Bandu’s funeral and a new reality for Nilu

It has been over a month since Bandu’s tragic death. We have struggled with whether or not to post an entry about Bandu’s funeral.

We finally decided that because death is a natural part of the cycle of life and because our blog is a reflection of our cultural experiences, that we will share our experience of the funeral.  As well, a few of you have kindly inquired as to how Nilu (Bandu’s wife) is doing since his death. We will also provide an update on that.

The funeral rites went on for three days. We visited the house every day to pay our respects and be present. It was incredibly difficult in many ways. Bandu’s tragic untimely death was a great shock to all those that knew him. He had a huge presence in his community and was known (we found out through several conversations) for his kindness to strangers. Apparently he would often stop his tuk tuk to give free rides to poor people walking along the side of the street.

From a cultural point of view, we were surprised by the continuous outpouring of loud unabashed grief. Wailing, crying, screaming… for all the days of the funeral. (In Western funeral rituals people seem to do a combination of talking, sharing stories and memories, and crying. Funerals tend to be a subdued affair for the most part). Here this was continuous full throated grief. It was non stop and it was not easy to be a part of it. It was heartbreaking. At the same time, it was clearly cathartic for the family.

On our first visit to the family home, Nilu was inconsolable. Understandably. We brought with us a contribution for the funeral expenses and a few photos of Bandu which we had enlarged and printed, to give to Nilu and her sons. The reaction to the photographs was extreme. We thought at first we had offended the family and committed a severe cultural faux pas. When the photos were taken out of the envelope, all the family who were gathered around us and NIlu in her bedroom, erupted into instant loud wailing. We felt sure we had made a bad mistake and offended the Buddhist culture in some way we did not know about…. But as it turned out, the reason everyone reacted in that way, was that it was the first time they were seeing a visual of Bandu in the two days since his death, since his body was still at the hospital.

Nilu did not eat or drink or shower for all three days of the funeral. She just sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. One thing she said to us a few times, was that Bandu had been a soldier for 22  years and in all that time he never got a scratch on his body!

Bandu’s oldest son (16) was in the middle of his final exams in high school. Bandu had been driving his son to his exams, every day and waiting outside for him to finish ~ an indication of the pride and support he had for his children. Because these annual exams are one time events, the bereaved 16 year old had no choice but to continue going to take his exams (every day for 9 days) even on the day of the actual burial. How he did that, is really mind-boggling, but his uncles reminded him that this is what his father would have wanted him to do.

In the little coastal town of Unawatuna nearby, where Bandu worked as a tuk tuk driver, posters with details of his upcoming funeral were visible for friends and neighbors. It was hard to see these posters as we drove around town in the days leading up to his funeral.

This gateway was created on the little road to Bandu’s house where the family, neighbors and community gathered for days before the actual burial.

Chairs filled the garden outside Bandu’s house as the cultural norm here is for people to visit the family, the body and to congregate for days.

As the monks entered the family home, musicians with the white turban on their heads) played sombre music on their drums and clarinet type instruments.

Bandu’s body was dressed in full  army uniform ~ the family all gathered around his body in their grief. Surprisingly for us, the children were not shielded in any way.. His sons are standing next to Bandu’s body, on either side of the light, in the foreground. On the other side of the resting table Peta tries to comfort Nilu.

On the day of the burial, before the procession to the small seaside cemetery, the monks and novice monks arrived at the house to deliver final blessings and prayers to the body. Their crimson and orange robes were in bright contrast to the traditional white, worn by most everyone else.

Here the body had been placed in the casket and draped with the Sri Lankan flag. The monks are seated around the coffin, in prayer.

A contingent of comrade soldiers who had fought in the civil war along with Bandu, came from all over the country, and wore full uniform.

The funeral had an unusual juxtaposition between the Buddhist monks and the uniformed soldiers. We knew it was time for the casket to be lifted for the procession and long walk to the cemetery when the funeral musicians started to play their traditional Sinhalese instruments loudly. The friends, family and neighbors all lined the small street outside the house, to get ready for the procession. Young men had the job of throwing out long saris overhead, which were laid on the ground in preparation for the casket and the procession coming. The idea was to always have cloth on the ground between feet and earth, but given that there were only about six of these saris, and that the cemetery was a good distance away, these fabrics had to be thrown in haste, spread, lifted up, thrown from the back to the front of the line again repeatedly. Ben was given the (difficult) honor of being one of the people to help carry the casket to the cemetery.

