December 16, 2012
I have been trying to find the time to do our November update since the beginning of November. I had almost given up, thinking that our year-end wrap up in early January would have to suffice. Then yesterday one of our girls asked me to help her write to her little friend in California. I thought that her letter eloquently suggested the spirit of Nepal Orphans Home and would be a great first piece in a pre-Christmas update. We will see what comes after it. The author of the letter is Sita, shown on the right from Christmas past.
This is Sita. Papa asked me to help him to write a letter to you to say Happy Christmas. The photo I am sending is from last year. It was the night before Christmas and we all go outside on our ground and sing Christmas songs and drink hot chocolate milk with marshmallows in it. Today is Saturday and we sang songs for Christmas to practice. Last year we put candles on the ground in the shape of a house with a heart for a window, this is our sign.
We are thinking now to make a new sign for this year. In the photo you see only candles, but we also all stood on a brick and put the candles in our hands for a photo, but Papa cannot find that photo.
Christmas is fun. On the morning of Christmas we find in our rooms a big red sock filled with many gifts. Papa always tells us to sleep with one eye open, but it always closes and when we wake there is the socks. Papa said Santa brings them all. We open the socks and then drink tea and have biscuits. It is very cold outside, then our house puts on their out dress and we walk to Papa’s House and when we come through the gate we see many big bags and each has a name on it.
After all the other houses come Papa says to find our bag.
After we find our bags we open them and inside are many gifts. We open those and it is very fun. After we open these we go home to eat rice and then we come back to Papa’s house. Then we have our secret Santa. We make a big circle and someone calls out a name, the person who has that name for their secret Santa comes to the middle of the circle to give the gift they made. It is very fun.
After we do the secret Santa we eat. All the house moms and Pratap sir make food and bring it to Papa’s House; Christmas rice is always so good. Then we have dancing and dramas that each house has been practicing and then we say goodbye and go home. Christmas is coming in 9 days. Do you have Christmas too?
Today we are singing Christmas songs after eating tiffin. My best is Silent Nights.
In these photos I am holding our little brother Sandip. Pratap sir helps us to learn the songs. It is fun. This photo is my friend Kanti. She is happy.
This is my Christmas; Merry Christmas to you Eva. Please write me. I Love You.
Puja (Pupu) as I call her, the other morning and seven or so years of mornings ago imitating me; when she was little she had me hysterically pegged. She may still, but she has become harder to catch in the act as she ages.
Pupu loves to dress up
and pretend to be a rock star
or here she called herself Pakistani Miss
I have written about Pupu a few times. She is such a wonderful child, great entertainer, good student adored by her teachers for her behavior and levity and indispensible friend to all, especially anyone feeling a little down. She is one of our 139 special children helping to make this an extraordinary place to live.
We have brought 22 new children into our homes this past year; they seem like they have always been a part of us. The very young ones have done a remarkable job of learning English and in some cases where they only spoke their mother tongue, Nepalese too. They each bring their special uniqueness and joy to this big stew of a family.
Most of the children come having experienced some pretty grim lives. I shared the story of the arrival of one little girl who arrived during Dashain with a friend of mine as written below. Naumaya is the little girl lower right in brown.
This morning we took in a new little girl; she is nine and her name is Naumaya. She had been in another orphanage for four years when the husband and wife running it decided to close their doors, their reasons not particularly heroic, but it is what it is. They had found homes for all the other children, only 14 as it was, but none for Naumaya. She does have a father who is deaf and dumb and a wanderer in a village very far away. Four years earlier he abandoned her.
She was not eager to be separated from the man who brought her. In fact she was pretty inconsolable when he left; I tried my best. My staff is all away this week, the last of the holiday. I watched her from a distance out in our large ground wishing, I think, that she could fly over our gate, for where I have no idea. Occasionally one or more of our children would approach her only to have their kindness rebuffed. They would come to me and ask what they could do and I suggested nothing more than they were already doing, as I felt she needed some time alone to come to terms with her new situation. About an hour later she wandered over to where some kids were sitting and talking and after a few minutes they were all off together. When next I found her she was in the room of a wonderful woman from Finland who comes this time each year and teaches the children knitting and quilt making in an exceptional environment of inspiration, humor, sharing and delightful photo ops. Naumaya stood in a sun spot with two knitting needles focused upon a row of stitches she or someone had created and immersed entirely in it. In the sun spot with her were the tiny angel dust like particles floating about, she looked like she was about to be transported.
