Improving the Lives of Poor Children in Nepal

Nepal Orphans Home (NOH) began in March of 2005 when a friend took Michael Hess to an ‘orphanage’ that needed help in Dhapasi, a village in the northern outskirts of Kathmandu district. He found a small, rundown house with two dozen destitute children. Malnourished, in poor health, and not attending school, the children were forced by the owners to beg on the streets. Michael assumed management of the home, renovated the building, and began Papa’s House to care for the children.

A carpenter from Florida, Michael had never traveled outside the United States until in early 2004 he volunteered with a nongovernmental organization in Nepal, restoring a school building outside of Kathmandu. Moved by the plight of the children, living in poverty, but rich in spirit, Michael vowed to return to help. Within six months Michael did return to Nepal, having sold his home and business in Florida. Coming across the children living in the dilapidated house that day in March transformed his life. And Michael (Papa) has since transformed the lives of hundreds of poor children in Nepal.

In 2018 Nepal Orphans Home began its fourteenth year of operations, providing for 76 children in three Papa’s Houses and 20 young adults living in transition housing while attending college preparatory classes. Nearly half are former Kamlari girls rescued from indentured servitude. The Chelsea Education and Community Center began its sixth year of vocational and life skills training for the older Papa’s House children and its fourth year of literacy classes to local women in the community of Dhapasi. Volunteer Nepal again hosted nearly a hundred international volunteers. NOH Outreach continued to provide assistance throughout Nepal, including support for earthquake relief and reconstruction. 

Our Mission

Nepal Orphans Home attends to the welfare of children in Nepal who are orphaned, abandoned, or not supported by their parents.  NOH provides for the children’s basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing, as well as schooling and health care, and administers to their emotional needs with love and compassion, allowing them to grow up in a nurturing environment.  Our mission is not just to rescue children from abject poverty, but to enable the children to develop and realize their potentials. 

Our Organization

Basic information about Nepal Orphans Home, a 501(c)(3) public charity incorporated in Davidson, North Carolina, can be found on this website.  Michael Hess, the founder and director of operations emeritus of NOH, provides periodic updates, and his accounts of Papa’s House children best portray the implementation of our mission.

Nepal Orphans Home is listed on Guidestar, a leading source of information on U.S.  non-profits, earning a GuideStar Exchange Seal, demonstrating its commitment to transparency. The NOH profile includes recent Annual Reports and 990 forms, available as public record. None of the members of the NOH Board of Directors receives compensation.

Nepal Orphans Home is fortunate to have excellent management of its operations in Nepal.  Sunita Pandey is the Director of Operations. Educated in India and a teacher by profession, Sunita has been with NOH for seven years, effectively serving in several capacities-- initially as a teacher home schooling some of our new girls, then as Director of Volunteer Nepal, followed by Director of NOH Outreach.

Hillary Bernhardt is the Director of the Chelsea Education and Community Center.  Hillary had spent time working and studying in Kathmandu with the School for International Training, where she had intensive Nepali language coursework and did field research. After graduating magna cum laude from Davidson College, Hillary served for a year with AmeriCorps and completed Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business Bridge Program  in the summer of 2016 before coming to the Chelsea Center.

Prashanna Bista, a math teacher and leader of a series of workshops for the older children on self-awareness, is the Assistant Director of the Chelsea Center. Prashanna has a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and a post-graduate diploma in counseling. 

Shreya Upadhyay, a graduate of Thames International College, with a degree in business administration, is the Director of Communications of Volunteer Nepal. At Thames, Shreya was the president of the Student Council in her senior year, after serving as the treasurer in her junior year. 

Anita Mahato, one of the first adolescents to come to Papa’s House in 2006, is the Director for Children’s Affairs, dealing with the management of the homes, the acceptance of new children, and the preparation of older children toward becoming more independent. Anita also manages Papa’s Sambhav House.

Mrs. Sunita Pandey, Director of Operations

Michael Hess, who had been the onsite Director of Operations since his founding of NOH, is still involved in strategic planning, assisting with fundraising efforts, and advising the NOH Board of Directors. Michael also continues his parenting and counseling of Papa’s House children.

Moreover, a number of our Papa’s House children, upon becoming young adults, have joined the staff. At the beginning of 2018, there were a total of twenty-two Papa’s House former children on the staff, half of whom were also continuing their schooling. Two of our young adults are managers of Papa’s Houses. Three others are on the staffs of Papa’s House and the Brothers’ Café as cooks and one young woman is the caretaker of our young blind girl. Four are on the staffs of Volunteer Nepal and NOH Outreach. A dozen of Papa’s House young adults are working as instructors at the Chelsea Center, nine of them part-time while still in school. In addition, two young women are teachers and managers of Papa’s House Tailoring Shop and two others manage the Papa’s House Shoe Shop.

