Here Nor There

There is a collection of Irish poems from Bernard O’Donoghue – a Cork-born poet – called Here Nor There.  Its theme focuses on finding oneself in this middle sort of ground, where the emigrant no longer truly belongs in their homeland. This spoke to me as I emigrated from Ireland to Canada nearly 17 years ago. Seamus Heaney uses the same words in his poem Postscript but in a different context, sort of like one needing to be fluid yet being in the moment.  So two different perspectives but similar all the same.  This is where I find myself these past few days:  Neither Here Nor There.

My sister called last Saturday Global Crap Day and it was.  I realize I have gone from sage words from two of Ireland’s greatest poets, to what could be construed as a rather crass term, but heck, I have never claimed to be a poet. It was Global Crap Day because first of all, my mother suffered a stroke.  She is doing as well as can be expected given the other health complications she has.   The next few weeks will tell us the long-term prognosis but otherwise she is not in any further danger thankfully.  My sisters in Cork are doing a fine job of supporting her through this period, I am fortunate they are there to do so.

Secondly, my very good friend and all-round Construction Magician Brian succumbed to a massive heart attack also on Saturday.  What a shock!  I will miss him an awful lot.  As will Beverley, his children and many on Bowen who loved his droll sense of humour and directness.

Thirdly, my cousin’s partner of many years also died suddenly in Madrid.   He was far too young to die, he had too much life to still live.

And to add fuel to the fire, Ireland lost the Grand Slam, beaten by England in their Six Nations meeting …. but only just beaten.

So today , I find myself Neither Here Nor There.  That feeling of being discombobulated that can be so bewildering.  That in between place where I am neither home on Bowen nor in Ireland with family. I am here in Bhainsepati, Nepal.  In the here and now.  And I am sad.  But I am grateful. Grateful for the family and friends I have who love and support me.  Grateful for this wonderful time I am having in Nepal with SIRC.  Grateful for the interest many of you have in this journey I am taking.  Grateful for being able to live the life I want.  Grateful for my good health and resilience. I have much to be thankful for.  Here.  Right Now.  I am Here.

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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13 Responses to Here Nor There

  1. says:


    I am so sorry to hear all your bad news. Hope ur Mother is doing better. Thinking if you and thanks for reminding me about Here nor there, I feel that way a lot these days. Must look up the poem again.

    Anne Marie

    Sent from my HTC

  2. LJ says:

    Sending warm, healing thoughts your way… and big hugs from both of us… L.

  3. jennifer carlington says:

    Hi Kate, sorry to hear about such a lot of sad news in a short space of time. We will support Bev as best we can and I hope your mam makes a good recovery, carry on with all your good work and keep the photos coming (although no need for any more goat sacrifices thanks )
    take care luv Jen Phil Emily

  4. Miriam says:

    Kate, I am sorry about the painful news, am praying for strong recovery for your mom and am myself thankful for the tremendous impact you are making where you are! Generations will reap the benefits of your work there!


  5. Katherine says:

    Hi Kate,
    I’m sorry about all the ‘crap’ coming your way and wishing all the best for your mother. I appreciate your thoughts about gratitude. It’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the blessings we have.

  6. Kathy says:

    Dear Kate,
    Your post was very touching and heartfelt. I’m sorry about your Global Crap day, but greatly appreciative of the moniker, which I will use with your permission, having lived through a few myself recently. I lost my father very suddenly last month, and am left to look after my mom who has dementia. I hope your mom is doing better. Sending prayers and blessings your way…

    • Kate Coffey says:

      Hugs out to you too Kathy, it’s been a tough month or so for many people I know. Feel free to use the moniker, I just hope you do not have to use it too often. Take care, Kate xo

  7. Gracie says:

    Hope you feel better soon! Much love, gracie

  8. Tandi says:

    Wow Kate, that is many horrible things. And harder when you are away from home? Sending you lots of love, and the knowledge that you are not alone.

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