Monthly Archives: January 2012

Apple Crumble!

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As is usually the case, on telling Khenpo and Tenzin about Joel’s culinary skills; he was promptly asked to show them off: would he make dessert for all the boys in the school?… This time (having learnt from previous situations) I kept my mouth firmly shut, and looked at him for an answer… This is no mean feat, preparing dessert for 90 people! Cakes and anything else baked are straight out the window as there’s no oven. Whatever we made had to be done in a big old pot. We wanted to keep it healthy, so thought about stewed fruit, and eventually decided to make it a bit like a crumble, just by sprinkling on crumbled up biscuits, and then serving with ice-cream. We cooked the apples with plenty of cinnamon and raisins. Yum!

Joel and I are helped to sort out apples for our (version of, an) apple crumble...

It took two big boxes of apples, which we transported to the school strapped onto Dolly’s luggage rack, 9 packets of Mcvities finest (on appointment to her majesty the queen!) and a huge box of ice-cream. Apples are an absolute treat for the boys, taking into account the comparatively high price; about £1 a kilo, and they were keen to give our concoction a taste! We were helped in the mammoth job of peeling and coring 180 apples by 5 of the older lamas. This gave me the opportunity I’d been waiting for to get them practising their English. We all chatted away, once they’d overcome their shyness, about their favourite footballers and kung-fu stars, as we peeled a mount Everest of apples.

A young lama offers his apple crumble for the Buddha, Dharma (Buddhist teachings) and Sangha, (Buddhist community)

It went down an absolute treat, and everyone leapt to their feet when Tenzin announced they could get a second helping! We’d overestimated, so they all got plenty! I must say it was pretty yummy.

I get in line for seconds!

Tenzin stirs the apples

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The answer: 13 and a puppy!

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We spent a lovely day at the school yesterday, chatting away to Tenzin, the headmaster. The boys brought us out a delicious lunch which we ate in the sunshine in the yard.

Please donate whatever you can afford here, we’ve made £120 so far, which will go towards giving the boys a balanced diet. Lets make it £1000! Come on everyone, every fiver/tenner helps.

It’s easy just click the paypal button on this page: http://www.siddharthafoundationuk.org/donations.html

THE SIDDHARTHA FOUNDATION UK (reg charity 1118349)

How many monks can you fit on a motorbike? The answer is 13. And a puppy!

Day one of fundraising, £120!

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So guys, we made £120 for the school, in just an afternoon alone! Thank you for your generous donations. Remember, anything you give will go along way here. The first lot of donations will buy the boys some fruit and yogurt, a rare treat!

But there’s a lot more to be made. This is the week, so spread the word! We are going to be doing all sorts of fun stuff with our new friends at the Siddhartha School, so check back often. First off:

Also, I’m just creating an account with Crowdrise, to make it easier for you all to donate. More on that soon. For now, please continue to donate through the website: http://www.siddharthafoundationuk.org

 

We’ve only gone and Katman-done it!

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We've made it!

We have cycled over 5000 kilometres, and motorcycled over 3000 more, and eventually, after 6 months on the road, we hit the smog of Kathmandu! And would you even believe that before we set off the furthest Joel had ever ridden was 30kms-Bath (from Bristol) and back?! It’s mad, isn’t it! I honestly can’t believe it. There have been times when it felt like we would never make it, the Zagros mountains in Iran seemed to go on forever, the humidity in Goa almost killed us by dehydration. And the thick fog in Northern India almost froze our fingers and toes off! We have had one hell of a journey! This morning, we arrived at the school in Kathmandu where I taught 3 years ago, and invited the boys to ask questions about our trip. And so came the inevitable: “Why didn’t you come in an aeroplane?”… And you know what, Joel and I just looked at each other and shook our heads. How to explain? The warmth of the people we met along the way, the peace from pedalling through a winding valley, the camping, cooking and showering in woodland, the sunshine… The relentless packing and unpacking, the sound of the rain on the tent, the soggy socks. The frustration at not being able to find a camping spot, the overcome fear of new places (like Iran, which was one of our favourite bits! But you’d never know it unless you went there, would you?) And the food… YUM! When all these scenes come whizzing to mind, the question that seems more relevant is “Why would we fly?”, but after a long list of the things we’d seen along the way, the mountains, rivers, people, I think they got the picture.

But listen, as well as to tell you about our adventure, the reason I write is a plea for help.

Before we set off on the trip, we arranged a meeting with a company back home to discuss sponsorship – we were planning to raise money for the school I mentioned. The school is actually an orphanage/monastery school, taking in Tibetan and Himalayan children who have either lost their parents or their families are too poor to keep them.

Shortly before we set off, Rainbow Zebra, (www.rainbowzebra.co.uk) an online office furniture company back home, agreed to support us on our ride, offering to provide the school with whatever it was that they are most in need of. Suddenly this trip became about more than just us out for a jolly… This offer is what kept my legs turning up those mountains!