The Papa’s House Board in Nepal is active and along with the NOH Board of Directors  determines the policy for the Papa’s House NGO in Nepal. The new president of the Papa’s House Board is Santosh Pant, a widely acclaimed artist, who has been an advocate for Nepal Orphans Home for many years. Over half of the associated general members or advisers to the board are Papa’s House young adults. 

Papa's House Board members (in front row with Santosh Pant on Michael’s left)
and the general members in November in the Community Room of the Chelsea Center  

A Brief History

Over time our operations have expanded to help more children. In 2006 Papa’s Samanjasya (Harmony) House moved to a new, larger building to accommodate the growing family.  NOH began supporting a school for the children, Papa’s Trinity Academy, enabling more than 200 other children from the community to attend. In the first two years of operation, Michael largely financed Nepal Orphans Home with his personal savings.

In 2007 NOH was asked to take over a nearby orphanage with a dozen children. Another building was leased in Dhapasi for a second Papa’s House and additional staff were hired.  The enrollment at Papa’s Trinity Academy grew to over 340 children, most attending for free. 

Early in 2008 NOH began collaboration with Society Welfare Action Nepal (SWAN), a Nepali nongovernmental organization operating in the Dang district to rescue Kamlari girls from their indentured servitudes. NOH renovated two buildings in Narti and opened the Lawajuni (New Beginning) Home, providing shelter, food, clothing, schooling, and health care for girls freed by SWAN.  During the year more than 60 girls who had been sold into slavery came to the Lawajuni Home, gaining their freedom, recovering their childhoods and attending school. NOH was able to bring 12 of these girls to Dhapasi, raising the number of children provided for in Papa’s Houses to 70. 

In 2008 concerns with the management and direction of Papa’s Trinity Academy compelled NOH to cease its support of the school. The children of Papa’s House began to attend the Skylark School, an English-medium private school in Dhapasi.  NOH then initiated support of two schools in remote villages in the Ramechhap district, the Shree Sham primary school in Dumrikharka and the Mudkeswori primary school in Votetar, funding hot lunch programs and contributing to teacher salaries and school supplies for over 140 children, most of whom are Dalits (untouchables).

In early 2009, NOH brought another 26 rescued Kamlari girls from Lawajuni to Dhapasi, where the education was significantly better, opening up a third home, known as Papa’s Kalpana (Imagine) House. The girls moved into the building formerly housing the boys, who relocated to a newly expanded and renovated home on the same grounds, Papa’s Sambhav (Possibilities) House. Later in the same year, 28 more girls came from Lawajuni to live in NOH’s fourth and newest home, Papa’s Gumba (Sanctuary) House.   

Over the next few years, the number of children in Papa’s Houses rose to 135. In 2013 the Chelsea Education Center opened, providing vocational training classes for the older children of Papa’s House. In 2014 NOH opened a transition house for our college girls to allow them to begin living independently as young adults.

A devastating earthquake outside the Kathmandu Valley shook the nation on April 25, 2015 with the loss of thousands of lives and extensive damage, especially in remote villages. Fortunately all of Papa’s House children, staff, and Volunteer Nepal volunteers were safe. NOH quickly set up an earthquake relief fund and as donations from friends around the world poured in, NOH began rendering assistance. Volunteer Nepal sent out staff to villages where we have placements in order to assess the damage and to provide cash for food as well as supplies (tents, tarps, and blankets). NOH also provided help to locals in Dhapasi, who lost family or suffered destruction of their homes or businesses. 

In the summer of 2015 the Chelsea Center extended adult literacy classes to local women in the community of Dhapasi, becoming the Chelsea Education and Community Center (CECC). Nepal Orphans Home acquired property for our Papa’s Sambhav (Possibilities) House. In early fall of 2015, Nepal Orphans Home received a grant for a new building for the Chelsea Education and Community Center and began construction the following year. The new Chelsea Center was dedicated in April 2017.

Papa’s Houses

The homes are well managed by Nepali staff. Two of the Papa’s Houses are run by former Papa’s House children, now young adults. Each house has a cook and a didi who helps with the cleaning and laundry. House managers also assist with buying supplies, accompanying children to medical appointments and other errands.

Desktop and laptop computers with Internet connection are available in each home. Each house has a small library of books available to the children, for their academic studies, independent reading, and book discussion groups.

NOH provides transition houses for the older children, who are either attending college or have stopped schooling and are in vocational training at the Chelsea Education and Community Center. These young adults are responsible for taking care of themselves, living on a budget, maintaining good grades in college or developing their vocations.

