Monday, June 19, 2017

Coming to Nepal? How 'bout a Free Stay in Changunarayan?

Our agency is in need of a few things that we cannot get from here, either due to our finances or because we just cannot find it. We don't have much money, but we do have a lovely guest house in an amazing village. We went to Kathmandu yesterday and it was so sticky-hot we felt like we were melting. Then we got half way up the mountain after Bhaktapur and it started to rain and cool us off. It was so good to feel the cool water coming in the window. We have only 4-40 air conditioning-open 4 windows and go 40 MPH. 



Star View Guest House was fortunate to have a guest come to stay a month who is a creative crafter. She is helping us put the joint project with Siddhi Memorial Health Centre (hospital). We walked all over Kathmandu asking for such a simple thing, straight pins for our new sewing project. We couldn't believe they just do not seem to exist in Nepal. 

We use the guest house to help the agency and sometimes the agency even helps us fill the guest house. So, if you would like to put a package of straight pins (cost is only about a dollar) into your luggage for us we would be happy to give you a night's stay in our guest house. We'll give you a nice room with an attached bath if one is available and even breakfast. 

We have so many birds here it would be wonderful if we had a pair of good binoculars to share with our guests. If you could go to a second hand store and pick up a good, used pair we could give you 3 nights stay with breakfast.



If you have a used laptop we can give you 5 or more nights with breakfast, depending on the age/value. We are teaching the villagers who are unable to go to college how to make websites with affiliate marketing links. The class is coming along rather well, but we need more computers in order to expand the class and provide computers for more of the students. Many of them have to share.


Our dictionary distribution at our local government school for 100 students.

If you have a broken camera or SIM card compatible mobile phone, or laptop computer, good quality and less  than 5 years old we can give you a free stay as we agree upon. We really appreciate help with these things.  We are looking for something we can make videos with and take great close-up, nature shots, computers we can  use to expand our computer classes and getting by is difficult without a mobile phone and many poor women need one. Many electronics  can be repaired for a small amount when the corporation repair center doesn't want to look at it. This is definitely something to consider bringing, whether you want to come to our guest house or get a great deal on a repair.

If you can bring gently used, warm clothing we can give you a room for 1 night for each 10 KG. that you bring. You can distribute the clothing yourself, either with us or when you go trekking. The people in trekking country suffer horribly from the cold. So far, Kay Garnay for  Nepal, in conunction with our volunteers and guests, has collected and distributed over 200 KG of warm clothing. 

One last thing I'd like to mention; Nepal is a nation in need of books and learning materials. We do not need new school supplies, as they can usually be purchased here for less. We need used children's books and simple to understand books about solar projects, organic farming and first aid books. We can give you $1 off your room charge for each 3 books you bring.



We can write a letter from  our registered nonprofit agency so you can get some free baggage on the airlines. We are always happy to provide you with whatever you need, but please keep in mind that we will have to pay a tariff on the items and pick them up in Kathmandu. Computers and electronics are too expensive to ship by parcel. We suggest putting an extra 1-2 in your luggage.

If you would like to bring any of these things to us please email us at FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com




Thursday, May 11, 2017

Have It Your Way


Our little agency, Kay Garnay for Nepal, literally means, "What to do for Nepal" in the Nepali language. Not that we've done so much, but it's the way we do it that really makes it enjoyable for me. With just me, my assistant and our Nepali board it's a lot more 'elbow grease' than contributions. As the cover picture shows, we took warm clothing to a local senior citizen center/nursing home in Bhaktapur. It made us all so happy whether we were giving or receiving.

If you are looking for a worthy cause to support in Nepal, the nursing home we went to is doing a wonderful job with the old folks. They have 33 patients and 29 employees. They also have a birthing center in the same location. 

This hospital was started due to the death of a young boy. This is his parents way of letting the loss have some positive meaning. For more information or to make a donation please visit the website: http://smf.org.np 


We wrote a letter with our agency letterhead to request extra space/weight for our guests, Jolanda and Hank from Netherlands. They had sent 2 huge boxes through the post office and one normal size box, plus they took extra bags with them on the flight to Nepal.  There were so many jackets and shoes we were able to distribute them to the local nursing home and two settlements of displaced Nepali and Indian families.