We agreed that we would arrive at the school, find out what they needed, and then discuss how the sponsors could support the school. There was talk of solar panels and computers, as well as the basics; food, medicine and clothing.

Khenpo (title for a doctor of Buddhism) Rinpoche (a reincarnation of a high lama), the patron and man behind the dream which opened the school, used to have a grand(er) title, he was Head of Buddhism for Nepal, and part of the ruling government party. His salary (together with support from the UK and France), was what kept the children fed. He recently lost his position and moved out of his house in the suburbs and now inhabits a single room on the roof of the school, in order to give all he has to the 80 boys who live there. He is the one responsible, and he is relying on his savings now, which obviously cannot last forever. The worry is what will happen when it eventually runs out. They really do need help – now.

Rainbow Zebra’s contribution at this stage will go towards food as this is number one priority, and some will be divvied up for pocket money; a luxury the boys rarely receive. Photos coming soon!

Khenpo’s dream is to build a new school for 500 students, and he has already bought the land. The problems they had been having with the Maoists are now solved and there’s nothing to stop them going ahead and building, apart from lack of funds. However, it is apparent that this is nothing more than a dream for the present moment, as they struggle to feed the boys a simple diet of rice and daal. Food prices as ever, are on the up.

Joel entertains the crowd and earns his lunch!

I could write and write and write about them, these are wonderful, respectful and incredibly open-hearted people, and my experiences with them in the past have changed my life forever (I realised my dream of becoming a teacher). I really want to do everything in my power to support them, and appealing to friends and family back home is my first stop.

Please, join me in remembering how well off we all are in the west. We might be in a recession but we are lucky enough to have food and shelter and money for leisure. How much have you spent on eating/drinking out in the last month?

Me in the kitchen. The gas hob is in the middle of the floor! It accommodates very big pots!

So Joel and I and everyone at the school here in Kathmandu would be very grateful if you would consider sponsoring a child. It’s up to you how much, 70p a day is enough to feed and educate one of the children, but 20p a day provides a significant difference. In return they will write to you and send you photos and traditional artwork. They could do with the English practice too! Trust me, these kids are delightful, you will not regret it.

a classroom. very basic.

(If you can’t afford an ongoing sponsorship, please consider buying them all some fruit -or anything you think would be a good idea- via Joel and I, fruit is relatively expensive and thus a luxury for them)

Joel is doing his bit – he’s going to do some serious baking – making dessert for 80 boys! (I’ll post pics to the blog.)

Go to www.siddharthafoundationuk.org for more information on how to donate, or maybe how to come and volunteer?

Anyways guys, thank you all for taking the time to read this. I really appreciate it. To borrow a phrase from a company with good ethics: Every Little Helps!

I hope that 2012 finds everybody happy and well.

Happy new year!

Love,

Betty and Joel

Happy New Year from Pokhara!

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By Phewa Tal in Pokhara, Happy 2012!

We’ve been spending a relaxing near fortnight here in Pokhara, Nepal’s second city. Nepal is very chilled out; always a beautiful contrast to India. People, although friendly, aren’t so interested in the finer details of your trip, in a much more Western “I’ve got my own life to worry about” way. This is refreshing after India, and we’ve taken the opportunity to let our guard down for a bit. Resulting in meeting some wonderful people and having long discussions over (Pokhara’s best – and locally grown/organic) coffee in am/pm, in Lakeside South. There’s been a week long street festival taking place, culminating in a tense tug-o-war, in which Joel’s team came second (he was the only Westerner on his team, compared to the winners who, with respect, were 4-1 Western/Nepali and stood head and shoulders above their counterparts. I’m sure they’re all very strong too. This was a great way for us to meet some locals, who invited us all out for drinks later on. It was terribly serious, and certificates were awarded to the 3 top teams. Kathryn (a lovely Kiwi woman we befriended) and I arranged a women’s pull; and lost to the buxom Nepalese dancers who rose to the challenge. I’m not surprised, taking into account how much these women can carry up a mountain, (and i’m not talking about Snowdon here! ) AND the Cossack style dancing they’d been doing earlier on! Thighs of steel!

the runners up!

Today we walked with Dhananjaya (the cafe owner, also known as David) and his friend Maggie, along the lake and up the neighbouring hill to pay Joe a visit; a 70+ Irish chap who’s built a hilltop castle-resort (wonderfully eccentric, but beautifully inspiring) with his partner Sofia – complete with Irish pub and stuffed pooch! My Dad would love it; sipping a Jamesons in front of the communal fire, listening to Joe’s stories all evening, gazing over the lit-up Lakeside way down in the valley below. Joe gave us a round of Raxshi, the local millet wine (seriously poky, but luckily not quite as strong as the locals like it) grown by his own fair hands!

Joe and his Irish castle