We took the five-hour bus ride back to Katmandu. Manoj called Alex’s friend the owl smuggler, trying to arrange a meeting. He said he had a dozen owls, but kept delaying a meeting.

That evening we went to a school for Himalayan  refugees where Manoj regularly shares his experiences with a group of students and monks. Arriving was like a homecoming, everyone wanted to hug him and hold his hand.  He spoke to them about the elephants, the way they were treated. One of the youth announced that if they go to Chitwan Forest, they’d take a jeep safari instead of elephants.

He led a discussion on why people kick dogs, hit them with sticks, and throw boiling water at them. (If you try to feed most street dogs in India or Nepal they’ll cower and run, unused to kind attention.) He asked how to intercede when someone abuses an animal. They did a role-play. Manoj pretended to be a dog abuser and a student tried to talk him out of it. I’ve never seen a room of children laugh so much.

His assignment for homework was that each student was to notice an act of animal cruelty and then do something to fix the situation and tell the class about it the next time he visits. You could see they were excited. The ripple effect of one person making a difference was never so clear.

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