Himalayan Tea Time

After a breathtaking flight from Kathmandu, we arrived by helicopter to a valley surrounded by tall Himalayan peaks, the site of the old village of Langtang. Nearly a year ago, the Nepal earthquake unleashed a glacier landslide that wiped out the entire village, killing over 300 people, Nepalis and foreign tourists alike. Buildings and bodies were buried in up to 50 feet of rubble and the immense force generated by the avalanche flattened trees on the other side of the valley.

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Today, there is little left of the town. Loose rocks, torn clothing, and abandoned household items litter the area where the village used to be. Not only did many people lose family members and homes, but also their livelihoods, as tourism was a huge source of income.

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Over the last year, MAF has partnered with other organizations to fly aid workers and relief supplies to those left in the Langtang valley. We had come to interview an engineer who is leading reconstruction efforts. A new, safer site for rebuilding the village had been chosen up the hill from the original town site, so we began the hike up the hill, cameras in tow.

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Before long, we arrived at a small, stone house with a corrugated metal roof, the only building in sight. A colorfully dressed Nepali woman was sweeping the front porch and greeted us warmly with “Namaste.” We asked her if she knew where the engineer was, and after a few confusing exchanges, she kindly ushered us inside her small home and sat us down next to her fire to wait. She handed us hot cups of milk tea and asked us simple one-word questions in her limited English. She offered us some food and smiled shyly when I took a photo of her stirring a pot.

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Eventually, we figured out that the engineer wasn’t here nor was he coming! This sweet woman had taken in a couple of strangers and offered us what she had without hesitation. Her kindness touched me. Sitting on the floor next to her fire, I wondered what horrors she had witnessed over the last year, seeing her village destroyed and her friends and family scattered. In a place where so much destruction had taken place, I felt a little surge of hope that at least here was a bright spot in a bleak landscape.

As we said our goodbyes and continued up the hill, I prayed that more people like this kind woman would continue to rebuild and find hope for life in Langtang once again.