ASH JAYASELAN – PROJECT MAI-LEE
The wave of sustainability in Nepal is vast and diverse, covering everything from education to reconstruction. After the earthquake in April last year Ash came to Nepal to offer his skills in any way he could possibly help a country, which is in desperate need. He wound up in the construction of an earth bag school, and helped several families in clearing rubble & constructing temporary shelters. There, he realized that there was opportunity to do much more! Through discussions with the network he built, friends and all the incredible people who crossed his path, he made the decision to return to Nepal in order to focus on the construction of natural, sustainable, affordable homes. With the project Mai-Lee, his
dream became reality. And this is only the beginning:
Who is the person behind this dream?
I grew up in Malaysia and had the opportunity later on to move to Australia. I am very aware how fortunate I was to experience these two cultures. First poverty, injustice and inequality, then such an easy life for so many people. And now after so many years, I have decided that I want to bring back to this part of the world, exactly what I have learned out of this situation. I want to teach people how to do things and show them their importance. How important it is to simply be themselves, thinking for themselves. Following their dreams and letting them know that this is not an impossible thing. I believe that we do influence people in a very positive way, and we tend to channel our energy towards those who need us most.
Aren’t you afraid to teach them western values and standards? Isn’t it pretty hard to find out the right way to teach?
Yes, it is. But you know what? They learn fast, because their minds are exposed so little. But they also only see the tip of the iceberg. They see what we have and they want! They don`t see yet the dark side of it, only the bright side. So of course they want this new way of living. We can’t blame them for this.
You have a very strong presence. What kind of responsibility do you think comes with it?
I see myself more as a mentor. A messenger. Someone who enlightens the path for some people.
What benefit do you take out of this?
It makes me happy. It is so rewarding to give somebody something out of pure love. Without expecting anything back. That’s beautiful. We exchange values. We can rarely do something from the heart, and we have in some way lost the touch with that. Most of us, I would say.
Where do you get your strength from?
I don’t know. Maybe just by understanding that what I can give to people, is what I can do!
Why did you choose to come Nepal?
Because it’s the real deal. It’s raw! Far away of our bureaucratic world out there, where you have to fill in forms for everything.
So is it just the easiest way of making a difference here?!
I just feel that there is so much opportunity here! Our impact is bigger. And the urge of external support is huge. We do have problems back home, for sure, but I can’t help the whole world, so I do what I can do. In Nepal, I found my sweet spot for my curiosity, passion and the people’s needs. It is my Momentum! I saw what needed to be done and what I could do here.
I didn’t come here with plans and expectations. I just started talking, investigating, networking and I found many things. I do believe that everyone gets laid out a very visible path for them. It’s their faith, and when you are reading the signs and omens, you are going to be on that right path, and I believe that this is what happened to me. I came in line with that. And it took me here.
Are you afraid at all?
Yes, of course I am. Every day. Afraid of failure. Of letting people down.
Everyday, I think: what if?! But this is life.
If I fail, I am going to cry about it and then start again.