The Chelsea Education Center is a daily source of pleasure and validation of our effort to provide a complete education to the children. This initiative was spearheaded by Glenn Detrick, of St. Louis, MO, a Nepal Orphans Home board member who spent his professional career in academics; the center is named in honor of the memory of his daughter Chelsea.
We moved the old volunteer house to larger quarters and opened the center in its place. We have seven courses being taught in twice daily sessions to accommodate the number of our children interested in learning trades. The courses are Computer Science/Software; Computer Hardware/Repair; Mobile Phone Technology/Repair; four sections of Music; Tailoring; Beauty Salon and Motorcycle Mechanics. The back to back sessions start at 4:30 for 45 minutes each and are taught by professionals in the field or by college professors.
We have limited the class size to ensure an optimal teacher-student ratio, and there are 70 students currently in attendance in the one-year designed courses. In some courses the students will have the knowledge to work in their vocations at year’s end, others will have advanced learning available. We will also add a comprehensive course in starting and operating a small business next year, and if space can be created we will introduce other trades.
The idea behind the center is to complement the children’s academics; we have found this style of learning to benefit their approach to their school work. This also gives them a very real sense of life outside of school and offers them skills that will be enjoyed all their lives regardless of practicing them professionally or not.
As our children matriculate through school, some may opt for strictly vocational training and we will be ready when that time comes to offer it. Our children are getting older and in the next 4 years we will have a total of 55 finish high school. Some, perhaps as many as half, will feel that their future would be best served with a vocation, and all of them will have a journeyman’s skill in one or more vocations by that point. The other half will continue on in college and become teachers, medical professionals, scientist, engineers, musicians, artist and among us all there will exist a whole society.
Students between classes at the Chelsea Education Center and a Computer Science class
While on the subject of education, Saroj and Chham both began college this year. Saroj has chosen to major in computer science and Chham in management. They both attend Herald International College joining 3 other Papa’s House children already attending college. We gave them our traditional send off early one morning, sadly their new uniforms were not completed on time for the morning photo.
Left to right: Kabita starting her second year, Saroj, Chham, Hikmat starting his third year and Sabin entering his second year.
The first term results from Skylark saw the Papa’s House children scoring first in 7 of 12 grade levels, 2nd in 6 grade levels, and 3rd in 9 grade levels. Thirty-eight children scored 90% or better. We are very proud of our children’s prodigious effort and shining results.
A morning assembly at Skylark English School, only part of the 600+ children can be seen
On February 14th we held our third annual Valentine’s Day Party supported by Possible Worlds Foundation whose founder Toni Thomson has been a NOH board member for many years. A wonderful meal was prepared by our staff and the afternoon was filled with entertainment by both the Papa’s House kids and the Skylark School children.
Volunteer Nepal volunteers representing six countries worked for a week before the event making beautiful bags for every child with their valentine’s cards and many chocolates inside. They also made all the superlative cards and set up the grounds with festive decorations and a photo booth. Our board member Laurie Levine flew in from Australia with her wonderful friend Rosearmy, a professional dancer from Argentina who taught some Latin dance to our kids.
Rosearmy in an impromptu dance class; Laurie with Samjhana
Our smaller girls’ performance, and that of our big girls
Pratap (boys’ house dad) and Kabita the day’s MCs; Kamali singing
Thanks, Possible Worlds!
NOH has several new children who have come to us since the last update. Aakriti is first up. She is a delightful 5 year old who loves to go for scooter rides with me. She laughs hard when we hit pot holes causing me to seek out the many that exist on our poor roads. Aakriti had been institutionalized prior to coming to Papa’s House and has since flourished. One of our volunteers, Anne Zrenda, met her several years ago and at that time devoted much attention to improving Aakriti’s life. Anne supports Aakriti’s daily visit by a special education teacher as well as having her own 24 hour a day didi. Aakriti today can communicate and walk, she is learning independence, loves music (she had been considered both blind and deaf but we find she has the ability to hear some tones or pitches both voice and music). Having Aakriti with us has been an educational and moving experience for us; she is happy, energetic and patient with us all.
Aakriti with Anita; With Jishnu her personal didi
With Juno one of her house mates; and with my son Aaron
This is David, a sweet, slightly bewildered and very touching 5 year old; above with Kamana
And this is Suman. This 7 year old runs very deep; he is quiet, kind, polite, empathetic and super intelligent. I look forward to meeting him every afternoon when school is let out in his block and sharing a few moments before we collect all the children.