Warm clothing from Jolanda and Hank, Netherlands
Our next stop was a tent city at the river. This is where the poorest people live. This area has an international INGO that helps the people some. This is a Christian agency, which we do not support. Although Christianity is an established religion, and we don't wish them ill will, we do not support conversion of the local people. They actually have a religion that has been here for thousands of years prior to Christianity, so we see it as a matter of preference rather than need to change.

One way well intended tourists can get into trouble is by conversion. Religion has a deep and profound effect on any society, so making changes through Christian conversion programs can have a distructive influence dividing families, villages and castes. After a brief introduction at the agency's facility we distributed Jolanda and Hanks gifts ourselves.

This day we all got to play 'Santa Claus' to some of society's forgotten. We've done this so many times and it never gets old. There were only tents on one side of the river and make-shift dwellings on the other. The people on the tent side of the river discouraged us from giving to the 'rich' people on the other side. It was smelly and really filthy there at this camp, but passing out these jackets was a pleasure and joy.




When we have guests who bring clothing or books we always do our best to do as they wish with the items. We've taken books to our rec. center in Bhaktapur that our volunteers made and passed money onto those in need as our donors ask. You do not need to stay with us at the Star View Guest House; we are happy to help anyone to help Nepal.

We've gotten packages from New Zealand, UK, Spain, Polland and other countries of books, school supplies and gently used, warm clothing. We are always happy to pay the Nepali charges and other costs associated with picking up the packages. The man at the post office is starting to recognise us and he's been very kind as to assessing the tarrif. But because the taxi costs $30-35 and around $10 per box, we ask that our donors keep that in mind in deciding whether or not to send things.

School supplies from Polland
 Our amature radio friends from Polland recently sent us a couple boxes of school supplies, really lovely and mostly things that have a higher quality than what we can find here. Another from this group, Kaz, left us an amature radio compete with antenae.


One lovely volunteer, Anna, left us some lumbar supports for the villagers who have to do difficult labor in construction and farming. Here are a few of them getting the supports. If you wonder what to bring to a family you will be doing a home-stay with in a remote village, I suggest bringing a lumbar support if you know the size of the woman ($5 each), a knee support ($2 each) or a bag of lentils($2-3 per kg.). But be sure to check to make sure which would be most appropriate for the host family. If you get a scarf be sure to bring one for the mother-in-law, as well as the hostess ($5-10 each).










Another project we have that was inspired by volunteers is our library/play room. We've made play dough, tutored the children and given them a safe place to learn, play and study.


We got some new chess and Ludo sets and they really play well.
We play 'raison math' with the kids so they can truly understand addition and subtraction. This game has the built in reward of getting to eat the raisons in the subtraction round. 


If you are coming to Nepal and want to do something to enrich your time while you are here we'd love to have you come and do what's in your heart to help some really lovely people. 

Our latest need/offer: We are in need of gently used laptops and notebook computers. If you could bring us a laptop we will be happy to provide you a room in exchange, up to $50 per laptop in room rate exchange. Contact us at FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Tattoo convention of Kathmandu

Although I've tried to get to the annual tattoo convention in Kathmandu for years now, this was the first year I actually made it. Two years ago I was on my way to the convention along with a couple of our guests and Kamal's son, Kiran when the earthquake struck. This year I was determined to get there and I'm really glad that I did.



I was surprised that the location wasn't marked well and we had to ask for directions along the way. The exhibition center was modern and well lit with several rows of stalls. The tattoo artists were from all over the world and many of the tattoo artists were covered with their artwork.



As I walked passed the stalls I spoke with several artists. This is a personal issue so it's important to feel comfortable with the artist. As it turned out, I found my way back to an artist from Spain and spoke with her briefly a second time. She just felt right and had time for me. Maria was excited to do my tattoo, as she had just had her first reiki attunement; I wanted a small reiki symbol. It felt like a synchronicity that she also had a connection to reiki.
Reiki symbols aren't displayed so I cannot show it.

