Papa’s Updates

Papa’s House News and Updates

September 2022

This early fall update brings news of new chapters in many of our children’s lives. We begin with two summer weddings:


Bimala when she joined us in 2007

And Saroj in 2004

Bimala with her groom

Saroj with his bride

Bimala said yes after a long courtship to a college professor. He has his master’s degree and while teaching is working towards his PhD. He has encouraged Bimala to continue in college at least to the master’s level. His nontraditional perspectives on marriage, and those of his parents were enthusiastically embraced by us all.


Attending to their sister, Gita on the left, youngest sister Srijana, and Asha

These beautiful and remarkable young women have brought great joy and the warmest of moments to Papa’s House over the last 15 years. They have set the standards for hard work, helpfulness, kindness, and inspiration to all the other girls.

And our son, Saroj, has not stopped smiling since the February day in 2004 when I had the good fortune to meet him. Saroj is a very creative, kind, and comforting young man. He excelled in Taekwondo but has such a gentle and quiet disposition. After he completed his education he worked with our Volunteer Nepal department for many years, winning high praise from the volunteers that he would usher to and from their placements. One in particular, Eliza Heerboth, found something more in Saroj’s excellent character and sincerity. They felt an attraction that has stood the test of time. It was recognized as love long before covid existed, but then having survived two years of covid separation, they finally were able to be married last month with Eliza’s parents and aunt present in Nepal for the wedding.

Both Bimala and Saroj will always be remembered by the younger children for the guidance and love that their role as big brother and sister enshrines.

*****


Dhiraj helping Ishwar

Dhiraj at graduation from Federation University in Australia 

Dhiraj was a precocious and charming young man, and somewhat sensitive to other’s frustrations. He always smiled and reeled them back to calmer waters. Infinitely patient, curious, and with a work plan of being indispensable to the boss and his colleagues, has led him to early accolades in the business world. Graduating from an Australian college for computer technology a year ago, he joined Systemnet in Sydney as a Systems Engineer, and last month was awarded Employee of the Year with over 1,600 billable hours delivered to the company. Not a bad debut for a rookie. Dhiraj will be returning to Nepal for three weeks this fall to spend some time in his birth village where he has commissioned a house to be built for his mother. He has shared that he is also looking forward to spending time in Dhapasi with all the brothers and sisters who remain there, and in Papa’s House.

*****


Sapana as a young activist in 2006

and stomping grapes in 2022

We have always encouraged our children to have dreams and believe in them. These dreams are dusted off occasionally, adjustments made, and as our personal journey through time and life require sometimes the old dreams are replaced with fresh new ideas. Sapana was at twelve an activist. She wished to dedicate her life to the abolishment of the Kamlari practice, of which she and many scores of other girls that NOH rescued and provided homes for, were a part of. She protested in the streets, at rallies, and after quite some time they were granted an audience with the Prime Minister of Nepal. That was in 2010, and months after that meeting, the practice of Kamlari was legally abolished. Sapana then allowed herself to relax and move from our Lawajuni Home (in Narti of Western Nepal) to Dhapasi, and begin again, in earnest, her education. She graduated from college as a business major and worked three years in finance.

But during her work years her new dream became simply to secure a visa and be allowed to leave Nepal, to find what is around the next corner. Her dream interrupted by two years of Covid, Sapana finally landed at the Casa dos Varais in mid-August, perched on the banks of the Douro River in Lamego, Portugal, where she joins our daughter, Anu Maya, in learning the ropes of running a winery with its own established label, and whose grounds offer accommodations for international guests, in an 18th century family estate. Sapana’s education there will consist of learning Portuguese, how to grow grapes and see them mature into fine wine, how to set a sophisticated table and serve patrons to the manor bred, giving tours, and to learn what she can about running a family business such as this. This will be a long commitment, but she will in time, receive a residency visa that opens all of the European Union to her future (dreams).

*****

More Dreams


Chham, came to us in 2004

Deepa in 2006

Chham received his bachelor’s degree in social work in 2019 and is now on his way to Australia to do his master’s degree in the same. Deepa finished her bachelor’s in 2018, worked as a teacher in Nepal, and then went to London where she is earning her master’s in social work.

*****

Brother’s Day Celebration

Mrs. Sunita Pandey, our director, watching one of the skits written, produced, and acted by the children

NOH has always celebrated “Brother’s Day” — along with all of Nepal — and “Sister’s Day,” a celebration known only to us. The gender-playing field in Nepal is assuredly biased towards the boys. But our boys have always worked to level that with love, and respect given daily to their sisters, and once a year in a grand celebration.

 
There are speeches, dancing, and games meant to bring out the silliness in us all, and a great meal.

 
Rakshabandhan (sisters tying a bracelet on their brothers as a blessing and their commitment to being brother and sister for life) and the amusing price of admission for the brothers.


A few of the older boys who came and photos from the year of their first brother’s day with NOH


Ashok: Four-year degree in Computer Science

Lalit: Last year of a 3-year degree in Computer Science

Ishwar: 4th and final year Medical Lab Tech

Tilak: 3rd year Civil Engineering

Rabindra: 4th year CPA

Nama: Basketball aficionado and entrepreneur 
in Croatia


​Ram: Degree in Culinary Arts
 

And still a few more we have welcomed into the world of adults:


Sharmila, in 2006, has graduated from college and entered the Police Academy

 

Best friends in 2005, Apsara and Bhumika still live together and are best friends today. Apsara on the left has a bachelor’s in information technology and works for Innovate Tech, primarily as a video editor, and Bhumika, also with a bachelor’s in information technology, now works as a content writer and a graphic designer. They plan to work for two years in Nepal and then apply for their master’s in business technology in America.

*****


Sisters, Juna and Kamana, at our Narti home in 2008

Today Juna just finished her second year of college with straight A’s and has entered a bachelor’s in computer science, while older sister Kamana is a local teacher and has been attending a German language course and will soon be on her way to Germany to join three of our girls who are in different years of a work/study program there for nursing.

And just a few more to share who have made interesting choices:


Urmila: Dental hygienist, will begin Nursing School this fall at Park University, Missouri


Kamal: Teacher and 3rd year Business Management

Sandhya will be attending college in Japan

Anisha learned German and will do a work/study program in the Netherlands

Khusbu: Bachelor’s in Hospital Care Management


Kailashi, always an avid reader and writer, is a Humanities major and will become an English Lit. Professor Muskan is doing her Bachelor’s in Hospital Care Management

 
Mary, Bachelor’s in Business Administration, and Sima who came to us in January 2012 is now learning German and will soon be going to Germany as an au pair

*****

Kajul and Suman, both in class nine presently, were recently selected to attend a three-day National Taekwondo Tournament a day’s travel from Dhapasi. Suman won three matches and earned a silver medal while Kajul won two matches and earned herself a bronze. We are very proud of them.


Suman in 2012

Kajul in 2012

Suman at the award ceremony

Kajul on the right

*****

In closing I would like to give a very special thank you to Amanda Tapping, acclaimed actress and director. We met Amanda in 2010 when she and Jill Bodie came to visit NOH in Dhapasi after a few months’ correspondence. Amanda and Jill spent several days with us and filled the children’s hearts and minds with their incredible warmth and humor. They had formed Sanctuary for Kids Foundation and took us in as one of their beneficiaries. Despite a grueling schedule with their professional lives, they managed to hold yearly conventions that were annual meccas for their legion of fans and provided great support for their chosen charities.

In 2018 Sanctuary for Kids retired as a foundation after a very successful farewell year. But Amanda’s loyal following was not ready to let her go, it was then that GABIT was formed. I believe this stands for ‘Get Amanda Back in Town’. Their first convention had to be postponed due to Covid, but two weeks ago it was held in London and was a huge success, earning further and very unexpected funds for their charities.

 

In 2010, Amanda among our 120+ children, each of whom received her individual hug, photo, and enriching smile. People like Amanda Tapping, Jill Bodie, and all the people who created GABIT and work so hard to help others, are true luminaries in today’s world.

Thank you very much,
Papa

February 2022


Sandip during 2010 Bhai Tika celebration and earlier that same year


Sandip and his flatmates and Sandip mentoring three of his little sisters at the Chelsea Center

This morning I received a letter from one of our young boys, 14 years old now, with eloquent thoughts if not perfect grammar, reflecting his feelings of our time together.

sandip magar
6:40 AM (6 hours ago)
to me

Dear papa

thank you for lifting me in your strong arms and enveloping me in the tightest hug possible. It gave that 1 year old me the confidence that there will always be one man. like i don't know what to say you have inspired me so much with your love and care.

your photography skills you captured beautiful childhood memories of mine in those cameras of yours. i want you to know how I feel so blessed to have you as my father.

I have no words to describe the warmth and affection I get from you.

It lifted me high and wrapped me in a tight hug

what i am today is all because of your motivation all through my school.

I am glad I walked on the path you have shown me.

from dropping me off to school. your smiles and cheerful taught a 5-year-old teary eyed me to walk ahead towards new beginnings without wavering

love you and i give you lots of hugs 

sandip

This young man has had a pretty good life. I know that all of us at Papa’s House have had better lives because of him. Sandip has lived with us since he was a baby. He was incredibly cute, and always has been. Sandip as a baby lived in one of the girl’s homes where he received the best care, he was most comfortable there and so we had him live there for his first six or seven years. The girls loved him and provided him with a wonderful education in being sensitive to his surroundings and with an eye, and ear, for beautiful things. I used to go to all the houses and braid the girls hair for school each morning. When I arrived at Sandip’s house he would always come out with the girls and intently watch the braiding. Some of the girls would let him learn on them before their turn with me. He always brought added pleasure to these mornings.

Once a year we used to hold a fashion contest, a highly anticipated event for many of our 120+ children of all ages. The kids would spend a few weeks preparing their cobbled together wardrobes and practicing their models’ walks. I will never forget the year that Sandip pranced out on stage in girl’s clothes, a wig, and wonderful make-up. Typical of our children, the applause was sincere and very rewarding. He won in his age group. At fourteen everyone is his friend, as it has always been. He understands the feelings of young people, and I credit that to the care and grooming particularly during his first 8 years and to the maturity and empathy of our boys from then on. If happiness and care for others are the currency of the day, then Sandip, like all our children is a wealthy young man. 

I am personally going to try to be financially responsible for a couple of our older children to come to America for college this year. I look forward to the year when Sandip is ready to apply, for I would love to bring him here as well. 

******

From the Archived Updates: 2007

To begin with the blessings, the latest is the arrival of Sita on this past Wednesday August 8th, 2007


Sita

 

She and all her paperwork were dropped off at our school early in the morning, culminating a week's worth of legal necessities. Her head shaven by a lazy persons affordable method of lice control, she sat small and quiet in the jovial racket of bustling students entering our school. She joined our single-file procession home after school, taking in the sites and capturing snippets of talk in the line from her new sisters and brothers. Her life has started again at 9, completely in the company of strangers. This could be a traumatic time for most, but our calm, humorous, and compassionate children ward that off. After bathing and slipping into nice new clothes, she returned to the room she will share with Kabita and Apsara, both staying close to her. With each passing hour she gently opens as a tightly closed flower does with the morning sun, displaying her beautiful smile, drawn out by the warmth of her new family.

Sita T. has just been accepted into the Srijana School of Fine Arts, something that brought happy tears to the eyes of many in the NOH family. It has been a dream of hers. Sita has always loved art, but thanks to her diligence and Indra Khatri, our incredible art teacher, her ability has evolved into a serious talent. Nepal is a land of many gifted artists, so the competition is great, and recognition isn’t easy to come by.


Apsara and Sita when they were young

Sita’s artistic eye was curious to explore photography

Sita by an in-house display by the art students

Sharing some of her Plein Air paintings

After completing her Skylark education Sita, now 24, joined Herald College and completed a two-year course in Business Management. During this time, she received teacher training at our Chelsea Education and Community Center and worked as a teacher in the adult education department. But art has always been her true passion. Sita has never had an abundance of confidence in her talent, however with the urging of Indra and her brothers and sisters of Papa’s House, she applied to art school, and now she begins her validated journey as an artist.

And honors also go to one of our other gifted college children, Meena has been accepted into a coveted position at Saint Xavier’s College to do her bachelor’s in social work. She joins Sumitra who began there last year. Three other children are applying to university in Australia, and two to American colleges.


Meena

Sumitra

******

June 11th, 2006

On Wednesday an 80-year-old man came to see me with two young girls whom he referred to as daughters. I was not here at the time, and he explained his story to our school principal, Milan, and Binod, the young man who has become my right arm in managing everything. The Maoist burned down his house and all their possessions; they then kidnapped his wife, who he fears is dead by now. He hasn’t any money or means of support for himself or his daughters.

He insisted that he talk with me and scheduled to come back in a day. I was very moved by this man's story the next day when he came alone to see me. They presently are sleeping outside in Pashumpatinath, a Hindu holy site, and begging for food. With all that he has been through he still carried himself proudly and with a look of determination in his twinkling eyes. Though I had promised our staff before that we would have a moratorium on more children, and we have been finding alternatives to the others who have come, this man could not be denied, and his daughters now stay with us. They are a wonderful addition to our family.

After meeting them and learning of their story I wrote the following in a 2006 update on our NOH website.

“Kul Bahadur, worn thin, tired, and hobbled by malnutrition and worry that has removed muscle from his frame, heard them come again. The Maoists have come so many times in the past years he knows some of their names. The young, strong men of the village have all fled or been conscripted by the rebels over the years.

Two young girls in neatly worn jungle fatigues enter the house, while the other soldiers wait outside. The girls, with their long black hair tied back, bodies quick and strong, eyes fierce with determination, grab the rice sack and demand any money be handed over. Kul’s wife stands shielding her daughters, 9 and 11 years old, Kul can only watch helpless, his soft gentle voice simply says “please”. The room is small, and the search is quickly over. They grab Kul’s wife and lead her to the door, her daughters scream clutching their mother, the soldiers scream louder at them, and they let go.

