International

Nepal 2017

Nepal – Day 1

Namaste 🙏,
We arrived to Kathmandu around midday and after airport bureaucracy, our adventure started. We met Gal in the airport, the Tevel b’Tzedek Director in Nepal and also Simon Kaye, my good friend who is a graduate of the Tevel program and also Rabbi Marc’s brother and is joining us to help out and reminisce at the same time.

The journey to our hotel was an eye-opening and unique experience in and of itself.
We saw no traffic lights (which was the thing that most surprised Aaron about Kathmandu), more motorbikes then we had ever seen, policeman standing at junctions risking their lives to direct the traffic, “breathtaking views whilst the city that is gross (Nikki) and “monkeys living in the middle of the city, like cats in Israel” (Natalie). Avery is surprised at how colorful the city is.

Our hotel is rather basic to say the least although luxurious compared to when we get to the villages. Lior is not excited for the rock hard beds, but at least we have a normal shower.

Once we got to our hotel, we met Bishna and Gotam, local Nepalese who work for Tevel b’Tzedek and greeted us in a traditional way and gave each of us little scarves.
We then had a traditional lunch, which was way spicier than anyone expected and then we had free time. Right opposite the hotel is the Swayambhunath (monkey) Temple – a famous Bhuddist pilgrimage site. We’ll be getting a tour of it on Shabbat, but I was keen to explore now and take pictures (I won’t take pictures on Shabbat), so I offered the students to come with me. Only Aaron took me up on the offer, which is why he dominates today’s pictures, but it definitely whet Avery’s appetite for our trip on Shabbat.

The temple dominates an entire hill in Kathmandu and we hiked to the top. It was many, many stairs (365 to be exact). We found out quickly why it is called the monkey Temple. They are very much at home there and there are thousands of them hanging out in the Temple. As well as exploring the temple, we were treated to breathtaking views of the city, which I hope you can see in the attached pictures although I am not sure they do it justice.

In the early evening, we headed to the “Big House” -Tevel’s headquarters in Nepal (so called because it is a very big house) and had our first Nepali lesson. We were mixed with a group of Israelis who also arrived today for our first of three lessons. It was interesting, sitting on mats on the floor with no shoes on (its impolite to wear shoes inside a house) and learning a new language. It was challenging for people after a long day of travelling, but Natalie and Lior really enjoyed it and are looking forward to lessons tomorrow too.

We then went to the main tourist district of Kathmandu, called Thamel, which is about one square city block, for dinner. We ate in a Nepali- Israeli vegetarian restaurant and were able to order “western food”, which everyone was very happy about. We were still sitting on cushions and mats on the floor with our shoes off, but it was candlelit and very atmospheric (picture attached). We chatted a bit about the day and went over tomorrow and then had some free time to shop for some “essentials”.

We then returned home to our hotel to finally get some sleep. Its been a long and good day and people are really excited for tomorrow. We’ll be hearing some lectures in the morning and then heading to the Kalamati slum in the afternoon to see and interact with Tevel projects there and then more Nepal lessons.

Please enjoy the pictures and all being well, I will write to you again tomorrow.

Suba Ratri (good night)

Nepal – Day 2

Shalom Everyone,

Today has been another great. We started the morning with a couple of lectures about community development and village life and also about the history of Nepal and contemporary issues. I have attached the power point from the Nepal lecture for you to enjoy and see what we learnt about. The lecture was led by Dr. Bishnu, who is the Director of Tevel b’Tzedek (Tevel) Nepal and (we found out) also one of the most prominent agricultural specialists in Nepal. It was also interesting sitting on mattresses and learning. Another unique learning experience.

After lunch we went to Kalamati, which is a slum of Kathmandu. We went to the Tevel community center there and met with the madrichim (leaders) of their youth movement, who were the same age as our students. After learning about the role of Tevel and then did a couple of activities with the madrichim in English and Nepali. It was surprising to our students that they were playing the same games as they played in their Zionist youth movements back home. Then we reminded them that the madrichim had been taught by Jewish and Israeli volunteers. I’ll send a video of one of the activities in a separate e-mail.

We then went upstairs to the pre-school and saw the youngest kids who were incredibly cute and then went to the eldest age group of the pre-school and sang songs and danced with them. We spent about an hour there and had an incredible time interacting with the kids, getting hugs, hi-fives, stunning smiles and just enjoying ourselves. We sang mostly Nepali songs and then taught them some in English. We were even given a solo by a couple of kids. I’ll send some videos in a separate e-mail, I hope you enjoy them.

After this, we left the community center and went to see a women’s empowerment project in the neighborhood. Tevel had taught the women there to become seamstresses and they made traditional Nepali clothes. We had a short explanation and then the serious shopping started, with some of the students getting serious. Nikki was specifically enamoured by the designs. We spent a while there whilst some people were measured up and ordered clothes to be made for them whilst we are in the villages to be waiting for them when we return.

For our final activity of the day, we had another Nepali class, where we learnt a huge vocabulary and really got into it. By dinner time, we were already using some of the words we learnt. We met briefly and talked about our day and then came back to our hotel for dinner, where we tried our first momo’s – Nepali dumplings – some pics attached.

Everyone went to bed early tonight as we are starting at 6:30am tomorrow

Good night and I hope to send you another update before Shabbat,

Nepal – Day 3

Shalom,

Today was yet another incredible day.
We spent the entire morning doing a tour of the bagmati river, the central river around which Kathmandu is built. It is considered a holy river and there are hundreds of temples built along it and people cremate their loved one along the river and throw their ashes into it. Today we were learning about the effects of urban sprawl, the environmental impact of migration from the rural areas into the big cities, over-population and conservation efforts to purify the river.

We started the tour in the north of the city, where the river emerges from the national park. We hiked for an hour an half along this beautiful, clear river, through little villages and along irrigation systems, in the hills on the outskirts of Kathmandu. I feel like my vocabulary will fail to do the experience justice. It was so picturesque. Our tour guide was Bishna and he pointed out all the different types of fruit trees, told us all the myths / traditions associated with different trees and plants and talked to us about the Bagmati river. We dipped our hands in its cool water and delighted in it’s beauty. We then returned towards the bus and watched to our dismay how the river at a certain point, suddenly became murky and rubbish/garbage started to appear in it. This is when we noticed the sewage running into it from one side of the river. It was a beautiful hike, tinged with some sadness at the end of it and we knew it was only going to get worse.

