Aayush Chaudhary, 9, like any other kid loves to play with his friends. His mother, Mina Chaudhary 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 the aforementioned phrase from a young boy like him, but he means to say 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 bonding 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 can now offer a good room to our 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 the guests due to COVID 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 the homestay guests and plans to perform cultural dance for them. He rarely participated in the cultural activities, but after the project he is motivated to join community women (girls of his age) in homestay cultural program.
He learns dancing from elders and from You Tube videos. Caritas’ WIFI support has made it possible for him to learn innovative dance moves from videos, as well 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 are his favorite pastime. His mother complains watching too much videos and playing games may affect his eyes, but during COVID situation, that’s the only option left with parents to make children stay home. He is aware of COVID, and importance of mask, sanitizers and social distancing.
Despite young age, he is fully aware of the importance of homestay 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 his grandmother’s medicines. Therefore, he is willing to do everything to support his mother so she can smoothly operate the homestay business.
The Homestay project has inspired everyone, children as young as Aayush, who now helps his mother with whatever little he can. It’s not a compulsion but a willing heart that makes him work for the cause, the cause to provide a place in his home where guest can experience a real “Home away from Home”.
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.