Outside the mother is forced into the back of a truck, Kul and his daughters are pushed away from the house as a rebel douses it in gasoline. Kul’s watery eyes reflect the orange flames of his home as they watch the truck taking his wife, drive away.”

And months later I wrote:

Deepa is the fastest runner in our home. Each morning we run. I see in her effortless stride the speed, power, and grace of an elite runner, though she is only 12. She is a quiet girl with a soft smile, and the protective big sister to Cila, two years younger. Their father’s name is Kul, their mother is missing. I used to always lead the run, Deepa now charges past me, silent and focused. I know for her that this is not mere running, it is a daily catharsis. There is a truck, invisible to the rest of us, that she is chasing. Both girls have small scars here and there that are “nothing” when I inquire. In the months since their arrival, they have blended well with all our children, laughing, working hard in their studies, and slowly allowing childhood to return. They ask for nothing and like all our children they are full of compassion and comfort to those around them.

Deepa today is studying for her master’s degree in Social Work in the UK. Cila lives in Australia after a distinguished high school/college career playing basketball in Kathmandu.


Papa and Deepa, Nepal 2020

******

One of a million memories, this one written in 2006...

Our days are routinely busy managing our homes and the lives of our children. It is a joyful life, and the constant interaction with the kids is the best of times. They grow a little bit each day, finding new strengths and improving weaknesses. Mary and Rasmita, sisters, see each other develop as they deal with their own separate thoughts. I will remember one night watching a little of that, as I wrote,

“On Friday night Mary asked me if she could sleep in a different room. Rasmita, her bed companion, looked at me with bug eyes, waiting to hear my answer. I said yes. Later after making my rounds, I went back to Rasmita's bed, where I found her quietly crying. She said she was a little afraid to sleep alone. I surrounded her with all her dolls and reminded her that she was not alone, that four other girls were in their beds in the same room, but she was only slightly consoled. I turned out the light and after twenty minutes returned to check on her. She was fast asleep tightly hugging her large soft doll. The next night as they were getting ready for bed, she told Mary that she could go sleep in the other room again. I asked Rasmita why she felt that way and she said, “Last night I have learned to sleep alone.” Mary smiled up at me, and Rasmita didn’t protest when she slipped into bed next to her.”


Sisters Mary and Rasmita

******

NOH has taken in many sisters over the years, usually two, but sometimes three and four sisters together. We opened two homes in the Dang district, about 12 hours by bus from Dhapasi, in 2006. Dang was the epicenter of the Kamalari practice; this is where daughters are sold as indentured servants at the age of 7 during the January festival called Maghi.

In speaking with other INGOs and NGOs working to eradicate the Kamalari and other slavery and trafficking practices in Nepal, we found that none of them offered to provide a home, care, and education to the girls they were helping. Thus, with Kamalari, the recidivism rate was high; the methods used, by anecdotal evidence, seemed to perpetuate the practice.

So, NOH partnered with a local Nepalese NGO (Society Welfare Action Nepal) that tracked the girls sold, and we leased and renovated two buildings to become group residences on the expansive grounds of a public school in Narti. Our homes there filled quickly with young and older girls freed from bondage. We named our homes Lawajuni, which means New Beginnings.

In the photos below, taken at Lawajuni, Kamana is carrying her little sister, Juna, on the left, and they are posing with Gita, another member of a set of three sisters we took in. The bonds of sisters facing parental abandonment, poverty, hunger, war, at such a young age weld them together for life. I was always struck by how an eight-year-old girl had the capacity to know how to protect and care for, advise, nurture, and comfort a little brother or sister, but I saw this was the way of life for the hundred plus girls who came to Lawajuni. Lawajuni served to allow us to remove some of the younger sisters of girls who were rescued, before they too became Kamalari, such as Juna and Gita.


Kamana carrying Juna

Gita, Juna, and Kamana

Kamala photographed for our records

Juna on left, Kamana on the right at the only Mexican restaurant in Kathmandu, maybe in Nepal. The Mexican family that opened the establishment visited Papa’s House and gave a wonderful cultural program.

One day, before Covid changed our lives, I took Juna to lunch where her sister Kamana worked as a waitress. Both of these girls are excellent students and very hard working. Today Kamana has completed an undergraduate degree in Business Administration and is enrolled in the German program and hopes to leave soon for Germany as an au pair for a year, and then to enter college there. Meanwhile Juna is working on her undergrad degree in Computer Science.

******

Over the years NOH, better known in Nepal as Papa’s House, has attracted interesting attention. In the earliest years when the Maoist insurgency was a real concern, we became a refuge for a few families who smuggled their children to us for safe keeping. At the time in the western reaches of Nepal, the Maoists were conscripting children to be fighters. One family had heard about us and under cover of darkness over a couple of nights travel, brought three boys and two girls, offspring of two brothers, both teachers, to us. These kids grew up and attended college in Papa’s House before returning to their villages as young adults. One single mother sent her four daughters to us, they lived in a remote jungle area where many Maoists insisted on staying in the homes of people, unwelcomed. They caused food and safety insecurities upon people by demanding this support. These four girls also grew up with us, and eventually completed college. Three are now married.


The four sisters on the day of their arrival

A year or so after their arrival I took them back to their mountain home to see their mother. It was a quick overnight visit.

And curiously, a Maoist general heard about us through Dhapasi Maoist, and brought his very young daughter, who had cerebral palsy, to live with us. He was a widowed father who loved his daughter and trusted no one else to care for her while he was fighting in the jungle. Though I did not agree with his politics, I admired his commitment to his daughter. Bumikha stayed with us for around seven years and when the Maoists had become part of mainstream politics, her father came one day to collect his daughter and return to his village life.


And Bhumika who led our procession to school each day for many years.

******


Sisters Seema and Anisha, joined the family in 2007

As we enter 2022, NOH has a staff of 15 for operating Papa’s House and another 15 working in the Chelsea Education and Community Center. Of these 30 staff members, a total of 8 who work for Papa’s House and 8 work for the CECC are our older children who have, through training and education, earned these positions which include our outreach programs, accounting, childcare, and teaching.

As 2022 begins our official 18th year as a 501(c)3, (we actually started in 2004 but without yet being a 501(c)3), I would like to share the following bullet points.

  • We have 32 of our young adults now living independently across four continents. The pandemic has kept eight more from joining work/study programs in Germany and Japan, they have learned the language, and most are awaiting visas whose issuance keeps getting delayed because of Covid.
  • Of the32 children, some are working post college while others combine college and work.
  • We have 10 children in Kathmandu completing their bachelors’ programs, their pace also affected (slowed) by the pandemic.
  • In April we will have a total of 39 children in college, pre-bachelors’ level, and living under our support.
  • In April we will have 25 children at the Skylark English school in class one through class ten.
  • At this time, we additionally have 23 of our daughters, and 2 sons that have married and started their own families.

Many other children are scattered across the hinterlands of Nepal and stay in touch with their NOH family by phone or the use of social networks. One thing remains: we are a family, and each child feels the love and support of this family for life.

******

NOH had its first two volunteers in the winter of 2004. After that time, we established Volunteer Nepal as an organization to match compassionate volunteers with skill and heart with villages across Nepal who would benefit from these services. We averaged over 100 volunteers a year mostly for teaching at remote schools, helping villages with engineering, health and environmental issues that better their lifestyle and longevity. We also brought doctors and nurses and established medical camps in areas where properly trained doctors or nurses were not to be found. In all aspects of village life, we connected interested volunteers, and we also specialized in designing specific interests of the volunteer, be it working as a journalist embedded with local journalists, teaching in a Buddhist Monastery, staying in a remote village to study under the Shaman and learn medicine and healing, to name a few.

Over the years through our volunteer program, NOH began to offer village support for education, food, housing, and health. Our NOH Outreach program was born through this. Our outreach program has remodeled and built new schools, provided educational costs for operating schools, free lunch programs, and uniforms, books, and teachers’ salaries to a number of villages. We have supported other orphanages, and we have provided medicines, birthday parties, and last wishes to children with cancer and helped support the on-ground housing and food for their parents. For the past eight years we have supported the children and educational costs of a home for the blind. The children and staff there have flourished, and many are approaching the ability to work and live independently after their college is complete.

After the earthquake in 2015, the staff of Volunteer Nepal reached all our placements with money, blankets, and tents. We paid for the transport and housing for over a hundred child nuns from their monastery back to Kathmandu where they stayed over the following year while the rebuilding of their Bigu Monastery was undertaken. For the next few years NOH’s outreach program was a source of financial support for the rebuilding of many small communities.

Then Covid came and our volunteer program had to cease. This year we are hoping to be able to rebuild it. We recognize this is an optimistic punt into the still active covid situation, but we are ready to bring this incredible program back into action. Please go to our website www.volunteernepal.com to learn more about the programs and to sign up for more information. Skills are great, but often the best gift is simply the connections made with people who have never ventured beyond their often-isolated villages. The best attribute among volunteers, young and old, is simply love and compassion for those less fortunate and a desire to help change lives, theirs and your own.


Transportation to and from some villages

Teaching in the Tarai

An advertisement to inform villagers of an upcoming health camp

Teaching at Bigu Monastery

Hosting a weeklong environmental workshop

Journalist teaching, living with and writing about Bigu

Cultural exchange in Ramechhap

Teaching in Dolpa

Med student from Vanderbilt helping a village doctor with his practice

​One of many retired volunteers

There are a thousand stories that were born from our volunteers' service that live on in the hearts and minds of all involved, and through our volunteers, relationships were developed that continue to be vital to this day.

This concludes the NOH update for February 2022. Thank you to all our donors and to our compassionate and hard-working members of the NOH Board and our Papa’s House staff.

Love,
Papa

November 8, 2021

I just returned from Nepal, where I spent my days doing maintenance, mostly painting, and my evenings with the children. They remain the same happy souls as ever, just bigger and a little more serious in some cases, at least among those who have let the internet take them outside our walls and wish to talk about it. It is a little surreal to see your children after a year’s time has passed. I would watch them and think how they had grown, such a sneaky thing for them to do.

The young boys’ voices were cracking an octave’s scale, and comical looking hair could be found sprouting from upper lips, with which they knew not what to do. These little boys appearing as young men begged me to wonder what other secrets they possessed, what new knowledge had they acquired in my absence, what confusion might they be living in. The girls who suddenly became teenagers in that same year snuck that in on me as well. After 17 years of growing with these children, it was startling to see what happens when you are away.

In all our letters over the year, not one child said to me, “You know Papa, my body has changed so much, I am taller, stronger, and I am more confused than ever,” but when a line formed after I came through the gate and the children shyly looked into my eyes and awkwardly hugged me, they let me know exactly that. Hugs tell a lot. The youngest children, those living light and easy, give exuberant hugs and they are the best. The middle years run a gamut between shy and giggling to others who offer quick and strong demonstrations of new maturity, and our older children hug me in a show of their advanced age, some respectful and reserved, tinged with a curious sadness, and some with open heartfelt enthusiasm.

Our older children all seem to be very comfortable in themselves. They have begun to carve their identities at school and in work, in marriages, and as mothers, and they meet my eyes as equals in possession of their lives and independence. They are discovering what it means to be an adult, and I caught a glimmer of irony in the smiles of some that told me they have learned that we always told them the truth as we prepared them over so many years’ time for this day.

When I left them all and returned to my room to unpack, I felt the weight of having missed a year of eye-to-eye conversations, of checking in with them and asking how they were; the loss of a year of laughter, of soothing anxieties, of healing wounds or comforting sickness; and a year of learning and teaching, of sharing and helping in these, my children’s lives. There is no making up for that, and the happiness and laughter we all just shared in our reunion was turning for me into a viscous sadness as the night descended.


Priya (facing the camera) and Manisha

Saya had arrived just after I had left, I was her first foreign encounter, and she was cautiously intrigued.

Pretty applying Mehndi to Samira’s hand

Shristy

Samira

​Anjul and Zoya (note the Mehindi)

This year the Dashain/Tihar celebrations fell entirely in October.


​Kite flying is one of many traditions enjoyed during Dashain


Papa’s House Director Mrs. Sunita Pandey

A pensive Priya, now a teenager

Saya and Zoya having received their blessings

Dawn Kumari, House mother since 2004, giving Tika
Seema and Mary, both of our College House
Gita, one of four sisters, with us since 2008, and young sisters Saya and Zoya on a call from their village.

*****

In other exciting October blessings...


Our House Manager since 2012, Anita, married and traveled Nepal with her husband for a honeymoon.

And...

I met our married daughter Saritas son, for the first time. Mother Sarita and son Allal are both doing wonderfully.

*****

​Three years ago, Nepal Orphans Home had informed many of the outreach projects that we had been supporting for many years that we were going to begin to begin to wean them off of our support, and with each year we reduced that support.  When 2020 came around we had pretty much stopped the support for most of the projects. We continued to pay all the school fees for 38 children who live in our village, and we continued with some support for the babies at Bal Mandir, for the children with cancer at Kanti Childrens hospital, and the Ronald McDonald-type housing for the parents of cancer patients. And of course, NOH continues to support the Goldhunga Blind Childrens Home.  But in late March when Covid began closing businesses and schools, the income ceased for many organizations. After a few months of business and industry closings, many of the people in our village also fell on very difficult times. So NOH began renewing our support and being a good neighbor to our community. Our own income from Volunteer Nepal ended with the arrival of 2020 and we found ourselves turning towards our savings. Pretty much from late March of 2020 through the present time, Covid has changed the way everyone lives. Our children have been isolated in each of our houses from their brothers and sisters in their homes, and school has been entirely online. Only recently with the arrival of October, the government has eased restrictions and though mask-wearing remains a mandate, all but schools had opened. But in a Hallelujah moment, on Wednesday November 10th, the schools finally opened back up for in-person learning.


Kids walking to school first day and Purnima helping Saya with her ribbons


Kajul and Ranjana

Pushpa and Purnima

 The above school photos were taken by Gita Bista.

