Papa’s House News and Updates

November 25, 2014

Hope and Anita after a recent morning walk

Fall slipped in as gently as it could — its shorter days edging out the sunlight in late afternoon. Jackets, sweaters and hoods, hot tea, braiding hair as girls shiver in the early morning mist with a faint glow of sun high above the thin grey sky; evening study wearing jackets, stocking caps and shawls, sitting close to one another with pneumatic knees generating a little warmth slightly vibrating the benches, thoughts leaving the page and floating up to their warm, blanket-piled beds, they glance at watches.  Early morning bathing in cold water matching the frigid air brings gallows humor, smiles and laughter from the girls whose long hair lay slowly drying on towels thrown over sweater and shawl-covered shoulders wicking out the water. This is winter in Kathmandu, not for the faint of heart or the humorless, descriptions no one would ever apply to our children. 

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This year Dashain and Tihar consumed all of October. It was longer than usual with our annual bus to the Dang district leaving on the 26th of September and returning on October 26th.

The bus trip over was wonderfully uneventful and we arrived around 8am.  Almost all the guardians were present and within the hour the meeting field was cleared of all but myself and my scooter. I sat with some biscuits and juice and felt the quiet and ghostly energy of our children. The sense of relief at having 67 less loved ones to be responsible for and to have some freedom of movement if but for a few days was generous but in conflict with knowing that I have entrusted others with those same loved ones and they are in the kindest description cavalier in their care of our children. Little did any of us suspect then that a few of us had just said goodbye until I try and find them next year. We learned near the end of our holiday that two girls had gotten married and would not return, marriages made in great haste and without any sense to them, not even the power of love at first sight could help explain this abandonment of all reasonable thought. This is part of the culture and not fair game for western judgment. All we can do we are doing for these children and we have to be satisfied that during their time with us they have learned a great deal, they have had childhoods, they have felt what a loving and happy family feels like, and they have been prepared as much as possible to avoid the snares that lie waiting for the uneducated. Still, traditional thinking is part of their being and the pressure of the village is strong. Those girls returning to Dang are all former Kamlari; they live in villages that are usually quite small and spread out over maybe 40 square miles, and many of them require a long walk from the road to reach. Regrettably, the villagers fail to recognize the value of their returning kin and work quickly to try and assimilate them again into village life. Conditions are difficult, work is long and hard each day and they live hand to mouth. With each passing year I am less confident in my thinking as to why the children return to their village, and so are they. When the holiday is over and I sit waiting to see the children and guardians appear at the fields’ edge, the children are carrying their heavy bags and walking ahead of the uncle or aunt, brother or cousin or sometimes mother; it is a neglectful procession towards the bus as it was away from it a month earlier and my heart goes out to my children. When they get back on the bus they find community in saying never again, they smile and grow excited to be returning to Dhapasi and like so much in their previous lives they dust it off and leave it behind.

We came back to Dhapasi with a few days of holiday remaining to scrub up, wash clothes, regain health, rid hair of lice, decompress and prepare for school. In those days the children smile, laugh, embrace each other and the life they have. They reset and begin again.

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For those of us staying in Dhapasi for the month, we had a relaxed and good time. Each day had the mornings filled with scheduled classes in math, knitting, tailoring, reading and basketball, followed by lunching together before returning to their separate homes for afternoons spent as they desired. 

Most of the staff took the month off while house managers took 2 to 3 weeks. Anita Mahato was called to her village early due to the declining health of her grandfather. He had asked for her and when she arrived he grew stronger basking in her company. When he was again ambulatory and feeling much better Anita returned to Dhapasi. A week later she was called by her father and told that her grandfather did not wake up that morning. Anita left later that day and remained in her village for the following 13-day rites of passage. 

Recent photo of Anita’s Grandfather ​Anita’s family 4 years earlier; Anita in center

During her two trips home I had the pleasure of sitting with her girls and Hope. We had a wonderful time, the girls cooking breakfast and I relishing the dinner duties where I tried to cook a different meal each evening. With each creation I found the girls to be gracious and funny diners. During this time I was treated to 24 hours a day of Hope and we loved it. She has always been such a neat little person developing new capabilities seemingly by the hour.

Of our boys, Sam had only Himal, the boys’ house captain staying behind. We arranged for him to work with Volunteer Nepal for the month. He learned a lot, traveled to some placements and was a great help to the staff and arriving volunteers.

We scheduled 8 field trips during the month with my favorite being a morning at the National Gardens, a sprawling Eden-like landscape surrounded by mountains. The well-manicured grounds and botanical gardens are a paradise away from the dirt and frenzy of Kathmandu. We brought binoculars that had been gifted over the years and went in search of birds under Sam’s guidance. Truly a splendid day, warm and quiet where all the senses were treated well.

We had an NOH board member Carola Drosdeck here for the month with her son Tyler, who spent a couple of weeks as well. Tyler is an artist, musician, mechanic, philosopher and great guy who made quick friends with Himal and provided a lot of maintenance work as well as fun and friendship to the children. 

Carola with some of the boys and Tyler after receiving his Dashain Tika

Carola lives in Cleveland, Ohio, where she has just retired from 30 years of teaching. She has been working with administration and planning for NOH, primarily in our Volunteer Nepal, department for many years. This was her third trip to Dhapasi. This year she reinvigorated our reading program (which had been created by volunteer Chloe Carrucan as part of her master’s program), while helping our class ten children daily in math and science. She conducted health workshops for all the girls (which followed their yearly physical by an extraordinary young Japanese Gynecologist named Erika Takahashi). Carola organized the libraries in each of the children’s homes, worked closely with the Volunteer Department and spent time with all the children individually. Also here during the Dashain period was Yoav Deri, a longtime friend of NOH. Yoav brought his daughter and her boyfriend as well. Friends of the Ambassador to Nepal from Israel, Yoav and his children were called into duty after the tragedy on Annapurna. They spent the better part of the week working phones at the Embassy. 

Himal during Dashain with Santa Yoav Deri at our Dashain Puja

For many years our friend Kathy Kirk from Australia has been holding fundraisers for NOH. Kathy, who is a manager with Oracle, has had some fun ideas getting children in her town involved with NOH and worked hard to ensure their success. She returned after several years to spend the holiday with us and brought her granddaughter Chrissie shown on the left next to our daughter Gita. Chrissie was a pure joy to have around, a really bright and sensitive girl who deeply felt the love and open hearts of our home. Sadly Kathy lost her mother a few weeks before her trip here; her mother’s kindness has warmed every one of our children and staff during our long winters. Her mom was a prodigious knitter who spent her days making blankets, shawls, stocking caps and mittens which Kathy always managed to find another Australian to carry over to us.

