Bunk Beds and a New Roof (By Jason)
Updated: Jul 25, 2019
Occasionally, we ask those who have served on a team to Nepal to reflect o their experience. Here is a taste of what a Service Team is like.
In January 2011, Dan (my brother-in-law) and I traveled to Nepal to build bunk beds for the children living at the Children's Home. Prior to the trip, I had worked with my close friend Michael, a Boston architect. We set out to design a bunk bed that we could easily build, using locally available materials in and around the town of Tikapur. Our goal for the bunk bed project was to provide more space for the children: they needed more floor space for general activities and to do their school work.
We boarded the plane in Boston and embarked on our mission with cash and plans in our pockets. Little did we know that our trip would go so unexpectedly.
After we arrived, we quickly learned that building a bunk bed in Nepal is like trying to build a space shuttle in the middle of the desert. The majority of the materials needed such as the finished wood and metal brackets needed to be made by hand. Also to contend with were extended power outages several times a day. This slowed our progress down significantly and at first was a bit discouraging. Coming from the United States where you simply drive to the nearest Home Depot to pick up exactly what you need, this type of working environment took some adjusting to. After we reset our expectations and realized that we weren’t going to be able to set up the typical American production line, we quickly adjusted to the normal Nepali way of doing things: slowly and patiently, with many breaks for tea! In true Nepali form, to make a long story go on for a little longer, we ended up building one bunk bed. We did actually manage to get all the materials and wood cut for the second bunk bed, but did not have time to get it assembled. We left the finishing of that bunk bed to the local carpenters who had worked with us.
Even though we only built one bunk bed, and at times it seemed like we had failed our mission, it had a huge impact on the children and us. All week long the children had watched us building the bunk bed with curiosity, excitement, and anticipation. I wish I could describe the looks of joy on their faces when they finally saw the bunk bed finished. I learned later that there were many arguments over who would sleep in the top bunk! I realized at the end of this project that it was not so much the bunk bed itself that made them so happy, but it was the fact that people cared and loved them enough to build them something: that people would leave their own country and go all the way to Nepal to help them.
In hind sight we realized how fortunate it was that we only built one bunk bed. The roof was in desperate need of repair. We had heard before going to Nepal that we may have to fix some leaks in the roof, but when we saw the roof, we quickly realized that the entire roof needed to be replaced. Just a few days ago I received pictures from Nepal of the completed roof! The children will have a nice dry home during the upcoming monsoon season. Now that the roof is complete we can continue our work on the bunk bed project.
I can’t wait to get back to Nepal to help with this project, but most of all, I really miss the kids.