Nepal Orphans Home (NOH) began in March of 2005 when a friend took Michael Hess to an ‘orphanage’ in Dhapasi in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley that she said needed help. He found a small, rundown house with over 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 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.
Currently, NOH operates four homes, known locally as Papa’s Houses, all within a short walking distance of each other in Dhapasi. Nearly half of the 120 children provided for in Papa’s Houses are former Kamlari girls rescued from indentured servitude. Volunteer Nepal, our affiliate volunteer program, draws talented, compassionate people of all ages from around the world and identifies placements throughout Nepal that will benefit from the volunteers’ time, energy, and skills. NOH’s Chelsea Education and Community Center provides vocational training to our children and adult education to local women.
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.
Basic information about Nepal Orphans Home, a 501(c)(3) public charity incorporated in Davidson, North Carolina, can be found on the website, nepalorphanshome.org. Michael Hess, the founder and director of operations emeritus of NOH, provides periodic updates of our work, 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 our recent 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. In late December of 2016, upon Michael’s retirement, Sanjeev Dahal was appointed by the NOH Board of Directors as the new Director of Operations. Sanjeev began his work with NOH in September of 2016 as the Director of Education and Outreach Programs, assuming some of Michael Hess’s responsibilities in running NOH, coordinating with the directors of the Chelsea Center and Volunteer Nepal, as well as overseeing the outreach programs of Nepal Orphans Home. From 2014-2016, he was earning an Erasmus Mundus European Masters in Social Work with Families and Children. Earlier, from 2012-2014, Sanjeev served as Associate Director and Head of the Office of Student Affairs at Thames International College in Kathmandu.
Hillary Bernhardt took over as the Director of the Chelsea Education and Community Center in September 2016. Hillary had spent time working and studying in Kathmandu with the School for International Training, where she had intensive Nepali language study and conducted independent research on the social effects of work-based emigration in Nepal. After graduating magna cum laude from Davidson College, Hillary served for a year with AmeriCorps and completed the 2016 summer program at Dartmouth College’s Tuck Bridge Program in business.
Also in September 2016, Shreya Upadhyay, a recent graduate of Thames International College, with a degree in business administration, became the new Director of Communications of Volunteer Nepal, replacing Eileen Witham, a former volunteer from New Zealand who had served as the director for two years. At Thames, Shreya was the president of the Student Council in her senior year, after serving as the treasurer in her junior year.
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. Moreover, Michael will continue his parenting and counseling of Papa’s House children. In addition, Anita Mahato, long-time manager of Papa’s Imagine House has become the new Director for Children’s Affairs and participates in the decision-making for all issues pertaining to the children, including the management of each home, the acceptance of new children, and the preparation of older children for becoming more independent.
Management in 2017: Shreya Upadhyay (Director of Communications of Volunteer Nepal),
Hillary Bernhardt (Director of the Chelsea Center), and Sanjeev Dahal (Director of Operations)
Moreover, a number of our Papa’s House children, now becoming young adults, have joined the staff at Nepal Orphans Home, some while continuing their education in college. These include: four who help manage the Papa’s Houses; three who work with Volunteer Nepal; two who operate Hope’s Café; two who work as cooks in Papa’s Houses; one full-time and two part-time instructors in the Chelsea Center; two as managers of the Tailoring Shop and one as manager of the Shoe Shop; and one who is a coordinator of our Gholadunga outreach project.
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 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, however, 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.
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.
Each of our Papa’s Houses is managed by Nepali staff. NOH is especially proud that one of our first children, Anita Mahato, is running Kalpana House and has become a key assistant to the Director of Operations. Three other early Papa’s House children, now young adults, help manage Gumba and Sambhav Houses. In addition to the resident managers and their assistants, each house has a cook and a didi who come in daily to help with the cleaning and laundry. House managers also assist with buying supplies, accompanying children to medical appointments and other errands.
Through donations, desktop and laptop computers with Internet connection are available in each home. In 2012 NOH purchased solar panels for our homes. Possible Worlds Foundation donated the funds for ten solar panels and additional solar panels were funded by Sanctuary for Kids Foundation and individual donors. With electricity often available for only six to eight hours a day outside of the monsoon months, solar panels provide reliable lighting for the kitchens and dining rooms, which double as study halls. Each house has a selection of books available to the children, for their academic studies, independent reading, and book discussion groups.
