Papa’s House News and Updates

November 2016

The making of men and women.

Something that everyone who visits the homes of NOH will remark upon is how close a relationship the children have. Our older children are always available to play, talk with and listen to the youngest children. They know how to share the moments, to be inclusive, and to feel what their brothers and sisters are feeling. They know when to play the fool and when to take seriously the mood of the moment of the little ones; you will as often see our teenagers hanging out with our smallest children as you will see them with each other. Our older children help to make Nepal Orphans Home a happy and nurturing place for us all to grow up in. 


“Never is a man as tall as when he will stoop down to help a child.”

CECC Building

As seen from the boys house balcony From the street

Our new Chelsea Education and Community Center has once again resumed a pace which will allow the opening of its doors by early spring. The month of October is a holy month and work is slowed to between a crawl and nonexistent.

The building is going to provide a space where individuals will recognize their potential and have the guidance and tools to achieve personal greatness. Education is the key to all that is important to the human endeavor, and here its collective energy is ushering in a dynamic change in our community.

Parbati, Tara, Minu, Sabitri, and Sabina make up our Women’s Council. These women bring to the task a combination of experience and tradition, the spirit of young women yearning to be heard and those who straddle both. They meet with our Chelsea staff every Friday afternoon to discuss the CECC and our community. They suggest workshops that they feel would be helpful or enlightening, and discuss ways in which the community might better serve the individual and how we might play a small part in making our world a bit more just and equitable.

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Outreach

The NOH Outreach means a great deal to the staff, our children, and the Board members of Nepal Orphans Home. We are very proud of the dedication to this and the result thereof.

Sanjeev Dahal shown here with support money and an agreement with Mrs. Mina Thapa who is the founder and director of Mother-Sister Nepal, an NGO serving the women of remote Sindhupalchowk as well as caring for children who lost both parents in the earthquakes of 2015. This is one of two orphanages that would not be able to provide optimum care for the children if it were not for our help.

Kanti Children’s Hospital

Our work here varies.  In some months we are able to grant wishes to the children such as the one described in the last update.  In addition, Saroj and Himal, two of our college and post college boys, work in this outreach program, and have been taking children who are feeling well enough out to fun places for the day.

We also help when needed with buying pain medications, chemo treatments, and necessary testing. These occurrences are when children’s parents have absolutely no means to provide any sort of medical treatment. Without prepayment for medical care the service is not given.

We also celebrate a lot of birthdays with the children and provide enough cakes, balloons, and other treats to turn the ward very festive. Early last month we arranged for “Clowns without Borders” to put on an afternoon performance attended by most of the hospital.

Ramechhap

School building site about one year ago The first floor, of two, walled in, June 2016
The foundations beginnings Jan 2016  One of the makeshift classrooms

The village of Dhumrikhaka is an area where NOH has been helping for the past 7-8 years. Their school was heavily damaged in the first earthquake, but then completely lost in the second one two weeks later. The village sits two and a half hours’ hike (for the young) up a very steep mountain. It is a small village of very limited means. We have supported the school there with teacher salaries and a hot lunch program for the 80 to 100 (on average) students in the school. This is also a very popular destination for our volunteers. The people are lovely.

Life there is exasperatingly difficult. If you were curious by the construction timeline, it is because they have so little water available that mixing concrete has to have water set aside over a period of time before they can do it. We have encouraged the village elders to get a price on having water delivered from a boring down below using lift stations; this would provide all the water needs of each household in the village from a single tap. We will do our best to pay for having this done in the next few months. NOH is building the school and we are hopeful now to have a completion ceremony in April in time for the start of the new school year. 

Bigu

Post earthquake, all but one building lost Four of the 80 Buddhist nuns
The new house and kitchen The Lama and head administrative nuns

The destruction was complete in the earthquake.  They lost every building save the one in the above photo which sustained severe damage. Immediately after the quake, NOH provided emergency funds for tents, blankets and food. Then after a plan was decided upon and they wished to move everyone to Kathmandu, NOH was there for them. Now is the time when all have returned and construction is going on quickly in an attempt to get under shelter before the snow flies. NOH has committed a substantial amount of money for the construction.

Bigu sits on a mountain top, a bus ride and two days’ hike from Kathmandu. It is a very spiritual place and a favorite also of our volunteers who teach, help with maintenance, or work in the gardens or kitchen. Several years ago my son had his wedding performed by the Lama and attended by all the nuns, from seven years of age to eighty years old.

NOH has been involved with Bigu for seven years now and we look forward to our next generation carrying on with it.

These are a few of our ongoing outreach programs which we believe strongly in.

New Staff


Shreya, Hillary and Sanjeev

In our newsletter you will have been introduced to these wonderful new hires. They are exceptional people with hearts set on making a difference in the lives of many.

Shreya is our Volunteer Nepal Communications Director, Hillary has been hired to be the Director of our Chelsea Education and Community Center, and Sanjeev is our new Director of Education and Outreach Programs. 

Sisters Day

The older boys doing a self-choreographed skit Ram sharing his passion for singing
Young boys dancing Priya after receiving Tika from her brothers
Kajul receiving her blessing Anisha feeling honored by her brothers

This was the 4th annual “Sisters Day” celebration which happened on September 17th. The program is completely put on by the boys and includes a fine meal that they have prepared and served for all the girls. It is an occasion which further galvanizes our family’s togetherness and helps make it a little smaller with the blessings from all the boys to all the girls.

Tihar

Dog day and our Tinky and Lucky are honored Cow Day, Laxmi Puja

Tihar is a five-day festival with each day honoring a different deity. The third day honors dogs. The fourth day honors cows and is called Laxmi Puja. The Goddess Laxmi will come to every house and business to bring wealth to it in the following year. Mandalas are created by the entrance and painted footsteps lead to the house’s interior Puja room.

