Grace and Josh Share Healing and Hope in Tintale Village, Nepal
by Grace Edmonds and Josh Korb
The song goes, "I Left my Heart in San Francisco" however, I personally, left a big part of my heart in Tintale, Nepal and I hope the villagers there know it. In March/April of this year, with my love and partner by my side, Josh, I went to a village that most people (even Nepali's) have never heard of. I went there with my English grammar book in hand, and Josh carrying his medical kit, thinking we were going into Tintale to help them. Although I believe we did bring help to them in ways, I do not know if that outweighs the profound affect that they have had on both Josh and my life.
After a fourteen-hour bus ride from Kathmandu with Ishor and Shyam at our sides, we arrived in the town of Katari. This is where a Playing For Change sponsored music school is located. We were greeted by the music teacher, the priest and village leader from Tintale, Shyam's brother, Ganeshyam, among other leaders of the village and school. The sun was quickly descending over the distant hills of the Indian border as we began our two-hour walk to Tintale. Passing villages by our side, we were shown many puzzled looks as well as smiles and shouts from the village children.
We arrived at Tintale at night and set our bags down in a room at Shyam's families home where we were then cooked a traditional Nepali meal by Ganeshyam's wife, Saphna. As many had heard of our arrival, there were guests all through the meal. It was the children who struck me over any other villager and I quickly knew that I would make many good friends among the younger generation of Tintale villagers.
The first few days in the village were filled with meeting many strong backed men and women who spend their days working in the fields. We also met the many smiling children who awoke us every morning before the roosters with their curious eyes staring into our room. On the third day, we held an open clinic with all of the medicine generously donated by the Aura Imports Sponsorship Project. Men and women with their children lined up all day long to see Josh for different conditions such as gastrointestinal problems, swollen knees, foot lacerations, respiratory problems, etc. We even had a man with cancer visit us because he could not afford treatment, nor pain medication. By the third day of the clinic word had spread to the surrounding villages so far that one man walked two days, to tell Josh that his knees hurt him. Quite a journey on tough knees! But that is the life of a Nepali.
One thing that was common was that many people could not afford medication as cheap as 40 rupee (less than 1 USD). Also, those who did spend the little money that they had to see a doctor were not given proper treatment or advice. The most shocking was to see a young boy, no more than six years old with a deep foot wound who had seen the doctor after the injury. The doctor had given him a cloth 5x5 inches, and pain medicine although you could clearly see the bone of this boys foot. As I spoke to him in broken Nepali trying my best to comfort him, Josh soaked, and wrapped his foot properly. It was quite shocking to see so many people who didn't have the ease that I have had all my life of simply seeing a doctor when I'm I'll or injured and receiving proper care. I only wish that all of these villagers have access to proper care when necessary.
I pledge that when we return to Nepal, we will bring even more supplies, maybe more medical staff so that these people can receive proper care. The clinic was open and running the entire time we stayed in Tintale and it wouldn't have been possible without the translating help of Shyam, Ishor, and Ganeshyam who tirelessly helped Josh to understand the nature of each persons health. It also wouldn't have been possible without the endless dedication and unselfish dedication of Josh to those that he treated. He is a hero in my eyes and the eyes of many others in Tintale and the surrounding villages.
Personally, I was blessed with the opportunity to work at the school for a few days during my time in Tintale. This school construction was made possible by supporters of the Aura Imports Sponsorship Program and was still in the process of being built when we were there. Never in my life have I met children with such an eagerness to attend school and to learn. Each one of them, ever attentive when I spoke, was fully engaged in whatever subject they were practicing. On my teaching days I played guitar and taught them the "ABC" song, had them perform skits with sock puppets we made out of Josh's socks, and many other fun activities to help them learn in a creatively engaging manner.
We also had an after-school activity one day, which almost all the children attended even though it took three hours after school. This activity was about environmental awareness, first aid, health, and fire safety. Josh did a lot to plan an interactive scavenger hunt where the children got to learn about all of these topics. They learned how to build a basic stretcher out of a piece of wood and a blanket as well as what to do when someone gets bit by a poisonous snake (unfortunately an often occurrence in Tintale). They also learned about the food pyramid, water safety and the dangers of overfishing the nearby river. My favorite part of the day was when Josh was teaching them the very basic fire safety "Stop, Drop, and Roll" in front of the school. Because it was pre-monsoon, there was only dirt on the ground but that didn't matter for Josh or the kids and they all dropped to the ground rolling around laughing hysterically with each other.
Josh and I were both lucky enough to celebrate our Birthdays in Tintale. Josh's was celebrated on the above described "environment day" and mine was coincidentally the same day as the Hindu god "Ram". On this day, the villagers gathered to welcome us as a part of Tintale forever. We were adorned with flower necklaces, and red Tika covering our faces. Later in the evening we danced alongside the beautiful people of Tintale in praise of Lord Rama for hours. I have never felt so connected to a higher power than I did in that moment in that community.
On a few different occasions, we made the two-hour walk in the grueling heat to Katari to visit the PFCF’s Udayapur Music Program. One day, we were joined by a group of Tintale children who took lessons here. Sarju is a student who loves to play the harmonium. He is particularly special because one of his legs is amputated below the knee and relies on one crutch to get from place to place. We decided to take a small shortcut and climb up a steep ascent, Sarju was with us and braved it just like every other child. Half way up Josh scooped him up and carried him so he wouldn't stress his leg out too much. To see Sarju's determination to walk two long hours on one leg, so that he could learn to play the instrument he loved was truly amazing.
Once again, something I had taken for granted was the ease at which I was given the means to creatively express myself. At the music school, we were given a performance twice where the kids sang traditional Nepali songs together and played the harmonium, tabla, and guitar, among other instruments. It was especially wonderful to see a young friend from Tintale named Prakash, play the harmonium. His hand is frozen in a fist from an illness he had when he was younger. He worked around it and was able to use his hand to push the air of the harmonium while the other danced across the keys. We also got a chance to have a circle where we talked about why everyone loves music and how to achieve peace through music. It was amazing to hear the responses of young adults in Nepal to be so similar of what we might hear from young musicians in other parts of the world.
This experience was one of a lifetime, and one I will remember for a lifetime. On top of that, I know I will return to Tintale in the near future. I learned so much from the sense of community that they have there and believe that type of community is what we need in the future of our world. I want to do whatever I can to bring music, health, education, and happiness to these most deserving people and to all else struggling in the world. I sincerely thank those with the Playing For Change Foundation who helped make this possible, especially William Aura, Thea Nash, Shyam Basnet, and Ishor Bajracharya.
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