In stark contrast to our children on their way to school, and who will have tea and biscuits after school before heading to our Chelsea Community and Education Center for two additional hours of teacher-assisted help with homework and advanced lessons in computer, math, and holistic education are the following children:

Early this week Bipin Singh, elder brother of our daughter Mary Singh, sent these photos to me and shared a situation that can be at least partially remedied. This is Mary and Bipins village, and this is its only school. It is high in the mountains and quite remote. Winter is about to descend upon them; already the nighttime temperatures are near freezing. There are 50 students in this school, 15 in kindergarten, 12 in class one, 8 in class two, 4 in class three, 5 in class four, and 6 in class five. You can see the erosion that has decreased the playground.” Bipin has reported that the children have no socks or shoes, only their sandals; they lack winter jackets, gloves, and stocking caps. There is a shortage of pencils, pens, paper, and erasers. We are on it. We are arranging to have these things purchased and distributed, hopefully by the time this update is being read. Our children are fortunate to have found their way to NOH where we have such a personally invested donor base, and from that we will continue to share as we can afford, our good fortune.

Thank you one and all,
Papa

April 2021

CARING BEGINS EARLY AT NEPAL ORPHANS HOME


SUNDAY APRIL 26th 2015. HOURS AFTER THE DEVASTATING EARTHQUAKE.

OUR DAUGHTER HOPE COMFORTS OUR SON SUJAN.

THIS IS WHAT WE ARE ALL ABOUT.

Six years ago, on Saturday, April 25th, just before noon, a catastrophic earthquake struck Nepal. It brought out the absolute best of our children. These extraordinary times confirmed our family’s closeness. Before the sun set that evening, and while aftershocks repeatedly rumbled, we were already in action helping our local community and organizing missions to send food, cash, blankets, and tents to the communities we supported in various remote areas of Nepal through our Outreach Department. While fear and despair brought inertia to the community, our children began the clean-up process, preparing the way for rebuilding the collapsed perimeter walls and the interior damage done to some of our homes. They worked hard and cheerfully while neighbors sat watching, full of fear with the aftershocks, and puzzled by our children’s attitude and abilities. This was one of the many NOH Hallmark moments that we have experienced in our 16 years.


Assembled in the yard outside Papa’s Samanjasya House immediately after the first earthquake 

Two days later, the clean-up begins

From the time that a child comes into our home they realize that they have become part of a large family where everyone truly wishes to help each other to have a better life. From the oldest children to the youngest, all are recognized and listened to, respected, and cherished. The foundation principles of health, education, experience, and happiness, attained in a holistic manner permeate our environment. Dreams are encouraged and supported by all for one, and one for all.

In this update I would like to share the interesting lives and achievements of some of our older children. Those chosen have not done “better” than any of our other children; this is just to show how the lives of a few of the children are faring in the world outside our walls.

Himal:

I have been in Australia now for just over a year. Between work and school, it has been a busy one. I leave home at six in the morning and return around midnight. I am taking my driver’s exam next week. Being able to drive will free some of my time.

  

I am studying in a Culinary Institute in the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. I came to Australia to study IT, but there were many roadblocks for that, and many people advised me to try for acceptance at this college, as it was the best option for me to remain in Australia. I have enjoyed it; this is a profession in high demand. I am in my third semester and will graduate in December. I have a good job at a restaurant called “The Green Zebra” I had never considered this line of work; I have always been dedicated to IT. I have considered applying again in IT once I have paid off my school loans and saved some money. We will see. I have been learning a lot from school as well as from work. I have made many friends. I am pretty tired, but also very happy to be living in Australia.

Sumitra:

 

This month I will test for my black belt in Taekwondo. I have to break a brick as part of the test. Yesterday Papa was telling me, “Your body can handle this; it has the strength to do it without any problem, but it is in your mind that you will succeed. If you imagine yourself smashing through the brick it will be done; if you have any doubt in you, if you hesitate, you will only hurt your hand. Believe in yourself Sumi, I believe in you, I know you will do this.” I know that I will do it; I believe in me, but more, I believe in Papa.

The above quote was lifted from a story that Sumitra wrote and is published on our website from July 2017, titled “A Day in The Life of Sumi.” I highly recommend reading it. Sumitra is still breaking bricks, at least figuratively. Sumi recently applied to St. Xavier’s College in Kathmandu. It is the most prestigious and one of the oldest colleges there. Its halls are truly hallowed from the passage of those who have shaped Nepal over the years in a variety of fields. St. Xavier’s has a 3% acceptance rate. She was accepted into a four-year bachelor’s program and had her orientation on March 10th.

AnuMaya and Puja:

 
AnuMaya on the left, and Puja on the right

AnuMaya left for Portugal in late 2019 to train at the Casa dos Varais-The Varais Palace. This esteemed estate has been in the same family for hundreds of years. The positions are few, typically inherited through the retirement of lifelong staff. A wonderful friend of Nepal Orphans Home, world renowned photographer Rui Peres, whose friendship with the Casa dos Varais encouraged the family to hire AnuMaya.

Learning Portuguese, learning proper European manners straight from “The Remains of the Day,” and learning to conduct tours of the winery are just a few of AnuMaya’s accomplishments.

 

AnuMaya has won the hearts of some of the oldest families in Portugal. So much so that one frequent guest of Casa dos Varais, the Portuguese Minister of Labor, has asked if NOH might recommend one of our girls to her, and another highly regarded old family who own three palaces, have interviewed and signed contracts with two of our college graduates who are awaiting the end of a lockdown in Portugal to begin their new positions.

Puja:

Puja studied Humanities in college in Kathmandu, while also employed by our Chelsea Education and Community Center as a teacher for the community women, who adored her. She applied to college in Sydney to get a bachelor’s degree in social work. Her boyfriend had left a year earlier to also study in Sydney. Puja was naturally accepted and arrived in Australia in November of 2019. She quickly found work in a family-owned restaurant chain, and soon became the one employee they kept when Covid struck and in-person dining was prohibited. She has done very well in school, and she and her boyfriend decided to marry. They both have exhausting work/study schedules,but are able to pay their university fees and live a happy life together saving for the future and making wonderful memories.


Puja and Papa’s House Mother, Dawn Kumari, at Puja’s going away celebration

Sabina:

 

Sabina has several interviews coming up, the first on April 27th at Nordwest Hospital in Frankfort Germany, to enter the School of Nursing. She has always been a trailblazer. A quiet girl, she has had, from a young child, her future plans in laser focus.

I am currently living in Eltville, Germany and hoping to build my career here. I am doing my voluntary years duty at Organization Bethanien Kinderdorf. It is one of the largest Children’s Homes in Germany. It is really fun to work here with the children. Sometimes observing their behavior, I miss my wonderful childhood at Papa’s House. I will be working here for six more months and then I begin my apprenticeship in a three-year nursing program.

Sabina learned German in 2019, and then passed her two exams and her interview with the German Embassy. In October of the same year, she signed a contract as an au pair and left for Germany. She completed her one-year contract and then went to work for a state-run orphanage, a position she interviewed for and won a couple of months shy of her contract’s expiration. This is a required one-year employment to qualify for college in Germany.

Sabina was our first to go to Germany; two more now have gone, one of whom is featured below. Sabina and many others of the older children of NOH maintain a Saturday night Messenger Forum and discuss their present lives and share their many memories growing up in Papa’s House.

Kaushila:

One of Sabina’s closest friends growing up, Kaushila also wants to be a nurse and found Sabina’s path one that seemed to offer her the best opportunities. So, on January 1st of 2021, she found herself meeting Sabina upon arrival in Frankfort, along with her very loving new Host Family.

It’s been three and a half months since I came to Germany. Currently I am living in Steinen. It is on the border between Germany and Switzerland. I am living with a family of four. My primary responsibility is the care of Marie, who is eight. She loves Nepali music and learning Nepali dance. She has already learned ten Nepali songs. She also loves going to the playground. The family is so friendly, soft-hearted, and understanding. I am lucky to have found them. Lockdown is again starting here. I will be with the family only a year and then, like Sabina, I will enter the FSJ, the volunteer commitment, and that will lead me to my Nursing three-year apprenticeship. I am so happy with my life.

 
Kaushila at Papa’s House at the same age as her charge Marie is now

Bimal:

Bimal is an amazing young man. He understands the nature of the mind and has put into practice the ability to imagine what he wishes in his life and to visualize and manifest it. He works extremely hard towards his goals.

He spoke very good English when he came to us from a remote mountain-protected village at the age of 10. He could dance, act, and paint. He was always smiling and full of energy. He sold his first oil painting to a museum curator from Ohio in 2015 for $500. He was happy but took it all in stride. Despite many accolades he has remained a humble young man fascinated with life.

In Nepal, “high school” is finished after class ten. College is next for class 11 and 12. After class 10, he quietly applied to the only college in Kathmandu that had an IB program. He surprised us one day with a letter of acceptance and a full scholarship, and a stipend to help pay his cost of living in a room near the campus.

 

He excelled at school in academics, theater, and art. He had always set his sights on college in America, and with the help of Tanya Nair, the former NOH Director of Transition, herself a graduate of prestigious Davidson College, he applied to the North Carolina school and won a 100% scholarship. He will be arriving on the Davidson campus in August. Bimal is a gifted young man, who will make a big difference in the world one day.


One of Bimal’s paintings

Bimal painted this in 2020 and gave it to me as a gift. In turn, I had it framed and hung it in our Chelsea Education and Community Center, where it is daily appreciated by all.

Gita:

I am Gita Bista.  I am completing my plus 2 major in Humanities at Herald College. At the same time, I am a part time photographer for Possible Worlds Foundation and Nepal Orphans Home. Photography was always an interest of mine going back to my introduction by the NGO “Searching for Neverland,” which ran a three-week workshop for NOH in 2013. It became my passion in March of 2020 when the lockdown began. I split my time between photography and oil painting, which I found one served the other. I have been taking photography courses, meeting other photographers, and I began my own photography page on social media (Cherish Every Moment).

 
Gita in 2008 when first coming to Papa’s House and today as the NOH staff photographer

Gita, along with her three sisters have been with us in Kathmandu since 2008. Prior to that they lived at our Lawajuni home in Dang. These are four, very special girls. In 2019, Gita met our Director of the Chelsea Center, Prashanna Bista, and as the name implies, in early 2020 Gita asked me to give her away in a beautiful wedding ceremony. She and Prashanna are the embodiment of soulmates and held by all the children with the greatest of respect and admiration for their teaching, profoundly deep love, and the manner in which they live.

Dhiraj:

 
Hari, on left, with his best big buddy Dhriaj in 2007,
and Dhiraj with his deeply pensive stare a few months later

I am Dhiraj Yadav, living here in Sydney-Australia for over 2 years and 8 months. I am studying for a Bachelor’s in information technology, currently in my last semester to be conferred soon a bachelor’s degree. I work for Systemnet, an IT company here in Sydney as a “System Engineer.”

I plan to stay here and get my Australian citizenship and continue working for the company and maybe one day to become one of the partners.

I have an amazing family here in Sydney with Stan as my dad, Laurie as my mummy, who I first met at NOH when I was very young, I am literally one of the most blessed and luckiest men alive.

I have learnt to appreciate everything in my life when I was growing up at Papa’s House and I have learnt to love and respect everyone around me from Laurie and Stan and what it means to be human from Papa.

I hope one day I can make you all very proud.

Dhiraj is another of our children who is exceptional in every world they inhabit except the world of children of Nepal Orphans Home. He began his early school years with a fascination in science and dreams of becoming an astronaut. Along the way he became interested in computers, and while very young he excelled at it under the guidance of Ted Seymour, one of the Board Members of NOH. Soon he was instructing his brothers and sisters in programming basics and on his own and with continued guidance under Ted, continued to acquire a great understanding of how to program.

Always happy and easy going, he continued to work hard towards getting accepted at a good IT university in Australia. Very grateful for the support he received there from our board member, Laurie Levine, and her husband Stan, he made them proud by excelling in his work and being continuously recognized for his kindness, mentorship, and excellence by his employer and the community in which he lived. When Puja arrived in Sydney, he was the best of brothers to her, always finding time to help her find her way around that new life, to find work, and to make sense of the dizzying life she found herself steeped in. Dhiraj has asked if I might be able to attend his graduation, and I have assured him that it will be one of my happiest days of the last 16 years.

Friends, supporters, staff, and our wonderful Board members have every reason to be very proud of who our children have become. They have taught all of us lessons about life that we would not have learned without them; lessons that are of the highest value, for they are about character and what should be the ultimate aim of every human being in their lifetime:  to be kind, compassionate, honest, helpful, and to live with purpose. NOH is truly a beautiful example of how a small group of people can make a huge difference in the many lives that become a part of its orbit.

Mrs. Sunita Pandey is doing a great job as Director of Operations of Papa’s House NGO. She has a lot of support from our staff and the NOH board. While another lockdown has just begun due to the spiraling India infection rate, those of us who are unable to be present now have faith that this too will be weathered in fine form.

Our newest children are well on their way in following the footsteps of some of the young adults mentioned in this update who were also once five or six years old at Papa’s House, just as they themselves are now.


The newest girls at Papa’s House: Zoya, Saya, Shristi, Sarita, and Angel

November 9th, 2020

We have had some good news lately from some of our older children. Khem wrote to tell me that he had just gotten a job in a hydropower project as an accountant in the district called Shankuwashabha (a neighbor district of Mount Everest).

Khem went on to share how nice the village folks are and how beautiful it is there. He explained that everything is going well and his boss has now become very friendly with him. Khem is twenty-four years old. Like most, he entered college unsure of what he was interested in, but he studied business and did okay. After college he started his own trekking business. His ideas and ambitions were good, and he threw himself completely into wanting to become his own boss quickly, but the competition is great in the business of trekking and his lack of experience proved to be his undoing. We suggested that he join a top outfit as a guide and work his way up the experience ladder and then try again. And then the bottom pretty much fell out of the industry; this was still long before the virus, but trekkers were becoming scarce. So, he closed his business and considered his future. He decided upon marketing and asked us to send him to a one-year Google-based marketing school. He was hoping to freelance with his newfound knowledge, and that is where he was before this latest email.

