I come from Germany and currently I am a participant at the International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs (IISE) in Kerala. For my two months internship I decided to work with HEAD Nepal in Humla.
“Humla is considered as one of the most remote and isolated regions in Nepal, reachable only by foot or small aircrafts which are irregularly landing in the district head quarter, Simikot. It is situated high in the Himalaya, in Karnali zone, North-western Nepal, bordering the Tibet Autonomous Region.”
This is what you can find about Humla on the internet. It was also what I read before leaving Kerala, but I was not really able to imagine what this means. I just imagined a countryside place with a lot of mountains around. I got a better idea what it means when I arrived in Kathmandu. I was told that there is no plane due to bad weather conditions and I need to wait. I was very lucky because after two days there was a flight to Humla, but I heard that before there were 2 weeks without any plane reaching the district.
Once arrived in Humla I found out that there are no streets. Of course, if there are no cars there is no need for streets. It is better to talk about footpaths that are covered with rocks and water flowing down in the rainy season. This leaves the ground muddy and slippery. The first days I found it hard to orientate myself because I was not able to recognize streets. Only on the main market there is a large road, but instead of cars you find chicken going for a walk.
I stayed with a Humli family. Highlights were momos, interesting Tibetan tea and a good internet connection. Things to adjust to were rice and dal every day, washing clothes at the water tab outside and many people speaking Nepali.
My tasks were fund raising and preparation of a sustainability plan. This involved mainly computer work. I went on a field trip to visit a unit of the mobile blind school. It was a long and exhausting trip, but a good experience. I also participated in a class of mobile blind school in Simikot. This gave me the opportunity to collect interviews with children and parents.
I want to say thank you to HEAD Nepal for the great learning experience in Humla and also during my work in Kathmandu. A special thank you to the family of the founder where I stayed during my time in Humla. Though our communication was very limited, they always tried to make my stay as comfortable as possible.
We invite tourists with and without disabilities to join us on a journey to explore the nature, culture and traditions of Humla with all senses. The program for accessible tourism takes special care of the needs of blind and partially sighted travelers because students of the HEAD Blind School will be the guides to take their guests to a journey through their world.
Different tours take the group into the mountains and end in villages of blind or partially sighted students. While staying with their families, visitors learn about life in such a remote area and get to know the culture of Humli people. While walking up and down hill there is always time to appreciate beautiful mountain views or to discover different plants or rock formations. While riding on horse back it is easier and faster to move up the hills and arrive back in the accommodation for the typical Humli food, maybe some momos. We don’t tell you what it is, you have to come and find out yourself!
There will be offered two journeys per year, one in spring when there is the Raling festival, a Buddhist tradition with rituals, drums and dances. The journey in autumn gives visitors the possibility to participate in one of the many Hindu festivals.
The contact with the students of HEAD Nepal Blind School and their families as well as meetings with other local NGOs gives visitors the possibility to learn about the challenges of living in a remote area like Humla without many services that are normal in other parts of the world.
At the beginning and the end of the journey there is also time to explore Kathmandu with many historical sights and shopping opportunities.
For HEAD Nepal it is very important to include the parents of the blind and partially sighted children in decisions about the project development. Therefore, parents meetings are organized regularly to discuss the progress of students and decide on new plans. The last meeting was held on August 15th 2011 in the HEAD Nepal office in Simikot. This day it was raining heavily, this meant several hours of walk in the rain for many of the parents. Their decision to participate in the meeting under those circumstances tells a lot about their commitment to the education of their visually impaired children.
In the first part of the meeting, the director, Chhitup Lama, and the teacher, Lokraj Shahi, talked about the progress of the students and the parents had the chance to give feedback about the work of the Mobile Blind School. The volunteer of HEAD Nepal encouraged the parents to challenge their children to become as independent as possible. Later, the parents discussed their contribution to the planned residential program where their children would receive a more intensive training. In a lively discussion it was decided that the parents would contribute food to the program. They will bring vegetables and other required food items to the center. After tea and biscuits the meeting was closed and the parents got on their way through the rain on a long walk back to their villages.