Stories from the Field

So what kind of group packs its bags for seven days in Kathmandu to volunteer their time with sex trafficking survivors? I think this is an important part of the story we’d like to share with you.

Let’s look at all that we have in common. We are all from an IT company, Salesforce or Google, and most of us live in the Bay Area. Most of us didn’t know each other before this trip. In fact, prior to boarding our flight, the only time we met in person was at a fundraiser we organized a few weeks before we left. (We organized it virtually and it was a huge success, raising over $8k! Thanks to all who contributed.) And by signing up for this cause, we are all united in our sense of social consciousness, and a passion to learn and contribute to society.

But I’m sure we’ve all had a moment during the trip where each of us realized that it was more than just common interests in social issues binding us together, and that this group was extra-special.

Many of us were on the same flight to Kathmandu with an 18-hour layover in Dubai. If you’ve never been to Dubai, it’s a cultural melting pot. With just over 20+ years of infrastructure and development, it’s already a formidable symbol of wealth and luxury. We explored the city together, visiting nightclubs, shopping, and we stayed at a luxury hotel. Jet-lagged and zero personal space later, we arrived at our hotel in the suburbs of Kathmandu the next day around midnight. This hotel was a stark contrast to our accommodations in Dubai. Everything from the airport, roads, to our modest accommodations was the polar opposite of where we had just come from. Despite our late arrival, the hotel staff stayed up and received us with a traditional Khata scarf, a Tibetan custom to honor your guests. While waiting in the lobby to get our set of keys to the room, which we were to share with a roommate, I had the moment I was telling you about earlier:

I looked around at looked at the faces and body language of everyone in the lobby. It was amazing how comfortable everybody was to be there. It was akin to coming back to visit your parents for the holidays, it felt like being home. Gone was the bubbly excitement from Dubai. This energy was different, it was raw and honest.

In the past two days, it has begun to feel like we’ve all known each other for years. Stories flow naturally, opinions are expressed openly, and we’re getting to know each other better, with a few laughs along the way. Every idea for the hackathon is treated with respect. When someone shares their observations, almost everyone else nods in agreement because they noticed or felt the exact same thing. There are more yeses and fewer no’s.  People are listening and learning from each other. Within less than 24 hours of 1-1 interaction with each other, we already trust each other’s opinions and the decisions we might make as a group, knowing everyone is committed to giving their best to the hackathon in the second half of the week.

Kismet. It has to be fate that put us all together. It almost feels like we’re family, committed together to this great cause, and I’m very honored to be part of this effort. I can’t wait to see what we’ll do together.

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This week’s posts are contributions from the participants of the hackathon and sex trafficking immersion week in Nepal. 

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