Aayush Chaudhary, 9, like any other kid loves to play with his friends. Mina Chaudhary, his mother is a member of Tharu Community Organic Homestay of Birendranagar-9, Surkhet. “I am the only man in my family”, he says. It may sound odd to hear this phrase from a young boy like him, but what he means to say is that he’s the only male member in his family to take care of his mother and old grandmother in absence of his father, who is in the army.
He has special bond with his mother as his father seldom comes home. “Helping mom is the best thing I can do”, he says. He helps his mother to prepare room for the homestay guest. The desolated boring room turned into a colorful lively room from Caritas furniture support. The room is the best they can offer to the homestay guests. If not for Caritas, they would have never been able to purchase bed, beddings leave alone installing WIFI connection in the room.
“All thanks to Caritas as we now can offer semi furnished room to homestay guests. And when there are no guests, I can study, play and laze around in this room.”
The room has not yet been used by guests due to COVID-19 situation, however he is confident about guests loving it.
“Some of my friends’ parents are also involved in the Homestay Project, so while playing, we make sure to converse in English”, he reveals. He practices English so he can interact with homestay guests and plans to perform cultural dance for them. He rarely participates in cultural program but after the homestay project, he along with other children in the community are motivated to participate in cultural dance and songs.
He learns dance from elders in cultural program, and also from You Tube. Caritas’ WIFI support has made it possible for him to learn innovative dance moves from You tube, as well as avoided him from going outside (to play) home during COVID-19. Before he used to go outside and play with friends, visit market and friends’ house unnecessarily, but after internet connection in his house, watching videos and playing video games became his favorite pastime. His mother complains about him watching too much videos, moreover concerned of his eyes, but since there are no other means of entertainment inside house, parents are quite happy that WIFI-You tube have made their children stay home preventing physical contact with other children, people.
Despite young age, he is fully aware of the importance of homestay project in his life. “More guest means more money in the house for my education”, he shares. Father’s salary and mother’s tailoring income is insufficient to pay off his school fee and purchase his grandmother’s medicines. Therefore, he is willing to do anything to support his mother so she can smoothly operate homestay business.
The Homestay project has inspired everyone, even children as young as Aayush help their parents and family members to run homestay service. highly motivated to support their family in running homestay business. Caritas’ projects like the homestay project has successfully brought families together, motivated children as young as Aayush and teenagers along with male members get involve in cultural program, help families provide best hospitality, moreover a place in their little homes to experience “Home away from Home” to their guests. He is hopeful that the homestay income will support his family, and in a long run, secure their future.
Lastly he thanks Caritas, and assures to be the best host family and welcomes everyone to experience the exquisite Tharu culture and loyal hospitality.
Nepal Livelihoods and Resilience Program (NLRP) with funding support from Caritas Australia and Australian Aid aim to empower rural farmers through diversified income generating opportunity. The program is supporting Tharu Community Homestay, technically and financially through eco-friendly enterprise promotion and organic farming practices.