Louis Spencer is a new friend to NOH. Louis had recently retired from almost 30 years as a teacher at the ARAMCO School in Saudi Arabia. He learned about us from our close relationship with some of the teaching staff and students who pay us an annual visit. On the right above is my very good friend and pen pal Lou Poynton holding Aakriti. Lou manages the time to come each year which always delights the children. She has a special way with all people and the kids are drawn like magnets to her warmth, humor and understanding of being young at any age. Lou’s two daughters and son have all spent time with us. Lou’s is a wonderful and dynamic family of unique and very caring individuals.

Laurie Levine, author and active NOH Board Member came for a quick visit with her friends Narelle and Maureen. Laurie has developed a very close bond over the years with Samjhana and Apsara, the two girls on either end in this photo.

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Our college kids are doing well. The seven who started this year recently received their first term results.

​Deepa started after the first term,
​her results will come in the New Year
​Ashok was 7th
Sushila was ranked 14th Lila ranked 5th
​Rajina ranked 2nd in her class Cila at her college and on a basketball scholarship came in 2nd in her freshman class. She told me yesterday, with a grin, “Papa, I am going to be awesome,” in reply to my congratulating her on a job well done.
 ​Yeshordha came in 6th  ​Ashok seen here with the middle of three generations of the family-run local grocery store


Yeshordha back row, far left and Ashok back row third from left in black

After school Ashok works for our local grocer while Deepa and Cila help the younger kids with their homework. Yeshordha, Sushila, Rajina and Lila attend vocational classes and help out when their schedule permits, at our café.  We are very proud of them all.

 ​Yeshorda, Rajina, Lila and Sushila upon arrival and Cila and Deepa in their 2nd year with us

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Some of the students in our Chelsea Education Center’s music class went to a recording studio recently to record a song that they had been working on. They had a fun day and learned a lot. Their music teacher is hoping to get them some further exposure on local media.

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“A Profile in Courage”

I have in private letters written about the woman pictured above. These photos were taken the other morning when a few of my girls and I went to visit with her. We brought clothes for her three children and a bed with mattress, pillows and blankets. She had been living with her mother who moved out of the small earthen-floor room taking the bed and cooking gas cylinder with her. Her mother, a petite thin woman gives the appearance of being regal, her few clothes always neat and carefully worn, a pearl-like necklace always in place, her shawl symmetrical; she moves slowly with a practiced composure and listens with hands folded together like a queen, her gaze upon you quietly indifferent. She seems to be living in a gauzy nightmare, royalty trapped inside the existence of a pauper. Her daughter Dil Kumari is crippled. I am not sure if by polio, but her legs are bent in a way that makes her standing posture appear as though she is sitting on an imaginary chair; she walks with knees like angled pistons, chafing past one another, ankles touching the ground, supporting herself with a walking stick, her baby on her back. She has two other children, daughters 4 and 7.

The other evening when I went to the Chelsea Education Center to retrieve the kids from their second class I found Dil Kumari and her three children sitting on the stoop. It was dark and cold, the baby was cradled close to Dil’s chest but with his bare feet dangling. His two sisters sitting next to their mother in button-less rags; the baby was sick and they had come to the pharmacy for medicine and then to the CEC to meet me. Dil’s spirit seemed deflated. Her mom had moved and taken her meager possessions with her. From where she sat with her children staring quietly at me, they had only a short walk down a slippery rock strewn path to reach their 10’ square room, but with nothing other than a straw mat on the floor to greet them, there would be no joy in arriving. It is cold out, the baby is sick, the children’s wide pearl black eyes quietly searching their mom’s face for comfort. No lights, no water, no toilet at home, no cauldron full of hot porridge even to warm their belly; a crippled mother alone with three small children depending upon her to comfort and feed them, but a mother now abandoned by her own.

“Hope’s Fund” has been supporting the family for a long time now. Dil Kumari’s mother, for many months threatening to move out, finally made good on it. We have tried for as many months to find clean rooms with water and a toilet to move Dil and her children into, but the people of Dhapasi seem to have run out of rooms, so we continue our search. We provide school fees and school supplies for the daughters, all the food and cooking gas and two-burner stove as well as medicines for Dil, but it is not enough. One of the striking things about Dil is her disposition, she always smiles and seems cheerful, and she is always kind and thoughtful. Only once before had I seen her break down, the sadness sudden and powerful, trembling her frail body to the ground.

Dil has asked me on a few occasions to please take her children into our home, but each time I have gently refused, instead offering support for them to stay together. I fear that if we were to take the children, Dil would give up. I don’t know if I am making the right decision.

“Hope’s Fund” began when a number of people held fundraisers in her honor. More money came in than what Hope’s immediate needs required and so we have we used it to help others with special needs such as Dil Kumari, Namda a blind orphaned girl attending college, and a small home with 10 blind children living in it. The latter help includes medical treatments and food for the home. In the course of the medical treatments we found one young girl a candidate for a corneal transplant which she successfully had almost a year ago now.

Sustaining these efforts and wishfully expanding upon them will require added fundraising; if anyone is interested in helping to support these causes and others that target help for the disabled please let us know.

Meanwhile for Dil and her children we will try to find a good set of rooms, rooms where the sun is able to enter and warm them, rooms with a real door that locks, clean rooms where the children can feel real shelter and some hope.

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Today is Tuesday the 25th of November. Three weeks ago I had what seemed a good idea that we should celebrate Thanksgiving. After lunch one Saturday we assembled all the children and some of the visitors we had, and in an impromptu talk I told all the children the history of Thanksgiving with little concern for historical accuracy, creativity assisting the point I was trying to make, that this is a day celebrated in America in which all people look inward and reflect upon their lives and what they are thankful for and turning that into expressions of care for others. We had in our midst a family of Bhutanese refugees who had relocated to America where they have made good and become contributing American citizens, and unknown to me as I spoke of the generosity of the Native Americans we had a full-blooded Navaho listening. Only after the meeting broke did she reveal this to me; she is from the Chin Le reservation in Arizona, a place I visited a couple of times in the years that my brother Bob taught there.