Each house is within a ten-minute walk to the Skylark School, the English medium school attended by Papa’s House children through grade ten. All the Papa’s Houses and college transition housing, as well as the building for the Volunteer Nepal (which also includes the office for NOH Outreach), and the store fronts for Papa’s House Tailoring and Shoe Shops are leased.  

Papa’s House Children

When children arrive at Papa’s House, NOH commits to providing for their shelter, nutrition, education and health care until they reach adulthood and are ready to live independently in Nepali society. To monitor the progress of the children, detailed files are kept, consisting of guardianship information from their villages and how the children came to Papa’s House, school and health records, the vocational training and life skills workshops completed, as well as anecdotal information.

Papa’s House children enjoying a sunny Saturday on the main campus of Samanjasya House

In 2013, an extraordinary child came to live in Papa’s House. Shortly after her birth, Dil Kumari’s feet were severed. Rescued by neighbors and rushed to a hospital, she nearly lost her life on the operating table. Through the good will of Medical Mercy of Canada, Dil came to Papa’s House and was renamed Hope Angel by the children.

In July of 2014 in Kathmandu, Hope was fitted for her first prosthetics. Her good cheer, resilience, and contentment not only inspire the other children, but add to the magic of Papa’s House. In early 2016, Michael Hess took Hope to Boston for surgery at the Shriners Children’s Hospital, one of the finest medical facilities in the world, which provides free treatment to qualifying children with serious medical situations.

Papa and Hope in 2014

Hope on Christmas Day 2017

As Michael describes, “We are a really big family, with each child’s joys and fears, smiles, accomplishments, failures, anxieties and laughter, future plans and work to achieve them deeply felt by all.”

A gathering of the Papa’s House family

The daily schedule for the children of Papa’s House is both consistent and full. Each week during the school year, from Sunday through Friday it is:

5:30 a.m.   Wake up
5:45 a.m.   Tea and biscuits
6:00 a.m.   Exercise (Taekwondo, basketball, walking) or studying/homework
7:00 a.m.   Breakfast
7:20 a.m.   Preparing for school
9:00 a.m.   Walk to Skylark School
9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.   School in session
3:30 p.m.  Walk back to Papa’s House
3:40 p.m.  Tea or juice and biscuits
4:00- 6:00 p.m.  Classes and Study Hall at Chelsea Center
6:15 p.m.  Dinner
6:45 p.m.  Homework and study
8:30 p.m.  Lights out for children twelve and under
9:30 p.m.  Lights out for children over twelve

Saturdays, the day off from school, and during holidays the schedule is much more relaxed and varied.  Some of the children take art classes at the Chelsea Center. Last year, a friend of NOH, the author Ann Mayer, asked our children to illustrate her second book on endemic and endangered wildlife in Nepal.

The Papa’s House illustrators of Ann Mayer’s newest book

Occasionally international performing artists traveling the world come to Papa’s House to entertain the children. One afternoon last fall two Spanish clowns, Mayra and Jaume Villarroya, provided a few very engaging hours to all and brought out the clown in even our more subdued children.

Papa’s House celebrates holidays, both Nepali (including Holi, Dashain, and Tihar) and Western (including Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas). Often these special days are funded by the generosity of board members and friends of NOH.

Himal, our sound technician, and Suman, sitting too near the front,
became part of the play

Papa’s House boys honoring their sisters

Children’s Council

In an effort to encourage the children to take a greater role in decision making within and among the houses, a Children’s Council was established in August of 2014. The children in each house voted for a representative who would be available to discuss individually or in groups any complaints, concerns, or suggestions the children might have. Each month the captains meet with the house managers and address the issues raised and design collective resolutions. The decisions are then reported back to the individual houses and have included greater variety in Saturday tiffin menus, small group outings with a house manager on a revolving basis, and delivery of a daily newspaper to each house. The representatives are learning management skills and the children are actively engaged in practicing effective communication and problem-solving skills.


Of paramount importance is providing our children with good education. Because the public education system is inadequate, Papa’s House children attend the Skylark School through grade 10. Skylark School is a local English-medium private school with several hundred students. The academic progress of each student is carefully recorded.  The end of the term always finds a number of Papa’s House children at the top of their classes. Some of our children, however, who had received little if any schooling before coming to Papa’s House, struggle with their studies. Yet they too persevere, determined to get an education. The after-school programs of academic enrichment at the Chelsea Center enhance their schooling.