Some of our children, the boys mostly, are all anxious to step up onto a ledge and begin to fly as soon as possible. I understand the desire, for I was the same. Other boys have taken a slower approach, staying in school, and acquiring more knowledge with their eye on an advanced degree. They are still in school, but they feel confident and secure in their growing appreciation for their chosen subject and path in life. Not one style suits everyone, and we encourage in all the children from a young age to find their own style. We are there for them, a constant support that allows them the freedom to experiment and experience life a little more easily.

One of our older girls just announced an impending marriage. She is quite happy; her fiancé is a member of the Nepal Army. This daughter studied science in school, and then decided she wished to go to Germany in the Au Pair program. The year before the pandemic began, she studied German at the institute and had achieved her passing marks. She was awaiting the visa and looking for a position when the virus interrupted everything last March. Sangita will be the fourth of our marriage-age daughters to marry during the pandemic.

The virus has clearly impacted everyone’s life to varying degrees. None of us are the same today as we were on March 26th when we separated. We have children who have discovered new interests and talents and they have broadened their perspectives accordingly. One other daughter who remained with us during the pandemic has progressed with her love of reading to the point where she is completing one or two books every week. She began selecting books from my own stock. Our conversations reflect the developing of her philosophy of life. To share with a young adult is wonderful and privileged, and her appreciation of novels that I have enjoyed makes me very happy.

Many of our girls with access to a smartphone have been expressing themselves on TikTok. I have been amazed by the creativity expressed there. They show confidence, joy, and a lot of dance talent.

Many of the children have been doing online classes managed by Prashanna and our Chelsea Center teachers. Prashanna has also supplemented the academics with “Life Coaching,” teaching the kids to think creatively, to see themselves as the unique and powerful humans they are, and to set goals and learn how to work towards them with an action plan.

Some of the college children, those attending the college for IT, for example, have continued their schooling nonstop online, while others have not had that advantage and have lost a year’s time. This is frustrating for us all.

Our daughter Urmila had just one semester left to complete her Dental School’s first three years. She is anxious to resume. As many might remember, Urmila received the highest score in the Dental School entrance exam three years ago. She will be fine, but she is nervous about her exams after an eight-month absence from school. Urmila returned to her village and lives with her aunt. Life has been hard; they live in a clay house with a thatched roof. There is field work to be done every day, and she has shouldered many family responsibilities that previously existed, but the reality of which was unfelt by her while living with us. The daily care of an adult with serious illness has been foremost. But we speak several times a week and it has been apparent that the weight of these responsibilities has enlightened and broadened her understanding of human nature and has made her even more compassionate.

Applying Tika during Dashain 2018 Urmila, after Dental College admissions test, in 2017

The limitation of movement during the pandemic has called upon our children to consider life beyond what they were focused on at home and school. It has opened our children’s eyes to how large life really is, and the infinite possibilities that exist for their choosing. This is to say, that they have discovered with new eyes, that life in the village has possibilities as well as life in Kathmandu or even another country; that they are not limited but for their imagination in what they wish to do with their lives; that there is no urgency to life; that indeed they will miss so much if they do not slow down and look around them, and notice the beauty in the smallest things; and how that beauty is always present, but unnoticed in their rushing about. And in so doing, love has happened, not just as in a boyfriend for some, but love for life, for friends, for the universe, for education, for understanding, and for expressing themselves in different ways. Their lives and the world are miracles made fresh every day.

My take is that this forced time-out has been, when the calculations are done, a good reset for us all. And this brings me to account for myself.

During these many months of COVID lockdown, with the bulk of our children being gone, I have missed them terribly. Emailing, texting, and speaking on the phone only somewhat soothes the hurt. This has been my life for the last fifteen years.

With so many of the children gone my days were filled with painting the interiors of our homes and buildings, soaking up the energy in the rooms of the children. The energy I felt each day led me to recognize more about this time in my life.


The first Papa’s House children 2006

Fifteen years ago, a friend took me to an "orphanage" that needed help in Dhapasi, a village in the northern outskirts of Kathmandu district. I found a small, rundown house with two dozen destitute children. Malnourished, in poor health, and not attending school, the children were forced by the owners to beg on the streets. I assumed management of the home, renovated the building, and began Papa’s House to care for the children.  

The ensuing years have been good. Many children have grown up in the nurturing environment of Papa’s House. I have always felt that we are a really big family, with each child’s joys and fears, smiles, accomplishments, failures, anxieties and laughter, future plans and work to achieve them deeply felt by all. Nepal Orphans Home has been fortunate to have dedicated staff caring for the children.  We have expanded our mission to include Volunteer Nepal and the Chelsea Education and Community Center and we have provided assistance to many others in Nepal through NOH Outreach.


Celebrating Christmas 2019 at Papa’s House

Reflection of this brought some relief in thinking that it might be time for me to return to America and tend to some of the dreams that I have, ideas that have been shelved knowing that one day, when an appropriate time had come, would be dusted off and eagerly begun. In the last month I have thought about living near Hope, being able to visit my children and grandchildren and being near to my family, and these thoughts have brought a lot of smiles to me, and I have made plans to further those commitments, and those plans have comforted and rewarded a somewhat parched soul.

I would never leave if I thought that doing so would in any way compromise the future of our children and our community outreach. I have worked daily with our Director of Operations, Sunita (Mrs. Pandey, to me) for over eight years now. I trust her and I know she has a good heart. While I am away, we will continue emailing and discussing many things, as we do now. In addition to Sunita, we have Prashanna, a young man with impressive maturity and depth, directing the Chelsea Center. We also have the commitment of the NOH board. With the board’s decision to increase the autonomy of Papa’s House over the last few years in the making, we have been able to help Sunita to be fully prepared to manage. The government’s relationship with Papa’s House grows with time, and Sunita has earned the respect of the government in a way that is unparalleled in the Social Welfare Sector.

I came to America on October 11th, though it feels like a year ago. I spent some time in Maine visiting the small town of my childhood. It remains essentially the same. When I wandered the street that I lived on starting at the age of ten, I was drawn back to that time in my life, 57 years ago. It was an exciting and comfortable feeling. As I stood before the houses of our neighborhood it felt as if my younger self stood next to me gazing, sharing the memories washing over me. My recollections came crisp and clear as they were through the eyes of my present self. This transformative experience was replete with all my senses sharply lived again. Memory after memory came to me, and when it began to wane, I was feeling, most sharply, the passage of time and an acute sense of how much time might be left to me, and how I was going to spend it.

To be honest, from the moment I left Kathmandu on a plane to Doha, where the attendants were wearing hazmat suits with masks and glasses, and the passengers sat with masks and face shields, truly a dystopian moment, I have felt lost. I thought that I would feel excited for returning to America; every other time I did, but this time I felt like I was leaving my children behind.

I have come to try and know what I will do now in my life. The conflict that I have felt to do what is right between my own family in America and my family in Nepal has been a constant and somewhat unsettling companion for the last sixteen years.

I am now in North Carolina. It is wonderful to be near my family, and to be with Hope. Some of you who have been reading our Updates since the fall of 2013 know the profound relationship between us. Hope is my miracle girl who fills my soul with cheerfulness and a sense of purpose, of wellbeing, and a desire to be watching over her and contributing as much as I can to her happiness. She is a little girl now; she will be eight next year. She has developed intellectually; her knowledge of life, and the facts from school with her desire to discuss it all with me, fills me with a longing to remain by her side, to watch over and admire her life, and to bring it joy every day, to help her explore and wonder, for as long as I am able. Hope has an incredibly happy life with her Dad Sam and Mom Anita. I hope to add another dimension to that.


Anita, Sam, and Hope at their July 2018
wedding celebration in Dhapasi

That said, I am not sure at this moment when I will return to Nepal. I have rented a place for a short term just down the street from Hope. All I can say is time will tell.

Nepal Orphans Home has been my life since I first came in the late summer of 2004. Everyone who is reading this has become a friend who has known me through NOH. The million moments that I have shared with our children have had a profound impact upon my life. And they always will.

I am looking for a rural acre, close to Hope. I wish to build a small house and a larger woodworking shop, to grow my own vegetables, to walk barefoot on my property, to sit on my porch, to collect my memories on paper, and to be a daily part of Hope’s life, in person, while now being a daily presence in my Nepali children’s lives only on WhatsApp and through emails.

The NOH Board knows of my thinking not to return in the foreseeable future to Nepal and they have been resoundingly supportive. Mrs. Pandey also knows, and she too understands. We are in almost daily contact and she discusses her observations and shares her thinking as it concerns managing Papa’s House activities in Nepal. This will not change regardless of where I am located. I know her instincts and capabilities and she will continue to do a fine job.

I am not sure if this revelation is important to anyone, but you are an extended family, and it was important to me to share it with you.

All my best,
Papa


On main grounds outside Papa’s Samanjasya House 2014

August 2020

Papa’s House is a big family, with each child’s joys and fears, laughter and anxieties, accomplishments and setbacks, dreams and hopes deeply felt by all the children and staff. The Nepal Orphans Home family extends beyond Papa’s House in Nepal to the boards of directors and advisers, the hundreds of volunteers, friends, and donors who have supported our mission over the years.

Below are just a few of the children who have come to Papa’s House. All were either former kamlaris or children whose families could not or would not adequately provide for them—children sold into indentured servitude, abandoned, orphaned, or neglected.

Kaushila is fluent in three languages, conversant in a fourth. After the coronavirus ends, she will be leaving for Germany to work as an au pair for one year, followed by attending university there.

Urmila has completed three years of Dental College and was the highest scorer among hundreds in her entrance exam.

Tilak has completed his first year as a university-level engineering student and holds a black belt in Taekwondo.

Sujan excels in competitive Taekwondo as a black belt and is a science major in college.

Anisha will complete her college studies this year with a degree in Humanities and has worked caring for orphaned babies at Bal Mandir for two years. She is planning to do further studies in Social Work in Germany.

Ashok started a successful business, Brothers Café, two years ago while completing college. The business now supports him while he does graduate work in Information Technology.

Sumitra is finishing her college degree in Business Management and is a teacher in our Adult Education program at the Chelsea Center. She earned her black belt in Taekwondo and has competed in tournaments.

While finishing his college degree in Science Rajan has studied photography. He tutors students and has started a popular Photography Club which meets on Saturdays at the Chelsea Center. He loves teaching.

Lalit is about to finish year one at university where he studies computer science. A serious student, he received the top score in his last year of college among all our children. A gentle soul, he also has mastered Taekwondo.

Ankit taught in the adult education program at the Chelsea Center for two years. He has devoted his last six months as a candidate for the British Army’s prestigious Gorkha Division. In February he will be inducted.  

Lalita was rescued from indentured servitude at 12. She completed her degree in hotel management, learned Mandarin and was an intern at a four-star Hotel in Beijing China when the coronavirus came.

Srijana has studied computer science for six years. She hopes to complete university in IT in Australia starting in 2021. She started a popular IT club at the Chelsea Center where members develop programs and teach younger children.

Ishwor scored the 24th highest out of over 800 students in the entrance exam for medical technology. He is in his second year of five for lab technician studies at a medical college.

Sabina studied German at the Chelsea Center and has completed one year in Germany as an au pair. She has now been hired as an apprentice in social work at a large German orphanage. After one more year she will be eligible to attend nursing school in Germany.

Sushma is in her third year at University for her bachelor’s degree in social work. She has been a teacher in our adult education classes at the Chelsea Center for two years.

Sarita was rescued from indentured servitude at 14 years of age and had not attended school much before then. She has now completed college with a degree in humanities and has learned Japanese. She has been accepted to university there and will attend after the coronavirus pandemic is over.

During college Himal was the House Manager for Volunteer Nepal. He is now studying information technology in Brisbane, Australia.

Nama plays basketball for Nepal’s National Team. He is in his fourth year of college as a Humanities student where he has received a full scholarship. He has earned his Basketball License as a referee and also coaches at his alma mater, Skylark School.

Dhiraj is in his final semester towards his bachelor’s degree in computer science in Sydney Australia. He has worked a sixty-hour a week job, which he loves, since his arrival two years ago. This has paid all of his tuition as well as supported him. He never took a break between semesters so that he could finish quickly. Last semester he scored a 4.0 GPA and he will attend graduate school there in CS.

Education has always been Anita’s greatest desire and she has always tutored her Papa’s House brothers and sisters. She has completed high school and will begin college as a science major after the coronavirus. She was named Miss Skylark in her last year of high school.

Puja is a student of social work at a university in Australia. She has two part-time jobs that she attends to daily. She plans to be famous in the academic sector of social work.

Chham started a successful trekking company three years ago and has received his government license as a high-altitude guide. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work. During the pandemic he has returned to his poor mountain village to teach and rebuild dilapidated structures, just as he did after the major earthquake in 2015.

Anumaya has spent the past year working at an 800-year-old family-owned winery/estate in Portugal. She earned her college degree in hotel management. This job was arranged through a Portuguese man of high honor and long-time friend of Nepal Orphans Home. The staff is small, and each member works in every department to learn it all. Some of the other staff began there at her age and are now approaching retirement. They entertain guests from around the world. She is learning Portuguese and so much about life.

Apsara is about to finish her first year of computer science in university.  She is a tutor, and a very devoted student who always achieves high marks. She hopes to do graduate work in America in two more years.

Sita is an artist. This is her passion, but it comes after her studies in business management and her teaching position in adult education at the Chelsea Center. She loves teaching, and the smiles she receives when an auntie really understands something for the first time.

Ram Saran has completed his undergraduate courses in hotel management. He was an apprentice at a luxury hotel in Beijing when the coronavirus came, and he returned to Nepal. He was learning Mandarin in order to perform his duties. His two passions are photography and Taekwondo, and he managed to work on both daily while off duty from his job. He is spending time during the pandemic back in his village where he has elderly parents who are extremely poor. He has been handling the farm work for them. They could not support him and sent him away when he was young. He appreciates his time with them now.

Rabindra is in his final year of a Bachelor of Business course at university. He has been the bookkeeper for the Papa’s House NGO office for almost two years. He is also in charge of our Outreach program that cares for the welfare and education of children living in a home for the blind. In addition to other work there, he tutors the children.

