If you've just arrived at this post, it is a fourth installment, I recommend starting from the beginning HERE.
Eventually we returned to Oregon; I went to high school and college, embarked upon a career, got married and had a child. Over these past four decades, I have maintained my connection to Nepal, visiting as often as possible, but admittedly, I was living a rather normal and mundane American life.
In the summer of 2011, I began to feel the pull of something left undone. I realized that who I was as a person, my values and principles, and my perspective of the world and life in general, were to a significant degree the result of those early experiences in Nepal. I was haunted by a question from which I could not escape: how could I enjoy my successes so long as my Nepali brothers and sisters experienced so few, if any. I clearly needed to reorder my priorities and refocus my energies on projects that would bring greater meaning to my life and greater opportunities to those who had so few.
And so, Elevation Trade was born.
If you've just arrived at this post, it is a third installment, I recommend starting from the beginning HERE.
My father was so captivated by Nepal that he wanted to live there on a more permanent basis. However, he was unwilling to do so without having something substantive to offer in exchange. After assessing the needs of the Nepali people, he concluded that education, health care and/or public health were areas where he might make a contribution. He decided to return to the US and enroll at Western States Chiropractic College (now the University of Western States.) We returned to Oregon shortly before Christmas and my father enrolled at Western States Chiropractic College, intending to return Nepal upon graduation. This decision surprised nobody who knew him very well; he had served in the Peace Corps in the mid-1960s. Upon returning to the US following his Peace Corps service he was drafted into the Army and trained as a combat medic.
My father graduated from Western States in the fall of 1980 and in February 1981, we sold everything we owned and returned to Kathmandu. We found a larger, more comfortable home near Swayambhu. My father established a clinic for the local people (services were often paid for in the form of hand-made items, appreciation, a kilo of rice or a dead chicken.) To supplement a meager income from the clinic, he taught English at the Foreign Language Institute and substitute taught at the American School. My mother maintained the home-front, which was a formidable undertaking where electricity was sporadic at best, refrigeration non-existent, cooking was conducted on a Coleman kerosene stove, drinking water was constantly being boiled and shopping occurred daily. Even with these demands, she was able to regularly meet and work with local crafts people to encourage and guide their creative activities.
I attended the American School and led what appeared to me to be a fairly normal life: walking to the bus stop with an unobstructed view of the Himalayas; having monkeys routinely steal my lunch sack; befriending kid goats soon to be sacrificed as a spiritual offering during festivals. Only years later did I come to appreciate the profound impact these events had on me.
Next week this story wraps up and Elevation Trade is born.