And this is Suman letting David know he has his back on David’s first day of school.
Above is Apsara. She is 11, quick with a smile and very studious; she shares the same last name as our other Apsara, who has been 5 years with us shown above right with her friend Mary.
Our original Apsara recently returned to school after going through her second operation in the past 4 years to relieve pressure upon her skin from severe burns in an accident prior to coming to us. The operation was performed by a wonderful man Dr. Shankar Rai who is the chief surgeon of a new Cleft Pallet and Burn Center Hospital in Kathmandu. They provide their services at little or no cost to patients in need. We help supply this exciting new hospital with medical professionals who answer the call through our Volunteer department www.volunteernepal.com We have arranged nurses, doctors and CRNA’s to help out at the center. If you are in medicine and would be interested, please contact us.
My CRNA son Aaron and daughter-in-law Jo helping out during their volunteering this summer.
Dr. Rai is shown on the far left in the picture on the right.
While here, Aaron and Jo spent time at the mountain top monastery/nunnery where we send many volunteers to teach, build, maintain the buildings and help with agriculture. While there, they renewed their wedding vows Tibetan style in a service provided by the Rinpoche and nuns in an unforgettable ceremony attended also by several of our volunteers.
Part of the several-hour-long ceremony.
This year Nepal Orphans Home rose to meet the needs of special situations that fall outside the scope of our mission. One example was helping Dhan Bahadur, a 17 year old neighbor, to receive the transplanted kidney of his mother. Dhan was in the final stage of acute renal failure according to his doctors and yet despite the father’s daily attempts to raise the money by begging on the streets and door to door, he was without any success at all. We met with the surgeons to learn how little time was left and thus deposited with the hospital sufficient funds for the operation to take place. When we let people know of the situation, we received a letter from Basia Going, the owner of Adi Shesha Yoga Studios in Canada. She and her staff immediately organized a fund raising event in their town which raised over $7000.00 for the cause. NOH received donations from 35 of its followers totaling just over $4000.00 more. It has been just under 5 months since Dhan’s successful operation. Dhan’s father has recently returned to his village, and from there he will go high into the mountains to do the dangerous work of picking a wild medicinal plant popular with the Chinese. His mom remains frail and unable to work, but smiling bravely and doing what she can. We support the family still in a small set of rooms nearby providing rent, food and medicine, something Dhan will be taking for life. Dhan will hopefully be able to return to school soon. He is considering learning tailoring as an alternative to school so that he can start to earn some income for the family and relieve his aging parents of some of their worry.
Dhan and his family early on; At the hospital with the supplies for his operation
Dhan scheduled for the transplant; Dhan in the ICU the day after
Below, Dhan, Pratap (who devotes hours every day in helping the family) and Dhan’s dad a month after the operation.
A group of fine young Nepalese men organized an inter school basketball program several years ago; they serve as the referees at the games and coaches at different schools all on their own dime. They simply love the game and recognize the potential it has for the children. The man who took on coaching at Skylark felt we were ready to join the program last year. For both the girls and boys that year was quite a developmental one; they were still learning some of the technical basics and had a dismal record, but a lot of fun. This year they matched their personal abilities with good coaching and began to gel as a team.
About two months ago there was a celebration in honor of the schools participating in the Valley Inter School Basketball tournament. Cila was named the Girls Most Valuable Player for the season among all schools, and we were told has been scouted by a few colleges for a possible scholarship; our girls’ team also won the tournament while our boys came in 2nd.
The boys started off the season a little slow competing against larger schools who have been involved in basketball programs for many years and they were still a little intimidated by formal play, but once they decided to relax and play their style which is more pick-up game ball and have fun they became unstoppable. Their last three games saw them scoring 64 to 18; then 138 to 10 and finally 60 to 12 when the game was stopped at halftime. I saw in their team play the same trust, love and respect they have off the court for one another, no single ego, just team play, lots of hustle and passing to the open man.
Cila with her MVP award and Bisna with the 2nd place tournament award.
Yesterday Wednesday August 21st was “Brothers Day” in Nepal. The girls as always prepared many a song and dance and a few well written dramas for the boys. They made bracelets from colored thread to tie upon each boy’s wrist, and they offered “tika” and flowers chopped fine and sprinkled with a personal blessing upon their heads.
