Papa’s House News and Updates

November 8th, 2015

I begin this update a couple of days shy of Tihar, the caboose of this month-long train of festivals and celebration. I hope to conclude it by Wednesday, Laxmi Puja, the pinnacle of the festival of light. It is a day carefully prepared for by every household no matter how humble. Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth will be guided into the home or business by a pathway of small candles beginning at a Mandela painted outside and culminating in the room where money is stored. In my first few Tihars, candles were all that was used and its low flickering glow under lighting the faces of those gathered offered a reverential stillness and beauty to all. Now Christmas lights left on through the night drape many homes and businesses, and our pre-dawn walks, when there is power, are in a dazzle of blue and green energizing the otherwise gentleness that beckons before dawn. 

Aakriti and Santoshi Sujan Muskan Mary

Nepal goes from one calamity to another, never collecting its breath between. We are shortly about to enter what may arguably be our most unforgivable crises in recent history and it seems too late to stop it. Ignoring the task of rebuilding Nepal and taking care of its people in the aftermath of the back to back earthquakes, the government focused only on writing a constitution which alienated the simple folks who toil in back breaking labor in the fields along the border of India that feed the nation. They are, by way of average estimates, 40% of the population.

In response the people have left the fields and massed at the border, closing the trade routes from India, the sole provider of petroleum products as well as medicines and most of the staples a small landlocked country depends upon.

Because of this, the shelter and food supplies the people of Nepal’s higher elevations have been waiting for since the earthquakes have not been able to get delivered by the foreign relief agencies accepting this life saving task from a government otherwise engaged. Many people are about to enter a nightmare of freezing temperatures without the shelter, food or supplies to last till spring.

Meanwhile in Kathmandu and along the industrial belt, the lack of petrol, diesel and cooking gas has brought the nation to its knees. There is no abundance of wood for cooking and no mechanism for delivery of products, no diesel to run generators which power everything from hospitals to grocery stores to the internet. School buses will cease to run and public transportation becomes scarce and overburdened. The shutdown has been very effective, but thus far has only brought about a match of will. The new government of Nepal has dug in its heels against altering the biased constitution and the Mahadesi have grown stronger in numbers with unofficial support of India.  Meanwhile we learn to do without, a lesson valuable in countless ways. Necessity brings evolution in creative and satisfying ways.

Salina Sabina Ranjeeta Kelasi

A little over three years ago Vinod Mahato, big brother to Anita and Sunita, left the only home he had ever known and boarded a plane for America to marry his girlfriend of many years.

Vinod’s long goodbye, here with Anita and 34 hours later his arrival in North Carolina.

Vinod and Alecia fell in love when they first saw one another in Dhapasi in 2008. Alecia, along with her mother Marcie, were volunteering; it was Marcie’s second time with us. Both Alecia and Vinod were determined to complete college and graduate schools and exhibited tremendous patience over the following years while trying to arrange Vinod’s visa. Vinod left here with a 10th grade education, but once in America set to work. He received his GED and began college. His grades have always been excellent and he has won the hearts of school administrators and has earned awards and scholarships. He is now at North Carolina State University as a junior  majoring in Business Administration. Both he and Alecia have kept their eye on their goal, lived frugally, balanced several jobs with school and study, and somehow have sustained the energy to arrive where they are today. Vinod came to work for NOH nine years ago as my indispensable right hand. It would be a wonderful journey to have them back with NOH after their academic goals have been met.

​Vinod and Alecia returned this past summer for six weeks, shown here with Anita and Hope, his mother and father. 

Ramita Anu Alina Anita

This past July we assembled in the early morning drizzle to offer our blessings to the children on their first day of college. We have only three this time around, but next July I will be writing about 12 more going, and a scant 20 months hence 20 more bound for college.

Dhiraj who will study in Science; Kabita in Business, and Lalita in Hotel Management

As they approached the gate to leave, I felt compelled to record this important moment in their young lives. They were so small when they first came. I am happy for them, I remember this moment in my own life; but these moments are surely bittersweet. I think Kabita in the second photo, shot with my long lens, is telling Lalita, “Yep, Papa is still watching us.”