Anyway, I added to my narrative some of my favorite Thanksgivings with family and the sprawling feast before us, and how often I draw upon those special memories. I suggested that we would be doing the same. I have to start making things tomorrow; we have, by the way, no ovens and the kitchen in which I will produce this meal (with plenty of conscripted help) has three gas burners, two small and one large upon which food for a potential 180 will somehow come together. A vegetarian feast trying to replicate Thanksgiving, all from scratch, from stuffing to pearled onions, candied yams, green bean casserole, garlic mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, rolls and butter. Chocolate bars and oranges for dessert. What will save this day is what is most notable of our home, the children and staff, the love and care, the good humor and sharing that exist here. What will make this meal special is surely not going to be the lukewarm lumpy food, but the love that produced it and the idea of family and the overture to serve, and the heartfelt thanks that each of our children will give for this day as they do every day. Some pictures recently taken in closing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Love, Papa

August 11, 2014

Our children are getting older, so many of the boys have these furry little caterpillars on their upper lips appearing. One morning they are looking up to my face in our daily greetings and the next they are looking straight across as they firmly shake my hand. In about three years we will have as many in college as at Skylark. Some of my older kids were overheard a few weeks back talking to a few of their local friends who were teasingly asking them if when they go to college is Papa going to walk you there in line as he does to Skylark? I asked what did they respond and I was told, “We hope so.”

Dhiraj Ram  Ishwor

College is when our children really start to exercise their independence. This year we have six more of the children beginning. As always, we had an early morning “Puja” in a light rain for them. On this day their complete uniforms had yet to arrive but their college sport shirts brightened up the darkness.

Dawn Kumari giving “Tika” to Yeshodha Cila on right in her Morgan College Dress

There are many months between the children sitting for their college entrance exams and results, and then another month before the 1st semester begins. We had seven sit for the exams and 6 pass in the first division; the 7th, Deepa, missed one subject by 4 points and must retake that exam. All seven spent their time productively helping in the homes, our café, taking “bridge” courses, and teaching at a local understaffed school where our volunteers also help out.

This year’s group of seven are great children; I am immensely proud of the way they would continue to rise at 5 a.m. and follow a schedule of their own making that had them walking great distances to meet all their commitments. They were always cheerful and on time and by day’s end exhausted. They have certainly found relief in the opening of college.

Cila was offered a full scholarship at Morgan College to play basketball, a game she loves and excels at. Cila continues to go to Anita’s House after school every day and tutor the younger girls. Deepa has just taken her make up exam and, if passing, she too has been offered to join Morgan.

Cila with MVP and Tournament Champs trophies and Deepa, number 11 in the finals.

The other five children will join their brothers and sisters already attending Herald College.

NOH children began attending Herald School in 2005, even before college level courses were added.

Morgan College Cila on Morgan’s concrete court
Herald International College Saroj, Rojina, Lila, Sushila, Yeshodha, Ashok

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On June 14th we had our first day of grass cutting at Papa’s House grounds. We decided to have a little fun before we began and so we scattered 150 boiled eggs with numbers on them that corresponded to a prize list in waiting. The prizes were all good, mostly edible and some top prizes included a dinner out with their house manager, or shopping trips, just them with their managers.  I was a “prize” (questionable) for two winners; one a pizza in Thamel together and the other had me cooking dinner for the winner and two friends of their choosing.

Nama winning 3 coconuts Eagerly hoping to hear their numbers called
Bipana learning she won the dinner with two friends and our newest daughter Nargise

I had a really pleasant lunch with Himal in Thamel; we had a chance to relax and talk and for him to share his current hopes and dreams. These are all too rare treats when you have so many children and it is my biggest regret, but we are always looking for ways to spend more time alone or with small groups of the kids doing things smaller families do. One recent Friday evening Sam, Saroj and I barbecued chicken at the boys’ house using a southern recipe my father enjoyed. I wish my Dad could have been handling the tongs, and I hope that the boys feel in their lives the love I felt from my father.

Then it was on with the grass cutting. Our playground is roughly 15,000 square feet. The children, some armed with small scythes and others with empty rice sacks for the cut grass, start at one end and, duck-walking while cutting away, they reach the other end of the field in about an hour’s time. We dump all the fresh grass over the wall where goat and cow herders are quick to collect it. Then the children line up to walk back to their homes for tea and a bit later their morning meal.  It is not yet 6:30 with so much accomplished on a Saturday.

Even volunteers rise and meet us at 5 in order to help; that is Sharon in the green shirt.
Hope is game though falling back into sleep, here, in a dream she is a symphony conductor.

This past Saturday, August 2nd we celebrated July birthdays and results from the final term of last year. And the winners are!

First in their class, Saraswati, Apsara, Rupa, Sandiya, Juna and Srijana KC
Second in their class; Pinkey, Bhumika, Yeshorda, Mary and Kusboo
Third in their class: Gomarti, Alisha, Anita and Anupa as the rain begins

Class 8 district exams top finishers in Papa’s House were left to right in order of finish Himal, Roshan, Kamal, Ishwor and Sabita as the rain grows in determination.

After a pause the sun returns while we honor children who maintained over 90%, and they are:

From Gita’s House are Anu, Kanti, Salina and Kailashi
From Anita Mahato’s House those with over 90% are left to right: Pushpa, Mankumari,  Asmita, Kausil, Kamana, Anisha, Prety and Asha
And from Anita Chaudhary’s House those attaining 90% are from left: Asmita, Naumaya, Samira, Samjhana, Manisha, Juno and Priya with Purnima and Kalpana behind them.
From Sam’s Boys’ House and to a thunderous applause led by their big brothers Suman on left and Davit.

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On Saturday last we asked the children in each house to vote on a representative for them in an effort to create a Children’s Council. We explained that the person they choose should be available for any child or group of children in the home to discuss any issue, happiness, need or complaint with them. Then this representative would present all issues in a meeting with the other representatives, managers and me on the last Thursday evening of every month. As a group we will discuss the issues followed by the managers and I voting on request or offering council and resolution where needed. The representatives would be learning management skills. The children will know the result of their representative’s efforts in a written report the following Saturday. They then would have the weekend to consider voting in a new manager or staying the course. We plan to make the Thursday evening meetings end with a bowl of ice cream and casual talk.

Gita is missing here but Bipana on left is her house rep. Sam and Himal; Bimala and Anita,Kabita and Anita C.

We ended our Saturday together with the birthday celebration, 14 of our children had July birthdays. Each house manager is charged with buying the gifts for their children and they do so with joy and excitement.

My favorite photos of those celebrating were of Aakriti who had turned 7; this past year has seen so much progress in her walking, music playing, hearing and speaking. She has had Jishnu to care for her one on one for a long time and she does a remarkable job along with Aakriti’s teacher Shivahari.

