Ways to help our friends and family in this disaster

Ways to help our friends and family in this disaster

In the midst of such a traumatic disaster, we are supporting each other in any way we can. While some of us are on the field helping victims, others are sharing grief and providing solidarity to the immense loss and pain.

For people who are outside of Nepal, there are other ways to help people in Nepal in this tragic situation.

  1. Nepal Red Cross Society – we can use http://www.nrcs.org/donate-nrcs to donate online
  2. Save the children – we can use Nepal Children’s Emergency Relief Fund to donate online
  3. The World Food Program – we can directly click on the link above to donate online.
  4. UNICEF – we can donate directly online
  5. Global Giving

Besides these, there are numerous other online ways to donate. Please see How to help victims of the Nepal earthquake to see more legitimate websites to donate. Nepal police has asked all of us to donate to legitimate authorities so that the fund goes to help the victims and their families.

Above all let us all pray together for Nepal and Nepali.  Staying connected with friends and family and sharing their grief counts a lot. We are all together in this massive disaster.

God help us all and our close ones. Praying for victims and their families.



New Year and Resolutions

New Year is the time of the year when freshness enters our daily lives from every corner. The beginning of the year inspires us to renew our thoughts and/or activities or start from the scratch. A lot of us make resolutions – for healthy lifestyle, efficient work habits, better social life or improve any other personal aspect or quality of life.

It is always better to make resolutions than to not make at all. But with the resolutions in mind, if we do not try to accomplish them, we will not only be deprived of the end results, but also make fool of our will power. The consequence of drained resolution is more damaging as it promotes our incapability to fulfill our personal goals and disbelief in ourselves. Thus, it is very important to choose what we really need to work on and define the steps that we need to take to meet the goal(s). The resolution should be simple and concrete rather than vague. For example, instead of setting a cryptic resolution of improving overall health, one can promise to eat some fruits each day, drink at least 8 glasses of water each day, or exercise at least 20 minutes 5 days a week, etc. One should have a way to remind their resolutions to themselves almost every day, one simple way would be printed reminder in a most visited area.

The main reason to break a promise is to have a lot of them. It is therefore important not to have more than 3 primary goals. It is always difficult in the beginning of the year as we are pushing ourselves to an unfavorable and/or unwanted scenario or activities. We should encourage ourselves thinking of the beautiful end result. A lot of energy, time and thought are invested on those activities, hence the resolutions should be chosen based on feasibility and careful and serious thought. Sri Sri Thakur Anukulchandra says fulfilling promises increases our self-esteem and trust whereas the opposite will make us weak and untrustworthy. Hence, he advises us to consciously choose what we promise and not to retract as much as possible.

However, if for any reason, we could not keep the resolution for the day, it is always good to have something as penalty so that we become more aware of the promise that we made to ourselves. For example, if our resolution is to avoid sugary drinks like Coke or Pepsi, and if we drink purposefully or un-purposefully, we could exercise 30 minutes or eat 2 apples the next day as a form of healthy punishment. This will help us remember our resolution next time.

Here are some examples of the resolutions that we can choose from as starters per our necessities:-

  • Drinking 8 glasses of water every day
  • Reading at least 15 minutes every day
  • Waking up before 6.00 am every weekday
  • Exercising at least 15-30 minutes every day
  • Eating at least  1 fruit every day
  • Restricting TV time to no more than 30 minutes every weekday
  • Helping someone (in any form) at least once a week
  • Brushing teeth every night
  • Talking to a friend at least once a week
  • Giving up on packaged junk food like chips or candy.
  • Giving up carbonated/sugary drinks like Coke or Pepsi.

Some of us have already implemented few or all of the above mentioned points, which is fantastic. However, we might still have a few personal goals which we have been procrastinating to fulfill for long time. Now is the time to give up our procrastination and/or laziness and do it for ourselves once and for all. Our body and time are precious to us and people who love us. The dawn of the year is about to come, let us start the new beginning for us  the right way so that we can spend the year in a gratifying and satisfying way. Happy New Year 2014!



Bless us Mata Durga!!!

As our most important festival “Dashain” approaches, we get immersed in jubilant and celebratory mood on each passing day. We plan for the holidays if we are in Nepal or plan for community dashain programs if we are abroad. No matter where we are, we get ready to get blessings from Mother Durga and our elders.