We stopped and drank some Nepali tea (like chai tea) and then ate some roti (Nepali style donuts), both of which were very sweet and then we moved on to our next stop. We drove along the river and watched as the villages turned into town and town into city and the water got dirtier, darker and more and more full of garbage. We saw hundreds of pipes pouring raw sewage into the river and this was just in the newer, outer suburbs of the city. At this point, we even put our masks on as the dust and smell were quite overwhelming at times.

Our next stop was in the center of the city, next to a Temple, the second most sacred place in Hindu (the most sacred in Nepal) and once again the river was disgusting and Bishnu putting out a few different things for us to take notice of. Finally, we drove to the south of the city, where the river returns to nature only now it was thick sludge. It stank and you can imagine what color it was. Along the banks of the river was tons of garbage. If you look at some of the attached pictures, you can see the temple by the side of the river and how picturesque it was, but if you zoom in you can see all that waste. It was very sad and shocking to see. We went into the Temple and learnt about some customs and then watched a couple get engaged and wished them Mazel Tov and I even attached their engagement picture for you to see. This cheered us up and then we continued with our day.

The tour was fascinating and I think everyone learnt a lot about pollution, the environment, urban sprawl and overcrowding etc. We were also able to appreciate beautiful Nepali countryside and again the drive in and of itself was an experience. My favourite moment was when a cow was in the middle of the road and we were stuck. In Hindu, cows are considered holy and so in Nepal, where 60-70% of the people are Hindu, you can not move/touch cows, so you simply have to wait for them to move from in front of your car. Thankfully it didn’t take too long.

From here, we went for lunch in a cafe attached to an orphanage. The proceeds of the cafe go to the orphanage and the food itself is cooked and prepared by the kids of the orphanage so that they also learn a skill. It was some of the best food we have had since we have been here. The orphanage mainly has Tibetan children in it as the area was once a Tibetan refugee camp and still has a high Tibetan population.

Whilst there, I led a limmud about social justice and Judaism, looking at sources from Tanach, Gemara and the Rambam and talking about what we are doing here and the Jewish people’s responsibility to the world and to the “other”. It was an interesting discussion. Aaron got really into it and Avery and Natalie were excited to see some overlap with one of their classes in Tel Aviv (props to Ruben, their teacher -they were able to quote from sources).

After lunch, I invited the Israeli Ambassador, Yaron Meyer, to join us for coffee and explain to us his story and how he entered the diplomatic corps and then the relationship between Israel and Nepal. Yaron has serves in Myanmar and India among other places and has been here in Nepal for 3 years.

Nepal was the first country in South East Asia to recognize Israel in 1960 (the PM who did that was later arrested by the king and imprisoned in a military base that Bishnu has shown us earlier in the day) and has had great relations ever since. Israel has helped them develop their agricultural sector and brings over 500 farmers each year to Israel to train them in farming techniques on Kibbutzim. He also talked about the fact that many Nepali people come to work in Israel as care-givers for the elderly and how the embassy helps and regulates that process and finally he talked about the earthquake. He spoke about how Israel helped out in the immediate aftermath and what an impressive field hospital they built and how they are still helping out in the long term with trauma and training people in how to deal with trauma victims. He mentioned that Israel had also been working with Nepal on efforts to restore their rivers, but the earthquake interrupted their work, as we saw today. He also talked about the Embassy’s relationship with Tevel B’Tzedek and how they work together. It was a very interesting talk. Natalie asked loads of questions and if I had to guess might be thinking of a diplomatic career, even if she wasn’t before today and Avery said “it was really cool and that she would not have had an experience like that otherwise”.

Finally we have some free time to get ready for Shabbat. Natalie and Lior have gone shopping to get some more traditional clothes so they can blend in more comfortably in the village and in 2 hours, we’ll be joining all the other volunteers at Tevel b’Tzedek for Kabbalat Shabbat. We’ll be some 30-40 young Jews coming together from around the world to light candles and sing Shabbat songs together. It should be a really nice experience.

I wish you all a Shabbat Shalom and I’ll write to you again tomorrow

Nepal – Day 4

Shavua Tov from Kathmandu,

We have had a lovely Shabbat and we hope you have too.
Just a quick note to start, I am shomer shabbat so I won’t take pictures on Shabbat, but as we are not a religiously coercive program, our students are allowed to do what they want as long as they are not offending others or in our programmed activities together, so the few pictures/ films you see today are courtesy of the students. Thanks guys!

Last night we got to the Tevel Big House and joined in with another 30-40 Jews from around the world for Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat dinner. We were singing songs and chatting and it was a lovely atmosphere. There were people from 7-8 differeent countries, from 3 different programs, plus the Tevel staff, but we all came together to sing the same Shabbat songs. It was beautiful. During the meal, we interspersed and ended up interacting with all the other people. We spent a few hours there and then came home and Simon and I invited everyone to little schmooze/ oneg. (quick reminder – Simon is my friend (and Rabbi Marc’s brother) who is a Tevel graduate who decided to join the trip and help out – he has been a big hit!) Everyone went to their rooms and came back with snacks and we sat around a had a l’chaim and chatted. Aaron ended up staying up with Simon and I, into the middle of the night, as we discussed the meaning of life amongst other things.

Aaron, not only burnt the midnight oil with us, but was also the only one who woke up early, so when we heard some music coming from the street outside our hotel, he ran outside with us and we caught a traditional wedding procession. We followed it to their little wedding marquis and watched the proceedings for a while. It was really interesting to see. Aaron caught a few seconds on film and I have attached it for you to see. You know what they say “the early bird catches the worm”.

Those who wanted to had the option to daven in the hotel this morning or go for a walk or even to Chabad for services, but most people were exhausted and slept in. When we did get moving, we all walked to the Tevel big house and started the day with a Yoga session in the courtyard. It was quite a sight – 30 people doing Yoga overlooking the Kathmandu neighborhood and the surrounding mountains. It is hard to describe the scene or capture the serenity, but at a certain point we all looked up during one of our poses and found about 20 locals watching us from the road above.

We then had our first session of the day, which was about globalization and it turned into quite a heated discussion about whether it is a good or bad thing. We then had a session on Judaism and the environment. We looked at different Jewish texts and had chavruta study (traditional Jewish learning in pairs). What was nice about this session, was that it brought together a lot of the other ideas we had been learning about over the last few days with different students bringing in examples from the yesterday’s limmud, quoting Dr. Bishnu from our Bagmati river tour, the Israeli Ambassador and our globalization session from earlier in the day. It was good to see how much people had learnt and internalized since we started this experience. We had shabbat lunch in the house too and were again able to interact with the other volunteers although in a more informal way this time.