During Tihar the fifth day is when brothers are honored. They receive flowered “mallas" and carefully applied Tikas from all the girls, then in return they offer the same to their sisters. After this the first meal of the day is broken together.


Dashain

Dashain is a period of reverence that spans three weeks. There are certain days within that are sacred, and on these days families come together in ritual. Kathmandu is a ghost town for a few lovely days as most return to their village birth place.

On Tika day a banquet is prepared the day before. In the morning the women all bathe and do Puja alone, and then all the children gather to receive a blessing. The elder is the first to offer Tika, and a blessing to every person younger, which in my case is most of Kathmandu. This then is followed by our senior staff.

Manisha Aakriti and Gita
Srijhana, Hope and Hope’s doll Sandesh, Tilak, and Bimala
Urmila  Manisha and Mina
Priya Aakriti

In addition to the Tika and separate blessings to each member you also apply “Jamala” a special type of wheat grown for this occasion only, into the hair.  When all is done the banquet is served and after that the day quiets down to walks and resting. Each community will erect a “Ping” three very tall bamboo pieces forming a tripod from which a heavy rope and swing is attached. Children play on these for several days leading up to “Tika” day but at sunset on that day these are removed for the year. 

Saroj taking the boys to the Fun Park


Suman, Sanjiv, Davit, and Sandip, the fabulous four enjoying a day at the Kathmandu fun park courtesy of our elder son Saroj, who is also a part-time manager in their house.

Saroj and his sister Sangita were the first two children of NOH. Sangita is now 25 and living on her own while Saroj at 22 is an all-around help with the outreach department, volunteer department and co-manager of the boys. I think he is one of several of our children who will lead the next generation of work done by NOH.

Sandip and his alter hero Sanjiv and Suman sliding

Halloween Nepal style

With deep gratitude to Hillary and volunteers Amanda and Romina, the kids had a very active and fun Halloween party.

Apple bobbing  and frightening décor by the children
The children made their own costumes from whatever could be found

I think we had the only jack-o-lantern-worthy pumpkin in Nepal. Manisha, tongue in cheek, making the “trick or treat” rounds.

A “mummy”-making contest And the mummies. 

Then Hillary led a brave young group in learning “The Monster Mash” while Hope tried to keep up.

Sports Day

With many events designed by our volunteers that were meant to challenge dexterity, endurance and the ability to perform while laughing hysterically, we had “Sports Day.”

My Girl


Hope unquestionably enters every contest with determination and fun

She is a keen observer of body mechanics To Manisha, winning is being with her friend

Hope has brought us all heightened sensitivities. Being around her leads us to recognize our own potential and strengthens our resolve to be better people and to work hard to acquire the skills necessary to make a difference with our lives, and to know that it does matter. 

Every morning Hope stands next to me to welcome each of her sisters and brothers as they enter the school gate, and I have learned that in the blue moon when I am not present she stands alone to do so.

Hope has been patient with my tendency to hover around her in protection, but lately she is asking me to give her space and allow her to fall, just like others do. It has been the hardest lesson for me coming from her, but I have witnessed that she recognizes her abilities and is as careful as the situation demands it to be. Most importantly I am allowing her the requested space to grow.

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We will soon be celebrating Thanksgiving. I have been quietly making this our most significant celebration of the year. Last year the nation was held in siege by politics that closed the border to trade and thus we had fire wood only with which to cook and nothing to cook beyond rice and dhal. Last year, in advance of Thanksgiving, a couple of donors contributed towards a memorable feast; as it turned out, what we lacked in food was made up for with sharing our feelings. So this year we still have last year’s contributions and some new ones and the day will long be remembered as much for the meal as for the reflection of what abundant blessings each one of us has to be thankful for.

I hope that your own Thanksgiving brings with it the appreciation of pure love for one another.

Thank you.

Papa


​11 years ago, a child alone, bereft of hope, my inspiration. Now, full of Hope.
 

August 2016

NOH received a grant in 2015 to construct its own facility for our Chelsea Education and Community Center. In the June update I wrote about the center. In 2015 we opened the doors to the women of Dhapasi to attend free classes in English, Math, Nepali and computers. As of this writing we have 250+ women attending daily classes. The women attend from 10am until 3pm with an average of five classes simultaneously in session.

We had a ceremony to bless the ground and building on July 20th, eight days after site work had begun, attended by many of our students and teachers.


The monsoon season is a tricky time to begin a project like this and it has indeed hampered our progress, but as of August 11th we were almost out of the ground and will begin to make up time. We are building a foundation which begins 5’ below ground level and has many tie beams strengthening the structure. The photos below show the progress of three weeks.


In stark contrast to our Chelsea Center is the school we are building in Ramechhap, also mentioned in June’s update. There the problem is they have so little water that mixing cement is not possible for days. The ability to collect rain water to use is nonexistent as the rains keep skirting this hill (mountain) top village. I will have new photos of that in our next update.

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Every morning a group of children from different homes will meet just before 5 and walk, run, practice Taekwondo, or play basketball. One of those with me is Asmita, 2nd from left in left photo being honored for her school work, and above.

One morning we had passed an elderly woman sitting along the road side, I did not think too much about it and kept walking. As we were about to make a sharp turn on our path I noticed Asmita was not with us. It is dark at that hour, but when I scanned the distance behind us I saw her escorting the elderly lady. The pace of the older woman was such that Asmita had fallen way behind. The woman needed support as she walked and Asmita provided it all the way to the woman’s house which was on our route but some distance ahead. I could hear Asmita chatting amiably with the woman, calming her and perhaps flooding her with memories of her own daughter long ago.

Unlike me, Asmita had stopped and asked the woman if she was okay and the woman replied that she could not walk the rest of the way home alone.

Asmita has been with us for 7 years, one half of her life. She is always cheerful and works very hard at school finishing in the top three each term. I was very proud of her for doing this. It is not uncommon at all to find our children quietly helping others.

