News Women Literacy (WLP)

“Sempre a punt!”, my friend Toni

On January 14 died in Kathmandu Toni Aguilar, a Catalan resident who 20 years ago left the computer programming work he was doing here, to move to Nepal and create an entity with which he wanted to contribute by improving the lives of disadvantaged people. He named it The Direct Help Foundation, because he wanted neither structures nor intermediaries to take anything away from him, nor money that was not to improve the living conditions of those who we more needed. 

I met him on one of my trips to Nepal, when he had been starting his new project for a few years but was beginning to be important. In his house, the Kumari House, located in a poorest and labyrinthine neighbourhood in Kathmandu, near the river.

For years, the visits were repeated, we took the time to chat long in the great dining room of his house, where he lived with a big family of women and children from the neighbourhood, those who have nothing. We chatted and weren’t tired until night, and then I had to go back to the hotel through dark streets, without lighting. I still keep a flashlight that works manually with a rope that he gave me one day to be able to return and see something in the darkness of those labyrinthine streets.

Toni did a great job to give economic access to many women in the neighbourhood, and education for many children. From him we learned and started the women’s literacy program that has produced such good results. It was he who provided us with notebooks and pencils, and also tips to do the classes.

From him we learned how to transform products that can become a way of life for many people. His incense workshop where many women worked, was impressive to see and smell, with some handmade boxes of exquisite taste that he exported all over the world and with which he obtained income for his projects and gave work to many people.

But he also had practical ideas that helped improve the living conditions of many people, such as the introduction of pressure cookers with which to cook, which was distributed by all families, a way to consume less fuel, because in Nepal is very expensive, and save…

It’s been a few years ago since I have not returned to Kathmandu, but we never had stopped writing, especially when Christmas was approaching, and congratulating the holidays. This year I didn’t do it, there are times when we forget many things and many friends we have, and there are moments that we disconnect …

Toni has left us, but he will always be with me, as a reference link with Nepal, this country that I love so much, so contradictory in many ways, but with unique people, with customs and habits that you should know how to understand, but especially endearing to the time. This is what caught him. He wanted to work for the welfare of people and he succeeded. He worked with excess, as he himself was, great in everything, in affection and in demands. He had an immense heart, the same one that ultimately failed him, an absurd contradiction.

But he has left his mark. He knew that one-day life would end, but his project must continue. This worried him, so he knew how to find and train the people who had to continue with the project.

What is true is that his great humanity and generosity cannot be finished by anything or anyone. Nor is the work he has left done, so that it lasts and does not end and remains a prop for many women and children in his neighbourhood.

I will miss you on my visits to Nepal, when I return. I will think that I have to come to see you and chat until it gets dark.

I am very aware of the phrase in which you finished your mails “Sempre a punt!” (Always ready!). This is you, always willing to give more. Persistent and tireless trying to make holes, as do the drills that one day you asked me to take you from Barcelona. A tool that is so simple that we do not give importance, but it facilitates the work in carpentry. This is you, the drill that helps to make the hole where to screw.

Rest in peace, Toni. Always ready!

Ramon Viladomat