After walking through narrow streets and pathways, behind the lifted casket, the soldiers, the musicians, and mourners finally reached the main road where traffic was stopped by the military to allow the procession to reach the cemetery. (A small plot of land on the side of the road next to the ocean.) Before and after the casket was laid into the ground soldiers lifted their rifles and shot successive rounds of ammunition into the air with deafeningly loud bursts. A military bugle was played. (Buddhists have a choice between burial and cremation, and burial was selected by the family.)

.                                                                       ~ ~

Since the funeral, our focus shifted to finding ways to help Nilu re invent a life without Bandu. We realized that after this tragedy, Nilu’s challenges are multi dimensional: Her emotional grief from a life interrupted with the man she loved dearly ~ obviously nothing we can do about that. Her probable marginilization in a society where a woman’s status shifts dramatically downwards as a widow and where remarriage is virtually unheard of ~ again, outside the realm of our ability to impact the outcome..

Where we CAN help is to think through ways to help her create income for survival for both herself and her sons. The first thing we did was to give her peace of mind by shifting from a task by task payment arrangement we had previously with Bandu, to a monthly income for her that will cover the family’s basic needs. Just knowing every month that she is covered, reduces the angst that might otherwise be present.

That said, we are of course aware that we won’t live here forever, and therefore this is a good transition period for however long we do live here. But it is of course not a long term solution for her.

In response to our decision to provide her a monthly income, Nilu felt strongly that she wanted to earn her monthly amount from us in additional ways than helping with the house. One of her suggestions was that we buy ourselves a washing machine so that she could start doing all of our laundry, which up till now, we had been taking to a laundry service, which is expensive. Ben had a eureka moment. Instead of buying ourselves a washing machine, what if we bought HER a machine?! That way, she could perhaps use the machine to start a business of doing laundry for other people. Nilu was VERY excited with this idea! It would not only provide additional income opportunity, but it is something she felt she could easily do well and it would recast her in her community as “Nilu the business woman.” This is a big deal. It changes her reality and as well, how people perceive her, in her neighborhood. From Nilu the widow, to Nilu the entrepeneur.

Nilu loved the whole idea.

We reached out, as many of you know, to friends, family and Green Global Trek readers for contributions to the establishment of a savings account for Nilu. Many of you all over the world generously donated money to help Nilu and her family and for this we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. Nilu too was very touched that so many strangers had offered to help her and her sons. We were able to open an account for the family, within a week of Bandu’s death with $1,000 of donations. This savings account, something she has never had before, makes a huge difference in that it creates a survival buffer and a psychological ease.

After Nilu agreed with the idea to start her own small laundry business, Ben was on the search to find her a first customer, ideally a small hotel. As he drank his daily cappucino and the French owner of the cafe stopped by for a chat, Ben told her the story of Bandu’s untimely death and Nilu’s predicament, to see if she might be interested in helping as she has a small hotel. Sylvie, did not skip a beat, and instantly understood that she could make a difference in someone’s life. As it turns out, being the busy season, her small staff was struggling to keep up with the daily avalanche of linen and so she agreed to give Nilu a chance and help her start her laundry business.

She had some specific requirements. The washing machine would need to be industrial size and strength and hot water would need to be used. Laundry would need to be picked up every morning and returned the following day. Timing could not have been better, as Nilu’s family was about to go out and purchase a machine that we offered to pay for. An industrial machine obviously is more expensive and so the just created savings account provided the extra rupees needed for the start of the business.

Within days, the machine was purchased, delivered and set up in the house (where there is plenty space for hanging laundry in the sun on the roof), Ben went with Nilu so that he could introduce her to Sylvie and the first batch of ten sheets to be laundered and ironed, was handed over ceremoniously. Minor mishaps with punctuality (a cultural thing, as Sri Lankan time operates on island time), were quickly resolved once Nilu understood that European time is different and that to be successful in business she would need to be at the hotel every day at the same time.  The family rallied around her to guarantee daily tuk tuk rides for pick up and delivery of the laundry.