NOH provides transition houses for 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.
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 NOH, 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. Now cared for by Anita Mahato, with help from the older girls of Kalpana House, Hope has all the opportunities to grow and develop that every child deserves.
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 children with serious medical situations. Hope was also fitted with state-of-the art prosthetics by NEOPS, the leading prosthetics device makers in New England.
Papa and Hope
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.”
In an effort to encourage the children to take a greater role in decision making within and across the houses, a Children’s Council was established in August of 2014. Michael and the house managers asked the children in each house to vote 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.
A gathering of the Papa’s House family
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, 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.
Morning assembly at Skylark English School
Afternoon study hall
In 2016, twelve of the older Papa’s House children who had completed Class 10 and sat for the national gateway SLC (Secondary Leaving Certificate) exam, which typically less than 45 percent of students in Nepal pass, earned 2 A+’s, 7 A’s, a B+, and 2 B’s.
Twenty-four of our children were attending college (sometimes referred to as Classes 11 and 12), and two of our young adults were studying in university. With twenty of our young adults currently in Class 10, we expect there will be forty-four of our children attending college and four in university when the next school year begins in 2017.
Ranked first in their Skylark classes
(Srijana, Pinkeny, Ashmita, and Saraswati)
Leaving Papa’s House for the first day of college:
Lalita, Dhiraj, and Kabita, respectively, will study
Hotel Management, Science, and Business
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 and Saudi Aramco for supporting the higher education expenses of our older children in college and university.
Papa’s House children follow a busy schedule. Six days a week during the school year, the children rise early in the morning for breakfast, attend classes from 9:00 through 3:30, followed after school by vocational training or extracurricular activities, like basketball and music, then study hall, supper, and finishing any remaining homework. Saturdays and holidays are more flexible, allowing for free play, family birthday parties, and personal enrichment. Reading is encouraged through Papa’s House book clubs. Holidays, both Western (including Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Halloween) and Nepali (like Dashain and Tihar) are celebrated.
In 2016, for the first time, our Taekwondo children participated in competition. Half of the thirty children learning Taekwondo and practicing early every other morning over the last few years were chosen for the competition. Overall, the NOH team finished second and a number of our children placed first in their divisions. Several of our other older children have earned full scholarships to college for their basketball skills.
Papa’s House Boys honoring their sisters
A Saturday book club
Chelsea Education and Community Center
While the children are encouraged and supported to continue their schooling for as long they can, not all will choose or be able to attend university. Consequently, NOH established the Chelsea Education Center (CEC) with a Sustainable Livelihoods Program to provide both vocational and life skills training. In the spring of 2013, the CEC began with after-school vocational training for Papa’s House children aged fifteen and older. Seventy students attended the classes six days a week in a leased building within walking distance of the five Papa’s Houses. Seven courses [tailoring, cell phone repair, computer hardware and software programming, hair styling, motorcycle repair, and music (voice, keyboard, and guitar)] were taught, in forty-five minute sessions, beginning an hour after dismissal from Skylark School. The instructors were professionals in the field or local college professors. Classes were limited to twelve or fewer students to ensure individual attention.
In the second year, 2014, the Chelsea Education Center continued with more advanced training in these classes and added shoe-making to the curriculum. The students put their training to good use. For example, the computer hardware class fixed the NOH computers and the motorcycle repair class maintained the Papa’s House scooter as well as repairing the motorbikes of local teachers. The tailoring class made the skirts for the school uniforms. And, in both the tailoring and hair styling classes, the top students worked in their teachers’ shops on Saturday afternoons.
Life skills workshops also began with a focus on effective communication skills, public speaking, and critical thinking. In the spring of 2014, NOH received a grant from St. Margaret’s Church of Annapolis, Maryland, to purchase equipment and supplies for the vocational training. Later in the year, NOH received private donations towards funding equipment in the shoe-making class to allow the children to make sport shoes as well as sandals and dress shoes. At the end of the year Nepal Orphans Home was also awarded a grant from Latet, an Israeli Humanitarian Aid Organization, for funding our vocational training instructor salaries in 2015.
Chelsea Center computer class
Chelsea Center tailoring class
In the spring of 2014 NOH established a Café at the Skylark School grounds, averaging 300 nutritious meals served daily at a cost of less than 15 cents per plate to the school students and staff. During the border embargo that began in the fall of 2015 the Café was closed due to a shortage of cooking fuel. In the spring of 2016, with the return of a regular supply of cooking fuel, the Café opened again.