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Through the effort and attention of two of our volunteers, I was inspired to visit a small home for physically or mentally disabled children known as Om’s House. Om is disabled, bedridden but with two healthy siblings and loving parents. As is the case with most homes, money is always an issue, but after spending several hours in conversation with Om’s mother while playing with the children I felt that they deserved the support of NOH. One of the volunteers, Tanya Pearson, a Smith College student, went home and started a fundraiser for the home as well. The other volunteer Sharon is at the home daily, scrubbing, bathing, playing, feeding, holding, and giving so much love to these children. These two volunteers really make a difference and are exceptional, not among our volunteers, but among people. Our eldest daughter Sangeeta will start volunteering there on Tuesday August 12th.

Tanya with two highly cognizant and always smiling children​

Om’s Mom Ratna, center can’t afford to pay more than for one part time helper, but the girl under her arm, Srijana, lives there and when not in school is helping around the house; she is a great 17 year old who is both deaf and dumb, but writes well in Nepalese and English. The little boy being held by Tanya gave me a wonderful hour in my arms.  He had suffered from encephalitis and has limited communicative or motor skills, but he snuggled into my arms and grinned at me and brought a wonderful serenity to my day. This little girl on the right is Om’s charming sister.

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Our Café has found its rhythm under the talented and professional skills of Lachi (center on right) and assistants Saraswati on left and our own Rukmani on right. A revised menu has increased the daily volume to average 300 meals served; a few days a week they hit highs of 360 meals served. Lachi has a deft touch that teases the palette and brings smiles to students and teaching staff alike, so they return to class happy and energized. She manages to provide great nutrition at a cost less than 15 cents a day per plate, the fee we charge the staff and village students.

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August 10th was Brothers Day in Nepal; each year the girls spend a month in preparation to celebrate their brothers. They dance, sing and do skits, tie special threaded bracelets on each boy’s wrist and apply tika to their foreheads. Lachi and staff prepare a fun lunch, hundreds of photos are taken and the grounds are busy with play and conversation. We managed to do it all before the rains came in midafternoon. Two banners were made, one exquisitely drawn by the girls in Anita Mahato’s House, a collaboration of many, and the other embroidered by the girls in Anita Chaudhary’s House. The embroidered one involved several girls spending countless hours. They had drawn the design on the back side and began the tedious task of embroidering, apparently mesmerized by the task. When finished, they turned it over to see the beauty of their effort only to discover it read backwards. They were crushed, but laughed it off knowing they created something more memorably fun than perfection would have.

Banners lovingly produced by the homes of the two Anitas
Kabita Basnet, MC for the day​ Boys patiently waiting for their tika
Volunteer and longtime friend Jason Stone and Michael T. receiving their blessing
Kausila on left and Sunita singing Aakriti played the Madal, sang and danced
Our great new Boys’ House didi Namita and daughter Nargisha, and Samira singing
Anisha sporting owl earrings Chham singing
Kamali singing Gita’s House girls dancing

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Dhiraj is an exceptional boy in class 10 this year. He has a natural understanding of anything electronic and knows computers inside and out. He has been taking software classes for a few years and after one full year of computer hardware training, he replaced his teacher, a masters degree holder in computer science who had left for America. 

Dhiraj at Skylark in 2007 Dhiraj at the boys’ home 2006
Hari and Dhiraj spring of 2006 Anita and Dhiraj sharing tiffin and talk 2008

Dhiraj is a very kind and gentle boy, soft-spoken but highly respected in class, teaching children older than himself computer hardware during the week and Photoshop on Saturdays. I interviewed him recently. He introduced himself as follows:

“I am Dhiraj Yadev. I am 16 years old and I study this year in grade 10 at the Skylark English School which is in Dhapasi, Kathmandu. I am from a small village which is in the southern part of the country near the Indian border. I am one of the kids staying at Papa’s House since I was 8 years old. I love staying at Papa’s House and spending my happiest days with Papa, my brothers and sisters and especially with SAM. I have got such a lucky chance to stay and live in Papa’s House and enjoy my life with all the rights and happiness which I think no one could give me. I am a lucky child because more than 70% of the children in Nepal are deprived from their rights, happiness and basic needs.”

Why do you think Dhiraj Yadev exists?
“I think that I exist because I was born with a great destiny. Everyone is born with a talent with which they can do goodwill for the country.”

What makes people behave as they do?
“Everyone is equal according to the great people like Mother Theresa and Mahatma Gandhi. Being rude and unfriendly is part of nature, but it is our enemy. Arrogance and jealousy lead a man towards darkness; we should not be arrogant with our success or envious of others’ prosperity. People leading lives without arrogance and jealousy become great people. I want to live like this and I want for all people to behave without discrimination and behave to all the same way.”

Do you have a code that you live by?
“I live in a code that says DON’T QUIT. My code says that although you get failure in life you should never quit because failure is one key to success.”

Should a person choose a career that makes them happy or rich?
“A person should always choose a career that makes him happy and then he will think of his job as a game and will always want to play. My career is not fixed, but I like computers.”

Which person is better and why, a rich dishonest man who gives half his money to the poor or a poor honest man who helps his neighbor?
“Both. A dishonest man who gives half his money to the poor is honest in he cares for others.”

Would you rather marry a beautiful woman who makes you smile sometimes or an unattractive woman who makes you laugh every day?
“I would much rather marry a woman who makes me laugh everyday.”

Which is more important, Health, Wealth or Wisdom?
​“Health is very important because you can’t enjoy wealth or wisdom without it. With health you can achieve wealth and wisdom.”

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The Chelsea Education Center is firing on all cylinders. One of the classes that I wish to highlight today is our shoe-making class. We lucked out in finding a kind, gentle and gifted cobbler to teach this art to our children. We have two crowded sessions each day.

Some completed shoes Anita with her latest
Tilak Sandesh Hari
Our gifted teacher Arjun Roshan

All of our school shoes are now made by the students. A teacher from Skylark stopped by the other day and was very impressed; he suggested that we make the shoes for all the student body as a business. We may pass on that for now in deference to our neighborhood cobbler, but we are working on marketing a shoe design that may be a money maker for our children while teaching them all about being entrepreneurs.

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Hope’s Progress

About a month ago we were called to bring Hope to try the devices being made to help her walk. These were a work in progress, fittings really. 