It is now over two weeks and Nilu has embraced her role as business woman, and has demonstrated that she is reliable to Sylvie and can do a good job, and Sylvie has in turn, responded by giving her more work. All of the money made from the laundry, is going straight into the savings account to replenish the extra money used to purchase the industrial size machine.

Nilu arriving at “Le Cafe Francais” (Kahuna Hotel) with her bag of freshly laundered and pressed sheets.

9 a.m. ~ Delivery time! Now seven days a week!

Nilu and Peta with the new bag of sheets to be laundered. Bandu’s brother helps by driving Nilu in his tuk tuk to and from the delivery each day. In order to be independant, Nilu has started driving lessons to be able to get her tuk tuk drivers license. The insurance company will be replacing Bandu’s destroyed tuk tuk with a new one.

Of course this current situation is seasonal, but hopefully even once the busy season is over, we can help Nilu to find other customers that will need laundry done.

Nilu has other marketable talents. We wrote in our blog post which introduced Bandu, how Nilu was making us delicious traditional Sri Lankan curries once a week. Since we use our home for home exchanges, we immediately realized that we can include the option to guests in our home, of having Nilu cook curries for them, for a fee. Our first guests who were here for a week, (while we were in Colombo for Ben’s work), took advantage of this offering and Nilu was able to get some extra income from her cooking. She told us excitedly that she had used this income to buy both her sons new school uniforms, backpacks, shoes, books etc for the new school year.

Of course, Nilu’s financial situation while improving, remains precarious over the long term and ideally we would like to be able to see her small savings account grow to provide her added security. If anyone still would like to contribute, the best way is via our paypal account (All one needs to do to open a paypal account is to download paypal and link your credit card to the account and then a one click transfer to our account which is: petakaplan@hotmail.com and we will do the transfer to her savings account).

Thank you again, to all who have generously and kindly helped and made a difference.  Nilu was extremely touched by the unexpected support from kind strangers, from afar ~ from Ohio, Illinois, Georgia, Texas,  France, Canada, Portugal, Israel, the UK,  and even from a sailor navigating the seas near Thailand… And many of the contributions came from you, our compassionate Green Global Trek blog readers!

And to those, who meant to contribute but did not get around to it, you still have a chance to help out. With thanks in advance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

56 thoughts on “Bandu’s funeral and a new reality for Nilu

  1. Shari Pratt

    Bandu was an incredible, generous person. I was stunned when I read the article about his death. It’s amazing what one couple can do to assist a family in need in the best way possible – by helping them become economically independent. The heartbreak of Bandu’s death can’t be covered by words though you’ve described so much of the funeral rites. Nilu and her sons will continue to grieve but at least they won’t become beggars on the street. Two cultures meet over a tragedy and find a way to connect that honors a wonderful man. Humanity at its saddest and best.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      “Humanity at its saddest and best”. Living in countries like Sri Lanka, or Nicaragua, both of which went through decades of civil war, the futility of armed conflict is palpable. In Sri Lanka there have been countless stories on both sides of the conflict, of young lives tragically interrupted and families bereaved, yet having to find a path to keep going.

      Thank you Shari for characterizing our efforts as honoring Bandu’s life.

      Peta & Ben

  2. Lisa Dorenfest

    From the moment I first heard of Bandu’s accident I have been gripped by this story. I was just heartbroken by the news and moved by the level of mourning at the three-day funeral. I wonder if the intensity of mourning was driven by his young age and the cruel way in which he was taken or if this is typical for all funerals. No matter. It must have been extremely emotional to participate in directly. Just reading about it from afar, without a direct connection to these people has been an emotional experience for me. Thank goodness for the support of the community (you, the small hotel, and the donors from the blogosphere) in creating this new laundry business and potentially a food business. Nilu seems very motivated to succeed. It is a sad story that ends with great hope for the future. I am glad to be counted as one of Nilu’s supporters.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Lisa, thank you. That is so beautifully written and your heartfelt feelings are so touching to both of us. Thank you too for your kind and generous contribution to Nilu and her family as they move forward. Know that you have contributed to Nilu’s transition and to her knowing that strangers from afar care about her, even though they do not know her.