In early 2015, through the initiative of Ted Seymour, a member of the NOH Board of Advisers, the Chelsea Center incorporated the Khan Academy’s on-line mathematics curriculum, a popular, self-paced program of instructional support. NOH invested heavily in this program by purchasing an additional 33 new laptops and creating three dedicated rooms for Khan Academy. Math coaches were present in each room to provide one-on-one support where necessary.
In July of 2015, the Chelsea Education Center became the Chelsea Education and Community Center (CECC) with the offering of literacy classes to local women, primarily the mothers of children who attended Skylark School. Over 120 women signed up to participate in this free program. In addition to Ashok and Kabita (two of our older children then attending college), NOH hired three recent college graduates to teach the classes. In October, the CECC began teaching an online math program to 65 women, many from the English classes. The course was designed to introduce them to computers, allow them to practice simple English and learn domestic and small shop accounting.
In October of 2015, Nepal Orphans Home was awarded a grant from a foundation (that prefers to remain anonymous) to expand our educational and vocational infrastructure by acquiring land and constructing a more appropriate building to house the Chelsea Education and Community Center. The new CECC building will not only enhance the vocational training services for our children and adult education for women in the local community, but allow for an incubator program to support the formation of businesses by CECC graduates and offer retail space for these businesses, including a collective shop for our tailoring girls. Planning for the new CECC to be constructed on the grounds of Papa’s Sambhav House was begun.
Khan Academy math class
Literacy class for community women
By the beginning of July 2016, the architectural plans had been developed and the building permits and contractors had been secured. On July 20th a Puja, a ceremony to bless the ground and building, was held, guided by the neighborhood Dhami and attended by many of the CECC teachers and students, including local women from the adult education classes.
Puja for the new CECC, July 20, 2016
Construction for new Chelsea Center building
The new CECC and its annex combined will have over 3,000 square feet of space with seven larger classrooms, a community room/library, and an office. This represents a significant improvement over the leased building of approximately 1,800 square feet of floor space for seven classrooms and two workshops currently in use.
Consistent with the foundation grant’s project goal of providing retail space for several potential businesses, CECC opened two store fronts in Dhapasi in the summer of 2016. Our new Tailoring Shop is located on the ground floor of the current Chelsea Center. Here three of our older girls manage the shop during the day and teach sewing between 4 and 6 p.m. Since opening the shop they have been busy with new orders. They have long been making our school uniforms as well as the uniforms for the Gholadunga Blind Children’s Home that NOH supports. Our new Shoe Shop is located on the ground floor of Papa’s Sanctuary House, next to the current Chelsea Center. The girls make all our school shoes as well as sell them to other local students.
Storefront of Papa’s House Tailoring Shop
Storefront of Papa’s House Shoe Shop
Chelsea Center Classes and Workshops
At the beginning of 2017, the Chelsea Center was open to NOH children Sunday through Friday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. offering the following classes: six Math Prep/Khan Academy classes serving a total of fifty-four children; two upper level math classes with twenty children; three web design/QBasic programming classes for thirty children; a computer hardware class for six children; and one MS Word Skills class for eleven children. In addition, eleven older girls are focused on learning tailoring skills, a group of children are engaged in shoe-making, and on Saturdays some children attend music lessons.
For adult education, 240 women regularly attend classes at the Chelsea Center, with most of the local women taking more than one class each day. The Chelsea Center is open to the women Sunday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. offering the following classes (total number of adult women in the classes): four basic math classes (52); three computer classes (38); eleven Basic English classes (159); three Intermediate English classes (45); one advanced English class (10); one English conversation class (25); five Nepali Literacy classes (62); and three tailoring classes (23). On Fridays, the Chelsea Center hosts optional workshops that approximately 65 to 115 women attend each week.
Fourteen young professionals and teachers work part-time and two work full-time on the Chelsea Center staff. Indirect beneficiaries are the families of employees and women affiliated with the Chelsea Center.
Volunteer Dr. Amanda Hill leads a workshop on
Life Skills Training
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. For a list of recent workshops, see Life Skills Training Curriculum.
