Global Service Scholar: Lindsay Fawcett
At HerFarm Nepal, the women here have built (and rebuilt after the 2015 Earthquake) living quarters for volunteers to stay in, allowing us to live among them. The current guesthouse is three stories high with a few rooms on each floor that mostly have two to three beds in each room. Some of the Nepali women also live in rooms at the guesthouse. I am in a two-bed room on the second floor that I share with fellow UCI Global Service Scholar, Lesley.
My day usually begins around 6 or 6:30 a.m., when I will suddenly awake to a cacophony of children’s laughter and joyfully raucous conversation that seems to spring up out of nowhere about that time. Nepali people awake early and strong (which I have been informed extends beyond the women at the farm) and provide a rather effective, but enjoyable alarm clock. Sometimes I stay in bed a little longer to write in my journal or read before breakfast which is just after 8 a.m., or I may go down to join the active social beginnings.
On a day-to-day basis, I interact with more than 10 adult women on the farm, and around 10 children from ages 4 years old to teenage years. The children I see, teach, and play with most often are the little ones Nelu, Subo, and Barsha. Additionally, there are: Gapahl, another little one that lives next door and comes over to interact and tutor with the other children, and Rupa, an older girl around 10, as well as several others of varying ages. A few of the adults I interact most often with are Sunita, the farm founder, Santi, and Alisha, both of whom are burgeoning female leaders in their community, as well as Radip, a progressive male ally that also lives on the farm and is married to one of the women, Usha.
Our first responsibilities of the day usually start between breakfast and lunch. The activities that we have participated in vary day to day, depending on the work that needs to get done that day, and what the weather will permit. With it being Monsoon season here in Nepal, some days we have a plan to do work out on the farm, and have to shift to indoor work instead. Today for instance, we were going to go out and harvest corn, but amidst hard rain fall, ended up working with the corn that we had already harvested earlier in the month. We removed many piles of corn from the cob to provide food for the cows. Likely we will end up harvesting more of the corn tomorrow instead.
One example of work we have done on sunnier days is digging and using a pick-axe to fix the road, which has holes and areas that have caved in due to heavy rainfall. We also dug out the dirt that had fallen due to landslide and blocked the village waterway system. We de-weeded the rice paddies, learning about the planting of rice and how rice plants look very similar to tall grass when they are still growing.
Other responsibilities include assisting in food and cooking preparation, often peeling and preparing most things by hand. Also, while we have a blast playing with the children, we take whatever moments we can to teach them English and test their growing counting capacity!
On many days after dinner time, we have engaged in song and dance until we shuffle off to sleep. Last night this began even as dinner was still in its final stages and the children joined the adults. At points, two of the little girls took center stage, showing us how it’s done, joyfully prancing about.
On the many nights that we dance, most stay up longer than we would otherwise, and head off to sleep at a “late” 9 or 9:30 p.m., giving us time to get ready for bed and sleep early enough to rise the next morning to begin again.