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On July 31st we sent 12 more children off to college. As we do each year, we gather with them to offer our blessings and give them a tika, and as the weather does every year it rained. School begins at 6am and as they have to walk about two miles, so we had the ceremony at 5am.

This year’s 12 did very well on their School Leaving Exams with the highest scoring a 3.6 GPA and the lowest a 2.8 GPA. So now we have 24 children attending college and two in university.


As a congratulatory gesture and to have the children gain some more exposure to life, we arranged for two of our managers and these 12 children to go to Pokhara, a destination of choice among anyone you might ask anywhere in Nepal. Pokhara is called the Switzerland of Nepal, mist-covered lakes with majestic mountains on their edge rising craggily into the clouds. They spent four days exploring; everything they did was a new experience for them and they returned seeming a little worldlier and deeply appreciative.


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After last year’s earthquake we accepted Sarita (far left). She has been a joy to have around; she is quiet and a little shy, but quick with a smile. She is a good student who has learned English very quickly. 

In addition we had brother and sister Samita and Sanjeep delivered last year at the exact moment the earthquake occurred. They too have brought a lot of fun to the family, serious students but with a welcomed amount of mischievousness from Sanjeep. Samita is also a faithful walker with me every morning.

In the last couple months we have welcomed Ranjhana on the left and Manisha on the right.

Manisha came to us just three weeks ago; she is 6 and has charmed all her house mates. Ranjhana is quiet and very polite; she has become part of an inseparable group of girls in her home.

It is heartbreaking to find children in the situations that demand help; we are fortunate to have the type of donor support that allows us to bring them into our family where they thrive in an environment of kindness and well being.

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Some leaders are born to it. This is Hope at school. She attends Nursery Class each morning for a few hours, and as these photos display she thinks that she is the teacher’s assistant. 

In her first ever exam she finished rather quickly, put her pencil down, called the teacher’s attention to it and then got up and walked around the room helping others who seemed to be having trouble. The concept of this being a test of an individual’s knowledge seemed less important to her then making sure the students understood. Her exceptional teacher, seen standing just past Hope in the second photo has been charmed into submission by Hope; then again I believe we all have.

On August 7th we marked the three year anniversary of Hopes coming home to us. 


August 21st, 2013 

 July 15th, 2016

Hope has received donations over the years and has only used a small portion of them. So we use the “Hope Fund” to help other children with medical needs. I am working on making a website for her. The website will be part of the NOH website. Her website, once built, may use what you see below as a logo. I welcome comments and ideas on the logo.

WHERE THERE IS HOPE

THERE IS HELP

Our Hope Fund continues to help the sick and disabled. Sometimes this is heart wrenching and brings us closer to the mysteries of life and death, and in some cases brings pause in the belief that there is a higher order to life.

Yesterday an eight year old boy received his wish, a remote controlled helicopter. Sadly his wish was only the day before informed. He is being sent home now, the medical options for him exhausted. He is no longer ambulatory and speaking is difficult, but he can sit with help and his face and searching eyes are an ocean of thought and emotion.

His very loving father sat behind him on the bed propping him up against his chest when a very large remote controlled helicopter was presented. The boy smiled at it, his eyes caressed every part of the gift, and his father too smiled, feeling his son’s momentary departure from the misery of dying. The helicopter was started up and the blades sent a gentle breeze fluttering the boys eyes, widened at the sight of potential for what the helicopter can do.

The father and mother soon after carried the boy and his helicopter from the ward to go home. In my daydream I see the father and his son sitting in their yard, his son propped against him, a brilliantly blue sky with wisps of fluffy white clouds sailing through as the father sends the helicopter above them to his son’s delight and as it rises higher and higher the son will close his eyes and let go to follow the helicopter to a place peaceful and free of anxiety, pain, and sadness.

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Nepal Orphans Home has just opened an office in our Chelsea Center to handle all our outreach programs. Present staff are doubling up; using the office full time is Mrs. Pandey who also serves as manager of our volunteer program under director Eileen Witham. Merging our staff in these related endeavors has increased our capacity and performance in the care of many projects. Below are photos of the new office and the Shoe and Tailoring shops run by our children as independent contractors. 


The Community Service Center Office

And that’s the way it is for August 13th, 2016.

All my best,
Papa

June 2016

In late January Hope, Anita and I flew to America where Shriners Children’s Hospital in Boston had accepted her as a patient. Shriners would be a great model for how the planet should work. Phenomenal medical personnel, incredible attention to detail and bedside care beyond belief. Everyone on “Hope’s Team” deserves special mention, but the head of it all, Bernadette Hannigan, will never be forgotten.

This was an occasion to marvel once again at Hope, a little girl who has never once complained about her situation, who makes do with enthusiasm and smiles for every challenge before her.

For Anita and me, the thought of Hope enduring all that an operation entails flooded our thoughts with anguish as the day approached. Shriners’ staff knows a parent’s anxiety and has polished their craft to eliminating it in the way they relate to the patient. The morning of the operation filled us with dread; for Hope, she was simply enjoying her morning as we drove to the hospital with her stomach empty; she did not question her rising in the dark, why she missed her morning bottle or complain about her hunger or departure from routine. Anita had done a remarkable job of letting Hope know everything about this trip and allowing her to be free of concern.

Once in the hospital things move swiftly while surgeons and anesthesiologist, nurses and nurse practitioners all come to brief you and entertain Hope. The anesthesiologists, two of them, brought in the mask that they would use and had Hope pick out some scents she liked to cake the inside with. They explained to us their methodology to eliminate as much post-operative pain and grogginess as possible by using an ultrasound to locate a vein and induce a blocker, and, along with the surgeon’s visit, it all helped to eliminate any fear we had. But still.