Prominent among the Life Skills workshops for Papa’s House children during the past year were sessions on: first aid, burn prevention and treatment, empowering girls through online learning opportunities, making oral presentations and writing articles, banking, and meditation and emotional wellbeing.
In addition to the adult education classes, workshops are offered to the women. As explained by Hillary Bernhardt, Director of the Chelsea Center:
The workshops are providing women with in-depth coverage of information they would otherwise not have easy access to, with workshop topics including pregnancy, depression, diabetes, personal finance, and child development. We hope the workshops as well as the daily classes are leading to the women feeling an increased sense of self-control over their lives, a sense of purpose through life-long learning, increased well-being from the ability to make educated decisions for themselves and their families, and the ability to share what they have learned with members of their community.
Workshop for children on meditation
Women’s workshop on domestic violence
In August of 2016, the first meeting of the Chelsea Center Women’s Council took place. Consisting of five local women recommended by the instructors from the adult education classes, the council meets regularly with Chelsea leadership as an advisory group on the curriculum and schedule for the classes. The council members also represent the concerns of other community women attending the Chelsea Center and help NOH identify families in the community who may be having difficulties.
In addition to adult education classes and workshops, the Chelsea Center seeks to build social capital in the community with special events. For example, in November 2016 the Chelsea Center organized a party with games, dancing, and awards for the adult women in the CECC classes to welcome them back after the long Dashain/Tihar holidays.
Welcome back celebration on the grounds of Papa’s Harmony House
Accompanying the growth of Papa’s House has been our affiliate Volunteer Nepal, increasing from a handful of volunteers in 2006 to annually a hundred or more 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. Annually 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 lists Volunteer Nepal (and Nepal Orphans Home) among its recommended volunteer organizations.
In 2016, Volunteer Nepal hosted 99 individuals representing nineteen countries, a drop off from the 122 volunteers in 2015. The top four home countries in 2016 were the United States (35%), Australia (22%), United Kingdom (9%) and Canada (7%). While the number of volunteers declined, the average length of the volunteer’s stay increased, so that the total number of volunteering days rose from 2,385 in 2015 to 2,478 in 2016.
Volunteer Nepal (VN) offers nineteen placements in the Kathmandu Valley (including teaching with local community schools for underprivileged children and children with disabilities, offering life skills workshops in our Chelsea Center, assisting in health clinics, and working with other nonprofits for human rights) and thirteen placements outside the valley (including teaching English in village schools, assisting in health clinics, and even helping farmers in their fields).
Volunteer Nepal in Action: Lost in Translation?
Several times, Sirkkha, from Finland, has volunteered
Perhaps the best way to capture the work of Volunteer Nepal could be found in a volunteer’s review, which was posted on the Nepal Orphans Home profile on Guidestar in September 2016.
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
In addition to the volunteers through Volunteer Nepal, each year Nepal Orphans Home receives numerous visitors. For example, in the summer of 2015 for the third year the NOH children and ARAMCO children from a private Saudi Arabian school spent a memorable day together learning about each other’s culture and developing friendships.
The ARAMCO students in red t-shirts and their NOH friends
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 hard hit, where NOH had already established connections (whether placements with Volunteer Nepal or families of Papa’s House children and staff), and neighbors in Dhapasi. All of our volunteers in the country were contacted and accounted for soon after the quake hit. 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.
In the summer of 2016, Nepal Orphans Home opened an office in the Chelsea Center to coordinate all our outreach programs. Using the office full time was Mrs. Sunita Pandey, who also served as a manager of our volunteer program. Merging our staff in these related endeavors increased our capacity and performance in the many ongoing projects.
Relief for Dhading villagers
Papa’s House Community Service Center Office
NOH has long supported the Shree Sham Primary School in Dumrikharka, funding a hot lunch program six days a week and contributing to teacher salaries and school supplies for the village children. In 2016 NOH funded the reconstruction of the school building destroyed by the earthquake. Similarly, for the last seven years, NOH has been involved with the Bigu monastery, a bus ride and two days’ hike up a mountain from Kathmandu. A spiritual place, Bigu has been a favorite of our volunteers who teach, help with maintenance, or work in the gardens or kitchen. Here too the destruction of buildings was extensive and NOH Outreach contributed to the construction of a new house and kitchen.