The Disabled Center Hope’s first fitting

Then on the 25th of July we were asked back to try the refined edition. We were in a crowded room of people receiving therapy all who were watching Hope out of the corners of their eyes. We slipped the devices on, the shoe part further secured by electrical tape. Hope stood and we steadied her.  Then a large therapeutic ball was brought out and I was instructed to turn Hope and place her hands on it and, after straightening her legs, to release her. The ball rolled a little forward and Hope clung tenaciously to it, stiff as a board in a 12-degree slant. The room was silent; all eyes had focused on her, waiting, waiting when she suddenly stepped forward with her right foot and then her left to standing straight again.  The room exploded in applause and cheers and Hope, blurry in my eyes, knowing I would be there, sort of jumped back into my arms. 

Hope standing at the second fitting learning to get some balance

After her first unassisted steps and a little rest the therapist worked with her some more.

On August 7th, which coincided with the day last year that Hope came home to us from the hospital, we were called to have her try the final devices. Hope is determinedly independent and insisted on trying to fit the devices herself. Once on she stood and looked around for someone to play catch with and in the far left photo she rears back for the throw.

Yesterday, August 10th: Anita taking Hope for a walk

 A few moments in our little girl’s life:

“The first time ever I saw your face” Getting to know the family
First ice cream last October One year old, April 30th
First Christmas Three months and smiling
Computer work last winter With Mom — these two are always laughing

Saturday August 9th, applauding the grass cutting with her best friend Priety, and on the right, thinking about the future of the ant’s journey before her.

From all the children and staff of Nepal Orphans Home,

Thank You.

Papa

May 12, 2014

SOME OF THE FACES OF HOLI

March 16th commemorates the birth of my son Aaron and this year the prevailing of good over evil in Hindu scripture; known as Holi, this is a symphony of color and water. The play is robust and wet, the skin and hair requiring long periods of detailed scrubbing when it is over and the clothes fit thereafter only for another Holi. By lunch time a warm somnolent air has settled over the village, the children have bathed and are ravenous, they are wearing crisp colorful kurta sulwars, their hair fresh and sparkling light in the breeze, they spend the afternoon quietly talking, reading, doing homework and taking thoughts of their morning’s play with them as they drift  into peaceful naps.





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This year we opened a transition house for 6 of our college girls. The house is a small cottage that we originally rented and used for an office, library, art room and guest quarters. The cottage is next to our main house and grounds. Of the six girls, Sushila, Rojina and Lila are sisters, Cila and Deepa are sisters and Yeshordha is everyone’s friend.  They are responsible for taking care of themselves, living on a budget, maintaining good grades and walking to college and back on time. We have imposed no other restrictions. The girls are doing great; they are serious in their studies and tend to gravitate over to see Dawn Kumari at Papa’s House at different times each day to see if they can help her. Dawn Kumari has been the mother figure for 5 of the girls for many years now and she too will pop into the cottage from time to time to visit.


Left to right: Yeshordha, Sushila, Rojina, Cila, Lila and Deepa in their kitchen

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NOH has had a very busy spring with many visitors. For the second year in a row we were blessed to have a visit by the Saudi ARAMCO School. The school sends a large group of children to Nepal each year to trek and experience a different culture.  This year they sent 22 boys and 5 girls between the ages of 13 and 17. Over the last two years I have had the great pleasure to work and become good friends with Julie Brockish and John Lambert who have spearheaded this program. Their dedication to detail in providing 27 young people with an experience of this magnitude in a country where plans and time schedules are a running joke has been extraordinary. This year the group leader (with Julie and John in support) was Catherine McLandress. Each year we try to come up with fresh ideas. Using age as a criterion, many of our girls were matched with boys; they were clearly shy at the calling out of names ceremony, but found their voice soon enough as they led their partners on a tour of Dhapasi, our homes and schools. After lunch we went to the “Monkey Temple” Swayembunath, a very large Buddhist stupa and community covering maybe 20 acres and home to as many monkeys as visitors and residents combined. The children of ARAMCO are very nice, courteous kids who showed careful attention to their partners and quiet respect everywhere they went. The parents of these children also did a small fundraiser in our behalf.  Julie brought with her a large collection of prize winning children’s books and each of the children carried a duffle bag full of supplies for both NOH and the children of villages that their trek would be taking them through. We appreciate the time spent with us and the kindness of all. These are fun and memorable days for our children.


After meeting at Papa’s House

Anita and her match at Swayembunath​

Bumikha and her match

Srijana, Ramesh and their partner
   
ARAMCO boys with our Khusbu and Mary behind

Kamana and her new friend

Sushmita and her young man

Sam and John Lambert
 

Julie Brockish, Tamara Chant, Yoav Deri
and Anita Mahato

Group shot at a small Stupa

Catherine McLandress, Papa and Hope

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Other visitors who have spent time with us this spring include our good friend from Israel. Yoav Deri who served as a volunteer a few years back and has remained a very active advocate for NOH and Volunteer Nepal. Yoav along with our board member Tamara Chant has managed to bring two of the directors of Latet, Israel’s largest volunteer organization, here to see how we might join together in a model project in the village of Dhumrikaka where NOH/VN has been working for the past 5 years. This year he brought Nissim Bar-El for a ten day survey of our work.


Tamara, a Smith grad, with a Smith prodigy

Chham and Nissim Bar-El crooning

Tamara with her friend Shoshana on right 

Yoav with his many admirers 

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Six years ago we had a University of Minnesota Professor of Sociology and her assistant live with us for three weeks while studying the dynamics of our home. This spring Jennifer and Priti returned for a very fun reunion. They remembered all the children who were present then and marveled at their growth and mastery of English. Jennifer and her husband years ago started a small home in Nepal and spent much of their time there; they have a great managerial staff and support it from the states. Priti, a Nepalese native has since received her Master’s in social work and has married. We had a delightful day together.


Priti, Jennifer, Kabita and Puja reminiscing 

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Glenn Detrick is another of our board members who spent a couple of weeks with us in April. Glenn gave NOH the funds to begin the Chelsea Education Center named after his daughter. During his time with us he taught many classes in life skill training with workshops covering topics such as the essential habits of successful people. He had the children doing research on topics they chose and presented before the others and Glenn led robust class discussions.


​Volunteer Nepal Director Michael T, Glenn, Anita, Hope and CEC supporter, Glenn’s longtime friend and trekking partner Larry McNabb

Glenn had been consulting with Lauren Yanks, another board member who spends about 5 months a year working with a local college. Lauren is an instructor in the New York University system and has been with NOH for the past 4 years. Each Saturday, Lauren has been teaching a great class in public speaking to around 20 of our older children, and she shared her notes and classes with Glenn. NOH is truly blessed to have a board as involved as ours.