Upon completing grade 10, students take a Secondary Education Examination (SEE), previously known as School Leaving Certificate (SLC). Then, after passing the SEE, students may enroll in Plus 2 (grades 11 and 12). After successfully finishing Plus 2 students may advance to undergraduate programs at the university level. 

At the beginning of 2018 there were seventy-two Papa’s House children studying at Skylark School. Reflecting the aging of the children of Papa’s House, over half of these children were in grades 8-10.

Ranjita of Papa’s House addressing her fellow students in the morning assembly at Skylark

In addition, there were twenty young adults in grade 11 living in the transitional College House. There were a dozen young adults living independently while studying in grade 12 or in university; nine also working part time as instructors in the Chelsea Center or on the staff of NOH Outreach. Two have opened a business, Brothers’ Café, one while also studying at Thames College. 

In 2017 five of Papa’s House young men earned scholarships to a college noted for its basketball program. One of our young women, Urmila, who came to Papa’s House from Lawajuni a decade ago, placed first among hundreds taking an admission test to Kantipur Dental College, earning a full scholarship for her first year of study.

Young Urmila and Papa at Lawajuni
before coming to Papa’s House

Accomplished Urmila with Papa after placing first 
on the admission test to Dental College

Nepal Orphans Home is grateful to the Sanctuary for Kids Foundation and Possible Worlds Foundation for supporting the annual education costs of the Papa's House children at Skylark and to the Life’s Handy Work Foundation for supporting the higher education expenses of our older children in college and university.

Chelsea Education and Community Center

NOH opened the Chelsea Center with a Sustainable Livelihoods Program in the spring of 2013 to provide vocational and life skills training. The primary purpose was to support the transition of our children to young adulthood and productive, fulfilling lives. Over time the Chelsea Center has expanded its programs and beginning in the summer of 2015 offered free literacy classes and life skills workshops to women in the Dhapasi community. 

In October of 2015 Nepal Orphans Home was awarded a three-year grant from a foundation to construct a new Chelsea Center building and expand our programs in vocational training, life skills, and adult education. In April 2017 the completed Chelsea Center was dedicated.

The campus includes: Chelsea Education and Community Center, the three-story new building, with a spacious community room and library, five classrooms for computer labs, math and science classes, and a large balcony on the roof with ample space for workshops, gatherings, and exercise classes; Chelsea Center Annex, also three stories, with a conference room, kitchen, and dining room, three classrooms and residence for several of the Chelsea staff; and the Chelsea Center Office, a smaller two-story building with the offices of the Chelsea Center Director and the Nepal Orphans Home Director of Operations.  

The New Chelsea Center Building with Annex on the left
and Office on the right 

​Along the Carola Drosdeck Garden Path 
of the Chelsea Center

Chelsea Center Programs

In the afternoons, Sunday through Friday, the Chelsea Center holds classes in math, science and computer, as well as study halls and tutoring, for the Papa’s House children attending Skylark. For the older children, there are also career workshops and vocational training. In addition, more than two hundred women from the local community are taking English and Nepali literacy and basic math classes and participating in life skills workshops at the Center.

After-school academic work at the Chelsea Annex

Saturday morning in a Chelsea Center computer classroom ​

Life Skills Training (LST) is an important part of our overall effort to effectively prepare our children for life after Papa’s House and help community women lead healthier and more productive lives. The LST workshops are led by staff at the Chelsea Center and volunteers who are professionals in their fields. 

Last year there were four dozen workshops for the children and young adults, ranging in topics from “Public Speaking,” “Gender and Gender-Based Violence,” and “Basic First Aid,” to “Transition to Independence” and “Math and Art using Fibonacci Numbers.” There were over two dozen workshops for the community women, including “Entrepreneurship,” “Domestic Violence,” “Self-Defense,” “Citizenship,” and “The Importance of Play in Child Development.” Some of the workshops for the community women were for fun as well as personal enrichment, e.g., “Meditation,” and “Fermentation in Cooking the Korean Dish Kimchi.” For a list of workshops, see

Ted Seymour of the NOH Board of Advisers leading a Workshop on Sexual Health and Awareness for Papa’s House young men

Australian Nurse Hilary Flynn Leading a workshop on Good Sanitation Practices for younger children of Papa's House 

The Chelsea Center has helped build social capital in the community through special events, such as celebrating International Women’s Day and Diversity Day, which highlighted Nepal's traditions, clothing, and food. The Chelsea Center Women’s Council, made up of select leaders among the adult women, serves as an advisory group to the Director and assists in organizing the community celebrations.