It had been raining for 2-3 hours up to this point and are planned hike was on the verge of being cancelled, when suddenly the sun peaked through the clouds and I decided we were going to switch the schedule and go on our Swayambhu tour. Swayambhu is a neighbourhood where we are staying, which I mentioned in a previous e-mail, is a predominantly Tibetan neighbourhood, dominated by the Buddhist monkey temple. We walked around the hill, seeing different parts of the temple and then came upon the 3 Buddhas. You can see the group with them in the attached pictures. We then walked up to the top of the hill to see the monkey temple, so called because of all the holy monkeys who live in and around it. We explored the area, delighting in the monkeys jumping over our heads, the markets stalls selling their wares, the little Tibetan stores in the alleyways, where artists were practicing their skills and showing how they made these beautiful, intricate paintings and religious artifacts. Finally we went over to watch a stunning sunset over the Kathmandu hills. You can see the pictures below. (For more pictures of the Temple and views of the city, I refer you back to the e-mail from the first day.)

We then descended the mountain before it got dark and had another session in the big house about what to really expect in our village. This was run by the Tevel staff and the volunteers who have been living in other villages for 5 months already.
We then made havdalah with the other groups. Again it was lovely, all standing in a circle with our arms around each other, singing havdalah with musical instruments to accompany us in the courtyard of the house. Once again, we ended up having an audience watching us.

After this we had our final session of the day, learning about Tevel’s working relationship with the villages and projects and how the decision making is made. It involved watching a couple of very inspiring and amusing TED talks. With that, we finished our preparation and are now ready to go into the villages. We had some free time tonight. Some people went to get dinner and do more shopping and some stayed in. We are leaving early tomorrow so most people came back to pack and go to bed. From tomorrow, we’ll be in the villages so I don’t know what to expect in terms of WiFi, electricity etc, but as long as there is both of those things, then I will write to you tomorrow. If you don’t hear from me, you’ll know why (and if that’s the case you might not be hearing from me until next week).

Thank you and good night

Nepal – Day 5

Shout out to ima and pops
(Aaron helped me write this e-mail.)

Today we woke up early in order to take a ten hour ride to the rural village of Sundrawoti. We started the day learning about “Nepali Time”. We were originally supposed to leave at 6am and then they moved it back to 7 and by the time they turned up it was 7:45am. They also mentioned that we’d be getting a jeep there, but we thought they just called the mini-bus we’d been driving around in a Jeep, but no, an actual jeep turned up to pick us up – it was a 10 seater and we were packed in like sardines, but having done the journey, we are really glad it was in a jeep.

If you are short on time and can’t read this whole e-mail, then I can summarize the day for you in one line. We took an 10 hour jeep ride to our village.

But, that doesn’t do the day justice at all…….. in fact Natalie, said this was her favourite day so far. She loved the authentic breakfast, the best lunch she has had since she has been here, the breathtaking views and the banter in the jeep. And she is right – it was an adventure that we’ll all remember. We have all done long car journeys, but nothing like this.

We learned a lot today. Nikki has a very unique skill. She can sleep anywhere, anytime. Most of us dozed off for a minute or two, but despite the crazy, bumpy, windy road, hair-raising moments of playing chicken with vehicles coming the other way on a one way road at the edge of a 2000 meter high precipice and countless moments where the road just turned into mud and disappeared (and it started raining), still Nikki managed to sleep. I have never said tefillat HaDerech (the travelers prayer) with such fervor (and the shema a few dozen times).

Avery also has a skill, she managed to read an entire novel (about 500 pages) on the way and then started a second book. The rest of us shared stories, listened and bobbed along to Nepali music, laughed a lot and took copious amount of pictures. Whilst we traveled along the way, we stopped in a bunch of different places. The first one was a town where we went to a local restaurant for breakfast. We asked Gotham, (the Tevel staff member accompanying us) to just bring us a sampling of all the local delicacies and he did. We tried about 8 different things, mostly sweet and drank some milk tea and within 5 minutes we were stuffed. Aaron impressed us with his appetite – he tried everything and ate by far the most amount of food. When we got back into our jeep, things were just a little bit tighter. We then continued to a fresh produce market and bought some fruit and vegetables to tide us over for the next week.

Throughout the journey we were climbing higher and higher but it was cloudy and overcast, so whilst the views were stunning we couldn’t quite see the Himalayas. As we entered the mountains, the amount of pictures taken was more than ever on this trip. It was very entertaining to watch everyone try to get the best snap in between the trees with no cars and the best view possible in the shot. While on the road we witnessed over 100 near crashes and heard the horns being used more than we ever have witnessed in our lives.

We stopped at a stunning viewpoint to eat lunch and then continued to another viewpoint, where we looked out over a vast valley and mountainous region. The pictures don’t do it justice but it was beautiful and I feel like I am running out of adjectives to describe the beauty here. Our next stop was Simon’s village of Suspa from when he volunteered with Tevel 10 years ago. This experience was very mixed for Simon specifically. We stopped the bus outside what should have been his house but it wasn’t there anymore. It had been completely destroyed by the earthquake 2 years ago. In its place stood an aluminum shack and the family had been relocated further into the valley. We could only imagine how devastated Simon was. The whole area was badly affected by the earthquake and throughout all the mountains, the terraces were full of aluminum shacks instead of all the houses that were destroyed in the earthquake. Part of that pain was lessened a few minutes later, when his adopted Dad from back then recognized him and started talking to him in English and introduced him to his daughter, who had been an 8 month baby when Simon was last here and lived with them. Simon arranged to spend time with the whole family tomorrow (they are 20 minutes from our village) and then he showed us some of his old hangouts and talked about how things have changed and modernized. There are new bridges and the waterfalls/ river have been somewhat diverted. His family’s new house was pointed out in the valley and he posed for some pictures in places where he had posed years before and we looked at the differences later on. Perhaps the biggest changes for Simon, were the fact his village had electricity and his family had a phone and his Dad spoke English. In the 5 minutes Simon spent with him, they said more to each other than they had when he lived with them for 5 months. Clearly this is a product of globalization. Whether it is good or bad, is not for me to decide. A lot of times we hear about natural disasters and feel sad but when you meet people it directly effects, it’s a whole different experience. Later in the evening, I asked Simon to speak to the group about how he felt and it was quote an emotional experience and I think helped the students understand the tragedy just a little more clearly.