Dashain festival has a religious and historic aspect that we all remember during the festivity period. It is the celebration of victory of Goddess Durga over the Asur Mahishasur. The literal meaning of Mahishasur is a demon who could disguise himself as a water buffalo.  He attacked swarga lok (heaven) and terrified the Gods, so Mother Durga had to come to rescue. She fought a ten day long battle and killed Mahishahur on the tenth day. Hence, the victory was celebrated and has been continuing as a festival to this day. During Dashain mother Durga is worshipped for ten days from the day of Ghatasthapana. On the tenth day, after the puja is complete, youngers receive tika, jamara (Durga’s favourite flower) and blessings from elders as Durga’s prasad.

As women and mothers it holds a special significance to us because Durga is a woman and yet she was the ultimate source of power and strength. She single handedly fought the battle and won it. We should follow the footsteps of our Goddess and be determined to win the battle over the cruelty and weaknesses that lie around us, our environment, our society and most of all within us. Various forms of demons try to raise their heads within ourselves which we may or may not be aware. Jealousy, love for power, inflated pride, treachery, conspiracy, back mouthing, hypocrisy, laziness, hate, inferiority or superiority complex are few of the various forms of negative energies that try to play us all the time. They drag us to a living hell every time they raise their head within us. We may not realize the important role they have in poaching our happiness. We may be jealous when somebody finds a new job and think that it is all but natural to feel that way. However, being jealous will only make us unhappy. It will close our heart and mind to think in a positive way. We should always be vigilant of such feelings and expel them as soon as they try to enter us.

Mother Durga is worshipped as the goddess of strength as she was the only force that was able to save the Gods from Mahishasur. This emphasizes how much our family and society depends on each of us as mothers to protect them. We are the pillars of our families. Our families gain strength from us even if they do not realize. As Dashain approaches, we should all be prepared to revitalize ourselves and follow the footsteps of Goddess Durga as we worship her.

There is a custom of offering animals to Mata Durga. Sacrificing of animals, such as water buffalo or goat, is actually the symbol of sacrificing the evil within us in front of Mata Durga. It is highly doubtful, if our mata will be happy to receive the material sacrifice. However, if we vow in front of her on the auspicious day, to sacrifice at least one of our bad habits, she will no doubt be very pleased with us and bless us with her energy to help us achieve our goals. We can at least try to win over our weakness, for trying is the first step towards success. The effort that we put into changing ourselves is the real devotion of Durga Mata.

Durga mata, bless us!!! Bless us so that we realize our mistakes and shortcomings. Bless us to locate the dragging negative force that lies within us. Bless us to identify the demons that live deep inside us. And then, bless us with the strength to kill them just the way you killed Mahishasur. Let glory be yours and let us follow you!!!

Being proud of who we are!!!

Being positively proud of who we are and what we have is a fundamental ticket to happiness. However, sometimes we are so focused on the negative sides that we completely overlook the enormous positive attributes we all have. That is exactly what happened to some of us when we saw an interview of Sudarshan Subedi by an American journalist Jesse Watters outside of UN General Assembly. The interview looked random, mean and demining to us but others might have found it funny including the interviewer and his news channel. He asked stupid questions to Sudarshan Subedi, who was attending the UN General Assembly as a guest from Nepal to represent an NGO for disabled people. During the interview, he did not understand the questions that were asked and also he looked nervous to answer any of them. A lot of general Nepali public do not understand and do not need to understand/speak English to do day-to-day business. Hence, being fluent in English is not a requirement as it is neither our mother language nor national language. It was childish and wrong on the interviewer part to ask such questions when he clearly knew that the interviewee did not understand his stupid questions. Also, we should not forget that it is equally wrong to feel ashamed that our fellow countryman was mocked just because he did not understand a foreign language. English is not our language, and we do not need to be proud on our ability to speak, read or write English. What we should take pride is the level of life Sudarshan Subedi has lead and the dedication he has put for the right of disabled people in Nepal. We should always be ready to defend our fellow friends no matter where we are and who we are. Importantly, we should teach our children the same values!!!

Challenges of raising kids outside of Nepal

Being away from home country is itself a pain for most of us who stay abroad for various reasons. Needless to say, raising kids is a challenge when we are cut off from our friends and family on a daily basis. Many of us feel lost sometimes, and do not know if we are doing the right thing with our children in lack of support from family. To almost all of the moms staying abroad there comes a point in time where we yearn to go back to our family and country just because we need that extra support that we miss terribly here.

