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supplying basic medicine. In Dhulikel they are lucky to have a good hospital and a doctor visits rural areas once a week with free treatment.

Nepal is sandwiched between two regional super powers. Its population of 32m lives mostly in poverty in remote rural villages. Maoist government is redistributing land but has few resources. There is little industry – only jute. It exports noodles to Bangladesh! And of course, tourism. Government provides free primary education, but secondary is left to Communities which few can afford. Government universities are very political and overcrowded so most who can afford it go private or abroad.

Day 5: First out to enjoy the morning. Get stuck into the roof with Naveen – extremely willing and helpful. My status as Engineer allows me to shirk the shit mixing and oversee the roof. Lunch chatted about skyscrapers with a lady from Colorado, US but originally from Chicago. More roof after lunch. Steel toe capped boots killing me despite Compeed on both toes. Our team left early on special bus organized by Rotary man. Asok to visit Rotary funded rural school. Half hour journey jolting over boulder strewn roads. Arrive to a hoard of screaming kids and each presented with garlands as we entered, then proceed into school lined by jostling excited children. The girls put on a beautiful dance to a squeaking iPod which they had rehearsed all day – extraordinary talent. Jolted back to hotel. Talk by HfH organizer in Nepal – aim is to build 100,000 houses in the next four years, 20,000 already – incredible! The family’s story:

House owner, Hera is from the lowest Hindu caste, originally untouchables but caste system officially outlawed. An ex Indian army Ghurkha who served for 16 years and now earns R700/day (about £5) on building sites. Anita, his wife humps bricks for £2/day. They try to farm and grow veg on their pocket handkerchief of land. Doesn’t even seem to get Indian Army pension. As far as Ghurkhas are concerned the Brits take the cream of the cream, the Indians take the cream and the Nepali’s are left with the skim milk! I know the selection for the British Ghurkha regiments is very stringent indeed. He gets no pension from the India Army.

They have been married for 16 years. They eat meat twice a week and otherwise potato and spinach curry. They keep goats which share their home, for meat not milk. No sanitation or electricity and water has to be fetched every day. The new Maoist government has given them the land to build on but they don’t own it. Asked if there is any resentment from neighbours over the new house – seems not. They like their new home – particularly the idea of being able to put their meagre belongings under lock and key! Day 6: Last day, up at 6.00am as usual. Nigel had arranged for a walk round the local village and to the top of the hill where there is shrine to the avenging goddess, Khali. On the climb, stop at another shrine to Shiva and a graphic statue of, as our guide explained, Shiva’s lingam in the female yoni! At the top we come across a taequondo class complete with all the kit, doing its early morning workout.

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