New Shree Sham Primary School building
The new house and kitchen at Bigu
Among other charities, NOH assists Mother-Sister Nepal, an NGO serving the women of remote Sindhupalchowk as well as caring for children who lost both parents in the earthquakes, and the Gholandunga Blind Children’s Home nearer to NOH in the Kathmandu Valley. NOH subsidizes the education of sixteen local children in Dhapasi, allowing them to attend the Skylark School.
NOH supports terminally ill children in the cancer ward of Kanti Children’s Hospital. Fresh fruit and food treats are supplied twice a week and birthdays of the children are celebrated, complete with birthday cake, candles, presents, balloons and sweets. Support (generally for pain medications) is provided for poor families who cannot afford the medical costs.
Communications and Fundraising
Effective communications through the NOH web site, 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 Alliance in 2014 is still being distributed at fundraisers throughout the U.S. and Canada. The brochure is also available online.
Jen Kim, a previous volunteer with Volunteer Nepal in 2009, edits the NOH Newsletter. During 2016, through our association with VerticalResponse, six editions of the NOH Newsletter, along with two special announcements and an end-of-year Holiday Greetings from NOH, were emailed to over 2,800 subscribers.
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. Toni also made the film available through her postings on our NOH & VN pages, Possible Worlds and the film’s own Facebook page, and over the three-day period in August there were eighty downloads from 18 countries.
The poster for Toni’s best foreign documentary
NOH continued to maintain an active presence on Facebook, posting messages weekly. By early 2017, there were over 3,000 members on the NOH page.
In addition to the net income from Volunteer Nepal, Nepal Orphans Home depends on donations. In 2016, 338 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.
Other 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 (including the photography of NOH board members and Papa’s House children), 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. Nepal Orphans Home is grateful for every donation.
Moreover, individuals have generated support for NOH through the online fundraising platforms including JustGive, Benevity, FirstGiving, AmazonSmile and Network for Good.
As noted, Nepal Orphans Home was awarded a grant from a foundation to construct a new Chelsea Center and expand our programs in vocational training, life skills, and adult education. We are fortunate to have the support of several other foundations, two of which also asked to remain anonymous.
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 2009, the Sanctuary for Kids Foundation, led by producer, director, and actress Amanda Tapping, made a major contribution to the NOH capital fund and in every year since has generously supported our operations, funding education and nutrition of Papa’s House children.
Nepal Orphans Home is grateful to 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.
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, often through the Nepal Orphans Home website or from volunteers after they return home, and have been inspired to help. Together we are making a difference in Nepal . . . one child at a time, each one special.
Nepal Orphans Home Board Members
Michael Hess, founder of Nepal Orphans Home, is the Director of Operations Emeritus 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 120 exceptional children in Nepal, helping them to have a strong family life, turning their hopes into reality.
Board of Directors
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 2006. He and his wife, Boo, have volunteered at Papa's House several times. Their lives have been immeasurably enriched by Nepal Orphans Home and the wonderful children of Papa's House.
George McNeil is a retired psychiatrist from Portland, Maine. His wife and two grown children share his wish for a more equitable world. He is proud of the efforts of his nephew, Michael Hess, to nudge things in this direction at Nepal Orphans Home.
Tamara Chant Saltzman is a certified fundraiser, event planner and business developer, 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.
Antonia (Toni) Thomson specializes in Post Production, Marketing & 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 currently serves as the treasurer of NOH, along with continuing 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. He has over 40 years of work experience at responsible positions in India, Fiji, New Zealand and USA and has widely traveled. Raj was born and raised in India in a city about 100 miles from Nepal Border and therefore 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 NOH 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 26 years. .Cici is a former preschool teacher 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 Early lives in Madison, Connecticut and has three grown children. She is a medical biller and is involved in many civic organizations. Liz serves on the Board of Directors for a local chapter of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Liz is firmly committed to supporting the children of Papa’s House and is passionate about the mission of NOH. She first volunteered at NOH in 2011 and hopes to continue to make annual visits.
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.
Ted Seymour is actively creating a life of service, creative expression and community. Based in Northern California, he received an MBA from UC Berkeley, successfully creating a systems consulting firm before “retiring” in 2001. His passions include humanitarian photography, writing, travel and healthy living. In 2015 he spent 6 weeks launching the Khan Academy program at the CEC and in the process fell in love with the children of NOH.
Michael Abraham Triozzi has 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 Morocco with the United States Peace Corps.