Where Destiny Meets Purpose

By Crooked Trails Co-founder Christine Mackay

Everyone has a “moment” in their lives when it all comes together and your destiny meets your purpose, leaving you with an overwhelming sense of deep satisfaction knowing you are in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing. It happened for me on December 9th in the village of Chandani, Nepal.

Govindra stood in front of the entire community which had gathered together to make a formal request of me to fund their milk station. I had been back to Chandani earlier in July after the earthquake hit and had discussed with the VDC (Village Development Committee) what we could do that would assist the entire village, because rebuilding 1000 destroyed homes was out of the question. We had agreed the things which would benefit everyone were; repairing the school and water systems we had already built but which were damaged and we discussed building the milk station they had started before the quake. This latter project was so important to them that they had done something they had never done in the eight years I had been going to Chandani — they all gathered together to make the request. The women were to the right in every shade of red from pale pink to vibrant rose and purples. The men were to the left and the children were scattered amongst us all. They had placed out 10 red plastic chairs for the Crooked Trails team. They had a table with garlands of marigolds to place around our necks in an honorific blessing. I looked into the hopeful faces of these wonderful people I had grown to admire and love. The word Namaste comes to mind, loosely translated to mean the divine light in me recognizes the divine light in you.

Chandani villagers Dec2015 Nepal

I realized that perhaps they did not know that since I had returned from my visit in July I was actively fundraising to build the milk station. It was the project I most believed in, because it was sustainable, community driven and was the only income generating prospect in the village. The money would allow the villagers the chance to rebuild their own homes. The milk station would include a 2 story, 4 room building, a centrifuge, a stainless steel chilled tank and generator which would effectively allow the villagers to act as the middle men in the dairy trade. People from all around the area would carry milk on their backs with tumplines over their heads to this station.

And so, Govindra stood up in front of me to make this plea. He read the hand written speech in English which the villagers did not understand, but all knew the meaning. He was clear and articulate, letting me know their gratitude for all we had done, the reason the project was important and how much the community had raised already to make it happen. When he was done he handed it to me waiting for my response. I have copied it here as it was written with the misspellings and grammar which adds much to its endearing quality.

To the unarable team leader Miss Christ of Crooked Trail U.S.A. and the other volunteers members. We would like to heartly wel-come to you in our community. We are very fortunate to wel-coming you in every year.

We would like to thanks the coordinator Mr Arjun Limbu and Mr Tara Joshhi of KEEP Nepal to work as a bridge between Crooked Trails U.S.A. and our community.

Dear Madam, you and your organization has helped a lot in different sectors on behalf of this village. As for example, main support for Bindavasini secondary school building construction, water resorvation tank, as well as drinking water in Jogitar and economic support for further study to the students in the community.

We can not forget your relief programme after earthquake, which was mostly supported for our livings, So, we are very grateful to you and thanks a lot again.

Now, we are in troubles by the great earth quake of 25th April 2015. We are waiting our death living under the tent and the tin shelters, which is in your eyes. It is very difficult to pass the hottest summer days and the coldest winter days for us.

We, the people of this community are mostly farmers. Our main economic sources is farming and keeping cattles for milk. Now, we are collecting milk on the foot-path, which you have seen in the morning time.

So, it is very necessary to be a community building for milk collection centre and a hall for some trainings.

If there will be a community building in our village more than 15 hundred people of ward no. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 8 of this V.D.C will be benefitted.

We had collected 6 lahks 26 thousands and 1 hundred sixty rupees from the following to build the community building. (note from me: one lahk =1,000 US $)

1) By the help of district development committee Rs 1 lahk

2) from the local forest committee rs 1 lahk 85thousands

3) from Chandeni Mandan V.D.C RS 1 lahk

4) From our milk collection centre res. 2 lahks 41 thousand, and 1 hundred sixty rupees.

And we worked physically to collect sand stone and other materials. But the building is not completed because of the lack of money. So, we request you to complete this community building. If this building will be completed, we can increase our economic condition by selling milk and we would re-construct our cracked houses.

At last, we are waiting your responce and we hope your helps will be continue in the future and we can’t forget your help forever,

Thank you

The people of Jogitar

I stood up and faced him and asked him how much it would cost to complete the station. He replied it would run 15 lahk. I had already raised $6,000 and it was being matched by a generous donor who had visited the village last year. So I only needed to raise an additional $1500, as that too would be matched. 1500 dollars is all it would take to change the lives of these people in a real and practical sense. I reached out my hand to his and said “DONE!” simultaneously realizing I wasn’t supposed to touch his hand. But the crowd’s cheers and applause wiped away my social faux pas. It’s difficult to describe how it felt to be able to say yes to so many people; but exhilaration comes close. And maybe pure joy. I have loved this village and its people for years and have worked to bring them water and education and relief supplies. When the earthquake destroyed their lives, I wanted only to fix it all-but couldn’t. This project however will help them help themselves. And in years to come when they need something done, they can earn the money themselves. My work here is done. The school damage was repaired and the building was plastered by earlier Crooked Trails volunteers in October. The water system repairs would be made by the villagers as the piping they needed arrived the day we did. The library we had come to build was half finished with the shelves we bought arriving the day after we left. During our time at the village we had catalogued the hundreds of books we brought over and they were ready to be read. I have hundreds more collected by Nancy Oyle of Seattle waiting at my home. It will take months to get them all over there, one suit case at a time. All of the projects were coming to completion. I looked into the crowd of smiling faces and thanked them for opening their hearts and homes to Crooked Trails members over the years and letting them know we received as much as we gave.

As we prepared to depart, some of the people I am most close to would come up and thrust a gift in my hand. Sita, a quiet woman of about 44 motioned for me to wait a minute and went into her tin shack searching for anything to give me. She returned with a wadded up piece of cloth and held it close to her before passing it to me and said simply “chorri” (daughter). A gift for my little Trinity. Junu did the same, “Wait Chris” she said in her gentle English. She returned from her temporary shelter with a piece of tightly wadded clothing and said “It’s not nice, but it’s from my heart”. I wanted to cry. These people have lost everything, absolutely everything, and still they want to give.

That night back in Kathmandu, two of my Crooked Trails clients – Astrid Klopsch and Preston Poythress from Seattle – pulled me aside and said that they wanted to donate the final $1500 to make it complete. Astrid had tears welling in her eyes as the emotions she experienced in the village of love and giving surfaced. They wanted to help in a meaningful way and had agreed this was something they could stand behind. I was so humbled and so grateful that tears welled in my eyes too. It’s done, truly done now. I don’t have to come home and beg more people to donate, and those who have supported the project can know it will be completed in the next few months. It feels so good knowing the Crooked Trails family of donors, volunteers, partners, board members and staff have collectively given so much to a small village clinging to the side of a mountain in Nepal.

I have a new village in mind already. I think I have a problem.

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