During college where Ram studied hotel management, he worked as a lifeguard at a small resort. During the winter he had other duties to perform. Then he joined an advanced program in hotel management, learned Mandarin and went to Beijing, where he started his training in a Japanese restaurant in a paid position for a one-year degree program. He will return there when the coronavirus allows.

Kamal has worked hard during his college years so that he could, with help from NOH, support his four cousins in school. He attended teacher training and earned a job teaching our aunties in the Chelsea Center. He did this for one year and saved his money to attend university. However, the coronavirus came, and he returned to his village to be with his elderly mother. His village is one of the poorest in Nepal. The Maoists killed his father when he was young, and he was sent to Kathmandu and taken in by NOH. Now back in his village, he has used his money to build a small home for his mother.

Anu has become a gifted teacher of the adult women at the Chelsea Center. She is serious about her trade. During the lockdown in Nepal she has taught a number of the women daily, online. She is making a big difference in the lives of many.

Sapana (formerly Rita) has worked for a finance company for three years and has a degree in computer science. She has learned German but was recently offered a job at a prestigious old winery/estate in Portugal near where her friend AnuMaya is working. She will leave Nepal after the coronavirus ends.

Kamana is happy—always! She worked at Nepal’s very first Mexican restaurant for a year while attending college, after the Mexican family that started it spent a Saturday with us. They were impressed by her personality and smile and asked if she would like a job. She has a college degree in management, and a world of plans after the coronavirus ends.

Bhumika completed college and is almost finished with her first year of computer science in university. A very petite young woman, she has the warmest smile you would ever receive. Serious in her studies, she has always been full of good cheer and has felt that life is good, and the world is her oyster.

*****

There has been a lot written in the past few years about orphanages and children’s homes. That they are inherently bad. The idea of institutionalizing children is, of course, something to avoid if possible. But what has not been adequately addressed, it seems to me, is how to care for the children rescued from slavery, whose parents sold them and refuse to have them back. And the children who have lost one parent, and then when the remaining parent remarries, the child is abandoned. And the children during the Maoist insurgency who lost a father and were in harm’s way living in destitution with a mother abused by soldiers. And the children with parents so poor that eating at all was insecure, and so they sent their children away.

NOH has always offered to support the children who have some relatives with them in their villages, since we recognize that all children, if possible, should grow up with a parent in a nurturing home.  When this is not possible, Nepal Orphans Home has provided for them, living up to our mission: 

Nepal Orphans Home attends to the welfare of children in Nepal who are orphaned, abandoned, or not supported by their parents. NOH provides for the children’s basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing, as well as schooling and health care, and administers to their emotional needs with love and compassion, allowing them to grow up in a nurturing environment. Our mission is not just to rescue children from abject poverty, but to enable the children to develop and realize their potentials.

Whenever possible NOH has also worked hard to reunite children with a parent, or parents if they exist, and to help them, over the years, to establish a relationship. We have encouraged the children to spend a month each year during the Dashain festival time in their village to better understand the daily life and what their situation might have been.

We are immensely proud of all our children. Each child feels special among their many brothers and sisters, and each has achieved a high standard of character development and understanding of life.

We are proud of what we have been doing, with your help, for children in need since 2004.

Thank you,
Papa

Michael’s CV stories: April 17th

An update on our situation in Nepal:  We have been in a lockdown period for about three weeks now. What this means is the only time that you may be on the street is in the early mornings to buy vegetables, grains, and staples from your neighborhood seller. The quantity and quality of the vegetables have been quite good, but the cost about triple what it is normally. Before sunrise, a few licensed vegetable wholesalers can go to the wholesale market and load their trucks for distribution in neighborhood shops. A licensed milk truck is also allowed to pick up milk from the dairy and bring it to the local shops. From two days ago, bread has been brought to our local shops from a small bakery here in Dhapasi.


Along a street in Dhapasi

Shortly after sunrise people will go to their nearest or favorite neighborhood shop to get what they need. In front of the shops, circles have been spray painted to mark where one is allowed to stand. You hop-scotch your way forward as people are served. The shops will have ribbon crisscrossing the opening to keep people away from the counter. You call out your order, the owner will place the items in a basket that you stretch to retrieve, then you put the money in the same basket and the transaction is finished. People wear masks, and some gloves. The shopkeepers spray the money with a disinfectant when it is in the basket. They are wearing gloves.


Waiting to make a purchase from a shop in Dhapasi

The people of Nepal are taking this situation with the gravity it deserves. Our only chance as a nation is to prevent the CV from coming into the country. Sadly, combating it would be Quixotic at best. Everyone knows that it would be tantamount to kicking a massive beehive if the CV spreads here. According to the latest government report, there are presently 16 confirmed cases in Nepal, I believe all attributed to people coming from other countries. I do not know how testing is done, perhaps only when someone shows up sick, but the government has said that contact searches are being done for each case.

It seems to be that natural disasters and plagues bring out the essence of people. Good people seem to be better, wanting to reach out and help others, while bad people become worse. The past three weeks have brought both to my door. The bad situations seem explosive, the pressure of restricted movement, lack of money, poor nutrition, and uncertainty build until something sets the person off.

And there are small gestures that reveal a person has been thinking about their lives and where they fit in humanity. They wish to reach out to others, even if behind masks and at two meters distant. They do so with their softening eyes, a wink, a nod, and their patience in line. This is a big tell for me, as people in Nepal tend to elbow their way to the front of any line, resulting in loud chaos.

There is a lot of need now and it is growing. This is a cash society, and when you have no cash you get nothing, be it medical care or food. NOH has been supporting our usual array of people; at least those that we can reach. There is one young friend of ours, a nurse, now unemployed while caring full time for a mother in her last stage of cancer. There is no father, and there are two younger sisters, neither who work. We have been unable to reach each other so that I can get money to her for her mom’s care. The police and army patrol the streets and you do not want to be out of your own neighborhood after the early morning lift for food, or even out period. We will think of a solution to getting money to her in the next day.

As we previously reported, we managed to get most of our children back to their villages before the lock down. Those who have a guardian, an aunt, in few cases a mother, a grandparent, or older sibling are staying with them. Some who had none of the above are staying with their friends in their homes. All are well and out of harm’s way. They help with the daily work in the fields, with livestock, cooking, and cleaning. We have a good network of communication among all our children and staff.

One of our older daughters called me the other day to ask if we could help a young girl in her village. Her description of the situation caused me profound sadness, followed by determined joy. My daughter Urmila learned from neighbors that a young girl named Shristi, has been abandoned by her mother and father. The parents, uneducated and poor, split from one another. Both quickly found new partners. Shristi was with her mother, but then her mother’s new partner said she could not stay, and her mother told her to go live with her father. The father and his partner both told her to go stay with her grandmother.  The grandmother told Urmila that she is tired of caring for her, saying her father is only my stepson and so the girl is not even my kin. So, the grandmother is now refusing to care for her. Urmila found Shristi sitting under a tree and crying. If she goes to either parent’s house, they beat her and send her away. When she goes back to her grandmother’s, she scolds her, calls her names, and says she will not care for her anymore. Imagine if you will, being Shristi, your parents beat you and tell you to go away. She is only nine or ten years old.  No one will feed her. She is out on her own, no house, no water, no other clothes, no food, no toilet, and no love. At what age could any of us handle that? So I instructed Urmila to take her in and provide her with comfort and explain to her that she can come and live at NOH, where young girls live among many friends, are encouraged to dream big, are able to live in security, sleep in a warm and comfortable bed, eat nutritious food, go to school, laugh, play, and feel loved and appreciated by everyone in the family. Her nightmare is over. Urmila came to us when she was seven, thirteen years ago, and in another year will graduate from dental school. Now it is Shristi’s turn.

Shristi’s story is all too common for us. In village life, illiteracy, poverty, hunger, and alcohol turn people mean. They have maybe never known love of a parent and thus never muster the same for their children, at least their girl children. Little boys are maybe abused, but they are also kept close in order to help the family one day, to marry and bring in a wife to work as well.

Shristi will be one of nine young girls who will be coming to us as soon as the country re-opens. Each girl has pretty much the same story, either sold or at the edge of being sold, or abandoned. But these girls will all recover their childhood and begin to blossom with great potential. They each will begin to exude joy, love, and compassion for each other, and like the hundreds before them they will feel the love of family and be dedicated, happy young women. Knowing this was the determined joy I mentioned earlier.

Nepal hopes to open by May 1st. Then we are all together again, in our state of blissful cooperation.

We wish you all the absolute best during your personal time of suffering and loss.

Thank you.

Papa

January 2020

On Sunday, February 1, 2004 a 51-year-old experiencing the world beyond America for the first time in his life arrived in Nepal. He had prepared for this moment for the past year by slowly withdrawing from society, beyond his family, and looking inward to sift through his life and pack it away in hope of arriving in Nepal as empty a vessel as possible.

Here is an attempt to sum up the past 16 years. The years have been good, that much comes easy to this report. This morning as I write we have 32 of our children attending a picnic, 14 more from class 10 at school in an exam prep course, 57 children at college, 11 children in 4 different countries in work/study programs, several here in Dhapasi as full time staff, and approximately 30 more children who have married and are living mostly back in the villages of their husbands, and who have provided NOH with around 9 grandchildren.

And so, let us look back over the years.

2004: February

Arrived in Trisoli, a small and remote village as a volunteer. It profoundly changed my life and I knew before leaving that I would return to Nepal. This I managed to do by late June.

2004: August

Returned to Nepal and settled in Kathmandu.

Took over management of a home with 26 children living in miserable conditions. The children did not attend school, but rather were required to panhandle for money and food. They were sick, malnourished, and ridden with scabies and other skin conditions. They also smiled with a radiance like I had not seen before.

The children and a few of the “guardians” of the home The amazing Chham

2004: Christmas

By Christmas our 26 children had grown to 37.

For Christmas the children received a metal box filled with gifts, practical and fun as well.

2005

By spring of 2005 we had 50 children in the home. Known locally as “Papa’s House” We sent them all to an English Medium school. While the children were at school we began a free school in our home with close to 60 village children who I had noticed were playing in the streets during the day.

2005: January poor village children attending our new free school.

2005: March rapid growth of our free school after receiving a sizeable Christmas donation.

2005: April our children in the morning ready to walk to their new school.

2006

My older brother Peter and his wife Boo came for a visit. They were moved by the children and our small village school. They also recognized the need for us to become a registered charity in the states. Boo took this challenge on and in August of 2007 NOH was incorporated in North Carolina. The first NOH Annual Report was for the year 2006. In February 2008, NOH received its 501(c)3 status from IRS, which was retroactive from August 29, 2005, which meant earlier donations to NOH from that date were tax deductible. The Board of Directors was created with Peter as President and Boo as Treasurer. The other board members were made up of friends and family who were very involved in the work we were doing.

Each year our operations expanded to help more children. In 2006 Papa’s House moved to a new, larger building to accommodate the growing family. Our school, Papa’s Trinity Academy, enabled more than 200 more children from the community to attend for free.

Our Papa’s Trinity Academy’s new home where our children also lived. Our dedicated teachers.

A morning assembly at PTA and some of our older children who attended the Science Lab School.

2006: Christmas

Our Family on a cold Christmas morning Gift giving Christmas
First Christmas for some, third for others.

2007

In 2007 NOH was asked to take over a nearby destitute orphanage with a dozen children. Another building was leased in Dhapasi for a second Papa’s House and additional staff were hired. Papa’s Trinity Academy leased a new building for its school as the enrollment had grown to over 340 children, the vast majority attending for free.

Children we took in Expanded teaching staff

NOH began a collaboration with Society Welfare Action Nepal (SWAN), a Nepali nongovernmental organization operating in the Dang district, some 12 hours away by bus, to rescue Kamlari girls from indentured servitude. NOH renovated two buildings in a tiny village called Narti and opened the Lawajuni (New Beginning) Home, providing shelter, food, clothing, schooling, and health care for girls rescued by SWAN.  Over the year more than 60 girls who had been sold into slavery came to the Lawajuni Home, gaining their freedom, recovering their childhoods and attending school. NOH was able to bring 12 of these girls to Dhapasi, raising the number of children provided for in Papa’s Dhapasi Houses to 70.


The two homes

Within one year of opening we had 100 girls rescued and living here. In 2007 we brought twelve to Dhapasi. The first of many to come in the following years.



Just some of the first girls to be rescued from indentured servitude

2008

In 2008, concerns with the management and direction of Papa’s Trinity Academy forced NOH to cease its support of the school. The children of Papa’s House began to attend the Skylark School, an English-medium private school in Dhapasi.  NOH then initiated support of two schools in remote villages in the Ramechhap district, the Shree Sham primary school in Dumrikharka and the Mudkeswori primary school in Votetar, funding hot lunch programs and contributing to teacher salaries and school supplies for over 140 children, most of whom are Dalits (untouchables).


This is the Shree Shram School in Ramechhap in April for the New Years beginning session.

Both schools suffered from a lack of attendance. We provided the hot lunch program as an incentive for the children to attend, as well as the supplies necessary for them to benefit in class.




The Mudkeswori School where we began the same program for the children’s education.

In addition to our educational support in the remote village of Dumrikhaka we also began a women’s collective for the village.

There were several environmental issues that severely diminished the quality of life there. Cooking was done indoors without ventilation over fires of twigs, brush, and trash. The land surrounding the village was simply an open container for debris. With the help of FoST, a Kathmandu NGO striving to raise awareness in environmental health and sustainable technologies, NOH introduced a system to make virtually smokeless briquettes for cooking, and in addition retrofitted the interior clay stoves with ventilation. The debris and trash casually spread everywhere was the primary source for these briquettes. The incentive for doing this was two pronged, first to increase the health of the people and environment and secondly to allow the women’s collective to begin selling these briquettes to other villages for income.