We continued to our village, which is quite large and were pleasantly surprised to find electricity and some water. Our house has a stunning view, with a traditional outhouse and a couple of bulls living under the house. There is no heating and not a real toilet and only cold water. We are also quite high up and I think it’s going to be a cold night. We relaxed and got oriented for 20 minutes and then came down to the activity house to meet with the Tevel staff and understand more about our village and the projects here and what we’ll be doing tomorrow. The activity was with the Tevel staff who live here. As is traditional in Nepal, we sat on the floor with our shoes off, drinking Milk tea, which is basically sweet Chai tea and their number one drink. It was a nice session. Some of the students were upset at how ‘advanced’ the village was, but then there was a powercut and the lights went out and we had to continue by the light of the candle.

At the end of the session, we went to have our first Daal Baht which will be our food twice a day for the next two weeks. I think people were nervous about eating it, but it was delicious and we dug in. We only used our right hands and ate everything they gave us and even had seconds and thirds. Daal Baht is rice and vegetables and kind of sauce. We finished that and most people went to bed. I am sitting here writing to you, watching English football with the local Tevel staff who also like English football and I am waiting for my game to start. Simon and I are both avid Liverpool fans, so some of the other locals are joining us to watch the game. This is a far cry from Simon’s Tevel experience 10 years ago, but we are having fun and interacting with locals and that is what it is all about.

As you can tell I have some internet access but its very weak and cuts in and out, so I’ll write as often as I can.

Have a great night!

Nepal – Day 6

Shalom,

Yesterday (day 5 not 4 as I accidentally wrote in the subject of the e-mail yesterday), the students were exhausted from all the traveling, so today we started a little later with breakfast, which is held in Nepal at 10 and is really more like brunch. We had some more Daal Baht (which you’ll hear me say often) and then we met with our facilitators and a group of local youths and then split into two groups to explore the village.

I don’t think we really knew what the village was until today. We are staying in the center of the village, near the main road so we had a weird perception of the village. Sundrawoti is split into 9 areas. We are staying in area 5, which has about 60 families and is the center of the action with small shops and cafes and a “busy” road. Overall there are 4,000 people living in sundrawoti and we went to learn more about some of these other areas. One group went to see areas 6-9 and the other 1 to 4.

We started our hike and it was challenging to say the least – we were basically hiking straight up the mountain for an hour and a half. We felt it in our leg muscles and it was quite the workout. On the way we got to see real village life. We stopped at a water mill and learned how that worked and also a rice mill. We saw the villages working at their professions, we saw a small brick factory, someone basket weaving, a bunch of animals kept in and around the house. Aaron went to pet a goat, but the other one got jealous and jumped on him, hoping for some attention. All the time, we are walking up and up and up. The views either side of us were stunning, with terraces sweeping around and down the mountains and we even caught some stunning views of the snow capped Himalayas. Right now, is wheat growing season, so its very green. We saw many different types of vegetables growing and we got to see into people’s houses. There were a very few that weren’t destroyed by the earthquake band we were able to see inside. The houses are made from mud and straw and mud bricks and many of them are two stories with one central large room downstairs where they cook and eat etc and then upstairs, there are 2-3 rooms for sleeping, storing things and whatever else the family decides to use it for. Nikki and Natali’s group hung out for 2 hours in a house to get out of the rain and ending up playing cards with the locals and learning more Nepali.

The heavens opened up on our hike and we were treated to a huge thunderstorm and large hailstones. At one point, we even saw ice forming on the mountain (we were high up). There was torrential rain on and off for around 3 hours so when it was really strong we would duck into people’s houses or under tin roofs of houses or barns. We were with 4-5 locals so we took pictures with them and huddled with them. When the rain eased off a little, we’d continue to explore. We saw the different agricultural projects Tevel has helped to build. A lot of “greenhouses” so farmers can grow crops year round. The ones in the green house are specifically for them to bring to the food cooperative and then sell them onto the markets and they get to keep the money from that produce. All of these ideas were built in conjunction with Tevel who donated some of the equipment and helped to train them.

We saw a few projects and then went to warm up in someone’s dining room – it’s a kind of guest house, with a couple of tables and benches and nice views. There was an open fire in the corner and they made us tea and Roti for a snack. We warmed ourselves up in front of the fire and thawed off a bit and chatted. Then when the weather let up, we continued. Despite the storm, we walked along old and quaint hilltop paths with little brick walls along them, along the sides of terraces, along the side of steep mountains and through forest and thick vegetation. Aaron and Lior decided it was like something out of Lord of the Rings. We got a great view of our part of the village. It is behind Lior in the picture of her with her hood up and terraces and a few houses going up the hill in the background behind her. Nikki and Natali got to see the local school, where we will volunteer tomorrow doing a painting project. We really felt like we got to know what Nepal village life was about, which was the main goal for today. We saw a few people carrying their heavy loads in their baskets on the backs with the straps around their heads up these steep hills in the pouring rain and were in awe of them and then understood that despite the pouring rain life must go on.

What was also really stunning was the rain making loads of little streams and waterfalls. Nepal is the country with the second largest amount of water passing through it, and there are waterfalls, streams, rivers every few hundred meters in the hills, but when it rains, the water is everywhere and it added to the beauty of the place. It tended to run down our paths, so aside from making the rocks very slippery (only I fell), it was like we were hiking over, and through streams throughout the day. It was a very strenuous day, so we came back to rest in our rooms for a while and that was when there was another power cut – twice in 20 hours and then we met with the local Tevel staff to process our experience and talk about tomorrow. Finally we played a bunch of games together, which we knew from our Zionist youth movements, but it was funny and strange to be playing them in a hilltop Nepali village for the local population and then again remember the influence of the Tevel organization in the training of the community leaders here. There was a tremendous amount of laughing and everyone feels closer now

We’ll soon eat some Daal Baht for dinner (noticing a pattern) and then it will be dark, which in the village means, bed time.

Nepal – Day 7

Shalom everyone,

Today was another packed and busy day, which really allowed us to appreciate and settle into the village more. We are getting more used to the language, the toilets and today, most people even showered – no mean feat, considering there is no hot water and the shower is outside.

We were given the option to sleep in this morning or meet at 6:30am, to go to a women’s empowerment meeting. Those of us who woke up were treated to a spectacular view of the snow-capped mountains as soon as we opened our door. Then we hiked UP to ward 6. It is literally straight UP for 35 minutes from our shack. It was a good morning work out – cold but at least not raining. I have attached a few pictures of us hiking up. If you can’t spot the students, look for Natalie’s bright orange bag. Soon we got to the central meeting area of ward 6, a large flat square piece of land in between two smaller villages spreading further up the hill. One of the local woman brought us tea and then we watched the sun come up. As soon as it did, small red and purple dots started appearing all over the mountain as the women started converging on the meeting spot. They were young and old, kids and grandmothers etc etc. We were invited to observe from the side and our guide, Phatima translated for us. Over 50 women came down to join the meeting.