Maria and her boyfriend had produced a short movie that the convention showed. The movie portrayed 21 people in masks who had clamps pierced through their skin and lifted in a carousel-type apparatus and spun in a rather gothic manor. It depicted this unique human art-form and was quite interesting. I told Maria about our upcoming festival whereby a Nepali man has a rod pierced through his tongue and then proceeds to pull a chariot with a god within.  Both she and her boyfriend, also a tattoo artist, were quite interested.


If you plan to come to Nepal in March/April be sure to check to see when this annual convention is going to be here. The tattoos are quite inexpensive and start from only 4,000 NRs. Although about twice the price as in Kathmandu in the local establishments, it is still a bargain over Western prices.

My eBook is available now at https://payhip.com/b/sQu5 If you are planning a trip to Nepal you'll enjoy it. It will save you time as well as money, but more importantly, it will help you to have a better time in Nepal. Many people wonder if they can eat the street food like in Thailand or Vietnam. 

Here's my spoiler alert: Do not eat the street food in Nepal, nor should you eat at any buffet. The eBook addresses such things as this and what to do if you become ill, etc. Whether or not you get my book, please read this short, free eBook. It will help you get your time here off to a great start. http://bit.ly/2aGxcuHIf there is a problem with the download or code please let me know at FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com 

Promotion code for discount: GR5X4BCHX2 


Connect on social media: Twitter: @FrugalTravelsNe @NGOchangu Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frugal.travels 



Friday, March 31, 2017

How Not to Ask for Money When Money is Desperately Needed



It’s the hardest thing to do for me, ask for money. Even when someone stays at the guest house I try to give as much value as possible. Some of these travelers have such a small budget they even skip meals-in Nepal! If you can’t afford to eat in Nepal or India you probably need a better plan for traveling. I really admire them for going after all the adventure they can get before settling down.

I budget about $200 a month for our agency and to help our village from my own funds. That covers administration expenses and it’s a real pleasure to help. We also provide a free room for volunteers, which is an annual expense of a few thousand more in ‘in-kind’ donations. We also have a dedicated room for our agency that the kids enjoy as a library/reading room and classroom. Our volunteers just pay for food if they can. Last week we had a couple who only ordered one dinner. We gave them half price so both could eat.
When we get clothing we separate the lighter clothing for the women here and send the heavy items to the mountains. 

It kept coming up, how to get enough money to do more than just run the NGO monthly costs. I want to do more. There is the hilltop at the temple with several trees having exposed roots. It’s just a matter of time before it landslides, so it has to be fixed ASAP. The sad thing is it would only cost a few hundred dollars to make it look lovely and be secure. Yes, I’m sure it will come out of one of my ‘oh so deep pockets.’
Our lovely guests leave money, warm clothing and even used laptop computers. Even people who have never been to Nepal help us with our computer issues from home. We have a friend who is encouraging our women’s group and that project is finally just about ready to launch. We are so grateful.
We have 4 women who are looking forward to working in our women's workshop. 

Our new plan: We’ve recently joined an affiliate website that is providing us with a platform to teach the local, young people while generating some funding. It’s so simple to use. Even though it is a busy website, once you get the layout it’s pretty easy to navigate. The tutorials and chat features are quite beneficial. I hope many of our former volunteers and our supporters will sign up to give this website a try. I think it will prove to be an excellent source of travel money for you and will help our agency, as well.

I know a lot of these internet marketing sites are scams, but this site doesn’t have products, so they can’t get you for more than the monthly membership and there’s no long-term contract. A person could even continue the free account until they see how it would work for them or keep it forever free. During the intro offer they can upload their own websites that they learn to make. 

Here's what you get before you ever need to pay:
·        Free Sign-up
·        Get 2 free websites with free hosting
·        Access basic online training; learn to create your own websites, get them SEO ready and create content.

·        Help and encouragement via community discussions and community support.

I offer it here for anyone to try. I think we get $1 when someone signs up for a free account. Get started free and get the help you need by clicking on our link:  http://bit.ly/2mWsWgL

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Cottage Industry in is Alive and Well in Nepal


Life in Changunarayan Village goes on much as it did in centuries gone by. Women carry water and wash their clothes and even bathe at the community tap.