2009

In early 2009, NOH brought another 26 rescued Kamlari girls from Lawajuni to Dhapasi, where the education was significantly better. We opened a third home, known as Papa’s Kalpana (Imagine) House. The girls moved into the building originally housing our boys, who relocated to a newly expanded and renovated home on the same grounds, Papa’s Sambhav Possibilities) House for boys. Later in the same year, 28 more girls rescued by SWAN (Society Action Welfare Nepal) came from our Lawajuni homes to live in NOH’s fourth and newest home, Papa’s Gumba (Sanctuary) House.

A truly wonderful event occurred in early 2009 when one of our Volunteers happened to be creating a website for Sanctuary for Children. The founders, Amanda Tapping and Jill Bodie, learned about us and decided to visit. Sanctuary for Children (S4K) had recently formed and owing to Amanda and Jill’s celebrity recognition in the film industry it garnered a multitude of fans in support of their mission to help children.

Amanda surrounded by some of the children Jill with a couple of our older girls

The support from Sanctuary for Kids, which was to last for eight years when they closed S4K   and dispersed the balance of funds to a number of organizations like ours, allowed us in 2009 to open our new Sanctuary House and bring an additional 28 rescued Kamlari to live with us in Dhapasi.

Above and below some of our new children who arrived in 2009.


2010

By 2010 NOH was operating four homes in Dhapasi, all within a short walking distance of each other. Over half of the children then provided for in Papa’s Houses were rescued Kamlari girls.


Welcoming new girls and boys

The boys came when their orphanage was closed These girls were brought from Lawajuni

NOH also began supporting three more outreach programs in 2010. The Bigu Nuns Monastery, a school for Sherpa children, and some additional local community support, from medical to educational.


Bigu Nuns’ Monastery


Sherpa School

Since 2005, NOH has also operated a volunteer program. With placements in reputable NGO’s and local community projects, Volunteer Nepal grew steadily by way of the testimony’s volunteers took back home with them.  They described life-changing experiences with us and felt they had received more than promised in every aspect. The income from Volunteer Nepal helped provide revenue for our expenses and support for local organizations allowing us to expand both our outreach programs and the care for our growing family. Volunteer Nepal continues to this day.


Papa’s House Children in 2010

2011

2011 began with 113 children, 86 girls and 27 boys.

Additional community support in 2011included a local outreach. NOH paid weekly visits and provided medical intervention and nutritional support for mothers and children in a neglected slum in Kathmandu known as Dalu.


At home the children were learning to prepare, grow, and cultivate vegetables.

As well as cultivating a crop of great perfomances at school.

Ishwor 86.22% Samjhana 100% Srijana 95%
Apsara 93% Rupa 94% Khusbu 94.83% Sita 91.56%
Kamal 82.5% Sangita 93% Kanchi 99%
Sumitra 88.4% Asha 90.88% Anisha 88.8%

And this year the first of our children to begin college.

It was an early, rainy, August morning when all the children walked together with Hikmat to his first day of college.

Christmas Morning 2011

2012

A fifth home, Indreni (Rainbow) House, was opened in early 2012. A total of 124 children now resided in Papa’s House’s. Even with all the growth, one constant has been the exceptional care our children receive. Papa’s House children are secure, happy members of a loving family.

Adding the Indreni House required us to Home School for one year the children who would be sitting there. Mrs. Sunita Pandey who is now our Director of Papa’s House was the sole teacher for them all. Her task would be with teaching them English and grade level subjects in order that they could attend the Skylark School the following year. These children ranged had little formal education and spoke the language of their villages.


We created uniforms for the children for their homeschool.

2013

2013 began with 135 children, 9 of them in college.

Maintaining all of our Outreach programs we continued to serve local needs as best we could. We raised the money to help a dying 16-year-old boy receive a new kidney, and care for him and his family for 1 year. Today he greets us each morning when he brings his son to Skylark school.


The donated kidney came from his mom. With operation supplies he waits.

NOH opened an after-school Vocational Training Center. Classes were held in Computer Hardware and Software, Guitar, Voice, and Harmonium, Tailoring, Beauty Salon, Motorcycle Repair, and Mobile Phone Repair.



NOH added to their list of Outreach Programs by beginning support of the Gholdunga Home for the Blind.

Money for rent, food, and salary for management was provided. All the children had exhaustive eye exams and as a result one young teenage girl had a corneal transplant.


The children and the home as we found them in 2013.


Just recently at Papa’s House we celebrated some of the holding children’s birthdays.

But the greatest event of the year occurred on August 8th, when we brought Hope Angel home from the hospital. Only 13 weeks old and twice having battled back from death. Hope is our Jedi Warrior, and my inspiration to be a better person.

From an Update in 2013, excerpts from a letter to my cousin Anne.

Our precious little girl has been named Hope following your suggestion, but I have heard many of our smaller children whisper to her ‘Angel’, as if they know something. She has found a way to touch each of our hearts in exactly the way we did not know we needed them touched. Hope radiates love and courage; watching some of our older girls talk to her, feed her and hold her with such beatific smiles in the darkening evening’s golden hues is priceless.

Our family has closed around Hope like we do all our children. A new child arrives and their heart beats out of synch; they are feeling alone, afraid, and then the children draw them in and the pain that has brought them here evaporates, and within a few hours they smile as their heart becomes part of the collective beat of all the children.

This evening with her new Mom Anita radiating love upon her, Hope lay on the bed and surveyed all her sisters cooing over her, she gave a crooked smile, took a deep breath and went to sleep. She had had a long day.

Hope is our family’s finest gift ever; the road ahead will not be easy, but it will be paved in love with all our children sharing her battles. One day the unique spirit of Hope’s will be known to many. Little Hope has a big destiny ahead.


Hope today with her Dad, Sam


Meeting friends


And with Mom, Anita

2014

2014 began with 141 children. There were 16 children in college.

Some of the college children Cila won a full basketball scholarship

Our Chelsea Education and Community Center began teaching local women during the daytime. They came to learn English, simple math to help them with their small shops, and some to learn to read and write.

The women arriving early for school Tilak and his first shoe

In the afternoon classes we added a course in Shoe Making which resulted in our children opening Papa’s Shoe Shop which provided the kids an income and us all of our school shoes. The children also made shoes for some other school children and a few of the homes that we support.

We opened Hope’s Café at the Skylark School in order to provide our children with a hot and nutritious lunch and to well over 100 other Skylark children.

Children in front of Hope’s Café at lunch time Hope

Our Outreach Programs expanded to include the EDUC School which provides a good education for children of street vendors. Kanti Children’s Hospital Oncology unit to provide medicine and grant final wishes to the children there whose parents are destitute and cannot provide the medicines themselves. Om’s House, a small orphanage that cares for children with disabilities, and OCPF a small orphanage near us. We also extended more support to local families in great need. Hope’s Fund was established to provide primarily medical support or living support to those with disabilities.

EDUC Kanti Children’s Hospital
Om’s House OCPF
Local families in need It was a great year of service and Hope

2015

2015 Began with 136 children. 25 of them in college.

This was a most uncommon year, with two devastating earthquakes; political strikes resulting in months of severe shortages of petrol, cooking gas, food supplies; but it was also a good year too.

January

Our Education and Community Center purchased 36 laptops and began a Math curriculum using Khan Academy online.

Board Member Ted Seymour guided this programs construction with help from Emily Gabbard a Math whiz who volunteered with us.

Ted and Emily with some students Binod, one of our math teachers

February


Our first purchased home. The boys moved in.

February 14th

At the annual Valentines Day Celebration at Skylark Anita was on one side in front of the stage watching with Hope while I was on the opposite side taking photos. Suddenly Hope left Anita’s arms, walking solo for the first time and she came towards me landing and laughing in my outstretched arms. A marathon first walk distance. A walk that will never be forgotten. Others with camera’s caught it on film for us.

March


We opened the Papa’s House Tailoring Shop, owned and managed by our girls.

April

The school year ended in April with 14 of our children scoring between 1st and 3rd in their classes.

Ranked second in their classes Ranked third in their classes


Ranked first in their class

April 18th

One Billion (Girls) Rising came to Dhapasi

April 25th

Just before noon a 7.8 magnitude earthquake would change our lives forever. 9000 people dead, 22,000 people injured.

That same afternoon our children began a clean-up, while neighbors sat huddled in the middle of our grounds, far away from structures, too much in shock to do anything.

By the next day NOH organized its Volunteer Nepal department to go to remote villages that we supported and bring blankets, money and other supplies. The journeys were difficult because of landslides, and the destruction so widespread, but our staff made it through, and they were often the first people to reach those in need.

Aftershocks in the high 6’s were frequent. Our kids showed great strength, and adaptability to living without many things, and prevailing fear among the general population. The children’s support for one another was very touching. We refused to sit around paralyzed like most and each day we strived to bring more order with the clean-up and attempts to resume normalcy.

April 30th

Hope’s Birthday!


We decided to celebrate it well.

May 2nd


We welcomed new children, sister and brother Samita and Sanjeev.

May 11th

A second earthquake. 7.3 magnitude. Our neighborhood below.


The second earthquake opened fresh wounds, so we doubled down on arranging picnics and fashion shows, sports days, and other fun activities and made adventure from the shortages.



August 13th

Another new child arrived. She is from Gorkha, a remote mountainous region that was devastated by the earthquake and had lost her family.

Sarita in front, day of arrival Same day, flashing the peace sign

July and through the rest of the year. Political strife closed our southern border which resulted in severe shortages in petrol, food supplies, cooking gas, all transported goods and goods from India. The Chinese border remained closed due to the earthquake’s landslides. As fall came on the electric was reduced to 8-10 hours per day.

2015 was a year to remember, for it taught each of us about our personal strength, and the power of love for your family.

2016

We began the year with 132 children (39 in college).

This year was notable for the hard work and support that our Outreach Program provided.

Donations poured in as a result of last year’s two earthquakes, allowing us to assist many communities, organizations, and families.

Earthquake rebuilding support was given to

  1. Mother Sister Nepal, an orphanage opened in a remote area to house children orphaned by the earthquake.

     
  2. The total cost of building a new school at the Dumrikhaka Village that we have supported for many years.

     
  3. The Bigu Buddhist Nuns’ Monastery.


     
  4. A boy’s home in Charikot, part of the Bal Mandir network of 9 Children’s Homes.

     
  5. Chaturali Village Medical Clinic.
  6. Home and School in Ghorka, a remote mountain region devastated by the quakes.
  7. Home in Trisoli.
  8. Several families homes in our own community.
  9. The home of our Tutung Volunteer Host family.

In April we welcomed Ranjana into our home.

In May we sent two of our older boys to bring rescue supplies to a Chepong Community of 29 families that had no food and were living on nettle soup.

In June we took hope to Boston in order to have her first operation and to be fitted with state-of-the-art prosthetics.

In August we broke ground on our new Education and Community Center. Early in 2016 NOH President Peter Hess submitted a proposal in response to a request from a Swiss Charity organization. Peter wrote a compelling work outlining the benefit to NOH and the Dhapasi Community if we were able to build a new Center and the grant was approved.


The new center was built on the grounds of our Boy’s Possibilities House

Meanwhile all our other Outreach Programs continued unabated.

2017

2017 began with 132 children, 44 of whom are in college.

In the summer of 2017, following board meetings in Dhapasi, the NOH Board of Directors approved the Strategic Vision of Nepal Orphans Home.  In the fall the in-country operations of Nepal Orphans Home become the Papa’s House Nongovernmental Organization (NGO), rather than an International Nongovernmental Organization (INGO).

All the children, from our youngest Hope Angel at four years, to those now hitting twenty-five and older, have had personal breakthrough moments, epiphanies of both mind and soul, catalyzed by situations good or challenging, as they continue to develop character and skills ahead of their ages. Profound moments of realization for the individual and joyful moments for the rest of us to share with them.

Five of our boys won scholarships to a college noted for its basketball program.  Bimal has turned his years’ worth of Saturday morning art instruction by a kind College of Fine Arts instructor, into some captivating and technically advanced paintings in his own style, which he has been selling to very appreciative viewers.

Urmila won a full scholarship and placed first out of hundreds taking an admission test to Kantipur Dental College; four of our nine advanced Taekwondo students tested and won their Black Belts; the others have not yet tested due to time conflicts but will soon.

Our first black belt holders Bimal, the artist
Urmila in 2017 and on right in 2007 at our Lawajuni Home

In less obvious fronts we have witnessed the graceful transition of those leaving their teen years and displaying the best of adulthood in how they balance college, work, friends, group living, independence and inter-dependence, maintaining their individuality, and growing even more confident in themselves and their choices for a future.

There are few rewards as fulfilling as sharing the evolution of your children from bundles of energy living in the moment, whose attention span is as brief as a butterfly, to young adults full of quiet conviction and a desire to return to you their thanks for always being there for them.

The NOH Business Incubator program helped our sons Ashok and Dhiraj open the “Brothers’ Café” on the grounds of Skylark School. With a student body of over 500 non-NOH students, half of which have the means to buy a good lunch, and over thirty teachers wishing for a variety to choose from for their mid-day meal, we felt this to be a perfectly positioned location for the Brothers to begin their dream.

2017 2007 Ashok 4th from the left, Dhiraj far right

Ashok, on the left, finished three years of college, has taught the adult women at our Chelsea Center for two years, and is a member of the Papa’s House Board of Directors. He recently received a scholarship at Thames College to study IT and has finished one half of a three-year program.

Dhiraj, on the right, has always excelled academically and has helped to develop some of the computer programs taught at the Chelsea Center. He has finished two years of college in Science and is taking a year off to contemplate his future while getting his TOFEL certificate, and exploring opportunities in Medicine, or IT. As an update, Dhiraj will graduate from an IT college in Australia in February 2021. He works very hard and supports himself entirely.

In April the completed Chelsea Education and Community Center was officially opened.

The newly completed CECC An American Embassy Rep and Peter Hess, President of Nepal Orphans Home

Dedication speech by Mr. Roger Biggs representing the Charitable Foundation that provided the grant. And on the right, local woman filling the main hall of the new CECC.

2018

We began the year with 125 Children 51 of them in college.