The other children present were sitting around knitting, with Sirkka, in her large armchair knitting and smiling serenely upon it all.
I took 64 girls back to our former home in Western Nepal, the staging area to meet the kin we had arranged to meet them and care for them during the Dashain and Tihar holiday. Mostly they were met by a married sister, or grandparent.
We left at 4 p.m. for the trip over, after an ill-advised meal of rice for the travelers. I am not sure if there are people more prone to motion sickness than the Nepalese. Our children, bless their hearts, were not five minutes into the 13-hour journey before running into problems. I had purchased two hundred plastic bags which ran out a couple of hours shy of our destination. The sound of "Papa Quick" echoed off the rattling metal cage of the rollicking bus throughoutthe night; the bus was too small for our numbers and the children were 3 and 4 per two-person seat, layered in an attempt at stretching out for sleep to ward off the elements churning their stomachs. The night was long, but my heart as always filled with the touching display of quiet suffering of our beautiful children.
We arrived in Narti around 6:30 to an empty ground that slowly began to receive a trickle of relatives.
I had arranged for a motorcycle to be present to allow me the opportunity to visit as many of our children as a few days would allow, and ease the anxiety plaguing my soul. It took several hours for me to meet the remnants of kin of the children, but by 10 a.m. all that was left in the large field was an old and defiantly stubborn Yamaha, myself and a nervous looking volunteer who had asked to come with us. I reiterated the 40-year distance between my last time on a motorcycle and this moment, in defense of what I feared lay ahead. Many times over the course of our time together I inadvertently abused the imprecise workings of the tired old machine, and it, in turn and understandably, refused to start up again after each time I shut it down. The steering was wobbly, the accelerator sticky, tires bald and hand brake disconnected—much of that I suppose fairly describes myself—but in the last 20-minute ride from one of my visits back to my room, we found in each other displays of what might have been our former glory and thus parted after three contestable days with affection.
Visiting the children did help in many ways and it always moves me into a better place of understanding and appreciation for Nepal Orphans Home.
We had a new scooter generously donated by Professor William (Bill) Lee of Mankota State, Minnesota. Bill has had many Nepalese students in his classes and has been struck by their gentleness, kindness and eagerness to learn. I have shared many a great letter exchange with him. The scooter has provided the staff with a much easier time in doing their daily errands prior to which would find each walking an hour or more; now they have a much better use of their time. This is the first vehicle for NOH.
And another wish we had listed has been satisfied by Possible Worlds Foundation, Sanctuary for Kids and again Professor Lee. Combined, theyprovided the capital to allow us the installation of solar lights for the kitchen and common study rooms as well as select bedrooms and halls in each of our 5 homes. This year it has been predicted by the electric authority that we will have 19 hours per day outages, every day until the monsoon season begins. But now we can see to cook and study, soit feels luxurious having these.
The posted wish list has been most kindly addressed by several very thoughtful people, and we are most grateful for their compassion.
In Dhapasi we had a wonderful Dashain and Tihar made so by many superlative volunteers who were here to give their days, hearts and talents to the children.
Sirkka was back for her fifth year, and Theresa Tate, whose wise counsel I have many times sought over the last three years, enjoyed her first year with us.
I have a long list of others to thank and will do so in the January update. To you all, thank you for bringing so much of your remarkable selves to these children.
We are fast preparing for our Christmas here at Papa’s House, the logistics of it well-devised by Anita Mahato and Gita Lama who each year take on the task with broad smiles. I am anxious to share the many changes that have taken place this year at Nepal Orphans Home and the exuberance in which we are going to be greeting the New Year.
Until then, to all who have touched us this year:
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!