Lauren Yanks greeting her class one cold morning


Lauren’s two Saturday morning classes in Public Speaking

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We welcomed a new child recently; his name is Hematha. Hem’s arrival took some interesting turns; Hem’s older brother Tilak was one of 12 children we rescued from a miserable home about 7 years ago. One of the people who provided paperwork for that rescue had since moved on and become elevated in the department of Social Welfare. Hem’s home was closed recently and no one knew quite what to do with him, thus he was brought to the attention of the Social Welfare Council and with further digging by this same gentleman he discovered that Hem was Tilak’s little brother and called us. Tilak and Hem were ecstatic to be reunited.


Kanchi with Hem this past Saturday

Kanchi, Suman, David and Hem

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Our little Aakriti has been growing in many ways in the past few months. She has blossomed suddenly in her ability to walk unaided, to talk, to hear, and her music ability on the keyboard is most impressive. Aakriti has been cared for by Jishnu who is one in a million in the dedication and love, the constant encouragement and teaching she gives Aakriti. Together they live in Gita’s house with 34 other children who adore Aakriti and spend countless hours talking to and playing with her. With Jishnu in deserving credit is Shivahari who for the past 12 years has been teaching blind and deaf children. He spends half a day three days a week with Aakriti. His gentleness and fatherly patience and affection are now showing themselves in Aakriti’s development.

Anne Zrenda who volunteered with us many years ago met Aakriti when she was a baby. She was so touched by her that she returned to the States and started Aakriti’s Kids Foundation. Anne is responsible for all the support that has been made available to Aakriti. Anne will be arriving this September and we are all excited to see their reunion. Aakriti has become a beautiful little girl who does not feel limited in her life, all thanks to Anne.


Jishnu and Aakriti, May 2014

Shivahari and Aakriti, April 2013

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Each day here is resplendent. We are a family of 160 or so individuals with our own thoughts, needs, wants, fears, hopes and disappointments inspired by or resultant of the family as a group. We operate each day with a well-defined schedule full of opportunity to expand one’s horizons and prepare for one’s future. School consumes the largest part of the day, vocational school follows and early mornings have basketball, Tai kwon do, running, walking, sipping tea and talking or finishing up homework before breakfast. The routine is good; it’s comfortable and nudges everyone forward a little bit more each day. But once in a while a child feels a need to step off the treadmill and talk. The children have a tacit understanding that we are providing as varied opportunities as possible to them which they should be taking advantage of and preparing for their futures; the older children have a sense that due to starting school so late in life they need to double down and try to catch up.

The other day one of our girls seemed distracted and I asked what was up.  After some hesitation she said that she did not want to go to school anymore. Ruki will be 18 this October and is reading in Class 7. She has always worked hard in her studies and easily passed, but she simply does not see herself having any desire in her adult life that would be related to having finished a certain level of school. She is a happy girl, easygoing and funny, intelligent and sensitive. I asked what she did want to do and she said to focus on vocational training.  She loves her shoe-making class and German, and she said during the day she could help out in the café and learn to be a really good cook. I asked how she saw herself over the next few years, and she said having her own shoe-making shop would be fun, or her own café or being an au pair in Germany for a year or two and see what comes from that would all make her very happy. Our girls are getting older, most of them spent years as slaves before we were able to rescue them. They work hard, but for many of them their push towards academic milestones will in my opinion find only smoke and mirrors in the end. There are few opportunities in Nepal for those graduating college, fewer for those passing their School Leaving Exam which occurs after class 10. This is why the Chelsea Education Center is so important, this is why I honored Ruki’s feelings and by doing so I saw Ruki’s departing spirit climb back in and pump her up. The Chelsea Education Center is currently teaching 12 classes twice a day; my goal for the next academic year which starts in April 2015 is to make the vocational school a daylong event for those children who wish to master a trade and get started in life. I see in a few years the possibility of having Dhapasi filled with shops run by our children and this image is one that truly makes me smile and feel the joy of life. The Joy of Life, something we all need to find today and not later as a result of today and tomorrow’s sacrifice.


This is Ruki in a photo I took a few days before she and I talked
and she shared her feelings about school.

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A few months ago we received an e-mail from Rui Pires, a Portuguese filmmaker and photographer of international acclaim. He wrote that he would be in Nepal for five days in May and asked if we would like him to give us two of those days to record a day in the life of NOH. In the ensuing months we exchanged e-mails and found this man to be incredibly humble and generous in his commitment to us. Rui and his assistant Bruno spent Sunday and Monday the 4th and 5th of May taking individual photos of every child and staff member as well as candidly taking photos as we went about our day. They managed to capture three hours on film as well, which included interviews with several of our children about their past.  On Rui’s second day here, he received a text message letting him know that he had won the UNESCO Humanitarian Photographer of the Year award. Rui smiled at the phone screen and went back to interacting with the children. In a few weeks’ time, Rui will be sending the film and photos to us which he will have made into a short film. Please go to http://www.facebook.com/RuiPiresPhotography to learn more about this very kind and talented man.


Rui preparing to photograph Priya

Sam with Rui and Bruno at the Skylark school

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In closing, a few moments that made us proud or brought us all together occurring since the last update:

Vinod Mahato who is living in North Carolina with his wife Alecia recently won a writing contest at his community college; he wrote about his life and in addition to winning the contest in a student body of thousands, he soon after earned a complete scholarship to study there. Vinod and Alicia Skype each day with Anita, Hope and all the girls; he talks about life in America with the self-effacing humor of one making his way in a strange new land. He is a great inspiration to us all.

Sisters Deepa and Cila have won scholarships from a good college to play basketball for them.


Deepa, number 11 in the final game of the tournament, which we won, and Cila as MVP

Anita Mahato and her sister Sunita turned 24.

And Hope turned 1!

And that is that, for the love of one and all,
Papa

February 18, 2014

Sunita Mahato came to NOH with her sister Anita in the spring of 2006. In 2012 we opened the Indreni Home and I asked Sunita to become the manager there. She is very gentle, loving and protective.


Sunita with Salina on Salina’s arrival at NOH.

Sunita had completed high school and decided to forgo college and join the staff.  She is a very hard worker with a smile always and a willingness to see any job to its thorough completion regardless of the elements. She studied at night in order to sit for her High School Certificate and a year later she passed the 8-day exam. She met a young man named Krishna in early 2012 before he left for Malaysia where he worked in landscaping. They communicated by phone for a year before he returned briefly to Nepal deepening their commitment to one another. In the summer of 2013 Sunita shared with me her love for Krishna and their talk of marriage. And so it was on Wednesday December 11th our daughter Sunita took her hand from ours and placed it within the tender grasp of the man with whom she will start her new life. They now live happily in a small city in Western Nepal with the hope of returning together to Malaysia soon, where they both would work in landscaping.