NOH spent the year in reflection and considering what if any changes we wish to make going forward. A new Director of NOH was named, Mrs. Sunita Pandey who already had seven years working for us while serving in every department.

In our Outreach Program we continued our care for all the existing programs but informed several that the funding was going to be reduced in 2018, and then again in 2019. We increased our local support for individuals and families in need, and we increased our support for the babies at Bal Mandir Orphanage.

One of the babies at Bal Mandir A young boy we took to the Jaipur Clinic in India

NOH enrolled nine of our college students into an apprenticeship program at Park Village Academy under a 6-month program in Hotel Management. The hours spent there allowed for their regular college classes to continue.

The Business Incubator Program helped the older college students to open “Papa’s House Pies” on the grounds of the Chelsea Center, and provided a new loan to the “Brother’s Café” for expansion.

The highlight of the year was the marriage of Anita and Sam. Old friends from 3 continents arrived to witness this remarkable day. Soon thereafter they moved to North Carolina to begin their family’s journey together. Hope absolutely loves it there.

In the fall Hope Angel had her second operation at Shriner’s and came through giving the “thumbs up” while still in recovery. She is the bravest little person I know.

2019

103 children in our Dhapasi homes 57 of them in college.

We welcomed two new children, a brother and sister, in April.


Arrival of Saurob and Renukha


Later that same month with new friends

In April NOH opened its Sanctuary College Girls House to include girls who wished to fully commit to their studies and achieve academic excellence. Twenty-four girls reside there.

Our Outreach program added a small orphanage that housed 10 girls aged 5-8. In addition to providing food, each afternoon two of our college girls go there to mentor the children.

At the end of 2019 NOH ceased to support the Dumrikhaka school. After 10 years of receiving NOH support, including building a new school, it was determined that the village was able to maintain the hot lunch, and teacher support programs on their own.  We reduced support, as planned, for several other Outreach projects feeling confident that these programs could now be self-sustaining.

The Chelsea Education and Community Center, under the Direction of Prashanna Bista flourished. Well over 200 community women continue to receive an education there as well as experiencing workshops in life skills and using the center as a nucleus for celebrating some of the important holidays each year.

In service to our own children the CECC has two hours of daily academics taught by highly educated teachers. The children also have had numerous workshops in life skills and have started training in a variety of media programs.

2019 was a year in which we tightened up our operations, shored up continued educational opportunities for our staff and older children, fine-tuned our Human Resources program for our 42 staff members, over half of whom are our grown children, enabling them savings plans, health benefits, and access to additional training.

We feel that going into 2020 we are prepared to welcome more children into NOH while creating academic and vocational opportunities for our existing children through collaborations and contacts made in Germany, Australia, China, and Portugal.

By way of summation I wish to share this. We frequently suggest to the children essays to write. 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. Rarely has love been so eloquently expressed.

Thank you all for so many years of support. Because of you the lives of hundreds of children have gone from tragic to beautiful. Sixteen years recorded and generations left to go.

Love,
​Papa

December 2nd, 2019

The last three months have seen many changes in the lives of our children, long-held dreams coming to fruition, new paths planned out and begun. Our family possesses a vibrant sense of energy, pumped up and sustained by witnessing the accomplishments of individuals and recognizing the results of their efforts toward goals which were born as fragile dreams, but piece by piece became solid realities.

 

Lalita, Sandesh, Ram C., Ram S., and Ramesh receiving a Puja from the family the day before they left for Beijing to work as apprentices in Hotel Management. They spent two years in college here in Hotel Management, then attended a Beijing-affiliated college in Nepal for six months of further training and Mandarin lessons. They will be in China at one of many four-star hotels as apprentices for two years. They receive room and board, and a generous wage. They have classroom time each weekday followed by their shift, but have Saturdays and Sundays free. The college has an excellent placement program upon graduation.

*****


​Sabina at her Puja and at the terminal entrance where we had to let go and wish her Godspeed.

Sabina came to us when she was seven. It seems as if she always knew what she wanted to do with her life. She kept a steady focus on school—in attitude, behavior, cheerfulness, and generosity (with both time and energy) for others.  She is going to be a nurse. She is now in Germany having completed a German Language course and signing a contract with a wonderful family to be their au pair. She lives with the family, works 30 hours a week in care of their two young sons, and attends a school for advancing her German. After one year she is eligible to attend college and will be granted a resident visa to study and work. There she will become a nurse. We have five other girls who will be following her to Germany in January.

*****

And then there is Pupu who has kept us laughing for the past 14 years. She would find humor and a perfect delivery for it even if we were walking to the gallows together. Cherished by everyone she has met in her life, she will remain forever in our hearts.


I was honored to be often imitated by her.

Dawn Kumari, her Mom for all these years.

Puja, who I have called Pupu since her arrival, was accepted into college in Sydney, Australia to study Social Work. She left us on Thanksgiving Day in the company of our son Dhiraj who himself was accepted into college for IT in Sydney eighteen months ago. He came home to visit us during our month of Dashain. When Dhiraj first set his sights on Australia, he was encouraged by Laurie Levine and her husband Stan. Laurie has been a part of the NOH family for ten years. Once Dhiraj was accepted, based upon his excellent academic records, Laurie and Stan who live in Sydney, helped him to make connections. They introduced him to a friend who has a small restaurant chain and the rest was made possible by Dhiraj. His attitude before going to Sydney was to never say no. This applied to his work ethic and he proved himself indispensable to the restaurant and has made an excellent income which has allowed him to pay for his own college fees. Stan and Laurie treat him like a son and are very proud, as are we, of his accomplishments. We will next meet in February of 2021 when he graduates; he asked for my attendance and I will find a way to make that happen.


​Mina, Laurie, and Dhiraj

*****

And Anumaya! Anumaya came to NOH shortly after Pupu and they became instant best friends. I have written about them several times, one of the more memorable stories was how Pupu used to terrorize Anumaya at night. Pupu would climb into bed with Anu after she had fallen asleep and begin to whisper ghost stories complete with sound effects which would bring Anumaya groggily awake to Pupu’s story’s crescendo. Her heartbeat beyond measure, she would realize it was only Pupu’s work by the laughter emanating from Pupu who would be hiding under the covers cackling away.

Anumaya, who has always had a penchant for organizing anything and everyone, will be leaving us December the 10th. She was chosen among four of our children to become part of a small staff at an 800-year-old Portuguese family estate whose current generation of owners have a celebrated wine orchard and guests from all over the world. The owners are exceptionally kind people whose staff has been unchanged for many decades. They were eager to reach out to our children and offer this opportunity.  Once Anumaya has settled in, they are anxious to present the same offer to other children of NOH in the making of the next generation of their family staff. We have our dear friend Rui Peres to thank for the introductions and a year’s worth of navigating the immigration requirements.

*****


​Himal, second from left

Rabindra, tallest in photo on left, offering a blessing

The day after we celebrated Thanksgiving, Himal left for Maleny, Australia, near Brisbane.  Maleny is a small town, unique in many ways.  For instance, by their own ordinance, the businesses close at 4pm each day so that everyone can be with their families and attend community events like little league games. The town is very invested in their school system and two years ago they reached out to NOH through our Volunteer Nepal branch and asked us to arrange a two-week stay with us, volunteering in remote as well as local placements. As I recall there were twenty-four who came, ten adult chaperones among them. The two weeks forged an incredible bond between our Volunteer Staff and themselves, so much so that the Maleny group raised enough money to invite the VN staff to Maleny for two weeks in a cultural exchange a year later. Himal was among the staff who went, and he fell in love with the town and its people, and they with him.

Himal has been working towards acceptance into an IT College in Brisbane and to qualify for a visa once accepted. It has taken a year of setbacks and disappointments that would have stopped an ordinary person, but Himal is not that. Unflappable and eternally optimistic, he prevailed.

In the photo of the boys above are ten success stories. This photo was taken the day over a decade ago we took the boys into our home from another orphanage that the government had shut down. Each of them has been a pure delight to raise. From the left, Mahendra is now in the Hotel Management College and will leave for China next May. Himal is next, followed by Khemraj who almost two years ago started his own trekking company here in Kathmandu. Then is Kamal, who has taught at the Chelsea Center for the last two years and is now going back to University while working part time. He has raised four of his poor young cousins these last 18 months, an incredible act of kindness and determination. Next are Ramesh, who has left for China; Rabindra who has been the “Papa’s House” book-keeper for the past two years, and has raised his young nephew for the same amount of time; Ankit, who is now in training to join with the British Army, also teaches the adult women at the Chelsea Center; Nama, a great basketball player who just received a four-year scholarship to play in a well-known Kathmandu university and has traveled to other countries on the Junior National team of Nepal; Bishnu, who married last year and opened a small general store in his village as well as a chicken farm; and finally Lalit, who has been our top student in college and is now starting university, studying computer science.

*****

Five years ago, a young man was invited to our Thanksgiving celebration by another visiting friend of ours. He was moved by the overwhelming warmth of the event, by the humble meal, and mostly by the children’s joy and camaraderie. A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving the following year we received a donation from Jon along with a memorable letter expressing how touched he was to be among us the year before. He said he wished to give back to the children and with his donation provide a truly splendid meal. Jon has continued to do so and this year his generosity allowed for a beyond tantalizing spread. For the first time ever, we barbecued chicken for the growing number of non-vegetarians among us, and a delight for the invited guest who rarely if ever can experience such eating pleasure. Jon’s donation this year exceeded the cost of the meal, so we gave the balance to several of our invited guests who lead truly difficult lives, but always have a smile to offer.

Over one hundred of our children were present. As some of us were reminiscing, we counted close to fifty other children who have since returned to their villages and beyond, most with families of their own now. With 59 children in college and university, 43 children in classes 1-10, and one child in a special needs school, we are a family whose nest will never be emptied.

There is so much more that has happened over the past few months: exciting new staff, tremendous work at our Chelsea Center, accomplishments of our children, and new ideas adopted. There have been weddings, horizons lifted, goals set and others met. I will share all of this in January as we look back over 2019.

But we wished to get this transition-themed update out before Christmas. With so many children in higher education now, we have had to decrease our support for village schools, orphanages, and monasteries. Our work at Kanti Children’s Hospital will not be affected, nor the educational support for many poor children in our community and our Chelsea Center. As we have promised our children that each and every one of them will be able to attend college and university, or technical training, or work/study programs in other countries, the next few years will have increased costs; then things will begin to taper off and NOH will be able to be a source of deliverance for the many programs we supported in our outreach.

Thank you very much for your support.

Papa

June 2019

The new Skylark school year began in late April. It was met with unbridled enthusiasm. The children all having advanced were entering a new world of relative seniority and feeling themselves edging closer to a sense of self-determination typical of kids across the globe when a certain age is met. This idea of independence is enhanced in the western world as driver licenses are granted and the use of family cars literally delivers un-surveyed new territories to young folks. Here the transformation is more internalized; it consists of curious new feelings spoken among friends and some changes in habit. For the older girls it seems subduing; the often-frenetic schoolyard movements give way to sitting with friends and vaguely observing one’s environment. The graduating class typically withdraws itself from the rest as they feel compelled by need or tradition to feel hyper-vigilant of their studies. They, from the first day of school, straddle the threshold between the present and their post-Skylark future.


Our fourteen students who are in their last year of Skylark

*****

NOH has been providing care for a small orphanage near us for about ten years now. Three or four years ago one of our volunteers who spent her time at this orphanage began donating funds to us, targeted to the expanded care of this home. This year, in addition to her covering the lease of the home, Jennifer Hyett provided the funds to send their children to Skylark. Our girls' tailoring shop has made all the uniforms. They are a delightfully cute group of children who have seized this opportunity very appreciatively.


Sajan, the young man on the left, has been hired by Jennifer to bring the children to and from school. Sajan, who has CP, has been in this home for the last 12 years or so and is an excellent and protective big brother whom all the children adore.

*****

This year’s Skylark graduating class has had a beautiful transition period into independence. This is largely due to the very careful planning by Prashanna, the CECC Director, and Sunita Pandey the Director of Papa’s House. The graduates all found employment quickly or took on valuable (experiential) internships. One of our daughters, a good student, black belt holder, and all-around wonderful person, went back to her village where she has three sisters all married. Chiya decided to follow in their footsteps with a young man she met during Dashain two years ago.

Many well-planned workshops for our senior class last year enabled them to develop the confidence and presentation skills necessary for going out and seeking positions.

The graduates’ days are planned and full, and they continue to expand their practical and knowledge-based skills. The girls and boys occupy our separate college transition houses where they have learned how to live independent of a manager by dividing tasks that serve the whole. They have learned that the smooth functioning of the group depends upon the timely execution of each individual's duties. We are very proud of them all. There is no doubt that what they have learned far surpasses what most college freshmen have a clue about; and this will help them to achieve happiness and success in life, and when college begins in July.


Seventeen of our eighteen grads along with Mrs. Pandey, her husband and daughter on their graduation trip to Pokhara.

*****

We hired two of our recent graduates, Bimala and Mina, to spend their afternoons at an orphanage we were requested to help. There are 10 small girls between the age of 5 and 8 living there. For one reason or another the care for these children had the ebb and flow of the impermanence of funds, so sometimes there was food, sometimes not; sometimes school, sometimes not; sometimes clean clothes, sometimes not.

The lack of funds or a business plan for opening an orphanage never seems a consideration for many homes and the children pay the price. When alerted, the government agencies refrain is, “Are they better off here or on the street?” This is of course shameful. But like with the home mentioned earlier that we have supported for about ten or more years, NOH cannot turn its back on the children, regardless of the confounding existence of the home’s management.

Last week I visited this new home during the hours that Mina and Bimala were present. I found 10 of the most adorable children, their lot in life immensely improved by our providing their food and afternoon childcare. Mina and Bimala are fun and intelligent girls who help with homework and basic mentoring, and have provided an oasis for these girls’ lives, allowing them to sleep with bellies full of nutritious food and to dream childhood dreams undisturbed by the dubious nature of their management.