We were instructed to put a gown on Hope and ourselves, along with masks, as they were allowing us to wheel Hope into the OR as we requested. Suddenly it was time and people were pulling and pushing the gurney as we walked on either side talking to Hope who was sitting quietly taking it all in.

Inside the OR the medical staff turned from what they were doing and started to entertain Hope with stuffed animals; before I knew it, the anesthesiologist from behind her gently placed the mask on Hope while we held her in a sitting position.  She did not look confused or scared, and in just a moment she slumped down and was out. The staff then became business-oriented and asked us to kiss her and leave, their smiles kind and assuring us that she would be fine.

Leaving the OR and our baby behind weighed so heavy upon us. We would be called the second she was out of the OR and be with her when she awoke in recovery. We sat together on the 9th floor overlooking a grey, wintery but bustling Boston, our quietness punctuated by our personal favorite Hope “remember when’s.”

The call came and we rushed to the recovery room; our little Angel had a massive cast to her thigh, one arm full of monitors and another with an IV needle heavily bandaged to keep it in place. Her eyes were closed. They positioned the gurney and a nursing staff began monitoring and adjusting with us on one side of the gurney. We began to call her name. We watched her eye lids flutter and soon they opened; she looked at us quizzically, then smiled weakly. In short order she asked for something to drink; the nurses listened for gurgling sounds in her and then okayed sips of juice. Maybe an hour’s time passed before they started disconnecting many monitors and prepared her to move to her room.

My brother Bob arrived minutes later and took this first photo. This is Hope, less than 2 hours out of surgery and her smile never faded despite restricted movements with her cast, fluids and monitors.

Hope’s recovery was quick.  After 5 weeks we were allowed to go to Connecticut  to be fitted for new prosthetics; we worked with NEOPS whose staff led with their hearts in wishing to produce the best possible devices for Hope. We remained in Boston with my brother Bob and drove each time the 2.5 hour journey for her visits.

One day the new prosthetics were done and we went to try them out. They brought them into one of the rooms and set them down before Hope who was quick to examine them closely. She particulary loved the feet with rubber toes.

This was a touching 10 weeks with time spent with our families. My brothers Peter and Bob and sister in law Boo, my aunt Beth, uncle George, cousin Liz, my sons Jerry and Aaron and daughter-in-law Jo and my beautiful grandchildren; Kathy Procranik who was largely responsible for bringing Hope into our lives, and her husband Tony; Anita’s brother Vinod and sister in law Alecia, her parents and grandmother, all went out of their way to welcome and care for us on this journey. None of this would have happened if not for Margaret Ikeda, a pediatrician and family friend who made the application to Shriner’s in our behalf and spent a considerable amount of time and professional courtesy over six months of paperwork between herself and Shriners which made this all possible. In addition she arranged with Devon Bell, the prosthetics craftsman at NEOPS, to take Hope on as a patient, his youngest ever, which requires a whole new set of skills to accomplish. And finally to the donors who unsolicited had contributed to Hope’s care made this journey an outstanding success. We have left America with deepened relationships and many new friends as well. Thank you all.


The sands of Daytona Beach

Waving hello to Minnie Mouse

With Anita and Paxtyn, my newest granddaughter

Building Snowmen

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Arriving home and in the embrace of our children made the previous 10 weeks surreal. Hope had sharply increased her communication much to the astonishment of her brothers and sisters. She got swept up in a tide of attention and love.

Our managers had done a splendid job of keeping the children safe and on schedule. They all proved their mettle, especially Sam who was in charge and whose hair was turning grey quicker than a new president’s.

We missed many important occasions beginning with Valentine’s Day, produced once again by the staff of Volunteer Nepal with funding by Toni Thomson and her Possible Worlds of Canada NGO. 


Our children were voted by the school as the recipients of many of the superlatives. 

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Also missed was the first time our Taekwondo children participated in competition. Twelve of the 30 children learning Taekwondo have been practicing every other day for 5-7 years in all types of weather and never with complaint. The other eighteen are in their second year. From the thirty, fifteen children were chosen for the competition. They did well, as a team they came in 2nd and as individuals as follows:


Deepa unavailable for photo in uniform, 1st place and Chiya 1st place, both undefeated


Alicia and Sumitra both second place



Suman, Hematha, Ram and Tilak bottom all third in a day long in fighting


The NOH team achieving second place; one of their coaches in the middle

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On May 17th Panos Karan and Fumiko Tanaka arrived after a few months of e-mail exchange.

“Keys of Change” www.keysofchange.org is an NGO they started to bring classical music to underserved countries. Assembled on a dark and thundering day were 30 of our most musically interested children to listen to Panos play lots of Beethoven, and a Franz Liszt piece that commands all 88 keys.

Panos has performed in over 50 countries in, as he said, “serious venues for serious people,” and decided it was time to have fun with his music and inspire children. During his 40 minute recital he instructed the children by telling stories in a very compelling way and asking them questions as he would finish a piece. There are many videos of Panos performing on YouTube, one recent one from April at Boston Symphony Hall with a youth orchestra from Japan that he has worked with since the tsunami and arranged for their trip to perform in Boston. It is a moving performance.

Panos and Fumiko returned to our home two Saturdays after to visit with our kids. They helped to serve lunch and clean up after. This is an amazing and highly accomplished young man who has and could continue to dazzle the musical world, but has chosen time out to inspire children.

Please check out his website.


May 17th concert with our spell bound children and below serving lunch to the children

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Nepal Orphans Home’s newest daughter Ranjana arrived in the middle of board member Carola Drosdeck’s 6 week presence. House manager Anita Chaudhary and I welcomed Ranjana at the gate to our home and then Carola and Anita took over, cleaned her up, made her comfortable in her room, helped her pick out new clothes and walked her to school to meet her brothers and sisters for lunch. Carola spent the day with her and enabled the softest of landings for Ranjana’s new life.