Literacy class for community women

Meditation workshop for community women

Celebration of community women on the grounds of Papa’s Samanjasya House

Vocational Training

Most of our vocational training involves apprenticeships and placements, rather than formal classes at the Chelsea Center. In early 2018 nine of our young adults were enrolled in a Culinary Arts and Hotel Management training program for college students offered by  one of the top resorts in Nepal. Four have already graduated and accepted jobs. Two other young women, having finished their formal schooling and not interested in continuing into higher education, are taking a six-month course in a local beauty salon. While in the program these young women are also working part time after their daily instruction ends.  Upon graduation they are eligible to receive NOH funding to open a beauty shop locally or back in their villages. 

Several of our older girls, who have finished their formal education, continued their work in our tailoring shop (located on the ground floor of the Volunteer Nepal building), making the school uniforms for Papa’s House children and the Goldhunga Blind Children’s Home, as well as filling other customer orders. So too, young adults in Papa’s House Shoe Shop,  situated nearby, made our children’s school shoes as well as sold shoes to other students’ parents.

Two of our young men, who came to Papa’s House ten years ago, opened the Brothers’ Café in the fall of 2017, on the Skylark School grounds. These budding entrepreneurs began their venture by taking out a zero-interest loan from NOH, with repayment in 24 months.

Tailoring Girls in their shop

Day one at Brothers’ Café, making momos

Volunteer Nepal

Accompanying the growth of Papa’s House has been our affiliate Volunteer Nepal, increasing from a handful of volunteers in 2006 to a hundred annually from across the world. Volunteer Nepal advances the NOH mission by bringing to Nepal individuals with diverse skills and backgrounds who are committed to serving the poor and who seek profound and often life-changing experiences. Each year members of the NOH boards of directors and advisers also volunteer. The income from volunteer fees significantly contributes to the operation of Papa’s House. The ninth edition of Lonely Planet: Nepal listed Volunteer Nepal (and Nepal Orphans Home) among its recommended volunteer organizations.

In 2017, Volunteer Nepal hosted 97 individuals representing seventeen countries. The top three home countries were the United States (59%), Australia (18%), and New Zealand (8%).  Volunteer stints ranged from one week to several months. The total number of volunteer days was 2,396.  

Volunteer Nepal provides over two dozen placements throughout Nepal—from Kathmandu to remote villages. Options include volunteering in hospitals and medical clinics, schools, rehabilitation centers, ashrams, human rights NGOs, animal shelters, and village agriculture.  Volunteers, while in Dhapasi, often join Papa’s House children on Saturdays and holidays. Many volunteers also offer workshops on a range of topics at the Chelsea Center.

Volunteer Nepal in Action: Lost in Translation?

Several times, Sirkkha, from Finland, has volunteered 

In 2017 among the volunteers were a group of nineteen college students from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington for a month-long study abroad program that began in late January. A group of eight adults from Thrive Global, a nonprofit from Honolulu that assists in the transition of disadvantaged teens to adulthood, also volunteered at a school in Pharping for a week in July.

Evergreen State students on site

Volunteer with Mother Teresa nuns at an ashram for the elderly

In 2017 Nepal Orphans Home earned recognition as a GREAT NONPROFITS top-rated charity, largely from the favorable reviews of volunteers. An example of a volunteer’s review, which was posted on the Nepal Orphans Home profile on Guidestar in September 2016, follows. 

Working through Volunteer Nepal has been an incredible experience. All of the people whom I have had the pleasure of working with at this organization are friendly, generous, and exude a positive energy while working together to make a change in the local community. My intentions for coming to Nepal were to volunteer in a medical capacity, and Volunteer Nepal was among the first group of organizations that popped up on my Google search. After close communication with several different volunteering organizations that offered "medicine" among other things, I am lucky to have chosen Volunteer Nepal for its genuine and selfless nature. At the time, Volunteer Nepal stood out above the rest as being a program dedicated to helping women and children and selflessly giving back to the community. Volunteer Nepal … also supports efforts such as The Chelsea Center - a local center that empowers women through offering skills and English language classes; EDUC - a local preschool that provides an effective and motivating framework for their children to learn; participating with Curry Without Worry - an organization that cooks and provides a hot meal to homeless people every Tuesday evening in Kathmandu; and many placements both in Kathmandu and outside The Valley in medicine, agriculture and development, and teaching English.

I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in many of the aforementioned projects during my 2 month stay in Nepal, and will be leaving today with a greater sense of accomplishment than I thought was possible. I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful of an organization Volunteer Nepal is - and I've worked with a few others in the past, this one is undeniably top notch. Thank you for all of the lessons you've taught me, the friendships I've developed, and for allowing me the opportunity to do something good in this world.

