Driving 30 minutes into the jungle from Surkhet, brought our team to a village that was both heart-breaking and heart-warming. The 'Stone-breakers' are a hardworking community, who traditionally are viewed as one of the lowest castes.
Their job is to take the giant boulders and break them into tiny pieces of gravel, using very basic tools. This gravel then gets transported to the city and other areas that need it to build roads. We saw a lady who had been blinded by pieces of stone flinging up into her eyes, and we saw an even older lady, a grandmother, still working away persistantly, for what will be a few dollars per day. Life here is hard. But, despite the obvious lack these people were experiencing, these people had something money could not buy, which was joy, love, and gratitude!
6 months earlier, this community had their houses built down by the river. When the monsoon hit 6 months ago (the worst they have had in decades), their entire village was washed away. So from scratch they needed to begin to rebuild their lives, so they made the decision to build on top of the hill that is next to the river. This increases their work load, but does offer them protection from flooding in the future.
Their houses are very simple, either built from sticks, simple pieces of wood, bamboo, or mud, and sometimes have beds, other times not. They also didn't have any electricity, which is where we came in!
Hope and Joy Ministries were able to purchase a solar pack for each household in the village. This pack contains a solar panel that charges up a large battery. The battery powers 3 lightbulbs that are connected to it by a long wire. It also has a torch, large beaming light, and the facility to charge devices through a usb connection. Surprisingly they can access cellphone towers, and phones cost very little money to run in Nepal. This made them really very happy!
It also brought them safety, because having lights at night scares away wild animals that come out of the jungle, such as elephants and tigers. These lights help to protect their homes, and their families.