From Michael Hess

I first came to Nepal in February of 2004. I would only be here for a short time then, I was floating a trial balloon; but when it was time to go I was filled with both dread, and a comfort, knowing that my compass had been set and the direction was clear. Nepal was to be my near and long term future.

Writing now, it feels as if I have always lived here, and it is hard to imagine a life anywhere else. I actually suffer from a mild case of anxiety when a rare trip back to the U.S. comes about, and my life in Nepal goes with me and monopolizes all of my thoughts while I am away.

I have never before woken up each morning with so much enthusiasm and joy for an environment. I rise around 5 am and go to my back porch and look down upon the early parade of colorful Saris walking about. My eyes see snow capped peaks in the distance. Buddhist prayer flags, their colors washed out by the sun, wave gently in the early morning breeze. The sounds of chanting mix with commerce and children playing, the air is energized, and people everywhere greet you like an old friend each time they pass you during the day.

Nepal welcomes you in a way that you couldn't ever expect. The Nepalese people embrace whatever reasons you might have in being here and ask for nothing in return. And when you have made a decision to step into their lives you will be rewarded a thousand times over each day with the most heartfelt smiles, and shy hugs.

As I became immersed in this life, and my Volunteer Nepal and Papa's Home NGO's gained traction, and the children at Papa's Home grew comfortable with the idea that I was not leaving, they shared an even more intimate closeness with me, born of trust. I have learned from the hundreds of Nepalese people who have come into my life, what the real purpose of life is. I go to sleep each night filled with a sense of joy and awe that this life is mine.