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One of the finest endeavors begun by NOH has been the Chelsea Education and Community Center opening its doors to the adult women of the area. At this writing over two hundred women are on a schedule for classes 6 days a week; others come hoping to audit classes until room becomes available for them. Space is limited. Our teachers for the adult women include four of our own children who are in college and have become excellent teachers. Their college is out at 10 each morning, allowing them full days of teaching. They join 13 other graduate students that we have hired from Thames College to round out the faculty. They refer to themselves as “Team Chelsea.”

The students are learning English, Math, Computer and Nepali from 10am till 3pm all for free. From 4pm until 6pm our own children are at the Chelsea Center where the grad students work closely with them emphasizing math and computer.

An incredible young woman, Manon Pruvost, has joined NOH and has been restructuring the CECC with a more systematic and structured curriculum that enables the student population to expand and the teaching to be more effective. 


Manon Proust in the green Chelsea shirt as the busses rolled in

She also has fun and helped to organize a field trip to the National Gardens. This was a joyous occasion which had 200 women groaning at day’s end when told it was time to board the busses for home.

Some of the assembled before the busses arrived. Carola with our oldest student, so eager to learn and grateful for this opportunity, she helps give confidence and inspiration to all the other women.


The buses start to roll in

One of the English classes

NOH began their vocational school many years before now; the first two years we focused on teaching the trades as well as music and basic computer skills. Then, Glenn Detrick came into our lives. Glenn visited NOH one rainy day to deliver his daughter Chelsea’s large Beanie Baby collection to our children. Chelsea had fought cancer for a few years and had succumbed to it in the previous year. In her honor Glenn had established the Chelsea Center in St. Louis at Webster Groves High School. It flourishes today. Glenn was swept up in the atmosphere of our homes, the incredible children and their dedication to learning and said he would like to help.

Glenn Detrick, alone and with his friends, has enabled the humble vocational center we began to develop into a large, robust, community, and personal life changing center. Very soon NOH will break ground on building a new Chelsea Educational and Community Center for which we will have a dedication ceremony early next spring.

This is Chelsea, by numerous accounts and from her father’s insightful and emotionally thought-provoking book about her life, I have learned what an exceptional person she was, gracing the earth for such a short while.

We recently posted a large photo of Chelsea in the CECC. The women asked about her and in pure Nepali fashion, unprompted, in an act of the highest respect, kissed their fingers and touched Chelsea’s forehead and said a prayer.

A father’s tribute to the inspiration he received by his daughter has made life easier and better, through education, for hundreds. People like this are, to me, saintly.

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NOH stays very busy trying to make a difference for people in need. We listen, we see, we learn and act without hesitation to find a way to remove burdens from people’s lives.

One program in its earliest stages is working with children who are terminally ill and in the final stages of their lives. We have started small, being a presence in the ward two times a week, bringing fruits and sweets, organizing birthday parties and being ready to help poor families with the cost of medicine or other care. We hope to develop this further into a program modeled after the “Make A Wish Foundation”. We had tried before the earthquake with a young boy who wished to meet his favorite actor. We did everything we could think of to get the actor to come for an hour or two, but he said he couldn’t spare the time. The boy died a little while after that. This failed at that time as I had not established enough of what was needed before offering a wish to this child.  Sunita Pandey who co-manages our Volunteer Nepal arm has taken on the work at Kanti Children’s Hospital and serves it well.

Unless you have a galvanized heart you may wish to not look at these photos. Such beautiful children. Saroj, my first son, is in the first photo far left; Mrs. Pandey can be found feeding the little girl with the thousand yard stare. The birthday party was for the little boy with the red shirt in the second photo. Such beautiful and courageous little people.


Sometimes you really do not know a person until you see them interacting in a situation like this, they then become deeply human, transformed before your eyes. Volunteers and staff alike never leave this ward with dry eyes. 

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All photos from the ward by Carola Drosdeck

We have helped a Dalit (untouchables by the arcane practice of religious hierarchy) village in the hills of Ramechhap for many years. We primarily support the school with a hot lunch program, teacher salaries and other educational support when needed. The school was destroyed in the second earthquake. We helped then to get a temporary school put together and since have been working to build a new school. Numerous hurdles have kept that from happening and many natural hurdles remain; the area is hard to reach and water in very anemic supply. Yet we have been able to recently begin the construction. NOH received donations for earthquake relief from donors who knew we would use every penny of it properly. We hired an engineer who designed a school and gave an estimate of its construction.  NOH has agreed to pay for the complete job. We hope, barring the seasonal rains inhibiting things too much, to have the school completed by the end of the year.


Laying out the foundation

A “Puja” ceremonial blessing

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 On April 30th Hope Angel turned three years old!

A year makes a big difference. Last year we celebrated 5 days after the earthquake as a means to forget for a few hours, and though we are still receiving aftershocks in the mid four range, we have this year moved on and are no longer weighed down with anxiety.


Hope’s beautiful cake

Some of the girls in attendance


The other day the girls were working in the yard, and Hope was hanging with them. I with my camera came around the corner and saw this. Hope had picked up a long drain plunger and did a series of moves that had pretty accurate precision. In a letter to a friend I shared these photos with the idea that Hope had been a Ninja warrior in a past life. Then, with a moments further reflection I remembered she had just watched the Ninja Turtles. I still admire the form.

*******

NOH has at this time 24 of our children in College or University. We have 20 more who will join them next spring. Next year our college transition houses may have more children in them than some of our regular houses. Fortunately, we still have many young ones among us. Watching these younger children, some who have been with us since 4 years old, will be fascinating; they will undoubtedly set new academic standards few others will approach.




*******

Our children now fill about half of our 43 staff positions. Others are managing their own business under our watchful eye. Two that deserve their own space now are below.

Our new Shoe Shop on the ground floor of the Sanctuary House. The children make all our school shoes as well as sell them to other students’ parents.