They started this women’s group 12 months ago and many women expressed their gratitude and expressed how great these meetings were. Tevel facilitators have been facilitating these meetings for 12 months but are leaving in around 8 months and today’s agenda was about how to continue with it, once they have gone. The elected women leaders spoke about they role and what they have been doing and other women asked them questions. Phatima told us 12 months ago, these women wouldn’t speak. Now they were running the meeting effectively and talking non-stop. At the beginning of the meeting, the women played some games, like we had last night and do some yoga and stretching exercises. Again it was interesting to see games that we played in our Zionist youth movements, being played in a Nepali hilltop village women’s empowerment group. The goal of this meeting was to come up with a code of conduct for when Tevel leave. They made a start time, they want to set regular dates each month for the meeting and that everyone needs to listen to each other. At the end of the meeting, the women formed a huddle and chanted “we women…. We have the power” It was very inspiring and the students who got up early and came said it was thoroughly worthwhile.

As we were climbing back down, we reached a “road” and two tractors drive by and offered us a lift so we jumped on and they brought us all the way down to our breakfast -another cool experience. We ate Daal Baht for breakfast with Nikki playing and singing religious Jewish songs to us and then headed to our next project all together.

We walked over to ward 2 which is where one of the primary schools are – Chandidevi Primary school, about a 30 minute walk. The school is a dilapidated old building consisting of a few classrooms. Some of which are decorated and painted nicely and some are not. We were given a classroom to paint. Nikki and Natalie, who are our two artists in the group, designed a beautiful wall. Whilst they decorated the classroom with an outline for everyone else to paint, Aaron, Avery and Lior went to visit a farmer below. She let us into her traditional house and then we cuddled her baby goats and saw all her crops – ginger, onion, garlic, mustard, guava, oranges, pomegranates, peas, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, chili peppers (which Avery popped straight into her mouth to try and clear her nose) and a bee hive. They loved holding the baby goats, until Aaron sneezed and dropped it. He felt very guilty about that for the rest of the day. All this was happening with a backdrop of the snow capped Himalayas in the distance behind us.

Back at the school, the girls had done a phenomenal job with the drawing. Everyone painted a bit, but Nikki and Natalie were particularly committed and spent hours in the classroom. The whole staff of the school was watching a bunch of different people joined in. In the middle we took a break and a local lady who heard what we were doing brought down some homemade curry and Roti for us to eat as a snack. We continued painting and labeling the school and the finished product was fantastic. The school staff were really happy with them and made them sign the wall with our group name and then wrote Natalie, Nikki and Lior’s name in Nepali too. It felt good to be leaving something behind and to feel like we were making a difference. Nikki said she had never done anything like that before and really enjoyed the experience. When we weren’t painting, we were playing and dancing with cute kids in the school and Lior really enjoyed all the hugs she got.

We walked home and showered and then came for our daily processing session, where everyone shared their thoughts of the day. We then played some more games with the tevel Staff and laughed hysterically yet again.

We are soon going for Daal Baht for dinner and then its dark and thus bedtime. Its freezing at night so we are wrapped up warm in blankets and fully clothed. We are going to appreciate our own homes a lot more after this trip – going to the toilet in the middle of the night is an experience – we have to get up, put shoes on, and a coat, get a flashlight, walk outside in the freezing cold to the outdoor toilet, which is also freezing cold, but we are doing it and having a great time in the process. Only two power cuts today, which was about 4-5 hours long together, so quite good!

It was a really nice day and we are excited for tomorrow.

Good night

Nepal – Day 8

Shalom,

I write this in the middle of he third power cut of the day, in the hope that it comes back before I go to bed so I can send this We’ve been without power today more than we have had it. Its been another great day and quite a strenuous one. The students are not used to this lifestyle so that are exhausted.

We started the day with three options – sleep, visit another women’s empowerment meeting and visit an agricultural meeting in ward 8. At 7:30am when we were meeting, I was the only one there with Bijaya. So myself and Bijaya, the Tevel agricultural expert, walked UP to the meeting. This actually wasn’t too far and we made it in 15 minutes. It was a stunning hike, with quaint bridges over streams, people ploughing their fields with oxen and buffalo, all sorts of crops growing everywhere etc etc.

We got to the meeting place, called tinpadheri, which literally means, three streams under the tree. That’s exactly what was there. It was another picturesque spot in the middle of the village for the meeting. Tevel has encouraged all the farmers in each ward to cooperate with each other, borrowing some principles from Kibbutzim. Each farmer in the ward, pays a monthly fee and then they can take out loans from the group and buy equipment, fertilizer together and all sorts of other beneficial arrangements, which help the farmers. Today, after they did the financial part, they talked about seeds, fertilizer, new ideas and other such agricultural issues. One again it was fascinating to see and its been one of the most successful farming models in Nepal. I noticed that most people here were also women and in our next project too. This is because most of the men migrate away to the big cities or other countries to earn more money and then send it back.

We then returned and joined everybody else for Daal baht before hiking up to ward 5 for our project for the day. This time we’d be focusing on agriculture and we would help build the structure for a “tunnel”, which is basically a kind of greenhouse. Every farmer is adding greenhouses to their plots of land so that they can grow more food, even in the rain season. Tomatoes are very popular. Basically, every few days a farmer, buys the bamboo and wire and then all the people from the village plus the Tevel staff come and help them build the greenhouse. That person then helps out when its someone’s else’s turn. Tevel donates the expertise, the plastic, the seeds and the staff to supervise. They introduced this technology into the area and you can now see it everywhere. Today was a training exercise so people could learn how to do it. So, the farmers were taking notes about measurements and practicing each of their skills. There were over 40 people there and the Tevel staff said that was very pleasing for them and one of the biggest groups they ever had. We were there to help and apparently, they really appreciated us being there, not only for our help, but also for the morale boost. We were carrying bamboo – some of which is much heavier than we thought it was going to be, chopping it, painting the parts that are buried in the ground to protect against insects and damp, we were tying things together, lifting and helping out wherever we could. In the pictures you can see the greenhouse at various stages of construction. It was extremely cool to watch how everyone worked together and build this thing in a number of hours. Whenever these kind of projects are organized, the person whose plot of land we are on, also makes a snack for everyone. So the girls helped make Roti (the Nepali word of every different type of bread) and curry and then we all sat around and ate it after we were done. Of course, there is always time for Avery and Nikki (and sometimes Lior) to hug and hold some sort of baby animal too and today was no different. It was quite hot and we were working in the sun in the heat of the day, so the rest of the day was optional as some people were physically drained. Natalie and Lior, ever the adventurous, elected to join us to visit two more places before heading home.

