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3 jan20183

Believe that dreams come true every day, because they do

Kathmandu - Aanbu - Khaireni - Gorkha - Pokhara, NepalKathmandu - Aanbu - Khaireni - Gorkha - Pokhara, Nepal
The first time I thought about going on a trip like that was probably around March-April 2016. The thought itself was in my mind for much longer but it was always just a dream I was never ready to chase. At least that's what I chose to keep telling myself, for absolutely no right reason. 

Volunteering, helping people, using your skills for good, all those things sometimes get a bad name because it's being branded as cliché at best or described as voluntourism, or even white-saviour complex at worst. Many times I also get challenged with an argument, whether it's about my volunteering or country A sending aid to country B, that charity should start at home. They're right but only to an extent. I have been sick of people constantly criticising those who decide to help elsewhere. Who are those people to judge? Help is help and just because you have a secondary reason, for example to do it in a place you've never been to, doesn't make it lesser. There are people who decide to help in their hometown, and then there are people who decide to help in another country. What's the difference? NONE! As long as you help, you give your time and effort to a different cause than yourself it doesn't matter where you do it. 

Why am I venting? Because I consciously decided to go abroad for my volunteering trip. It has been a while since I thought about possibility of working for an NGO or at least in some kind of capacity in non-profit sector. But let's be honest, without a degree in International Development or Social Sciences, or contacts it's very difficult to get into that sector. In 2015 I met the person who would have the biggest impact on my life so far - Mei Yee Chan. At the time of having met her for the first time she worked for a small organisation called WTO (World Toilet Organisation) and that sparked a lot of interest. 2015 was still a good year at SaleCycle, but the greatness faded and I realised that the change I've been dreaming about might actually be possible.

In 2016, when my idea of non-profit work became a serious thought in my head, Mei and I talked about it for hours and she always said I could do it, that I can transform my skills and make them fit into that sector as NGOs also need people like me. All I needed was one door opened to prove myself, lots of positive thinking and some kind of a plan to make it happen.  And of course somebody to believe in me, which thanks to her - I had it covered.

I didn't know anything about how NGO work, so I decided to look for an opportunity and found Developing World Connections and there I saw trip to Nepal in October 2016.  After few weeks of considerations and financial planning I made the decision. Even though it was very expensive, I wanted my first trip to be taken care for me, whether it's transportation, accommodation, or food. 6 months of waiting and I arrived in Kathmandu
I arrived few days earlier than almost everybody else, so I spent them walking pretty much anywhere I could, getting to know the city, the people, and also getting lost a lot because unfortunately there aren't many street signs in Kathmandu, but that's the best and my favourite way to get around - get lost and try to find a way back! I did it in Amsterdam, London, York, but eventually, with the right attitude, you find the way back and the upside of it is you remember much more and pay attention to details. That's how I reach a level where I don't need a map anymore and that makes me buzzing!

The day after everybody arrived we had our orientation meeting with the organisation we would be supporting Creating Possibilities Nepal, we met the Director - Dinesh Raj Sapkota and few people closely related to the organisation: Dorinda, Nura, Manoj, and Rupesh. The smile throughout the presentation we were watching about where and who we're going to help says it all. Even though at that time I didn't know that the people in the room would change my life but I knew the trip would definitely change who I was.
Next day we travelled to Aanbu Khaireni, small municipality in Tanahu District, located about 125km north-west from Kathmandu where we would be staying for the next two weeks. Every morning we would take two trucks to go to work to two schools Bandevi and Salangiri, located in Deurali village in Gorkha district. Those rides would become one of the highlights of the trip mostly because of the views, but also how physically challenging staying on the back of the truck was.
One of the best rides when Vida and Dikshanta joined our party
I volunteered to become member of the cement crew and despite it having been a back-wrecking, sweat-squeezing job - I never regreted it. The feeling I had after one or two days, when we all worked together, is still something I can remember and replay in my mind any time. The feeling of doing the right thing with the right people in the right time - I guess that's what you feel when you know you belong someone and before that trip I hadn't felt it for a long time.  Mixing cement using only shovels is not an easy task but it was most rewarding when another batch was ready to be poured into the foundations of the school that was destroyed in the Apr 2015 earthquakte. 
With one of the builders
The Cement Crew had a lot of helpers, or as I call it CDS - Cement Delivery System. 
Team Work in its greatness
Among us we had a person, who I also had a pleasure calling my roommate, that helped us relax after grafting hard all day. Joe has been practicing yoga for hmm 8 years now (need to check that information with Joe) and sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, he taught us some yoga, which was a perfect way to unwind and stretch those sore muscles. It helped that we had a fairly big terrace/balcony in the hotel we were staying - perfect space for late night talks, yoga, writing, or even practicing some salsa!
The weekend in between we spent in Pokhara, the largest city in Nepal (in terms of area) and very touristic place due to its proximity to The Annapurna Range. It was a very exciting weekend. Started with visiting Phewa Lake, my first try with paragliding, celebrating Jen's birthday, visiting Peace Pagoda, sleeping on the roof, watching sunrise coming up behind the Himalayas and getting sick. That was the craziest 3 days for everyone, including tha staff at the hotel, the bus drivers, and of course us. After many conversations we established it was water in the hotel, and probably food poisoning for me. The whole debacle meant there were only 4 people going to work on Monday and in general reduced attendance at work for the remainder of the trip. 
Writing on my rock on our last day at Salangiri
On my way back from Nepal I spent the whole flight from New Delhi to London writing the smallest memories of that trip. The flight attendants were so nice that allowed me to sit on the back of the plane and kept bringing me cookies and tea, and asked if I'm writing a book, which I can see that it could look like that. This is just an outline of the trip I have a lot more to say about it and future posts will come. 

After I returned to my normal life I felt so out of place and I knew that everybody feels this way when they come back from such different world like Nepal. But weeks have gone and I still felt like I'm in the wrong place. I was happy as long as I was talking about Nepal and people I met there, I am pretty sure people at work were sick of me talking about it all the time :) But I just couldn't stop because I didn't want it to stop and also the more I talked about it the more details I remembered. 

Samjhana, Niraj, Rene, Jen, Geri, Joe, Vida, Hasti, Dinesh, Rupesh, Dikshanta, Manoj, Dorinda, Russ, Jim, Danielle, Bri, Penny H., Penny G., Bob - all of you, in some degree, pushed me closer towards my dream by being who you are and I guess the vibe we had as a team made me feel so special that it enhanced the feeling and purpose for which we all came there. In December, or within three weeks from coming back, I decided it's time to make a leap and start living again. The machine started turning, ever day I was working on something else and making more and more decisions. On 6th January 2017 I gave my notice and the rest is history. The history I'm writing about here now..

Now I am on a verge of making another leap and this whole trip made me remember and believe in very important quote:

Sometimes happiness doesn't come from money or fame or power. Sometimes happiness comes from good friends and family and the quiet nobility of leading a good life. (...) So take a look in that mirror and remind yourself to be happy because you deserve to be. Believe that. (...) And believe that dreams come true every day. Because they do.
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People's voice...
4th January 2018
Dawid i am honoured to have shared my Nepal experience with you . you will always be the best roomate ever.....joe p.s. you have so much talent as a writer and wild abandon as a person
joe your roomie
14th April 2018
Dear Dawid... You are a awesome person...Keep it your good work...enjoyed your writing... We all miss you...
Hopfully, we will see you again.
Dinesh raj Sapkota
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