Our new Tailoring Shop on the ground floor of the Chelsea Center. Here three of our girls manage the shop during the day and teach sewing between 4 and 6 pm. Since opening the shop they have been kept busy with many new orders. They have long been making our uniforms as well as the uniforms for Gholadunga, a home for the blind that we support. There is still painting to do and signs to be made and hung.

*******

Around two weeks ago I read a newspaper article which spoke of a remote village of 29 families surviving on nettle soup. The community there is Chepang, formerly a nomadic people who lived in the forest and did quite well in their own way.

A few years ago the government decided that they were hurting the forest and made them settle in villages together and learn to be farmers or tradesmen.

The article said that these 29 families were slowly starving; their crops were insufficient to feed them for more than 4 months and had earlier run out. We were curious to learn more about them and how to address their inability to be self-sustaining, but most importantly we wished to feed them.

I called two of our older boys who were on their college break; both these boys are immensely capable in remote travel; Chham has a government earned trekking license and Rabindra is from one of the harshest and most unforgiving areas of Nepal and well-seasoned in hard work and innovation.

We met at 9:30 and I proposed that they take a bus to Dhading Besi, the district seat of the land where the village is and hire a 4-wheel truck, load it with rice, dhal, oil, salt, and flour and try and deliver it to the village. We have two good friends in Dhading, honorary uncles of Hope and I called them to meet Chham and Rabindra in Dhading Besi and help them secure a truck and guide them to where to buy the goods.

By 11am Chham and Rabindra were on their way and by late afternoon they had found a truck and driver, had it loaded with 2000lbs of food and set off for the village which lay at the top of a mountain range a good 5 hours distance.

The “road” up was loosened by rains and barely supportive. After a few hours it was dark and dangerous to continue and so they stopped at a house they had passed and asked for shelter for the night. They slept in the cow shed, received a hot meal of rice in the morning and continued.

The rains came, the truck repeatedly got stuck and slid precariously close to sheer drop offs. A few people walking up to villages were given rides and used to push the truck each time it was stuck. The driver wished to stop after the progress was so utterly slow, but Chham and Rabindra were able to coax out the best in him and shared their enthusiasm for not quitting on these people starving up ahead.  They continued for hours more and finally reached an impasse. One of the riders said the village lay another 3 hours hike up the mountain.

Chham and Rabindra paid him to go to the village and let the people know to come down and collect the goods and then waited.

After 5 hours they saw a trail of people making their way down the steep incline on switchbacks. Soon they were surrounded by the villagers. Chham had the newspaper article with him which had a photo of one of the villagers and his son; he used this to find the boy.

It was late in the day now, but the rain had stopped. The food was unloaded and the villagers made ready to carry it home, they were deeply thankful; they felt witness to a miracle that Chham and Rabindra should show up with so much food for them.


Truck getting stuck in the lower elevation

A school passed along the way

The son featured in the newspaper article

Curious women looking at Chham

Rice distribution, man in the dress shirt from a lower village agreed to come and help. He spoke Chepang and knew the villagers

Chham with the son

Dividing the dhal

On their way up the mountain to home

Mission accomplished, Rabindra and Chham breathe in the beauty and serenity before starting down towards home. They arrived late the next day, exhausted, but pleased to have helped people.

"Our children do not talk so much about life, they just live it; they do not talk about giving a gift to a friend, they just do it; they don’t think about carrying the school bag of another who isn’t feeling well, they simply take it; there is no pretense, no calculations. They simply choose to engage everything straight from the heart.

“We have choices in life and each and every one of us has so much power.  If you choose to live a positive, optimistic life, to help others, to love your family and friends, to think ‘How can I make a difference in someone’s life every day?’ then you will make that difference; not only in their lives but in the quality of your own. It does not take a special person or a rich person; it just takes a caring person."

I wrote the above some years ago. I was reminded of it when the boys returned triumphant and proud. Most people would have quit on this task, but our children will never quit, they will see the joy where others see vexation, they will dig deeper when others throw in the towel. They are, like all our children, first and foremost, “caring people.”

Thank you for the time you have spent reading this.

Papa 

February 15, 2016

About Hari, from an update written on Monday, August 10, 2008: 

It is all too easy to overlook the remarkableness of some people. Hari Nepali is a good illustration; he is one of those who in his quiet way keeps the roof of a small society from sagging by his constant cheerfulness and good energy. Hari spreads himself out well; he is always there in any group, a little on the periphery, watching and smiling. You don’t always know he is there until your gaze is drawn to the emanation of joy from the little guy whose smile is contagious. Hari was part of the six boys and six girls that Nepal Orphans Home rescued from a small orphanage abandoned by those in whose care they had been assigned three years ago next month. All 12 of these children have contributed so much to Papa’s House and are exceptional in many ways. Some are very talented in sports, or school work; some in overcoming physical challenges with humor and determination; Hari is a natural at building others’ confidence with an encouraging smile in the most sincere way. Ask others what they would like to be when they grow up and you will see their eyes, like a magic Eight-ball, bring “doctor or social worker” hazily to the surface; ask Hari, and, his grin widening a bit, quickly replies, “bus driver!” I can see and hope that one day Hari will be our bus driver; Hari will shepherd our Papa’s House children where they are going, swinging the door wide open from his seat and smiling his Hari smile down upon the next generation of Papa’s House children stepping up and into his carefully driven bus. Hari Nepali, future bus driver for Papa’s House. 


Hari in 2009

 Hari in 2006

Hari late in 2005

Hari on Bai Tika fall of 2008

Hari and his 11 friends when we rescued them in September 2005

More than seven years later Hari is about to complete class 8 with a great command of English and grades slightly above average. His academic accomplishments are noteworthy when you consider that he had never been in school before his rescue and began then attending an English medium school while not knowing any English at all. However proud of Hari I am for his academics I am more so for the truly fine person he continues to be. There is no pretense with Hari; he knows how to be happy and how to make others happy.