Gita and friends waiting off stage; Purnima, Jenny and Ramila from Harmony House
Small Gita leading a group from Imagine House; Gomarti from Rainbow House
Sanjita from Rainbow House; Khusbu and Bhumika from Sanctuary House
Asha and Sumitra from Sanctuary in a drama; Sanctuary House dancing
Dawn Kumari of Harmony House and Gita of Sanctuary House called upon to do an impromptu drama and finally Apsara of Harmony House in a dance. The boys will be hosting the third annual “Sisters Day” on the 7th of September.
Yesterday I took the five girls shown here back to the “monkey temple” where 6 years ago we visited along with Peter and Barbara Hess and our first daughter Sangeeta. Tempus Fugit!
Sangeeta at the Monkey Temple 6 years ago; center, my first photo of her at 13; above in April.
Today at 23 Sangeeta finds herself at the Children’s Surgical and Rehabilitation Hospital in Banepa learning to be a physical therapist. She has several years of training yet to go, but in a recent e-mail expressed great happiness in the training, new friends and having a direction in life that is so pleasant, promising and rewarding.
In the group photos, on far left is also Sangita but a different spelling of it. Sangita is 19 now and studying in class 9 where she struggles a bit though she works very hard at her school work. She is a great help around the house. She has almost 3 years of Tai Kwon Do behind her. All of these girls came to us without having spent any time in a classroom due to having been Kamlari so they have done remarkably well.
Sangita before leaving Narti for Dhapasi and with Lalita in the beginning of school.
Lalita is next to her, 2nd from left; she has always been a quiet girl with a touching sentiment for little things, be it human, animal or inanimate. She puts homework above all else and does pretty well in school. She has a lot of artistic ability which I hope to help her cultivate when we find a good art teacher and the time and space for lessons. She has always been considered one of our best dancers by the others but with the passing of time seems less inclined to perform. She would like to be a nurse. Lalita turned 17 on July 17th.
Lalita and Pramila six years ago and again yesterday at the prayer wheels.
Pramila is in the middle. She will turn 18 next month. I had been visiting our home in Western Nepal one time 6 years ago after several girls had been rescued and brought there. These three were very close. On my third day there they asked if they could come home with me to Dhapasi, and so the next morning we all squeezed into the little car I had hired for the trip. They moved into the same room together and remain there today. They have different personalities, but complement one another well. Pramila is very quiet and always smiling, she is an observer and wants to please; she admires more gregarious girls but would never want to be one. She has no lofty ambitions, but she does want to finish school and then learn a trade; college does not hold much attraction to her. She, like Sangeeta, always reply that they wish just to work with us, helping others when they get older.
Pramila before leaving Narti with me and on the right just starting school in Dhapasi.
Sushma is a very beautiful girl who works so hard in everything she does. Her bedroom is near the kitchen and she is always helping Dawn Kumari there or in the gardens. She too is quiet and reserved, but if you are her friend then she enjoys your company. Sushma has a brother Ram with us and an older sister Karmu who now stays in the Narti home. These kids, raised without parents are very polite and appreciative of everything. They are extraordinary children to be around and one wants nothing more than to make life special for them.
Sushma at Narti after her rescue and in Dhapasi with her brother Ram and sister Karmu.
Sushma loves Tai Kwon Do and has probably never missed a morning’s lesson in several years. She is 17 now and is reading in class 8.
And on the far right is Binita. Binita is 19 years old now and studies in class 9. She too was rescued six years ago from being a Kamlari and moved into one of our homes in Narti. She was painfully shy and had zero self-confidence or sense of self-worth when she first came over to Dhapasi shortly after rescue, but has really blossomed in the past year or two. She has a great sense of humor and shares it well with her closest friends. She does well in school and attends our Computer Science classes at the CEC after school. She will attend college and with some luck may be able to attend a University after that.
Binita and Sushma Spring of 2008 and Binita and Aramco school friend Spring of 2013.
And finally let me close the update with a few thoughts about Hope. I am not talking about desired expectations, trust, faith, belief and wishful confidence in a future event; I am talking about our newest family member “Hope Angel.”