We hiked further up into ward 5 to visit a man who made little traditional seats out of bamboo, straw and cotton. We sat in his courtyard and he just started working. We were somewhat mesmerized by the work, which was very orderly and we didn’t really understand how it formed the chair and then suddenly he lifted up this kind of mat he had made, twisted it and suddenly we saw the base of a chair. It was a great moment, as I am sure you can imagine. Whilst sitting there, his neighbor who had seen us watching him, turned up with a plate of some kind of fruit that none of us had ever seen. They wouldn’t tell us what it was until we tried it, so we tried it. It tasted like nothing we had ever tasted before. Lior said it tasted like an apple/pear with the texture of a potato. Appealing……? It wasn’t bad. The fruit was a ground apple – meaning an apple grown in the ground. I followed her to see what the fruit looked like and found out it looks like a sweet potato. We are here for experiences and this was just another of the many we are having.

We continued on through the Lord of Rings landscape and arrived at a little secluded spot in ward 3 where we met Ram Prasad Oli, a 64 year old man and his wife who was 65. They were sitting on the ground and he was weaving giant carrying baskets, also from bamboo. What was special about him was that he had no legs. He had lost them and one finger to cancer at age 52. He had been an agricultural laborer up to that point in his life and then he had to teach himself a new trade. He taught himself to weave giant baskets for people to carry things in. He was working whilst he spoke to us. It was quite an inspiring story. We also heard from his wife too all about their 6 children and where they all live and work etc etc. It as a great experience.

Then we came home and had freezing cold showers and felt much better. We then had a processing session and ate Daal baht and then it was dark and we went to bed.

I think we are getting to know and understand the village much better now and every person in the group is finding their place. We also bonding with the local tevel staff. Tomorrow will be our last full day here and we are attempting our biggest project yet……. I’ll tell you about that tomorrow

Until then……

Nepal – Day 9

Shalom,

I have found WiFi access on one part of a side road in our village, so I am sending you the last three days e-mails as if they were sent at the end of each day but without pictures as the signal isn’t strong enough for me to attach pictures. I’ll send them later Starting with DAY 9 which was Thursday

What a day!

We started a little later today with Daal Baht and then started our biggest projects yet.

Project number one was a clean up campaign. Around 20 people came to join in the campaign and we started with a rally to raise awareness and encourage more people to join us with the clean up. At it’s peak around 60-70 people joined us. For some reason, people in Nepal just throw the garbage, (wrappers, plastic etc) on the ground and it just stays there. Tevel is working to try and change that culture. We put garbage cans along the road and then with our gloves and masks we walked along the main road, picking up as much garbage as we could. I think in this task, we were more focused and motivated than they were. They then burn the garbage they collect, which we know is not good for the environment, but its all they know and currently their only option. We cleaned the main road for about 2 hours and by the end we were hot and sweaty and tired.

From there, we continued to another project, which was helping to clean up and maintain a water source and channel it where it was supposed to go. We schlepped rocks, dug out leaves and mud and moved stones. It was very physical labor and we worked hard for over an hour in the heat. It was very satisfying at the end to see the water flowing through the channel we had built, emerging from the rock into the two pools below, which then filter the water, before going into the water tank. The water here serves the area we are living and eating in, so now they’ll have a fresher, cleaner water supply. We worked with the locals and produced something really good and it felt very rewarding the end. Big shout out to Natalie, Aaron and Lior, who worked very hard on this project.

For the final project of the day, we went down the mountain for the first time into ward 3 in order to help a farmer channel his irrigation system. First we sat and had snacks and drinks with everyone then we worked. We formed one long chain and moved rocks out of the way of the channel to another area. Again it was very satisfying and the farmer was really grateful. You should be able to see a short time lapse of it attached to this e-mail.

After we finished we had to hike back up to where we lived, which was challenging to say the least and then we all showered with cold water and felt wonderful. During our processing session, we mimed out the experience of our day and then we all shared our highlights of the Dolekha experience: Natalie loved all the projects and seeing the fruits of her labor and truth be told, she really worked hard this trip in every single project. Aaron, really enjoyed the Daal baht and loved hiking with the spectacular views and even the experience of the huge hailstones whilst hiking and seeing how people carry heavy weights up the mountain. He was also inspired by the women’s meeting and he enjoyed the physical labor of today. Nikki enjoyed the painting project and the baby animals and meeting all the Tevel staff. Avery also enjoyed the painting and baby animals and Lior didn’t like the cold showers, but aside from that enjoyed all the activities and babies and seeing the impact of Tevel on the community and especially the women’s group.

Afterwards the Tevel staff shared their feedback with us too. They were inspired by us and our willingness to help the community and to learn and felt like they bonded with us and had a nice time. They think of us as their friends. They really appreciated our hard work and enjoyed hiking with us and we made it funny for them. We gave them ideas too for their future work in Dolekha. We also made an immediate impact – already the garbage is now being put in the garbage cans along the main road we cleaned today, instead of being thrown on the floor.

We then had a dance party with the Tevel staff, dancing to Nepali, Israeli and English language pop music. We ate Daal Baht all together and then returned to our rooms and that is when the real fun started. For some reason, there were giant spiders in the girls room, which the whole village knew about it (from their screaming). Once we dealt with them, Natalie kicked what she though was a leaf only for it to start flapping around and it was then we realized it was a little bat. All in all, it was a funny evening, despite being without power for over 12 hours. We packed up and went to bed ready for an early start in the morning.

Nepal – Day 10

Shalom,

We woke up early and waited for our bus to pick us up. It arrived in typical Nepali time, which means very late. We drove down to have tea in the Tevel house and found all the staff waiting for us and they held a tikka ceremony for us, which means giving us traditional scarves and dabbing our foreheads with red paste made from petals. This is a sign of victory and was there way of thanking us for our time in the village. We drank tea and set off.

It was a long, cramped journey once again with stunning views, great banter, a good lunch. The front seat collapsed at the beginning of the journey so we had to stop at a garage and get that fixed in a village – everyone jumped out and plugged their phones in wherever they could find a plug as everyone’s phone was basically dead, due to the powercut. Aaron was very enthused by the sheer amount of waterfalls we saw along the way.