Last month I asked Hari if I could interview him, which he found pretty comical. “Why would you want to interview me?” he asked with his disarmingly sincere grin before we sat on the steps one Saturday for an impromptu session. Hari has changed so very little from the Hari I wrote about above, but here is the conversation we had. I asked questions and he delivered off the cuff responses without much elaboration.

What do you remember about your time before coming to live at Papa’s House?
“I think that I was a little bad in my village and then in the home I was sent to.”

What have you learned since joining our family?
“I have learned what respect means,” he hesitates. “I have learned to love and be loved by many brothers and sisters.”

Tell me some of the things you might want to be when you are finished with school?
“I would like to play football for the Nepal National Team and also to have my own shoe shop.”
(Hari presently is one of a dozen children making all our shoes and selling them to outsiders as well.)

How do you wish to accomplish this?
“I will learn about business in college and then open my shop.”

When do you plan to have a family?
“When I am 30-35 I hope to have a wife and 2 children, one boy first and then one girl.”

What qualities would you wish to have other people see in you?
“That I try to be helpful and respectful to all others.”

How do you see yourself?
“I think I need to be better at caring for others and to help others to be more confident.”

Can you give me just one word that describes for you living at Papas House?
Hari smiled and looked heavenward for a few seconds then lowered his gaze to me and said, 
​“Truthfulness.”

I was still contemplating that one as Hari stood and brushed off his pants and said, “Thank you Papa, is that all?”


Hari being interviewed in early January 2016


Christmas 2015

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at Papa’s House


Pramila and Urmila

Asmita and Salina

Sima and Saroj

Manisha

Ishwor and Ashok

Saraswati and Anisha

Older girls dancing on Christmas Day

Sujan and Kajul exchanging Secret Santa gifts

Sujan patiently waiting to hear his name

Gita and Sarita

The time leading up to Christmas this year was much more relaxed and enjoyable with a further division of labor and a cut back in gift giving and expectations. The children focused more on making special gifts for their Secret Santa sharing and on the program they would perform on Christmas Day.

Christmas Eve is always the highlight and that will never change; the environment always becomes charged with the children’s heightened sense of family, caring and the mysteries of the holiday. There is a touching reverence in their eyes and voices as they sing Joy to The World and Drummer Boy in one voice; the air is filled with a solemnity and peace while we make our way through the 4 or 5 songs that flow freely, though inaccurately, from our sporadic rehearsals. As has been tradition for us, after a couple of hours of candle lit fun and hot chocolate prepared over a wood fire, (still our only cooking source), we left Papa’s House grounds in a long line all holding candles and singing as we made our way to the first house, Anita Mahato’s Imagine house and bid goodnight to the girls and staff who live there. This procession continued until we were back to Papa’s House with only the girls and staff who live there. On route much of Dhapasi comes outside to wish us a Merry Christmas, many more this year as 185 of the women in the village feel a stronger connection to us as they come to our Chelsea Education and Community Center every day for free lessons in English, Math, Nepali and Computer. As we pass the Skylark School’s Hostel we are showered with colored confetti painstakingly cut, but freely tossed down upon us from the 80 students living there.

Once home in their houses the children have their own traditions to uphold; these are a little different for each house and testify to the unity of each family unit.

Christmas Day this year differed in not having all the children’s gift bags scattered across the frozen lawn. While the children, slept each house manager placed all the gifts under their own family decorated tree. After a leisurely morning in their homes the children and staff all assembled at Papa’s House for their Christmas program and to enjoy a delicious meal prepared by all the staff and many of the girls in their own homes earlier in the morning and brought to share.

New stockings were made this year by our tailoring girls; the size I had suggested became a challenge to fill, but they were and then Santa managed to place or hang these in every room for the children’s awakening.


​Stoking the magic a few days before Christmas

Another wonderful Christmas come and gone in a year of adversity and triumph and above all sharing and comforting one another while the grounds continued rumbling beneath us. 


14 Days

We frequently offer the children essays to write and most all enjoy entering the contest. Our most recent one was “An asteroid will be hitting the earth; the planet has 14 days left.  How will you spend your time?”  The children’s essays were impressively well thought out and creative, some humorous, others beautiful, and very touching. Many of the children wished to spend time with elderly people to learn what it is like to grow older; there were some who wished to create something that would live on after them, and in many cases this involved making memories for others to remember them by. Many would busy themselves trying to find people from their past to say thank-you or I am sorry, but all said that when time was almost out they wanted to be with their NOH family because this is where they know love is real; they want us all to be together in the end and together they will not have any fear.

The winners who were chosen with the greatest of difficulty according to the judges are, shown by house with their judges:


Bimal first, Tilak second and Nama third

Sapana first, Kajul second and Srijhana third

Mary second, Sita third and Sumitra first

Pramila third, Urmila first and Samira second

Dawn Kumari

Dawn Kumari Gurung has been with me from the very beginning. She was the cook and Didi in the first orphanage that I found and she helped me in our efforts to free the children from their hideous life. We have been through wonderful times and times of unimaginable nightmares together; and in all times she has been solid as a rock, calm, pragmatic and determined. I don’t know of anyone who works harder than she, in illness and in health, she simply refuses to stop. In April when the earthquake came it was at tiffin time and I was cooking. Once we had collected all the children from all the homes and calmed them on our large playground, suddenly home to all our neighbors, she and I went about fixing food for everyone, shoulder to shoulder, in silence, both knowing that we needed to be the ones to keep the children safe, to ease their fears, to get a routine restored, to smile and laugh again and joke with them about it. Dawn Kumari has always been my anchor, a place to find resilience and resolve.