One evening near the end of July I received an e-mail from Jehan Seirafi, our former Volunteer Nepal director and a wonderful friend who has since founded Sunsarmaya.org to offer financial care for struggling orphanages. It was a brief e-mail in which she asked if we would be able to take in a 12-week-old baby girl whose feet had been cut off. I could not get the e-mail off my mind that night and the next morning I asked our house managers what they thought. I listened as they all offered really valid reasons as to why we should not take her in. These folks have more love and compassion for children than any I have met, but we are approached almost daily to help people and they have been very good at analyzing each situation and being able to make the hard choices. I wrote back and told Jehan to make us the choice of last resort, that we really could not in all practical ability help her.
At this same time Medical Mercy, which was founded by Dr. Myron and Mrs. Elaine Semkuley in Canada, notified Nepal Project Director Elsie James, and she immediately asked Kathy Procranik to leave her Ormond Beach Florida home and fly to Nepal to help find a home for this little girl. Already assembled here on the ground Elsie had Ramesh Dhamala, Rajendra Koirala and Surekha Limbu at the hospital to intervene in behalf of “Dil,” our Hope’s given name.
For the next few days this little baby was constantly on my mind. I kept mentioning fragments of thoughts about her to Anita, our Imagine House manager and she would knowingly smile at the wrestling match going on in my mind. I wrote to my cousin Anne and told her everything about Hope and admitted how troubled I was over my decision.
“She was called gone by a senior doctor; we were later told that she arrived pretty well bled out after a long journey from her village to the ER at Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu, she went into cardiac arrest, a junior doctor applied paddles twice without her coming back, the senior doctor called it over but the junior said one more time and Hope wailed back to life.”
Anne said to listen to my heart and the right decision would be made. I immediately wrote an e-mail to Jehan and copied Kathy and Elsie and said we have changed our minds and we want to be the home of first and only consideration.
The next morning Kathy called me and said they would like to meet us that day. They were at the hospital then and so I suggested we meet them there. Anita and I had been on our way to the bank and I said we would stop and see the baby at the hospital first. She asked why, though she already knew the answer.
In the parking lot upon arrival at the hospital, Surekha Limbu in white, Rajendra and Ramesh.
Anita holding “Dil” with Kathy Procranik looking on…
…and moments later one look between Anita and “Dil” would forever change all our lives.
I wrote to Anne and a few friends later:
“Our precious little girl has been named Hope following your suggestion, but I have heard many of our smaller children whisper to her ‘Angel’, as if they know something. She has found a way to touch each of our hearts in exactly the way we did not know we needed them touched; watching some of our older girls talk to her, feed her and hold her with such beatific smiles in the darkening evening’s golden brown hues is more priceless than the Vermeer paintings they remind me of.
Our family has closed around Hope like we do all our children. A new child arrives and their heart beats out of synch; they are feeling alone and then the children draw them into our home and the pain that has brought them here slowly evaporates, and within a few hours their hearts are strengthened by the collective beat of all the children.
This evening with her new Mom Anita radiating love upon her, Hope lay on the bed and surveyed all her sisters cooing over her, she gave a crooked smile, took a deep breath and went to sleep. She had had a long day.
Hope is our family’s finest gift ever; the road ahead will not be easy, but it will be paved in love with all our children sharing her battles. One day the unique spirit of Hope’s will be known to many. Little Hope has a big destiny ahead.”
Hope Angel has been with us since August 8th. I had forgotten how much pleasure can be had by waiting for a baby’s smile. She is a bright happy little one and very communicative. I have been working on her ability to wink and repeat “I Love You.” Her concentration upon your eyes and mouth are similar to that of a chess master. I talk to her a lot and she is pretty intent on listening and smiling. I change her bandages twice daily and attend to her medicine requirements. She has healed quickly. The girls in Anita’s House are doting, older ones sleeping with Hope and Anita to share in night feedings and to play with her until she sleeps again. When I am with Hope I feel strong and immortal, when I leave her in the evening I feel the pain that awaits her. My admittedly inferior knowledge of the future suggests one involving operations and moments of awareness and brief despair (mine for sure) brought on perhaps by the cruelty of others’ insensitivity or her struggle to walk. We want to be sure to equip her with any devices which will keep her natural mobility according to nature’s timeline; she has already learned to roll over and when her bottle is half empty she prefers to hold it alone. She is a strong-willed little girl and she will need to be.
One day I will watch her graduate from a great university and one day I will walk her down the aisle and I will learn to dance so that I may do so with her at her wedding. And her mom and all the brothers and sisters she has now, and all those who will come later will raise a glass in honor of the little girl who twice almost never was.
All my best,