Birthday, Momos, and Community Groups






This past week was one of my favorite experiences of being in Nepal thus far. As part of SIT’s experiential learning commitment, my group and I spent a week in the Middle Hills region of Nepal conducting field work. The ten hour bus ride from Kathmandu to Tansen in Palpa district wasn’t all that bad – the Middle Hills make for a beautifully scenic route with lush green backdrops. Each day we spent time in the field visiting different community groups within the town of Tansen (the municipal seat of the Palpa district) as well as a small nearby village, Madanpokhara. Tansen is the largest town in the Palpa district and known for its brass work as well as Dhaka cloth, while Madanpokhara is considered to be a “model” development village, with many ground up grassroots developmental groups working within it. For example, while visiting Madanpokhara we visited a successful community radio station, a community forestry user group as well as a mother’s group – all which were exemplary development organizations. Around Tansen we had the opportunity to visit the Dhaka cloth factory, a governmental institution (the District Soil Conservation Office), as well as a private institution (the United Mission Hospital).Wednesday was definitely my favorite day of the week. Although it was my twenty second birthday, I enjoyed this day because of the wonderful company the Madanpokhara mother’s group was. We arrived at their meeting place and immediately I was given a tikka (rice mixed with red dye placed on the forehead) as a birthday blessing. After having being fed an enormous amount of food (some of which were served in leaf-bowls), we spent the afternoon listening to music and dancing as well as hearing about all the activities the mother’s group does. Upon leaving to return back to our hotel in Palpa all of the women expressed their gratitude for us having visited them, urging us to please come back again. Aside from all of the wonderful educational experiences this week was full of, it also gave everyone on the group more time to get to know one another (I found out one of my classmates won’t back down from a challenge after she ate forty-six momos one night, for example). Staying in a hotel with everyone made it much easier to spend time together and create memories. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday in Nepal!