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Indreni House is the home of Aakriti and 9 other young girls. Last summer we had the good fortune to be introduced to Lachi who at 18 had been unceremoniously dismissed from the house where she had worked as an indentured servant for many years. Lachi, originally from India is an orphan. Lachi was not interested in going to school; she had never been before and felt it was too late to start. She is however a very bright girl and a quick learner. I suggested that she live in Sunita’s house and help Jishnu care for Aakriti while working out a schedule that would allow her to attend our vocational school in the afternoons.

Lachi showed herself to be wonderful with Aakriti and when not caring for her she took on helping with house cleaning, laundry, cooking and caring for the other girls. She is a very shy and observant girl though quick with a smile. Despite our urging she decided not to leave home in the afternoons to learn a trade, feeling as if she was letting down the house by doing so. The children adore her and it was a natural to have her manage Indreni House, and this made the transition for the children upon Sunita’s leaving less painful. Lachi has expressed how amazing it has been to go from being suddenly homeless to having such a wonderful and loving family, a faith-confirming miracle.


Lachi with Salina; Jishnu with Aakriti

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Our Chelsea Education Center (CEC) is nearing the completion of its first full year of formal training. In January of 2013 we had the children choose a couple of different classes for a brief 3-month exposure to see what they would like to learn in a full year’s course. Then seventy children settled into their chosen classes at the beginning of the April New Year. Close to graduating in Tailoring and Cosmetology, some of the girls are presently working as apprentices in their teachers’ shops on holidays and teaching our children as well; soon-to-be graduates in the Motorcycle Repair class have completely dismantled and rebuilt two motorcycles numerous times and have been welcomed to work in their teacher’s shop on Saturdays. April will see the Mobile Phone Repair class achieving the complete knowledge to allow them work in any shop or to open their own. The Computer Software class has elevated the confidence and abilities of its ten children considerably; they now know computer software from the WORD package to other business and accounting applications thoroughly and are ready to start writing software programs. The Computer Hardware class is a multi-year class, but the students in it can build and test computers at this time. Music classes are of course ongoing but in Guitar, Keyboard, Madal and Voice we have very accomplished children.

This year we will have 86 children eligible for vocational training in addition to their academic studies. We are currently vetting a plan to merge the CEC onto the campus of Skylark where we can integrate the training and free the children’s after school time for more sports, tutoring, or to simply relax between school and their evening studies.


One of two bikes stripped down and rebuilt by the boys in our Motorcycle Repair class.


Two tailoring students at work Saturday; Boys carrying a motorcycle to school for repair


Tailoring classes will soon make our uniforms; Computer Software class

Recently we listed the 13 courses currently on the menu for April and asked the Skylark student body what their interest would be in them. Any student class 8 and above with a desire to learn was to select two trades. The response was overwhelming with over 300 children choosing courses. If we follow through with this, Skylark will be the first school in Nepal to offer an integrated vocational/academic platform according to the Principal. What little vocational training that exists in Nepal is available after class 10, a time in which those most in need of the vocational training have dropped out of school. Our approach in combining academic, life skills and vocational training from class 8 and up in an integrated method on one campus is a model that we hope will catch on in other areas. Meanwhile the school’s registration would usher in the CEC to be certified and graduates from it would be well recognized and in demand as both tradesmen and teachers.

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Ever since the Cookbook Project held its Cooking School here last October and taught us how to serve really nutritious meals while explaining the lack of goodness in the lunch diet we had, I have wanted to do something about it. Pratap, our boy’s house manager, is a great cook. He loves cooking and pleasing people with his cooking; cooking makes him happy and on Friday nights his house is a very happy one where the volunteers are invited to share his enthusiastic menus with the boys. The problem with our lunches was getting it to the children at school. So I asked the Principal if we could build a “Café” on campus to cook fresh and healthy foods and she said yes. I discussed with Pratap about doing this and he was thrilled.  He created a menu of about 10 dishes that he would rotate. The initial investment was going to be a little burdensome, but we determined that if his cooking was good enough to attract other paying students and teachers, we might actually break even after a year and would then reduce our cost of serving excellent lunches to our children. So we wrote a new job description for all the house managers and staff and freed Pratap’s mornings, and had a contractor start to build the Café on the school grounds. The result has been very gratifying; we average about 130 paying diners every day which will generate enough income to cover the cost of construction and equipment in maybe 8 months, while reducing the cost of feeding truly nutritious and tasty meals for less than the cost of the packaged goods they received before. Fresh fruit remains part of the diet.

Another benefit of the Café was the introduction of our cooking school as a seamless part of the curriculum. Over 60 students signed up to take cooking. The cooking school will take place for two periods before lunch with a limited number of students rotating every three months. The students will be preparing the lunch under Pratap’s direction, eliminating the need for our staff to be present in helping him prepare and serve each day’s meal.

Pratap’s cooking has energized the school. Upon arrival in the morning, kids and faculty first go to the Café to buy a lunch ticket; many now buy weekly tickets. When the bell rings for lunch it creates a stampede for the Café window where they receive steaming hot, tasty and healthy servings with real forks on nice large metal plates. You look around at lunch time and see everyone quietly eating with smiling gusto. Volume cooking while delivering high quality food allows many poor children to afford to eat what is most likely their best meal of the day.


Gita and Ashok selling lunch tickets; Students and visitors on opening day


Pratap, the Maestro; Our home staff insures 280 plates of food are served in 5 minutes    

Very generous donations from Laurie Levine, our Australian Board member, and Laura and Justin Nimick’s “Life’s Handy Work” which also supports our children in college, made the opening of our Café possible. Both the Café and the CEC on campus are ways in which NOH is constantly working towards a self-sustaining model.

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Christmas is always a fun time at NOH. The anticipation begins in the cold 5 a.m. darkness when all the children are up and attending to their walks, runs, Tai Kwon Do lessons or drinking tea on December 1st with the spoken acknowledgment that we are in the month of Christmas.

It is less about the gifts than it is about seeing old friends return for the holiday and getting caught up in the many special moments floating in the air like bubbles. It is about feelings and love, about sharing and magic and candlelight, about the transformation of their environment a little more each day with fresh Christmas artwork on the walls and the tree communally decorated and lit for each evening’s meal. It’s about the passage of time, Saturday gatherings when all the children sit together outside after eating lunch and practice Christmas Carols. Days stack into weeks and suddenly one morning they wake on Christmas Eve and know that after school the spellbinding joy of Christmas will slowly carry them into the evening. The kids this year chose to dedicate Christmas to Hope. Our children have once again given sanctuary, surrounded and healed, given radiant love and laughter to another child in need of a family’s love.