      We take for granted in the West this notion of personal re invention. We might change countries, change cities, go back to school mid career, change jobs, get divorced etc… all these are major opportunities to press a reset button on our lives and start anew. This is very much a Western concept of how we sculpt our lives. Though it was a tragic event that brought about the need for re invention, we are glad to have been able to be present for Nilu the way Bandu was for us from the moment we met him. Just articulating the viability of Nilu’s trajectory of economic self sufficiency, has been a contribution of a non financial nature we were able to make.

      Ben & Peta

  3. Sharon Rosenzweig

    Very moving account. You two are really doing right by your friends, so many great ideas, tweaks and all. I love that you followed her lead with the laundry and cooking and then stepped it up a notch. This shows the power of micro loans too. I’m honored to be a small part of the community of support you’ve created.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thank you Sharon for this lovely note, and also for your generous and kind contribution to help Nilu and her family. She was so touched by all the outpouring of support from all over the world. And in a sense, that show of support was as meaningful as the money itself.

      You are absolutely right that micro loans and the concept of helping people to help themselves is key in terms of economic development.

      xoxo
      Peta & Ben

  4. My Inner Chick

    ——-Peta & Ben,

    My heart overflows when I read your posts, your adventures, your ministry, how you impact lives all over the world (including your readers).

    Love Love Love from Minnesota. xx

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thank you Kim, that is such a sweet thing to say. It is a symbiotic relationship, as you know, between writer and reader. Knowing people, such as yourself, appreciate our story telling makes the effort of writing and maintaining a blog, worth while.

      Love back to you, all the way to Minnesota from Serendip.

      Peta & Ben

  5. Rusha Sams

    Thank you for posting all of this with photos because I now have a much better idea of how families in Sri Lanka deal with death, funerals, and the aftermath. How interesting that they wail and wail for days. And also that they gather for long periods of time. You are also very generous not just in giving money but giving sustainability. The idea of purchasing a washing machine was pure genius because you have helped this family continue living and being productive. I’m uplifted by this post and so glad you shared it with all of us.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thank you Rusha for your kind words. We have learnt by experience from living in Nicaragua and travel, that if one can contribute to some form of sustainable income, it is far more beneficial than handing out money. And the relationship between the giver and the receiver retains its dignity. For our part, we now are expressing our pride to Nilu at her ability to get her business of the ground and for doing her job well. And she in turn is “paying us back” by doing our laundry, at no charge. So it is a win win all around.

      Peta & Ben

  6. Darlene Foster

    Thank you so much for letting us be part of the funeral from afar. I was so saddened to hear of Bandus passing. The fact that Nilu has started a business is good news, thanks for helping her get started. Blessing to her and her family.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Darlene. 2017 ended in great sorrow, but 2018 is starting with hope. We know that Bandu is happy that Nilu is finding her way and will be able to support herself and their young sons.

      Peta & Ben

  7. Anabel Marsh

    This is so heartwarming to read, Peta. You and Ben have demonstrated both goodness and skill in helping Nilu to help herself. I wish her well in her new business and have sent a small contribution.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Anabel thank you so much for your kind words and your thoughtful contribution to Nilu and her family.
      She will be so thrilled to know that so many people care enough to help her.

      Peta & Ben

  8. caroline

    This is so sad Peta, but wonderful how you and Ben are helping Nilu. I’m sure all that open wailing and grief must have been horrible to experience, but I wonder if we wouldn’t be a little better off by letting it out rather than stoically holding it together in times of grief. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Caroline, you have a really good point here. The Western culture definitely encourages people to “hold it together in times of grief” and to “be strong”. Yet, as you say, it might be better to just let it out. Five days later Nilu was at our house wanting to start work. She was all cried out and needed to move forward.

      It was especially hard to see the young sons in their grief, and it was unexpected to see that the children, them and even younger family, were not shielded from the pain, the sorrow or any of the reality of what was going on. Yet at the same time, we could see the value in their being part of the process from start to finish.

