Kyanjin Gompa is a small, remote village North of Kathmandu at the far end of Langtang Valley. Only now, weeks after the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25th has the level of destruction in Langtang become known. I spent several weeks of October last year in Langtang, staying with a Nepali family of five. Every morning Gyalbu, the father, would put a chair in the sun for me to sit on while I scribbled notes in a journal. Gyalbu’s wife, who I called DiDi, meaning older sister, would make delicious yak cheese and vegetable omelets for breakfast while their two daughters would sit on a bench playing with their Barbie dolls and their son would help with chores. Gyalbu and his wife were always generous with their smiles as the sun melted away the mountain chill and their children played happily in puffy down jackets.
I was repeatedly moved by the kindness of Gyalbu’s family who faced adversity without complaint. The remarkable thing is that the generosity and sense of community that I felt with this family was not an isolated event. Having spent the last year in Nepal as a J. William Fulbright – Hillary Rodham Clinton Public Policy Fellow, I witnessed the strong sense of community and boundless generosity of the Nepali people over and over again. When I was not working in an official capacity, I used the time to meet with community leaders via the extensive Rotary Club network across Kathmandu Valley. Discussions on disaster preparedness were an opportunity to meet leaders outside of work and advance disaster mitigation efforts. Community members from the Rotary network were always enthusiastic about improving Nepal in any small way that they could.