Cheers & Namaste. ~ Maria

The ARAMCO students and their NOH friends on Papa’s Harmony House campus

Membership on the VN+NOH group page on Facebook continues to grow, exceeding 1,500 by the end of 2017.  Posts highlighted activities at the Volunteer House or at placements.  Questions posted by volunteer applicants are answered by former volunteers and VN staff. Volunteers were added to our Vertical Response (newsletter) list and therefore received information about NOH and VN.  Many also stayed in touch through social media. 

Volunteer Nepal is important for providing valuable services to the poor in Nepal. Moreover, the net income from volunteer fees significantly contributes to the operating expenses of Papa’s House.  


As part of its mission, Nepal Orphans Home has long supported other local charities. With the earthquakes in 2015, Nepal Orphans Home set up the NOH Earthquake Relief Fund for both short term humanitarian assistance and longer run reconstruction and development.  In terms of immediate relief, we focused on villages outside the Kathmandu Valley that were hit, where NOH had already established connections (whether placements with Volunteer Nepal or families of Papa’s House children and staff), and our neighbors in Dhapasi. All of our volunteers in the country were contacted and accounted for soon after the first quake. The Volunteer Nepal staff also contacted placements to assess the damage and need. Among other aid, VN staff delivered three large water tanks to the village of Chaturi; money, food, and tents to an orphanage in Charikot; and 450 blankets, as well as tarpaulins, to two small villages in the Dhading district, one of the hardest hit areas.  

Relief for Dhading villagers

Papa’s House Community Service Center Office

In 2017, still drawing on the Earthquake Relief Fund, NOH Outreach provided the funds for the construction of the new primary school in Dumrikharka of the Ramechhap district to replace the one destroyed by the earthquake.  NOH’s long support for the school continued with funding for a hot lunch program at the school six days a week and contributing to teacher salaries and school supplies for the village children. Nepal Orphans Home also contributed funds for the construction of a new house and kitchen at Bigu monastery, which along with Ramechhap are among the most popular Volunteer Nepal placements outside the Kathmandu Valley.

New Shree Sham Primary School in Dumrikharka​

​The new house and kitchen at Bigu

Last year NOH contributed funds for the completion of the construction of the Everest House Children’s Home of Mother Sister Nepal, an NGO that serves the women of remote Sindhupalchowk as well as caring for children who lost both parents in the earthquakes.

Closer to home, NOH Outreach helped fund the construction of Education and Development for Underprivileged Children of Nepal (EDUC-Nepal), a school providing free education to poor children in a squatters’ neighborhood in Kathmandu. EDUC-Nepal has also been a popular placement for Volunteer Nepal.         

NOH continued its support of the Goldhunga Blind Children’s Home in the Kathmandu Valley. NOH Outreach channeled funding for staff salaries and house supplies. Rabindra Sanjyal, a young adult from Papa’s House, is the coordinator of this NOH Outreach program to Goldhunga. And, in 2017, NOH Outreach provided tuition for 42 local children from poor families to attend Skylark and other schools in the Kathmandu Valley, much of this enabled by a generous contribution to Nepal Orphans Home.

For a third year, NOH supported terminally ill children in the cancer ward of Kanti Children’s Hospital. Fresh fruit and food treats were supplied twice a week and birthdays of the children were celebrated, complete with birthday cake, candles, presents, balloons and sweets. Support (generally for pain medications) was provided for poor families who cannot afford the medical costs. In the fall of 2017 NOH signed a MOU with the new Healing Buddha Foundation of the United States to fund our aid to Kanti Children’s Hospital.

Communications and Fundraising

Effective communications through the NOH website, social media, and public profiles have not only increased awareness of Nepal Orphans Home, but assisted our fundraising. An attractive twelve-page brochure created by friends at Alliance Residential Company in California in 2014 is still being distributed at fundraisers throughout the U.S. and Canada. The brochure is also available online.

In the fall of 2016, NOH Board of Director Toni Thomson’s documentary film about Michael Hess and the children of Papa’s House, What It Takes to Be Extraordinary, was shown at three film festivals: Chicago International Social Change Film Festival in September; and in October, the Black Bear Film Festival in Milford, Pennsylvania and the LA Femme International Film Festival in Los Angeles, where Toni’s film received an award for the ‘Best Foreign Documentary.’ During the year, several members of the NOH boards screened the documentary in their communities, including Davidson, Cleveland, the Bay Area of California, and New South Wales, Australia. Also the film was screened by friends of Nepal Orphans Home at fundraisers in London and Belgium.