After 6-7 hours, we stopped for lasi, which is like Nepali milkshake made from yoghurt with congealed butter on top. The milkshake was lovely but we all had to remove the butter. We got banana flavor and most of us loved it and once again the view was breathtaking.

We continued our journey to Manegau (a small village in the mountains with 71 families and 5 homestays. It has phenomenal views of the surroundings and the Himalayas in the distance) and as we arrived we were met by our host families and all the village kids. The girls started playing patti-cake with the kids and picking up the babies and stroking the animals. It was a great welcome and then the families held a traditional Tikka Ceremony to welcome us. We were given scarves, flower garlands and a petal stuck to our heads with milk. It was very sweet and then obviously they fed us more food – Roti and chickpeas. Then each family took 2 students down to their house for our homestay experience. We dropped off our bags and then went to the buffalo pond to have a group Kabbalat Shabbat Experience, which included lighting candles, meditating, some prayers and songs and Kiddush and Hamotzi. Despite being a small group, we had a nice time and there was a lot of laughing, reminiscing and it was a very nice, albeit, different way to bring in Shabbat.

We then returned to our families for dinner. I was staying with Aaron, so I can mostly talk about that experience, but I know that everyone enjoyed their meals. Natalie and Lior learnt a lot of words in Nepali as their family spoke no English and Nikki and Avery played cards with their family. Aaron and I got to know our family ad then we ate dinner and sat on the porch outside. Before we knew it, the other guest had come down and two guests from a different homestay had walked up with their host and everyone was hanging out on our porch. We were one Nepali Mother, whose husband lives and works in Malaysia, one Nepali college student, one French lady living in Sri Lanka and teaching pre-school kids, 2 Israeli women who had just finished the army (one had been a tank instructor and the other was stationed on and patrolled the Egyptian border) and Aaron and I. It was an interesting discussion and lasted a couple of hours before another thunder and hail storm hit us and everyone ran to bed. It was extremely dark and peaceful and everyone agreed it had been their best sleep of the trip.

Nepal – Day 11

Shavua Tov,

I remind you that as it is Shabbat, I can not take pictures, so the few that are attached are courteousy of the students and I hope help catch our experience today. It was a very chilled day.

I woke up at 5:30 to watch the sunrise from the place in the village called the Himalayan viewpoint. Everyone was given the option to join and at 5:50am when we were supposed to meet, Nikki and Avery came bounding up the hill with huge grins on their face. We walked to the viewpoint and we could see the faint outline of the Himalayas in the distance and the valley spread out before us. We could see for miles and it was amazing to see clouds below us with the peaks of hills or mountains piercing through them. Just after 6am, the sun came up and a long stretch of snow-filled Himalayas came into view. The sun reflected off them and turned the snow a pinkish color. It was a special moment. We stayed up there for different lengths of time and then returned to our homes for some sort of light breakfast. Aaron and I were treated to Pan-crepes and they were delicious.

At 7:45am, we all met up to hike to the nearby Buddhist pilgrimage site know as the Namo-Buddha. It was a lovely a short-ish hike of about 45 minutes and you can imagine what the views were like – never-ending hills and valleys, terraces, greenery and as we got closer to the Temple, we saw gold-topped pagodas, stuppas, the flags – it was an explosion of colors. It was magnificent. We hiked around the top of the mountain, which contains viewpoints of the Himalayas, which were much clearer now as some of the haze had burned off, monasteries, shrines, statues, monuments, tons of flags, large buddhas, intricate artwork, thousands of candles, monks of various ages and much more. We spent over an hour and a half exploring the site- it is one of the holiest pilgrimage sites in Buddhism, and then hiked back to our village, which didn’t take very long at all. We are becoming pretty experienced hikers on this terrain (Well some of us anyway) and thus got back earlier than expected. By this point the Himalayas were spread out before us in stunning beauty and Aaron and I took the opportunity to go back to the Himalayan viewpoint and soak it in. Words don’t do it justice. Aaron tried to capture it with his phone on a panoramic shot, but its just not the same as seeing it with your own eyes. Aaron described it as “magical”. He felt like the mountains were just floating on the horizon. Our Israeli friends from the night before also came to hang out with us there and then it was time to return to our families.

Everyone ate Daal Baht for lunch and we started hanging out with different guests and local people. Some people slept, others read, others walked – everyone relaxed and it was a lovely Shabbat afternoon. In the late afternoon, we met for another limmud on the Jewish people’s responsibility to the world. We looked at texts from Tanach, Gemara, midrash, Rabbi Sacks and Solovechik, a Chinese proverb and Bob Dylan among others. Lior got quite passionate about ideology being more important that pragmatism and Natalie was arguing back. It was like they were re-creating a discussion straight from the Gemara and it was great to watch. At some point it got political and Trump was mentioned, Syria, Rwanda and Darfur. I planned the limmud for an hour and it took almost 2 and that was with me rushing it a bit at the end as the light was fading and it was getting difficult to see. I really enjoyed the experience of learning with your kids and seeing people get passionate about important causes.

We stopped and made a group Havdalah and then returned to our families for Daal Baht. Then the community put on a bonfire for us and them. There was a large speaker and different types of music, especially Nepali music, and dancing and drums and masks. It was a lot of fun. We stayed for an hour or so and then returned to our families to sleep

I hope to have good enough internet tonight to send the pictures from the last three days and also tonight e-mail

Until then….

Nepal – Day 12

Shalom All,

I am sending today’s e-mail a bit early, as we only have WiFi in the lobby of our hotel and once all the students come down, the WiFi will be so weak, I won’t be able to send a thing.

Today we left our families after tea and a light breakfast (for some of us) in the morning and traveled to Banepa, where we got a real breakfast – eggs, pancakes, toast etc. We then said goodbye to Gotham from the Tevel staff who had been with us for the entire last week. We had enjoyed spending time with him. He made us laugh and helped us to understand what was going on around us. We continued on to Nala with Gal and Gakol from Tevel. In Nala, we jumped out of the vehicle ready for our daylong hike to Nagrakot. Avery hurt her knee a little on the hike yesterday so was unable to join in and went ahead with Gal and the rest of us started our hike with Gakol and Maila, who was our guide and also the owner of the hotel where we would be staying.

We were told we would hike for around 4-5 hours with at least half of it being UPhill. We psyched ourselves up and went for it. There was a lot of haze today which was very disappointing as the views weren’t quite as spectacular as they could have been. We should have been able to see the Himalayas as we hiked but we couldn’t see beyond the valley below us. Don’t get me wrong it was still beautiful. We hiked through jungles/forests, small villages, we passed a small army training base, where new cadets were learning to shoot at the shooting range, terraces, animals, streams, a creek, where the local farmers were washing their freshly picked radishes, other vegetable fields etc etc. At one point, the principal of a primary (elementary) school we were passing, invited us in, to meet his kids and of course, with Lior and Nikki with us, there was no way we could refuse. We saw very young kids learning English and were very impressed.
We stopped regularly and shared our snacks around. At one point, we even made and ate nutella sandwiches for everyone (or the Nepali equivalent).