      Peta & Ben

  9. Judith Westerfield

    One of the things that struck me while reading your beautiful and informative post was that Bandu’s death created Nilu’s birth. As you describe it, if he had lived she would not have found her strength, independence nor status in the same way she is now.

    It also struck me that your living in Sri Lanka was precisely for what has transpired. Peta, you and Ben are perhaps on a larger path than first envisioned. I can’t help but think it was not a coincidence that Bandu gave you that first ride.

    As a follower of the Baha’i faith I believe that life here on this planet is one of tests. You and Ben have passed this test with compassion, grace and an A+++++++

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Judith, thank you.

      What an interesting perspective. We don’t know much about the Bahai’ faith but certainly the philosophy of inclusion is one that applies here. We felt very much included as the only non Buddhist/foreigners at the funeral. I have had some similar thoughts along the lines of what you write.. which is that things work out the way there are meant to. For instance, I often think about how Bandu went out of his way to take care of us in so many ways, which is why I am determined to do the same for his family. He introduced Nilu to us very early on in the relationship and it does feel that fate has an important role in life. There are perhaps no coincidences.

      Ben & Peta

  10. Kelly

    Peta and Ben, your post is both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. I’m so sorry for Nilu’s loss. Your thought in helping her re-invent her life so she can be self-supporting is such a gift at a difficult time. You are angels. It’s wonderful to see her finding her strength and capability, while also rising above the perceptions and stereotypes of widows that exist in so many cultures around the world. It’s kind of amazing that a washing machine plays such a pivotal role in all of this! But it’s a great lesson that opportunity exists all around us, and creative and collaborative thought can lead to great things. I’ve just visited PayPal and contributed to the fund for Nilu and her boys. May they all find a bright future ahead, in their own time, with Bandu watching over them.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Kelly we are so touched by you kind words and your generosity to Nilu and her family, as we know Nilu will be when we tell her of the new contributions that have come in. For sure it will still be a struggle to deal with the cultural stereotype of being a widow, especially at such a young age, but at the same time, you are correct that she is showing her strength and capability and being a wonderful role model for her sons at this difficult time.

      Your words and note are so eloquent ~ It was indeed such a turning point when Nilu was sitting with us on the couch and we were collaborating as to how we could help. Ben had framed the conversation around the kind of Western thinking which reflects short term, mid term and long term requirements and potential solutions. But it was her sense of not wanting to just take a hand out but really earn her monthly salary, that created the spark. As you say: “opportunity exists all around us, and creative and collaborative thought can lead to great things.” Hear, hear!

      Likewise, our blog and the amazing response we have received in terms of financial contributions from so many of our readers is an unexpected case of global co-operation and collaboration to solve a local personal crisis. Thank you.

      Peta & Ben

  11. Alison

    What a touching post. I felt so sad reading about the funeral, but then hopeful for Nilu as I read about all the ways you both and the community are helping her. I think you two are her and Bandu’s guardian angels.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Alison thanks. As you know from the first post we wrote about Bandu, I felt as though he was my guardian angel and so the wheel turns. A good case of the workings of karma.

      Peta

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      We love you too Monica. I know.. you get us. Thank you for your contribution to Bandu’s family and for encouraging a friend to help too.

      We are due for another reunion. India?

      xoxo

  12. Lexklein

    Thank you so much for coming to the conclusion that you should write about the funeral and Nilu’s ongoing situation. You are a godsend to her, and reading about the terrible grief, the funeral, and then the slow but positive changes that you are helping Nilu to make are all just overwhelming to me. My heart hurts at what that poor family is going through, but at the same time, I so admire you two and your deeply caring response. We can all throw (a little or a lot of) money at problems like these, but you are taking it so much further – helping a new friend to reimagine her life in ways that will survive your time there.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Lex, it was not obvious to us whether readers might find the description and the photos of the funeral inappropriate. Actually, quite a few of the younger mourners took videos and photos during the rituals, so we used that as a guide to it being okay.