The first challenge that we face as our kids grow is the choice of language that we teach them. Since we speak Nepali, we want our kids to learn and speak in Nepali. That is the natural first option for us, because Nepal and Nepali language is in our heart and soul. However, as our kids grow, the need for them to communicate with others grows and they are forced to learn English or any other local language at a very young age. It is good for kids to learn more than one language. However, we as parents, are in dilemma, whether we should first teach them Nepali, or English or teach both the languages together. It is natural that kids who go to day care or school very early tend to favor English language as they feel more comfortable in it. The challenge for parents in such scenario is to keep talking to their kids in Nepali language and expect them to converse in Nepali even when kids often reply in English.

On the other hand, there are parents who teach their kids only Nepali in their very early life so that the child has a good grasp of Nepali language. But they suddenly find out that their child is having difficulty communicating with his peers as early as he is 2 years old. It breaks every parent’s heart to see their child back out of a situation because he does not have a language to connect with his peers. The parents get confused whether they did the right thing by teaching only Nepali first or should they have done better by teaching English first. This can be a tipping point for some parents who might opt to teach or speak in English to help their child’s communication with his peers. The challenge is to continue talking in Nepali with the child when he clearly is in need to know and converse in English to make friends in playground or in neighborhood.

Religion and culture is the second challenge that we face in terms of teaching our traditions and values to our kids. We do not want to lose our tradition but at the same time do not want our kids to be isolated from the surrounding culture. My 4 year old asked why all of his friends go to Church every Sunday and why we do not go. He also asked in his childish inquisitiveness for us to be Christians so that we could go to Church. It is tough for us as parents to explain to our kids the differences between different religions and how people follow various ideals and principles in their lives. It helps to give some examples of people from different parts of the world and show how each of us are different and that we all have different traditions and yet can follow and enjoy common culture.

Living outside of Nepal, our kids are deprived of the actual experiences of the various festivals celebrated in Nepal. No matter how much we try to create the homely atmosphere, our kids will never be able to experience the original feelings of excitement and joy in festivals like Dashain, Tihar and many others that we celebrated as we grew up. There is no holiday for us during such festivals, and without holidays the color of these days just fades away. For example, receiving Dashain tika in the evening  or on weekends when everybody is home can never compare to how it is celebrated back home. Dashain officially begins in a kid’s heart when they get their new dress. We as parents miss those festive moments and our kids never get the same excitement as kids in Nepal. The lights, the music, the deusi bhailo in our courtyard, worshipping of cows, crows and dogs everywhere during Tihar – they have become  sweet memories for us and our kids do not know anything about it until we narrate to them or bring them to Nepal during the festivals. The irony of living abroad is that our kids neither fully celebrate the local festivals like Christmas and Easter because for various reasons we are not able to give much importance to these festivals, nor are they able to enjoy Nepali festivals with the festive exuberance. The challenge for us as parents is to take the middle road and have our kids enjoy both Nepali and local festivals as much as possible.

Being abroad, we get to taste and enjoy foods from all around the world. However, we miss the authenticity of Nepalese food that we are used to from our childhood. Most of the Nepalese living outside Nepal will try to cook at least one meal a day that is purely Nepali. Almost all of us eat Daal, bhaat, tarkari at least for dinner. And we try our best to feed our kids the same food so that they will like it as they grow up. It is easier for the parent to prepare meal if all of the family members eat the same food. However, we have seen cases where kids prefer American foods like pasta or sandwich to rice. I have a friend who has tried everything to have her son eat rice, but he simply does not like it. He chooses to remain hungry than eating rice. The challenge here is to keep offering Nepalese food first at meal times even though the child will probably reject it.

Being away from home and family sometimes triggers loneliness in us. In the same time, it also creates a vacuum in our kid’s lives in terms of close relations as they dearly miss their grandparents and cousins and uncles and aunts. It is impossible for them to visit grandparents even if they want because of the distance that lies between us and it is very expensive to travel regularly. When their friends talk about grandparents during holidays or get to enjoy the love of grandparents during their early childhood, our kids will not have that luck to brag about it very much. My 4 year old asks to visit Nepal every once in a while, but it is just not possible. Kids for sure miss that part of their lives even if they do not say it. Trying to re-create the family environment here and having constant contact with relatives back home is the key challenge for us so that our kids do not forget their roots.

As parents, we want our kids to be happy for who they are and take pride in their culture and heritage. However, reconstituting “ Nepalism” in every step of our kid’s lives in a foreign land is always a constant challenge and will continue to be so.