1730, died while trying to protect the trees in their village from being turned into the raw material for building a palace. They literally clung to the trees, while being slaughtered by the foresters. But their action led to a royal decree prohibiting the cutting of trees in any Bishnoi village. And now those villages are virtual wooded oases amidst an otherwise desert landscape. Not only that, the Bishnois inspired the Chipko movement (which means “to cling”) that started in the 1970s, when a group of peasant women in Northeast India threw their arms around trees designated to be cut down. Within a few years, this tactic, also known as tree satyagraha, had spread across India, ultimately forcing reforms in forestry and a moratorium on tree felling in Himalayan regions.

Read entire story at Nation of Change.

Tag Cloud