Not many people in life can say I lived. I lived fearlessly, whole heartedly, unafraid and gave my all. For most of us living day to day is about survival.  No matter where you live in the world, whether its in Africa, USA, Australia, China or Nepal, its all relative.  Our existence and societies all function fundamentally in the same ways… Security first, food, roof, a job, taking care of daily living and our families.  If you were one of the millions born in a developed country, you also get the option to imagine, to chase your dreams unashamedly and I guess that is the big difference. I have observed this difference between being in an underdeveloped country v’s a developed country.
In Australia we can dare to follow our dreams, we dare to take a risks, we have a social structure that supports independence and allows us to take risks… Doesn’t mean we don’t have poverty in Australia,we do,  however in the worst of situations most people still have access to Social Security, health care and services.  What I am saying to most of you would be pretty obvious, however what I want to focus on is around the psychology and structure of what happens in a society that does not have that back up or government support.  After spending 5 months in Nepal and immersing myself into their society as best as a white girl can, I’ve learnt some things about why so many people here do not dream dreams, why tomorrow is not planned for and why the emphasis here is so much on family and supporting the family.  Independent thoughts here are a luxury.  In a sense I observe that Nepali culture is still quite tribal in its structure.

In a country where the govt does not provide social security or the pension, and old age comes quickly because of the nutrition and hard life, it means that most Nepalis have a view that if they can not make some money in their 20’s then they are destined for a life of poverty and struggle.  Growing their own food predominately is one of the ways that they manage to always feed their families, however 50 years old here is an old man.  So who looks after you when you can not work or grow your food?  Your children.  And in a country where women are still mostly uneducated or not empowered to realise their worth, it falls to the men to support their families.  Women are the backbone of most families tending to the home, and in this society where electricity is not free flowing and electrical appliances do not exist, this is a full time job.  
Health care here is not subsidised and access is limited especially in the villages, so many men die in their 60’s usually of liver and kidney diseases due to alcoholism.  I can’t help but compare the issues in village life here as being very similar to the indigenous people of Australia.  
Family structure, therefore is so important here and the effect this has on the individuals ability to think for themselves or follow their dreams or even imagine an abundant life is almost unthinkable.  Of course they desire to improve their financial situations, but the magnitude and overwhelm of how to do it is so big and lost in the day to day survival and living.  Even the more educated Nepalis that may seem to have a lot of time on their hands struggle with then the ideas or creating anything new because the whole system here is not based on Creating, its based on survival.  Entrepreneurial thinking here is a relatively new concept and non existent in most places in Nepal.  Many educated Nepali look around and see a country devoid of opportunity, there are no supports, grants or traineeships. Being a freethinker, or creative thinker here could change your life, but for most it is so risky especially with the caste issues that exist, “who will support me if I break from the pack…” mentality.

There is a freedom here though, that I don’t think Nepali people are aware of, because many have never left the country. For me this is apparent, only because of the life I have lived.  Often struggling to pay bills and making ends meet and the conflict of wanting to chase my big dreams but stuck in the endless cycle of paying the bank to live in my house.  Having a family and subsequently losing that family unit…There is a simplicity that exists here, that is a “connectedness” to each other, a common thread uniting them in their struggle. Nepalis have beautiful friendships and bonds with family, that despite the many issues that relationships incur there is a loyalty, a level of support and care for their fellow Nepali.

I have witnessed more Nepali people here, involved in charities and community events and lending each other money, than I have ever seen in Australia.  I have seen  many Nepali people who have no job, no assets, give there last $$$ to the homeless man on the street.    In fact its so inbuilt in their psyche to give back to society and help others that it is inspiring me all the time.
Here you really do look after your mates… If your friend or family is in trouble you help first, ask questions later..  In here when a Nepali person says “thank you”, they really mean it… They don’t say it often, its not like in Australia, it is only said when its really felt deeply.  Like many words we take for granted like “sorry”, they only say “thank you” if they really mean it and intend to take responsibility.  Here if you don’t take responsibility for your life or actions you could end up hungry or out on the street .. So here relationships are very important.  They do not quit at the first sign of trouble, they are loyal and when they love, they love deeply with an acceptance that love can be messy. Here family connectedness is everything.

There is an unwritten understanding here of what your roles are in a family.  It is clear and defined, there is no question of what your job is within your family.  Everybody respects the importance of that role.  What I have noticed is that when outsiders visit here, they are projecting their modern views on to the Nepali way of life, so they do not always see the beautiful balance that exists within these families.  I’m not saying its perfect, however to understand the balance that exists, we need to have respect and openness for anothers journey and perspective.  Eg: A wife’s role here is to support her husband, so that he can support the family… Now to a foreigner this seems oppressive or not equal, but please you have to look deeper.  Women here take pride in this role, they do it with love and care and I have met young women who would prefer to do this, than have a career. When an opportunity was offered they declined for this reason.  They feel there is more honour and pride in being a wife, than being independent. For women here if you are not married and have no family it is not a sign of independence and strength, but the opposite.  Their first thought may be, “Who will take care of you in your old age?” and “Are you not alone?”  Not to be mistaken for “lonely”… what they mean is, what value is your life, if not sharing with another?… Interesting to contemplate the real meaning of this statement.

So some might still say that we need to educate and encourage them to support themselves etc…and in part where there is a desire for change we have a responsibility to respond, however honestly when I observe the relationships that exist here ( not all) I can see that there is also plenty of beauty in the simplicity of role such as this. One that many foreigners, in their chase for independence and their dreams, have lost… We judge the women’s role here, as not being important or oppressive or that it is not valued or worth anything.  As a mother who often struggled, due to the conflicting pressures of a transitioning  modern society to chase her dreams, I am very aware of the
impacts this may have had on my previous marriage being long… I guess what I’m saying is, marriage is a partnership…which is how it is viewed here, each having an important role to play. To be part of your tribe, your family, your people is a beautiful thing.  It is human nature to be connected to other humans. Suffering is shared and a burden shared is a burden halved…. not to mention the connectedness and understanding that arises and bonds are strengthened.  To have a witness to ones life in both the joy and suffering is the most valued gift any of us could ever hope for… To walk alone in the world chasing dreams is not a guarantee to happiness, what good is success if you can not share it with others who have walked with you or understood the sacrifices you made or the challenges you faced?  Balance is the key.. find your tribe, your people, connect and build your dreams together in common unity…Community.  Together we can create great change in not only this country but the world…Like Russell Brand says ” Organised collective, collaborative, contribution and togetherness to create common unity”.

So am I feeling connected? Am I feeling like I have a role to play? Am I realising the importance of all roles? Am I feeling blessed to have met this man who has opened my eyes to so much and new ways of seeing life? Who expresses himself more clearly and openly than many men, I have met who speak english fluently? Do I want to support him? Somebody who understands the importance of family and what real partnership looks like? Well YES!!.. I am feeling transformed, healed and part of something so new and expansive that I know its going to change my life forever in many ways… My perspectives flipped.  Without expectation for the future and without judgement and ideals, I remain open, to continue, to learn and be available to the experience of this new kind of love and life… I am looking forward to reconnecting with my own family in a new way, in a way that even when we are apart, we are still together all supporting one another to be the best, heart living souls we can be. Recognising the connectedness between us all.  We are all family and we are all part of a tribe…