When there is a problem, like India closing the road to Nepal for fuel and medicine, people in the villages often take it in stride. Life is harder, but life here in the village looks pretty much the same as on normal days. Random bird and goat sounds can be heard in the distance and people are out and about as early as 5 am.


People wonder about the artists and craftsmen who make such amazing art as the Tibetan style thangka paintings. Many of these painting take months to complete, which allows many craftsmen to stay in the villages to work from home. After more than a month the artist will hand carry his work to the Kathmandu Valley, hand delivering it to the retail outlet and collecting his pay. This is the way it is at our school, too. 


Changunarayan’s Sunapati thangka painting school has over 20 students living and studying here, but after they complete their studies they will have the option of returning to the village and earn a good living.

There is a felt workshop and a hand carved mask workshop here in the village and one can often see carpet and pashmina being woven in small workshops along the road on the way to our village.

Women knitting hats and gloves are common sights. Pre-school children play nearby as the mothers chat as they knit. The little bit they earn enriches the family and often helps to pay school fees for the older children.

Suddenly, you’ll notice the women are not knitting and the small factories may even close for a few days. The women can be found out in the field planting or harvesting. The fields come alive as families work together to get the farm work finished. The tiny plots of land are sometimes the size of a room.

Particularly after a natural disaster, people wonder how to help. Purchasing from these factories or cottage industry workers is an important way to help Nepal. If you just send money the social worker and many other people will take some of the money, which is fine because getting money flowing is a big part of healing an economy, but not much will end up going for supplies and labor for the project. Even in the West, this is a problem. I remember reading that the Red Cross only released 5 million dollars after collecting almost a billion after Haiti’s earthquake.


Whether you are looking for a special Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or another celebration, Nepali art remains one of the best values on the planet for uniqueness, quality, and price.

You can look find some lovely, custom pieces at our lovely, affiliate website http://TraditionalArtofNepal.com

Our Offer: If you have an idea of something you'd like, just give us an idea of the medium and price you want to pay. We'll add our expense of our shopper and up to 25% for our agency. However, we cap the 25% at $75. So if something cost wholesale $300 our cost would be around $85, or $385 total. If something cost $400 you would only pay $85 commission and expenses plus shipping. 

Shipping rates can be quite expensive if your item is brass, but here is an idea of the shipping costs. 1/2 kilo will cost $35 max. plus about $5 for each 1/2 kg of additional weight for 5 day UPS/DHL or about half that if you want slower time. 

We will send you several pictures of items we find and if you approve we'll go back and get the one you like, wrap it and ship it. But you will always have a chance to see what we've found for you before we ship it, or before you even have to pay. It's all 100% guaranteed to be what you want or just send it back and we'll eat the shipping cost. We have Paypal and a merchant account, so if we have anything but 100% satisfaction Paypal or our merchant bank will make sure we do have your needs in mind. We've been doing thangka and mask shipping with our partner website for 4 years and have never had a complaint. All the banking is through me, so we always take care of our customers' needs in a timely fashion.

_________________________________________________________________

Here’s our offer/gift for our readers. Our NGO/nonprofit agency, Kay Garnay for Nepal, has an excellent shopper who can shop for you. She can shop for singing bowls, quality brass work, pashmina and other textiles, etc. The best part of having her shop for you is that we cap the price at $75 maximum over wholesale (plus shipping).  Most of the prices online reflect a price that’s much higher. This will give you over 50% discount over market value while creating a job and exporting Nepali handicrafts. Just drop us a line at FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com




My eBook is available now at https://payhip.com/b/sQu5 (Promotion code for discount: GR5X4BCHX2  If you are planning a trip to Nepal you'll enjoy it. It will save you time as well as money, but more importantly, it will help you to have a better time in Nepal. Many people wonder things like if they can eat the street food like in Thailand or Vietnam. 