Gakol and Maila would keep us going by promising it was only another 10 minutes when really it was a lot longer but it kept us moving. Both of them seemed completely unfazed by the climb even though they were significantly older than the students and I think they were laughing at us a bunch of the time and we even avoided some short cuts, because they thought it was too steep for us. Nevertheless, I was very impressed with everyone as they walked without complaining the whole way. Towards the end, Lior and Natalie decided they wanted to finish and power walked for the last hour or so. The rest of us strode casually on, taking in the views and listening to music. At one point, Nikki, to our surprise, suddenly sprinted ahead – we knew there was a baby animal involved but we didn’t know which one. Of course, we were correct, she had spotted a puppy and she was in heaven, then she saw its twin and that was it, i thought she would never move again.

We eventually reached the tourist town of Nagrakot, full of small hotels, resorts and guest houses, with small shops and restaurants etc. Its quite quaint. It’s one of the most famous tourist areas in Nepal, known for it great location, with a fantastic view of the Himalayas, but today was so hazy, we couldn’t see a thing. We got to our hotel and checked in. Its funny what the students now consider luxurious. After the village, if it has a toilet they can sit down on and a shower, they are happy and indeed Avery sent a whatsapp message to all of us in the middle of our hike to tell us all how nice it was, which made everyone very happy. our rooms have massive windows and if it wasn’t hazy, we’d have the best view in the world. Everybody rested after a late lunch and then we’ll have dinner and go to bed early.

We are hoping to get up early to go and see sunrise over the Himalayas. That is of course, dependent upon the weather, so we are praying for some rain to clear the air. We’ll see…..

Have a great Sunday and I’ll write to you again tomorrow.

Nepal – Day 13

Shalom to you all,

This is my penultimate e-mail as tomorrow we are coming home to Israel.

My dear friend Simon decided to tell everyone that it was my birthday, so yesterday evening, after I had sent the e-mail, everyone treated me to a cake at dinner. However, this was accompanied by Nepali customs, whereby the person sitting next to you, gets to decorate your face on the nose, forehead and 2 cheeks with cream from the cake. Lior gladly obliged. However, I was not going down so easy and pretty soon some of the Nepali staff and Lior also ended up with cream all over their faces. It was a strange but rather funny custom and it was a delicious cake that the staff of the hotel made especially for me, so thank you to everyone on the trip – it was a nice surprise.

This morning, we woke up early to see sunrise over the Himalayas and were treated to the cloudiest day we have ever seen. Visibility wasn’t low, it was zero! Ever the optimists we decided to go anyway and see if it would clear up. We got to the viewpoint at 5:30am and saw many other people who were as optimistic as we were, including people who had traveled for 2 hours from Kathmandu and in the 45 minutes we were there we saw nothing – not even a glimpse of the sun. You can see the group in the attached picture, sitting patiently. Look how happy NIkki looks to be up that early😜. For a view of what we saw, see Natalie’s picture attached – there are a few trees and then just white! At least we saw the Himalayas on Shabbat, otherwise, we would have felt very cheated, I think.

After 45 minutes, we gave up and went back to our hotel to pack and eat breakfast and then return to Kathmandu. Here we went to Durbar Square, which is where the Old Palace is and many, many temples in the square in front of the palace. The square was badly damaged in the recent earthquake. Many structures were over 500 years old, so we could see a lot of the rebuilding projects and in the palace itself, we saw pieces they had found and laid out and were waiting to put back in the correct place when they rebuild that specific part of the palace or Temple. We saw the old Royal Throne, the sacred pool which Natalie decided to call her Mikveh, pictures and paintings of all the kings, many beautiful temples, doorways, statues etc etc. The architecture was so intricate and pleasing on the eye. Perhaps the highlight for many, was when we got to see the “Kumari” – “the living godess”. We went into the palace where she lives and learnt all about her, and then Gakul called her to come out and meet us and 2 minutes later, she appeared at a window for 1 minute. You are not allowed to take pictures, you can just look at her and some of the Hindus in the crowd, said short prayers to her. It was a very interesting experience. We walked around Durbar square for about 90 minutes and then went for another lasi – Nepali style milkshake. Gal (from Tevel) told us it is the best one in Kathmandu but in my humble opinion, while it was very tasty, it wasn’t as good as the one Gotham took us for on the way to Manegau.

When we finished at Durbar Square, we checked back into our Kathmandu hotel and then the students had free time for souvenir shopping and they didn’t disappoint. I don’t want to give anything away, but lets just say there are some very happy shopkeepers in the Thamel neighborhood tonight, but our students too, were also very proud of their bartering skills.

We met up in the evening for our final dinner in the students favorite restaurant.
4 members of the Tevel staff joined the meal too and it was really nice to see the students put their phones down and interact with the Tevel staff throughout the meal. The meal lasted a couple of hours and now we are returning to repack and go to sleep. We fly home tomorrow and I’ll write to you again to let you know we landed safely in the Tel Aviv Airport.

It has been a pleasure getting to know your kids on this trip and experiencing Nepal with them. It has been challenging for all of them in different ways. Everyone has applied themselves to the best of their ability and everyone is taking what they can and want from this trip. Everyone is also leaving a mark on Nepal and made a difference in one way or another. Thank you also to the Students. I know it wasn’t always easy for you and I think you all did very well. I am very proud of you. Thanks for posing for so many pictures and sharing your pictures with me. i hope you had a good time and memorable experience and have all learnt something from this trip.

Good night,

Shalom,

We saw the Himalayas! …… as our plane cleared the clouds on our way out of Kathmandu we were treated to the most spectacular view of the Himalayas which climb way above the skies. They went on for miles and everyone was taking pictures like crazy.

This is just a quick note to let you know we arrived safely home to Israel.
I just put all your kids in cabs home to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Addresses:

Aardvark Israel in Tel Aviv 39 Levinsky Street, 2nd Floor Tel Aviv 6610910
Aardvark Israel in Jerusalem 34 Yossi Ben Yoezer, Knisa Gimel Jerusalem 9330154

Phone Numbers:

Fax Numbers:

USA: 1-212-981-2494
Israel: 153-77-201-9328
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