Dawn Kuamri Christmas 2005 with Kanchi (Sujan now)

Christmas afternoon gift boxes piled high

Dawn Kumari with one of our 37 children in 2005

The Didi’s in our first Home, D.K. 4th from left

So it was with great pleasure that we surprised Dawn Kuamri after lunch one day with a tribute to her over 10 years of quiet performance, always shoring up the homes, each and every day, never seemingly put out by the hardships life in Nepal renders more often than blessings.


Quilts


 Quilts made by Silke Steuxner

​​ Children of the Winter with their warm rewards

Late last fall we received a shipment of absolutely stunning quilts by professional quilter Silke Steuxner. Silke had only heard about us from friends and had become a FaceBook friend to NOH and Volunteer Nepal and this was enough to inspire her to create these beautiful quilts, over a year in the making.

We had been trying to decide how to distribute them and settled upon having all of the children vote for the one child that, since winter began, has been the most helpful to the house managers and the children within. The four winners pictured above are Anupa from Harmony House, Anu from Sanctuary House, Kamana from Imagine House and Roshen from Possibilities House. There were other smaller quilts as well which went to our smallest children. There will be more “Children of the Season” though never again prizes as great as these.

Silke has recently returned from a quilting competition in Japan where she placed second. NOH has been blessed by its many friends and their special way to reach out to the children.


Carlyn Doan

Carlyn Doan is a volunteer from many years ago who returned to Nepal this year with her sister. Carlyn has been supporting a young man, now in college in India, since meeting him as an orphan in one of the orphanages that we were helping then and where she did her placement. Both Bir Jung and Carlyn have done very well in the years in between and Bir Jung has a great future ahead of him because of her.

They came on a Saturday morning bringing dozens of t-shirts and tie dye materials and taught the children tie dying. The caliber of our volunteers has always been very high and they continue to affect the lives of those they met here for long after they have returned home.


Carlyn arriving at the gate

Suman dipping his shirt

Samira smiling as always

Rita and her creation

Chelsea Education and Community Center

Our Chelsea Education and Community Center, founded by Glenn Detrick, has a new Director, Michael “Abraham” Triozzi. The former Director of Volunteer Nepal returned to us to serve while awaiting his induction into the Peace Corps this fall. We have expanded our Adult Learning Center to include Nepali and Conversational English to supplement the English, Math and Computer literacy courses that began almost a year ago. 185 women now have daily classes with us.

Our children also continue to develop enriched knowledge of math using the online Khan Academy math program and various computer language and hardware courses. Tailoring is a staple that continues to turn out very accomplished seamstresses. We have six girls who have formed their own tailoring business and, when not working for us making uniforms, curtains, sheets, pillow cases and the children’s Kurta Sulwars, they receive orders. Thus far they have sent Kurtas of their own design to Germany and Australia. Two of these girls also manage a local tailoring shop. We are very proud of what the CECC has accomplished over the years for our children as well as the community; the difference it has made to each facet is one of the very best of the many outreach programs of NOH.


Anupa reading a collection of stories compiled by a volunteer working through the CECC,
and Puja reading “Chelsea’s Story” one Saturday afternoon.


CECC Director Michael “Abraham” Triozzi


Shriners Children’s Hospital

On January 27th I, along with Anita Mahato and Hope boarded a plane bound for America. Hope had been accepted as a patient at Shriners Children’s Hospital. This is one of the finest medical facilities anywhere and they offer their services for free to children from all over the world with serious medical situations.

I am writing this update from Boston, Massachusetts, where we have begun our work with Shriners. On Thursday morning, February 25th at 8am, Hope will undergo revision surgery. She will remain in the hospital, with us, for two days and then be able to return home to my brother Bob’s House in Jamaica Plain, for an estimated three weeks’ recovery.

We will then go to Branford, Connecticut, and be received by NEOPS, the leading prosthetics device makers in New England, to be fitted with state of the art prosthetics. Both Shriners and NEOPS accept patients like Hope for life. As Hope grows she may require more surgeries and she will need larger prosthetics every eighteen months or so.

We left for America early enough so that we could visit family and friends from Florida and on our way up to Boston. This opportunity for Hope is a dream come true for all of us at Nepal Orphans Home. Hope is a truly remarkable little girl who has further galvanized our very large family and opened hearts wherever she goes.









 


Papa’s House

We have five weeks left of school this year. In another two weeks our twelve Class 10 children will leave school and do home study in preparation for their final exams that will allow them to proceed on to college. Last year only 43% of all students in the country passed the exam. In the history of NOH we have had only one student not pass the exam, but she did so the following year. We have had three students not qualify to sit for the exam 5 years ago but they have since all passed it in the first division.

Twelve students this year will join last year’s four, the previous year’s seven, the year before four and the year before that our first. Of those sixteen students one dropped out after two years in pre- engineering, one has finished and now works as a Volunteer Coordinator for Volunteer Nepal; three have gone on to university with one working part time as a guide for Volunteer Nepal and the others continue in college. When we send this year’s twelve to college in late June they will make a total of 25 of our NOH children in college or university. The numbers begin to grow much more quickly thereafter.

Worry as all parents do about their children finding their way and being prepared, we have thus found it unnecessary. All of our children have fulfilled our expectations in their academic pursuits as well as following our suggested guidelines for securing part time work while in college and living successfully in the college transition houses we set up.

This year’s twelve students sitting for their School Leaving Exam Certificate (SLC) are:


Kamal

Pramila

Roshan

Sabina

Sushma

Rabindra

Purna

Khem Raj

Himal

Ishwor

 Kabita

Puja

Each of these students has already proved to be exceptionally kind, caring and happy; several are class leaders, some academic leaders, others winners of superlatives or house captains chosen by their house mates for their helpfulness and ability to understand and get the job done.

It has in many ways been a much more difficult time for this year’s graduates having lost so much school due to the earthquakes and political problems of Nepal. But I feel confident that when they sit for their exams in a little more than 3 weeks’ time they will be the cream of the crop.

And that is it for this February update.

All my best,
Papa