(Originally posted December 2016)
By Steve Richards
Christmas in Nepal. The weather is sunny and a “coolish” 60’s in the day and 40’s at night in Kathmandu--and Christmas trees are everywhere! They can be found in Christian, Buddhist and Hindu households, in front of stores, in malls, everywhere! Just like home. Even Santa Clauses!
We are here for five weeks to complete a revisit to our “Piles of Bricks” documentary. We are going back to the places and people we met last year to see how things are coming with their earthquake recovery.
The world has pledged more than $4 billion for the effort and amazing progress is being made by individuals to get their houses rebuilt. But not with the $4 billion. That money seems to be in the clouds. We’ve met no one, no organization, no municipality that points to any of those funds as being significant to their rebuilding (aside from $150 given to homeowners shortly after the quakes in early 2015). And they’re not expecting it.
Homes, monuments, temples and the like are being rebuilt from the ground up by homeowners and independent organizations like the Kathmandu Preservation Trust out of New York City. TheoEco’s director Amit Nepali’s family has completely rebuilt a temporary version of their home complete with brick and plaster walls, a new bathroom, four bedrooms, a new kitchen, a living room, a recording studio, and so on. All with no insurance and virtually no government assistance. Not sure the building code is exactly up to spec but when you have 12 family members close to living in the streets during monsoons, you get moving, apparently. This is the story we hear all over – people doing for themselves as we’ll show in the film coming out in January at our TheoEco Miami Event on the 21st. For a country run mainly by communists, it seems familiarly Republican to us!
We are also shooting a new documentary before the summer concerning a big problem in Nepal: human trafficking. We are doing our first interviews this coming week in Sindupalchowk where we will be able to interview parents, victims, and others involved so that we can relate some of the realities of what is happening from here. Another documentary due in 2017 is on the water situation here, including the drinking water situation in Kathmandu, its almost boundless hydroelectric power potential, and the spiritual uses of the water whether it be Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, or other.
We are also busy at home, shooting these past few months: “Miami’s Floods,” which focuses on the water situation in South Florida--and there are intriguing connections with Nepal, which we look for so that we can learn from each other. We are interviewing scientists, the Army Corp of Engineers, museum curators, and many others for this film; starting with the realization that Miami Beach is spending $100’s of millions for pumps, road elevations, and without arguing about what is causing sea-level-rise. It is simply a threat that city leaders feel they must deal with and they let us in for the documenting of a blue-ribbon panel discussion before the last king tides, and we’ve kept running.
But first we need to wrap up “Piles of Bricks–Revisited” and its companion, “The Flourishing Kathmandu Church,” a retrospective of the Christian Church in Nepal also due by the summer.
So, for now, Merry Christmas from Nepal and we hope you enjoy the brief video from your Anglican friends from Golgotha Church in Kathmandu Christmas caroling a few days back at Amit’s house. He’s doing the principal singing and produced this over the past few days as the church’s greeting to all.
By Steve Richards
My first trip to Nepal in January 1998 is memorable to my family, friends, and co-workers as a time I went missing – or worse. I wasn't, just on a trek with a couple Austrian Buddhists I met on the train from Delhi to the Nepal/Indian border. They were on their way to Pokhara to see the sun rise on the Himalayas from Poon Hill - 10,000+ feet up in the foothills of the Annapurna range.
Getting there was a three day hike up mountain trails in use for thousands of years alongside the raging Kali Gandaki River fed by glaciers high up in the world's tallest mountains.
Even though I was much younger, my pack was too large, and my exercise regimen too weak, to make walking in these parts anything but a challenging (read painful) experience. And the most life-changing experience I ever encountered. I suppose it's like that for many from our neck-of-the-woods.
I had told everyone at home not to expect me for a month as I was on vacation and was heading to India for my roommate's wedding; I was to be in the wedding. Unfortunately, I never actually received a written invitation with an address, and absent-mindedly figured someone would be waiting for me at the airport. So, after a couple days of trying to locate my hosts I decided to head to Kathmandu and see what Bob Seeger had been singing about in my youth.
Suffice it to say that when I didn't show at the wedding most were concerned, and my mom got a call that her son had gone missing. Fortunately, she knew me well enough not to worry too much.
All were relieved when I finally found a phone and called home from Ghorepani, the village at the base of Poon Hill, and where we are heading on our latest trek. I'm hopeful my cell phone will do a better job of keeping us plugged-in than the occasional landline we depended on back then.
We are heading back to Poon Hill on our latest Nepal 2020 trek in January and invite those that want to come along to join us. For more click here. You can also meet some of those that will lead us at the premier of A Kathmandu Christmas screening on December 28th.
We are also raising funds for all these efforts so please consider supporting us at our Nepal 2020 fundraising page.
Thank you and we hope all are enjoying a happy holiday season.
We are preparing for the premiere of A Kathmandu Christmas on December 28th at 6:00 PM EST. We will be streaming the film everywhere and look forward to having folks from the film available for Q&A direct from Kathmandu!
One of the film’s highlights is when the children go to "Sunday School" even though Nepal’s Christians mostly attend services on Saturday, their one day off. The Nepali family whom we meet in our first mini-documentary “Piles of Bricks-Patan/Lalitpur” are now in their church: Golgotha Church in Kathmandu where Rev. Shyam Nepali is rector. Amit Nepali and the band start the service as he does most, leading the gathering congregation in a half-hour of praise music before things get started in earnest. There’s lots of music throughout – some familiar and some not. You’ve never heard “How Great Thou Art” like this! For more go to Sunday School on Saturday.
You can tune-in and even co-host A Kathmandu Christmas for your organization. Click here for tickets in person at St. Luke’s in Miami or to stream it online.
Come see and share A Kathmandu Christmas with us on Saturday, December 28th!
For more information contact us.
So Why Co-Host this World Premiere Screening on the 28th?
We are looking forward to a delightful holiday event featuring our brothers and sisters in Kathmandu to help fund our Nepal 2020 projects - and provide a fundraising opportunity for our co-hosts.