      Bandu was such a godsend to us… that we feel this is the fitting response. We were just thinking about the fact that we knew him just seven months and yet, he was an integral part of our lives here. It is both the contributions of money and the desire to think through solutions that can be sustainable that are at work, as well as luck and timing and attitude. Nilu could have turned down the idea of the business, but she embraced it readily. She is so excited now that she is earning income and thinks of herself as a business woman.

      Peta & Ben

  13. Joanne Sisco

    I don’t seem to have the words to express my heavy heart reading this post. Poor Nilu is dealing with so much change, and she is lucky to be surrounded by people who are giving and caring – like you and Ben <3

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Joanne thanks. We feel lucky that Bandu was in our lives for the short time that we knew him. He went out of his way to help us and was the very picture of giving and caring. It is a pleasure for us to be able to give back. albeit it in tragic circumstances.

      Peta & Ben

  14. Brook

    R.I.P. Bandu. You are missed…you had such a beautiful and gentle soul…

    Thank you Peta and Ben for this special special blog. I cannot imagine this type of funeral. I know that it had to have changed your perspective on death in some way. It’s pretty incredible how we see death so differently in the west. The reality is though, Nilu and his sons must continue on and it will not be easy. Nilu, so strong, I have no doubt they will be okay however all my blessing and prayers go to their family. My class for donations had 15 people so money coming your way. No amount could ever bring back Bandu…..

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Brook for hosting a yoga class to raise funds for Nilu. What a great idea! You are probably the only other person who really knows how beautiful and gentle a soul Bandu was. Our views on death, evolved from the Western model ever since we started living in Asia, in particular Indonesia and Viet Nam, where the line between life and death is less pronounced.

      Peta & Ben

  15. Oren

    Nilu was incredibly sweet to us during our 2 week stay in Sri Lanka, despite having just lost her husband. She brought heaps of food at a time, completely unsolicited.

    I will be sending funds this week and hopefully able to get donations from a few others.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Or. Nilu really enjoyed meeting you guys and cooking for you both. So glad that you got to meet her. I only wish you could have met Bandu! (I was so looking forward to introducing you to each other and he was excited to meet you.)

      xoxo
      Moma

  16. pmaghamfar

    Somehow I missed your post in which you shared the passing of your friend, my condolences.

    What I found most powerful in this post, is the lessons offered and learned by the purchase of something so simple as a washing machine. In the western world we take so much for granted. Thank you for the reminder that life is fragile and that there are lessons to be learned in every situation in life.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thank you Patti ~ it is true that we all take much for granted, and that something as simple as a washing machine can make such a difference. For others it is a motorcycle, for others a cow, but a single object can be the impetus for survival.

      Just to add one layer of this observation: climate change is creating a situation in the West where external events (floods, drought) wreak havoc and upend lives. This of course has been true in the developing world for a lot longer because of the immediacy of day to day survival. What this means is that suddenly, populations in the West are discovering what everyone else has known, which is that shit happens on a big scale and the continuity of life can be interrupted at a moments notice. While this post is not about climate change, it is about the suddenness of dramatic alternation to what we all consider to be “our normal lives.”

      Ben

  17. Liesbet

    Ben and Peta,

    I have to admit that these posts about Bandu and Nilu have left a big impact on me. I have to let the story and emotions linger for a while and have a difficult time coming up with the right words in my comment. The way you two have been documenting and reporting the most recent events in such a personal, cultural, caring and passionate manner makes everything come to life even more. I am in awe about you two and how you have helped this family out tremendously.

    I am so happy Bandu came into your lives and you are now a big part in Nilu’s life. The washing machine was a genius idea! This “small step” will make a big difference, now and in the future. What an amazing tale – sad, yet hopeful as others have described. The comment about fate and how he came into your life almost serendipitously, left me in deep in thought as well.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Liesbet, thank you so much for these touching comments. Death can be a delicate subject to discuss and even more so to put out there for people to read, so we are pleased to hear that our sharing of the story has come across in a positive way. It is hard for us to explain the instant and deep connection we made with Bandu and how much the relationship meant to us.

      We saw Nilu today and she was beaming to tell us how the hotel, her first customer, had just paid her and given her more work than before. So besides obviously the value of getting more money that she can add to her savings account, but as well there is definitely a degree of pride that she has about being recognized for doing a good job.