The poster for Toni’s best foreign documentary

Jen Kim, a previous volunteer with Volunteer Nepal, continues to do an excellent job as editor of the NOH Newsletter. Through our association with VerticalResponse, there were nine issues sent out to over 2,700 subscribers in 2017. Along with regular editions in February, May, July, October, and December, there were two special editions at the end of the year. Toni Thomson’s video, posted on the NOH Facebook page on Giving Tuesday, featured Nepal Orphans Home’s support for education. The video was filmed by one of the young men of Papa’s House, Chham Gurung, who has apprenticed with the renowned international photographer, Rui Pires. NOH Holiday Greetings sent a week before Christmas highlighted our good work throughout Nepal.    

NOH continued to maintain an active presence on Facebook, posting a message roughly once a week.  At the end of 2017, there were over 3,200 followers on the NOH Facebook page


In addition to the net income from Volunteer Nepal, Nepal Orphans Home depends on donations. In 2017, over 250 individuals from across the world donated funds to NOH. We have been inspired by the gifts of friends, who have seen or heard about our good work in Nepal. Moreover, other individuals have generated support for NOH through online fundraising platforms, including UniversalGiving, SlickDeals, AmazonSmile, and Network for Good.

Some individuals designate specific uses for their donations. In 2017, for example, friends donated to NOH Outreach for the education of local children. Also, former volunteers and friends of NOH contributed towards an entrepreneurial fund for the Chelsea Center’s Business Incubator Program.    

In addition, monetary gifts were received through benefits and fundraisers. Friends and members of our boards have organized events from bake sales to silent auctions, photo exhibitions, yoga celebrations, well-being days, and fun runs.  Others have made and sold tote bags sporting the NOH logo and have given presentations to spread awareness of our work. Often visitors and volunteers bring donated goods. In September of 2017 the Chelsea Center received a shipment of about 1,500 kilograms (3,300 pounds) of books sent from South Pacific School Aid of Adelaide, Australia, which were shared with two other local schools.  Nepal Orphans Home appreciates every donation.

A successful bake sale in San Francisco

A fundraiser Down Under

Foundation Support

Nepal Orphans Home is grateful to the international foundation that awarded the grant to construct a new Chelsea Center building and expand our programs in vocational training, life skills, and adult education. We are also fortunate to have the ongoing support of the J. F Maddox Foundation and the J. Richard & Sybel F. Hayworth Foundation. 

Board member Toni Thomson’s Possible Worlds Foundation, based in Canada, has been integral in raising awareness and generating funds for our mission over many years. In 2017 Possible Worlds Foundation donations supported education, art and music classes at the Chelsea Center, and the Valentine’s Day celebration at Papa’s House. The Sanctuary for Kids Foundation early on made a major contribution to the NOH capital fund and annually supports our operations.

Nepal Orphans Home appreciates Life’s Handy Work Foundation for supporting the college costs of our older children and to Aakriti’s Kids Foundation for providing for Aakriti, our young, blind girl living in Papa’s Gumba House. In late 2017 the new Healing Buddha Foundation of the United States began funding our support to Kanti Children’s Hospital.

Nepal Orphans Home is committed to providing for the total welfare of children who come to Papa’s House, from the moment they arrive to the time they are ready to venture forth as productive citizens of Nepal. Over the years, many good people have learned about our work and have been inspired to help. Together we are making a difference in Nepal.  

Thank you from the children of Papa’s House

Nepal Orphans Home Board Members

Michael Hess, founder of Nepal Orphans Home, is the Emeritus Director of Operations for NOH in Dhapasi, Nepal. He is the proud father of two wonderful sons, grandfather to four precious and missed grandchildren in the States, and Papa to over 140 exceptional children in Nepal, helping them to have a strong family life, turning their hopes into reality.

Board of Directors

Hillary Bernhardt, a 2015 Davidson College graduate, lived in Nepal for nearly two years serving the children of Papa’s House and the local women of Dhapasi through her work at the Chelsea Center.  The opportunity to become embedded in the Dhapasi community has enriched her life immensely.  Hillary is currently pursuing an MBA at Yale School of Management with the intent of working at the intersection of private and public sectors after graduation.

Carola Drosdeck serves as vice president of NOH. She is a retired elementary teacher with most recent experience in the Shaker Heights (OH) City Schools. Previously, Carola was Assistant Director of Teacher Education Programs at John Carroll University. She volunteers at Nepal Orphans Home regularly and continues to be inspired by the resilience, curiosity, and spirit of NOH's children.

Peter Hess, a retired professor of economics at Davidson College, has served as president of NOH since its founding. He and his wife, Boo, who served as NOH secretary/treasurer until 2017, have two grown sons and two young granddaughters. They have volunteered at Papa's House several times. Their lives have been immeasurably enriched by Nepal Orphans Home and the amazing children of Papa's House.