Here's my spoiler alert: Do not eat the street food in Nepal, nor should you eat at any buffet. The eBook addresses such things as this and what to do if you become ill, etc. Whether or not you get my book, please read this short, free eBook. It will help you get your time here off to a great start. http://bit.ly/2aGxcuH If there is a problem with the download or code please let me know at FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com 

 

If you'd like to connect on social media with me here's   how: 

Twitter: @FrugalTravelsNe or @NGOChangu
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frugal.travels 




Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Swostinika Ko Puja Festival


We had a lovely surprise yesterday. 12 pilgrims coming for this Swostinika Ko Puja Festival came to stay with us at the Star View Guest House for the night. We could only take about 12 guests, but many others stayed overnight with local villagers. This morning everyone enjoyed puja at the nearby pine forest.

This festival is one only for serious devotees of Shiva and Prabati. The devotees wear no shoes and only the red robes. They literally eat only once a day without salt, take only cold baths in the river and walk during this 30 day pilgrimage. They walk barefoot from Pharfing, all the way on the other side of the Kathmandu Valley, to Pashupatinath and then to Changunarayan and then to Saku.


Why would anyone do such a thing? The reasons vary, but they all have one thing in common. They have a strong desire for a blessing. This pilgrimage offers an amazing opportunity to demonstrate to the gods that they are truly serious with their wish. From days gone by until now this is a proven way to get the gods' attention.

In these pictures you can see a pole and a little fire and incense at the base of the pole. The pitcher represents the god with many items for worship nearby. One might expect the devotees of such a difficult month to be sad and downcast, but quite the opposite is the case. In fact, it is a Hindu belief that one must smile and be as happy as if the blessing has already been received. You can find a mirror at every Hindu temple so devotees can check to see if they are happy enough to receive.

The meaning of Swostinika Ko regards telling of a story. In this case it can be thought of as the devotees gaining access to Shiva and Pravoti, Ganesh's parents, to tell their story. From this puja the devotees will be able to gain a listening ear of these two deities. We have admiration for anyone this devoted to their god. A few months ago Birbahadur, our next door neighbor, did a pilgrimage and his life took a lovely turn. We know for all of these devotees that their wishes are being answered, too. And so blessed they are!












Thursday, February 2, 2017

Dolpa District Problems


Written by Pema Tsering Gurung

Dolpa is one of the biggest and most isolated districts of Nepal. It is located at the northernmost part of Nepal's Himalayas and borders with Tibet. This district is very sparsely inhabited with a population of around 30,000. People consider Dolpa as 'the land of the hidden.'     

People of Dolpa are called Dolpa-le as their mother-tongue language is similar to the Tibetan inhabitants who live in the Himalayas of 3,000-7,500 meters. The main occupations for them are agriculture and animal husbandry. But this isn't enough to support them for a whole year. So, those inhabitants rely on trade to get additional goods for their household. In summer the men go to Tibet with their yak caravans whereas the women stay in the village with the female goats and yak where they produce butter and cheese. However, in winter most of the people leave their main village and go to other places such as Kathmandu where they go for pilgrimages and to meet their relatives. Bon-po and Buddhism are two major religions which people follow over there. These are the people who statistically earn less than a dollar a day.

Dolpa is one of the most disadvantaged regions of Nepal where the people struggle with food, clothing and education. Illiteracy rates are high and education facilities are sparse. Education and  development are further behind than its most places in Nepal and  going to school is considered rather a luxury. Educational infrastructure can be worthwhile in such places and needed so badly. Without an education the people are ill equipped to live outside the village. The aims to provide worthwhile education to the children of Tashi Sumdho Primary School is one example of a village in high need of help. It is located in the Village Development Committee in Bijer which got established in 2011 A.D.  lately by the co-ordination of  VDC and village community, some individual support and some government support lately.

Until today, there is no any access of road in the entire district of Dolpo. This is so remote that when people need to go to Kathmandu to register a birth, etc. that they say they 'are going to Nepal.' This area is so remote it takes a 9 day trek from the south and then 1 day by airplane from Jhupal and then a day by local bus from Nepalgunj to reach Kathmandu. There are hardly a health centre  or hospital in the area. 