      Peta & Ben

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      We spent a lot of time processing how to help Nilu and in the end the answer came from discussions with her. It is interesting how a simple investment in a washing machine became a vehicle for a multi dimensional solution for moving on. It generates income. Nilu’s 16 year old son is helping with using the machine and hanging the washing, to help his mom. She is feeling good about her newly empowered role as the primary breadwinner. Her family and community are seeing her take charge and carry on (despite her broken heart.)

      Peta

  18. Amit

    At once heartbreaking and inspiring. You’ve made an impact that will reverberate and spread its wings even more than you can imagine.. blessings to you both. May Nilu continue to find light and joy through her grief.. thanks to devoted and loving friends such as you.

  19. Sue Slaght

    Thank you! Thank you for sharing the funeral rituals and process with us. Thank you for letting us know how the family is doing. Mostly thank you for being so creative in helping Nilu become independent and to help her see the possibilities. It must be excruciating for her to lose her beloved. Yet you have sparked light of the future within her. Blessings to both of you.

  20. Anita @ No Particular Place to Go

    I’m so glad you shared the story of Bandu’s funeral as well as a glimpse of the different funeral rites and customs. It’s always fascinating to learn how different societies deal with death. As sad as this whole experience has been for Bandu’s family and friends, I love how you helped Nilu come up with some practical solutions for her to move forward into the future and continue to support her family as a widow. Perhaps most importantly, you’ve helped her retain her dignity and pride in her ability to be a businesswoman and helped her preserve a certain status within her community. It’s so refreshing to read your story in today’s disheartening political climate of greed, prejudice and antipathy and realize once again that big changes can start with one (or two) people and a simple gift.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thank you Anita for such warm sentiments. It is rewarding to us when our philosophy of “helping one person, helping one animal, is change enough” is acknowledged as being impactful and meaningful. Way too often we see opportunities to help one person, declined by people who profess wanting to help many. For us it works on two tracks, we do agree that it’s good to seek to have broad impact, but that doesn’t come at the detriment of taking action when the opportunity to help one, surfaces.

      Ben.

  21. Jeff Bell

    As Sue said, it is very nice that you have found creative ways to help Nilu earn an income. That washing machine can make an income for her for years to come. I took a cooking class from a woman in India who was in a similar situation – she was widowed and didn’t have many options, but she started doing laundry, then started teaching cooking classes to tourists. Perhaps Nilu will find a path to financial security.

    The funeral is very interesting. It seems like we celebrate weddings more or less the same all of the world, but death is so different. I’ve seen some interesting funerals in Sulawesi and Varanasi. The outpouring of grief you speak of does sound shocking to a westerner, but I can see how cathartic it could be.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Jeff, we too experienced perhaps the most interesting and unusual funerals (for us as Westerners) while we were in Bali. From cremation ceremonies on the side of the street, to very elaborate processions ~ nothing like we have ever experienced before.

      Ben is jealous you spent time in Sulawesi as we meant to get there while we were in Indonesia, but did not. The unique Sulawesi bamboo built tall houses were something we wanted to see. Maybe next time…

      Ben & Peta

  22. Pamela

    As others have commented here, I’ve wondered often about the aftermath of Bandu’s death, and how his family is faring. I thank you for deciding to share the details of his funeral (which is so beautiful, from the ability of the family to grieve fully and loudly, to the white clothing and the monks and Bandu’s former soldier colleagues ). The follow-through of the two of you is an act of love, kindness, generosity and compassion. My heart is full, and I shall share this story with others around me, who can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a world different than theirs.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Pamela thank you so much for these comments.

      The outpouring of support from so many who read our blog and felt that they knew Bandu, has been an unexpected gift. It is as if Bandu’s good energy and spirit reached so many people from afar, that when his family was in need, that energy (good karma) came back like a boomerang. Nilu has been strengthened emotionally and financially. As of the latest, she is taking some of the money that she is earning from her new laundry business to put windows in her house. That is, completing a small part of Bandu’s dream of their house together.

      As Ghandi said ” be the change you want to see in the world”. Being in India as I write this, his quote seems fitting. A good philosophy to try to live by.

      Peta & Ben

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