Anu Maya giving thanks to the sky; Salina, Samira and Aakriti


Khem Raj, Rabindra and Ram; David, Juna and Man Kumari


Sandip and Preti; Hope and a Christmas morning yawn

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Last fall we were informed of a small group home consisting of 10 blind children. The house manager and live-in teacher are also blind. A neighbor comes during the day to help out with laundry, cleaning and cooking. The house is a small concrete 4-room home in the countryside outside of Kathmandu. As is often the case with homes in Nepal they were having a difficult time financially.

One day after getting our kids settled in school, a few of us went out for a visit. We found a very neat and clean little house and welcoming children. The manager and staff shared with Anita Mahato, Hope and me their situation, while the children talked to Pratap and Shivahari who is our own blind child Aakriti’s teacher and others who had come for the visit.

Essentially the home hasn’t a way to generate any income; they rely upon the kindness of neighbors and the village development committee both of which have their own financial struggles. They have leased the home, but had fallen behind in the monthly payments. The children all had some sort of infection that troubled their eyes making them itch. The children attend the village school, but it is not equipped for teaching blind students. They do what they can and have the assistance of their blind live-in Didi who has a college degree in social work and teaches them to the best of her ability.


The tiny woman 3rd from left is the housekeeping neighbor, Shivahari far right with white cap.

We started then to support them. We pay their food, rent, medical bills and a small salary for the staff. Shivahari arranged eye exams for all the children at the Eye Hospital in Kathmandu where their infections were treated. He then arranged for further exams to see if any would be candidates for corneal transplants and we learned that the girl in the blue sweater (Nima) was a candidate. In December we helped her to have her first transplant, with half of the fee provided by the eye hospital and surgeon.


A few of the children in our visit one week after the transplant 

Nima is very pleased to have received the transplant, but seeing has a long and often difficult learning curve. From what I understand though she sees, but she hasn’t yet any depth perception which makes many things difficult to do, since you don’t know how close anything is to you. She often prefers closing her eye when walking. Those blind since birth have formed their own image of life; they are comfortable in their world and to suddenly see is very strange and a little terrifying. Shivahari is working with all the children and maintaining their doctor appointments. As you can see by the photos the children are enjoying life quite a bit more these days. In time we hope to be able to help them with their educational needs so that they too can learn to be productive and independent in life.

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Sabin, upper left photo 2nd from left, Chham jumping into the pool, Saroj receiving his birthday gift from Lila, and 9 of the children back in 2005.  Presently one is married and living in Germany, one is working in a hospital toward becoming a physical therapist, one is an engineering student in university, one is graduating from a three-year agricultural school, one is a science major in college, one a business major in college, two sisters have reunited with their aunt and mother and one other is in her second year of college in humanities courses.

How quickly time passes. This year we will have 7 more children begin college joining the 7 presently there, next year 5 more, 14 the year after and 21 the next.

I caught Chham, Sabin and Saroj one morning on their way to school and took this photo.

Each of these boys has mastered the art of being human; they are exceptionally kind, polite, happy, hard working and giving to their brothers and sisters and staff alike.

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Volunteer Nepal brings a lot of truly special and accomplished people to Dhapasi. Recently we had the pleasure of getting to know and learn from Daniel Kilov who is the 2nd place title holder of the Australian Memory Championships. First place went to his coach.

Daniel was kind enough to hold a seminar for some of our children and has offered to help coach them in the future via Skype. The children were able to remember a series of 42 words in order at the end of the session.


Daniel remembering 100 random numbers in order after only a few minutes reading.

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January was a month in which the Skylark School held a program showcasing the talents of grades 4 and under and later, a day to commemorate the many diverse cultures of Nepal.





And February 14th was Valentine’s Day, which is starting to catch a lot of attention in Kathmandu. Our Toronto board member and founder of “Possible Worlds Foundation” Toni Thomson has for many years contributed to making our Valentine’s Day program the much anticipated hit it is. Each year our volunteer department spends an enormous amount of time doing all the prep work. This year I asked Sam Tamang to be in charge of everything. We had been in a 2 month long uninterrupted cold but sunny day pattern when in the early morning hours of the 14th a front came clamoring in with steady rain. Sam made a decision to change the venue to the Skylark School where some cover would be possible. School closed for the day at noon and our 144 children, 80 from the Skylark Hostel, all the teachers and staff of Skylark and all of our home and volunteer staff sat down to a bounty of Pratap’s “Pulaw Panir” under grey and damp skies. Each of our 5 homes and the Skylark Hostel had worked on programs they developed and the festivities began with Kabita Basnet and Saroj Darji as Masters of the Ceremony.


Volunteer created sign; Saroj and Kabita start things off


Crowd reaction to one of the performances; Anu voted the “female most likely to risk her life for another”


Ishwor voted smartest male; in the 11 student categories we had at least one winner in each. 
The photo on the right shows very popular Nepalese actor Suman Singh, who graciously accepted an offer to spend time with our kids. Hope here is a little hesitant, not getting an eye read first.


Our children enjoying the day; Sam with red cap talking with Kabita


Our School Principal Sangita Rai; A dance by Sanctuary House.

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​I was there to say good morning when Hope woke on Valentine’s Day; she always wakes with a smile. Isn’t she beautiful!


She loves her gift and touching the pictures. Many of her sisters made cards for her

I spend so much time on the computer that we decided to buy one for Hope so that she could help me. Mel Hoskins beat us to the punch and bought this one in Australia and sent it here with Laurie Levine. Hope is a smart little girl who learns quickly.


“Just a few more lines and this letter is done” “What? Where did the text go, ohh why why!!”


“That shower woke me up, thanks Mom!” “Let me turn down the music. What’s that Mom?”


“I like this mouse; is that coffee there, Mom?”    “I have the ball ready to play; almost done now.”


“No no, I’m good; let me just finish this one report.”            “My brain is cooking!”

I have just returned home from saying goodnight to Hope. I must add here that tonight while we played on the floor together, Hope crawled about 6 feet, stopping only when an immovable object stood in her way. She then sat back and started clapping to mimic her very proud Papa.

And that is a little of life in Dhapasi, where love, laughter and care for oneself and everyone around you trumps all.

Thank you to anyone who may read this for your part in keeping this dream a reality.

All my best,
Papa