In April of 2020 NOH will have 14 beds available for new children as this year’s 14 graduates move into the college house. I wish we had room for more than that. It would be nice to see these ten children under our superlative care though previous discussions have centered around our bringing younger girls who have been sold in the continued tradition of Kamlari (indentured servitude). We will soon make the difficult choice. Meanwhile we will make sure these children are well fed, educated, and hopeful.

*****

Srijana and Anupa are beginning their college days with gusto. In addition to learning teaching skills at the Chelsea Center they have also developed a new IT Club with their older brother Ashok as the club advisor. The club meets weekly to explore online tutorials and certificate courses, and to work on their website. Each member of the club has Information Technology as their college major. Both of these girls have six years of computer education through the Chelsea Education and Community Center from our top-notch instructors.

In addition to this, Srijana and Anupa go to our Kanti Children’s Hospital outreach program every afternoon to provide the children in the cancer ward a pleasant reprieve from the slow drip of chemo and uncertain futures by introducing art projects, games, or simple one-on-one conversation.


Anupa on the left and Srijana with their newly designed logo

*****

Another one of our children who makes his life happen is Chham. Chham was among those in the first home we took over in 2005. He was perhaps eight years old then and exhibited a remarkable energy and desire for helping.  He was a “big” brother to his smaller siblings and even some older than him. He was a very quiet boy who knew his environment well--his expression always a slight smile with curious, yearning eyes.

Chham graduated with a degree in social work two years ago. Before graduating, he decided that the best he can do in social work is to be independent and simply do it. He has worked hard all his life and saved his money.  After the earthquake, Chham managed to rebuild a small school and his family’s home in his remote mountain village; he did so with his own labor and that of village people he organized, his savings, and money gifted to him for the cause.

Chham is the essence of the famous Gorkha warrior which consist solely of his caste, Gurung.

In college Chham always had a side gig, or two, or three. He sold light bulbs door to door, vegetables on the street with a pushcart, then he decided to furnish pushcart sellers with vegetables. He has a keen eye for how success can be achieved by hard work and thinking how to do better, how to develop a niche that others have not seen missing.

Presently Chham is the owner of Four Brothers Trekking. He started the business three years ago and managed his three brothers into it. Chham has received his license from the government in high-altitude trekking...a major accomplishment. The brothers are all hardworking, honest Gurung men whose backyard is the Himalayas; they have always worked as porters. Their website is most impressive; please go to www.fourbrotherstrek.com to learn more. Chham has recently put money down on a jeep to take trekkers to remote areas. He is a young man on a mission.

We are proud of every one of our children. The success of some of our older children can be attributed to the support of NOH by our wonderful family of donors. And the opportunities that are available for all our children, especially educationally, are made entirely possible by you.


Chham in early 2005, we were then taking over the home he was in...and in February 2019


A very proud Chham and his new 20-year-old jeep

*****

Our new brother and sister, Saroub and Renukha have settled in well. They are smart kids, but their academic education just begins. Renukha had less classroom time than Saroub whose own experience with school was very limited. However, they love school and seem to be quick learners. They joined class three together.  This is an all English school, but their teachers are sensitive to that and our kids are helping them a lot. This week the children have their mid-term exams which make even the best of students nervous; but when asked if they have any tension, they offer sweet what-me-worry smiles in response. 


Sandip and Saroub shooting baskets and Renukha on a Saturday afternoon

*****

Taekwondo


Back: Sujan, Hemantha, Mary, Muskan, Sumi, and Suman
Front: Sita, Juna, Sandip, Alisha, Anita, and Asha

These eleven uniformed children are the last remaining active Taekwondo students. Eighteen or so others have conflicts between the 5 a.m. lesson time and college which begins at 6 a.m. and have sadly dropped out. Many before those photographed here achieved black belt status.

In the last three competitions we have done well with Alisha winning twice in sparring and a second-place finish once. Suman has placed second once and third twice in sparring. Asha has a third place in sparring and a second place in forms. Anita and Sita both have third place finishes in sparring, and Muskan a second-place finish in sparring.


Alisha

Asha

Suman

Muskan

*****

Photo Club

Our newly formed photo club is led by Khusbu Singh.


Khusbu shown here collecting an academic award from the Skylark Principal

She and a handful of others have been interested in photography ever since “Finding Neverland” came to us during Dashain of 2013. This was an NGO from Dubai that brought good small cameras as gifts and professional instructors for a two-week workshop ending in a public exhibition of the children’s work. One club member, Selina, sent me some photos last night where she was playing around with imagery perspectives.

We have discussed the idea of the club doing a yearlong project that would capture their lives in the four seasons of Dhapasi. We will see how this goes, possibly putting it together both online and in book form when the year is over. And in this coming Dashain, Ted Seymour, an accomplished photographer and NOH Board Member, will again be present to lead photography workshops as he does yearly.

Meanwhile I leave you with a couple of Selina’s Saturday photographic ideas.

And below, a couple of nature shots from Gita: 

*****

By my observation there are three types of people who would risk death to climb Mount Everest. The mountain climbers who have their lives, dreams, and years in preparation for it by climbing 6000 to 8000 meter peaks across the globe in order to best position themselves to achieve success. Then there are the vain who are not willing to sacrifice their time and energy in preparation and who think they can buy their way to the top while risking others’ lives for their quest, lacking even the passion to call it Quixotic. And finally, the Sherpa, super humans born to the mountain who hold it in extreme reverence, who worship it as their Mother. Given educational opportunities for their children or other gainful employment, the Sherpa would prefer to live in peaceful concert with Sagarmatha in her shadow.

The climb to the summit is nightmarishly treacherous. The real climbers know this, the Sherpas know this, and the vain soon learn it. Though some have been removed, the mountain is strewn with over 300 bodies, frozen to this day in the position of their death, many on the path to the summit, that must be stepped over.

Among the dead are many Sherpas who have given up their lives to help their clients; many are highly skilled climbers caught in unexpected weather. Many, including around thirty Sherpas, have been swept away in avalanches, one in 2014 and another during the 2015 earthquake. And many are the vain who despite every heroic effort of their Sherpas to sometimes literally short rope them to the top, become insubordinate, reckless, sick, or disastrously confused in the death zone, imperiling many, especially the Sherpas, whose sense of honor compels them to extraordinary effort and often the ultimate sacrifice while trying to protect them.

I would like to introduce you to a climber who does not fit neatly into any of the above descriptions. Nisha Bhote is the 20-year-old eldest daughter with four sisters and a younger brother. Her father struggles as a Sherpa for teams ascending Mount Everest. He began as a porter when a young man, but gradually worked his way up.

Nisha would listen to the stories of her father and other Sherpas of the good days and bad days of climbing Everest in advance to set all the ropes and ladders, and then guiding westerners to the summit. She was quietly fascinated by them and a seed of yearning was planted early on. But life for the family in their remote and very poor village was a constant struggle. The local school was in disarray and qualified teachers nonexistent. Nisha’s father wanted more for his children than he could give and worried about their futures. Finally, he managed to send Nisha to Kathmandu to live with an aunt and attend Skylark English School here in Dhapasi. But the spell of the mountains never left her, knowledge that she kept to herself as she knew her family’s finances would never support her interest.

For two years Nisha dreamed of climbing Mount Everest and with the passage of time she found the dream overtaking her daily thoughts, interrupting her ability to concentrate in college. It was becoming an obsession building pressure within her until one day she confronted her father and shared what was in her heart. Her father is a calm, quiet, and methodical man. He listened gently to the outpouring of his daughter’s heart. Then he answered that she is his first daughter and together they would find a way to make her dream come true.

They found little support or understanding for Nisha’s desire; the community saw it as self-indulgent. This did not surprise Nisha but caused her sadness and to further wrestle with the guilt she already felt over becoming a burden to her father and her family. The Sherpa community views climbing Mount Everest as something they must do to survive; they are the guardians of the mountain and of those who find it sport, but their respect for Sagarmatha gives little room to understand a young Sherpa girl’s desire. But despite this, her father defended his daughter’s ambition and training began.

For lack of money the training was limited to the conditioning Nisha could do on her own, then technical training by her father and his friends, and finally she was outfitted with the discards of western climbers. She went to Lobuche (20,161 ft.) for strength and acclimation training. She did one other more technical peak just a short while before beginning the 10-day trek to the Everest Base Camp at over 17,000 ft.

Nisha was allowed to join a small expedition guided by a friend of her father. Her father was a guide in a larger expedition at the same time and they would see one another in Base Camp.

Base Camp is where acclimation begins; it is for some a slow process and will involve round trips to Camp One (20,000 ft.) two or three times and then to Camp Two (21,000 ft) one time before leaving BC for good and settling at Camp One.

Base Camp to Camp One passes under the Icefall. This is a horror chamber filled with rumbling from below the surface, thunderous explosions of ice cracking and falling, and with sudden gusts of very strong wind. Ice is frozen in a wave’s curl over a path filled with numerous, often hidden crevasses. This area is best passed through before dawn when the temperatures are the coldest. Some of the crevasses are bridged with an aluminum ladder with loose ropes on each side, the distance across up to 16 ft., the distance down thousands of feet. You are wearing thick boots with crampons to grab the ice, but here they must try and straddle the distance between ladder rungs. You pass over one at a time, knowing the slightest misstep ends your life.

Camp One is called the Valley of Silence. You lay in your tent hearing the moans of crevasses opening and closing beneath the surface and the pounding headaches cause sleepless nights when your determination to go on is severely tested.

Camp Two is at 21,000 ft., reached after seemingly endless slow walking. You set up camp on a rocky flat under a 4000 ft. sheer ice wall known as the Lhotse Wall. You are exhausted and the temptation is to rest, but the determined will walk around breathing deep, saturating the body with more oxygen. This night was the second in which Nisha could not sleep or eat, and in the dawning light she would have to climb the Lhotse Wall to Camp Three.

“We walked a little way to the Wall; it was a slow walk and hard, but warmed us up. At the Wall there are many ropes dangling down, you choose carefully, apply your carabiners, and climb. After maybe 90 minutes there is an Ice Bulge that is more than vertical that you must climb over. You push deep into the ice with your crampons and ice ax, breathe deep, one slow step after another, staying aware and focused, but not thinking of anything but each step. Finally, we reached camp. This night I used oxygen for about 5 hours, the altitude is around 24,000’. I slept deeply.

“Camp Three was at around 25,000ft. This is a dangerous, small plateau on the rock face. If you must leave your tent at night you must be fully dressed and secured to the ropes. This is a narrow platform. I am so tired. We leave in a few hours for Camp Four.

“Once under way we traversed the wall to a rocky section, frozen monoliths and a tangle of ropes with many crevasses--some narrow enough to step over, some wider to jump over--but I am short, and my legs have lost their jump. Others have the ladders over, that must be crossed one slow fitted step at a time with only a loose rope in each hand for balance. Once past this we faced another wall to traverse, this is very steep but not too high. Past this we see Camp Four. This is in the Death Zone, 26,000 ft. We camp. We are practically in space here. Everyone is lost in their own thoughts. The wind howls; fear is in everyone’s eyes. I try to stay hydrated and I nibble on some energy bars as darkness begins to fall bringing with it severe cold and haunting winds. In about six hours we will prepare for our summit attempt. We lie still in our tents and try to rest.

“I heard my guide calling me. Suddenly it was time to begin. I left the tent and the night sky was clear. It looked like we were in the Milky Way galaxy, billions of stars softly twinkling in a white vapor-like sea. The winds at that time were coming in strong gusts, then stopping. I looked ahead and could see a line of flickering head lamps worming its way higher and it suddenly filled me with excitement. We climb and climb. It is terrifying in the darkness, and it is so cold that the crampons barely cut into the ice. Some have stopped climbing and you must unhitch from the rope to go around them, and soon others are descending having reached their limit of endurance, they unhitch and go around you and hitch again. I was feeling pretty good and my pace felt comfortable. I reached the balcony where one can take a short rest; we have climbed for six hours so far. I changed my oxygen bottle as the first thin line of light seemed drawn onto the curvature of the horizon, I stood ready to go on, my feet were very cold, and I kicked my boots a few times in response. I climbed more and after rounding a corner and up a short ridge I came to the South Summit. We traversed across the summit and around another corner there lay the peak of Everest itself. My eyes began to tear. It was so close now just maybe 100 meters, yet hours away as the most daunting climb is yet to come. Everest has done its best to keep her summit from being reached thus far, but has saved its greatest gauntlet so near to success. The Knife Ridge is worse than anyone could ever prepare you for. It is very steep and barely wide enough to cross, 2 ft. at best. To each side is a freefall of about 3000 meters. Your feet are frozen, the optimism you moments before felt has turned to sheer panic. You climb a step and breathe. You are at a crazy angle, the winds are blowing so hard, nothing but freefall to each side of you. Another step, your lungs are bursting, your heart wild in your chest and then you come to the remains of the Hillary Step, a 12-meter, but now more manageable, rock climb. It was mostly hard packed snow and ice and though strenuous it was a relief from the Knife Edge.

“Everest’s peak is not visible now and I am losing my hope. We transverse this area painfully slowly. A few climbers are now descending, here there is room for them to pass by. They have reached the top. We climb yet another ridge and upon reaching it I realize …


May 23rd, 2019

“I have made it. After a few moments at the top trying to take in the view through teary eyes I moved off the top and wrapped my culture dress around me, removed my oxygen mask and goggles and quickly posed for sake of my culture. And then we began our descent, back along the Knife Ridge, climbing down scarier than climbing up. Once off the Knife Ridge the path widens and teams ascending are painstakingly trudging by. I saw my father coming up and when he was near his eyes met mine; they were smiling. He turned me around and looked at my oxygen tank, my regulator was too low, and he increased it. We talked for a moment, then he patted my shoulders and continued on.”

*****

Nisha Bhote is a quiet girl who does not see her accomplishment worthy of much talk. She is back now blending anonymously in the dusty streets of Dhapasi. During her time on Everest, eleven people gave up their lives attempting to summit. Nisha was kind enough to tell her story to me, and I have expressed her feelings as accurately as possible in the story above.

That is the update for June 2019.

Thank you all for your support.

Papa

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