Tamara Chant Saltzman iss a licensed Realtor in Pennsylvania and New York, coordinator of a homeless warming station,  and a certified fundraiser, now living in Milford, Pennsylvania.   Since first visiting Papa’s House in 2008, Tamara has pursued bringing NOH to the frontline in her children's schools and her own alma mater. Tamara and her children, Hannah and Jacob, have been tireless advocates for the children of Papa’s House, working to raise awareness and support for NOH’s mission. 

Ted Seymour first came to Nepal in 2014 where he met Papa and has returned annually in support of the efforts of NOH and the Chelsea Center. Based in Northern California, he received an MBA from UC Berkeley and successfully created a systems consulting firm before “retiring” in 2001. His passions include photography, writing, coaching high school tennis, music, and exploring the world. His “happy place” is working directly with the kids and young adults of NOH and he can often be found with a guitar on a rooftop in Kathmandu. 

Antonia (Toni) Thomson specializes in Post Production, Marketing and Documentary Filmmaking. Inspired by Michael’s work and the incredible children of NOH, Toni welcomed the position of NOH Director in 2007, and founded a registered Canadian charity “Possible Worlds Foundation” to further support NOH.  She has visited NOH several times and looks forward to future visits.  Toni lives in Toronto, Canada with her young son Tashi. 

Rajesh Trivedi serves as the treasurer of NOH, along with continuing a full-time employment as an internal audit professional in Florida, USA. Raj is professionally qualified in Accounting and Auditing from the USA and New Zealand. Raj was born and raised in India and had visited Nepal several times in the past. As an avid volunteer from an early age, Raj was innately drawn to the work of Michael Hess at Papa's House. He is inspired and proud of the organization's unwavering determination to provide access, opportunity, and most of all, happiness to such courageous children. 

Board of Advisers

Suresh Acharya, a software professional, lives in the Washington, DC area with his wife Namita and teenage daughters Shaily and Saurya.  He was born and raised in Nepal and did his undergraduate work at Davidson College.  Suresh and his family spent time at Papa’s House and the Chelsea Center in the summer of 2016 and are deeply appreciative of the great work Michael and the organization have done for the children of Nepal. 

Marie-Cecile (Cici) Caillet, born and raised in France, has lived in the US for the past 27 years. Cici is a former preschool teacher and works now as a teacher assistant in a French International School in San Francisco. Since first volunteering at NOH in 2012, she has been an enthusiastic supporter of the organization and returns each year to work with the children. Cici has a passion for cooking and enjoys sharing her culinary creations with the children of NOH.

Tyler Drosdeck, an artist and musician, lives in New York City.  He first volunteered with the organization in 2014, and returned in 2017.  He is forever touched by the community and spirit of the Nepal Orphans Home children, staff, and volunteers.

Elizabeth Dock Early lives in Madison, Connecticut and has three grown children and a grandson. She works for a local health department and is involved in many civic organizations.  She is passionate about the mission of NOH. Liz serves as bookkeeper for NOH and is firmly committed to supporting the children of Papa’s House. She first volunteered at NOH in 2011 and makes annual visits. 

Liz Early is the Office Manager and Bookkeeper of a Real Estate and Appraisal firm located in Providence, RI.  Since her first visit Nepal Orphans Home in 2011, Liz has been back to visit three more times, raising money and bringing donations each time.  She is always inspired by the success and happiness of the children at NOH and can’t wait for many more visits.

Laura Handy-Nimick began teaching in 2005 after obtaining a Master in Teaching degree from The Evergreen State College. She is passionate about teaching, equity in education, and supporting underprivileged children. She began volunteering for Nepal Orphans Home in 2009, which inspired her and her husband to co-found Life’s Handy Work, an organization committed to providing the children of NOH with funding for post-secondary education and training.

Anne McCadden lives in Marin County, California with her husband, Dan, and two young daughters. Since first volunteering at NOH in 2011, she has made annual trips to Nepal, becoming a dedicated advocate for the NOH cause. Anne and her family have rallied their local schools and community to support the mission of NOH through various fundraisers. Anne also helps oversee the accounting functions of NOH.

Michael Abraham Triozzi served as Director of Volunteer Nepal from 2013 to 2014, as temporary manager of the Nepal Orphans Home boys’ house following the earthquakes in 2015, and as Director of the Chelsea Education and Community Center. Prior to this he worked as a professional campaign manager and activist in the state of Ohio. He has loved having the opportunity to learn and grow alongside his brothers and sisters at NOH. He is currently serving in Republic of Georgia with the United States Peace Corps.