The quality of education is really poor and most of them have the school education only through primary grades (5th grade). However, Tashi Sumdho Primary School affords students with only for pre-primary level to grade 3. Similarly, there are no I-NGOs or NGOs up until now who can provide support to the school of Ku village. This is the village I came from and would therefore like to help find funding for it.


Firstly, it is economically and geographical hard for the children over there to access education. As I have mentioned above, agriculture and animals husbandry are two most major occupations for the inhabitants to feed themselves. We can find people who are unaware of the values of a modern education. Instead of this, they will send their children to collect Yarchagumba (name of herbal medicine) and use their children as household helpers to bring wood, and water, and work in the family's animal husbandry business. Even though people in the Dolpa area may value education Ku village still has little to offer in education.

Secondly, there are few health centres in the region, not even a facility for giving birth, so the mortality rate is one of the highest in the world. However, they have some health centres in other areas of Dolpa, but people lack the eduction about own health. Without education regarding health and hygiene people often discover their illnesses in the final stage where there can't be any solution for it. On the other hand , we can see Tibetan doctors (Amchi) playing a vital role for such places. Similarly, people in Ku village need to depend upon next village, Bijer, where they can go for basic first aid treatment. Many people in Dolpo are losing their lives in the absence of health centres and hospitals.

Tashi Sumdho Primary School is the small primary School that is located in the hidden land of Ku Village. As residents in Ku village are uneducated and without income sources, management and direction of that school is really poor and unstable. Currently, the school management is searching for someone who can support the school in building rooms for classroom and provide educational materials (books, paper, pencils, etc). The village is also in need of help in the health sector as education and health should be available for everybody.

Tashi Sumdho Primary School is providing tuition free education for 40 students where they appointed 3 teachers for those children up to grade 3. The children's family needs to give 5 kg of rice, lintel, vegetables and so on per a month for putting their children into school where it's not even enough, as well. The school contains 4 rooms where 2 rooms are used as classrooms, one is for kitchen and one for office purposes. The school is giving lessons in three languages, Tibetan, Nepali and English. They also have class for elder people for 1 hour a day where the teacher will help them to know daily usage and vocational knowledge. For example: 'what is your name?' how to sign their name, etc.

Furthermore, the school organize annual events with dance, football and volleyball competitions, and various games which can help them to develop their mental knowledge and also support them to explore their talent that they have inside.

However, sometime the teacher bound to take the class outside the ground due to shortage of classrooms. Besides their teaching job, they also need to cook the food for the children and themselves for lunch because the school can't afford staff. Due to the snowfall in winter season, the school will be open only for 6 months a year. Apart from that, 20 days will be off to collect the yarchagumba in spring season. Collecting this little insect is one way families can get some much needed cash. 

Many people wonder why the education is so poor in these remote areas. One reason is due to the villages being so small with only a couple dozen children. Additionally, it can take several hours to reach the next village, so the children cannot possibly go so far each day. Sometimes there are tigers and the children can be in extreme danger.

There are also many students who have high absenteeism and low marks because they don't have a notebook, books, pencils, a school bag and so on. Similarly, children are compelled to work at home in order to help their parents instead of going to school. Additionally, the village has little in the way of electricity. There are a few solar panels in some homes and school but it isn't enough. 

There is no pipeline for the water supply to the school or village, which would keep the children from getting sick. There is also a need to start the project of a green house in Ku village. This would help the children to be healthier and would build the economic base of the village. 

In conclusion, to ensure the future of the Ku village and Tashi Sumdho Primary School, contributions from abroad is essential. There are various ways of supporting Ku Village and Tashi Sumdho Primary School. 

Donation can be given to the School and we also offer you to classroom sponsorships and other forms of project sponsorships. Although we will have a formal project on our website, http://KayGarnay.org we can take donations and discuss how you'd like the money to be distributed if you'd like to donate before we get the details up. We will have some lovely gifts from Nepal for donors. Donate through Paypal at this address: HelpChangunarayan@gmail.com


We don't accept the sponsorships for individual children, as we believe it is important to have the same conditions for all the children.