Sita Alecia Manesha Rupa

Sarita when she arrived

On August 13th we welcomed Sarita, shown here with her mother, into our home. They are from Gorkha. While our older son Chham was in his village after the quake he learned about Sarita and how she lost her father and brother in the earthquake’s landslide which wiped out their entire village. Chham’s village suffered the same fate, as well as Dawn Kumari’s, my first employee. Sarita’s extended family has suffered many deaths and her mother’s health is very poor. Chham interviewed many people to make sure that all he had been told was completely true and then called me and asked if we could take her in. When Chham returned, he did so bringing them with him. The mother then left to return to her village where she has absolutely nothing and must start over again with other surviving members of her family. NOH and Possible Worlds together have sent a relief package with Chham to build a small home for his mother and contribute towards a small school for the children so that they can begin to return to a pre- earthquake routine while the adults try to rebuild their village.

Junu, Samita and Sarita Sarita flashing the peace sign with Sanjeev
Sumi Apsara Shanta Khusboo

We were contacted shortly after the earthquake by “Clowns without Borders”. This is an international group of volunteer clowns who last year traveled to 50 areas steeped in conflict, like Syria, in order to give the children a few hours in which they can forget about their lives and have peace and laughter fill their hearts. Through many e-mail exchanges I learned a bit about the individuals who came to us, and I was so impressed by their full time occupations and accomplishments in contrast to their dedication to this cause. After their performance they spent a few hours with us over lunch and I could not have been more honored or humbled by their sincerity, kindness and compassion. Incredible individuals with an incredible organization, this day helped to further separate all of us from our not so distant past; the laughter was uncontrollable and the memories lasting.

Santoshi Sita Gita Gayatri

Teej this year was held on September 16th. This is a celebration for women; they dress in their very best after a predawn bath, fasting and prayer. The married women pray for the long life and good health of their husbands. I had thought that the single women and girls prayed for an eventual good husband, but that thought has been corrected this year. I don’t know what they pray for; their participation may simply be festively inspired solidarity. From dawn to the dark of evening, married women in groups will be found endlessly dancing at neighborhood temples, then return home to break their fast and sleep. Below are some of our daughters in celebration of Teej.

Sunita Kolpana
Seema and Sarita Prity and Hope
Santi Saraswati

This year we had a special guest for Teej. Dr. Helena Teixeira, a semi-retired eminent plastic surgeon from Portugal with 30 years’ experience in burn care, came to us as a volunteer. We had arranged for her to spend her time with our good friend Dr. Shankar Rai who began a hospital several years ago to help burn and cleft pallet patients regardless of ability to pay. These two distinguished surgeons learned much from each other during a month’s service together. Further, our daughters all had a chance to relax in her company and absorb some of what it takes to be such a fine role model.

Rita, Dr. Teixeira and Kabita

Kanti Shanti Cila Deepa

The above photo breaks between stories are the girls of Sanctuary House.

Sanctuary House was named after the wonderful charity Sanctuary For Kids which began several years ago from the inspiration of Amanda Tapping and Jill Bodie. They had heard about us from one of our volunteers, a dynamic young man from Scotland who was helping Amanda with her website. His praise was rewarded with a visit to NOH by Amanda and Jill which culminated in our being selected as one of the Nepali charities they wished to support.

Amanda surrounded by her smallest fans A precious photo of Jill receiving a hug
Amanda with Mon Kumari Kanchan, Jill and Sunita

The above photos were taken in early November 2009 during their week’s visit. Shortly into the New Year we were informed that they wished to help support our work. They provided a grant that was intended for the first Papa’s House on our future campus — a home for 26 girls we had rescued earlier in the year. We had brought the girls to Dhapasi and opened a new house for them and they have continued to support these girls every year since. Thus was born the name “Sanctuary House.”

NOH never was able to buy the land we wished and planned for; it was simply too expensive and the original grant remained untouched all these years in our bank account. Then a few months ago we learned of a great house on a double lot that was supposed to be available for lease. I went to speak with the owners and they said they would not lease the property, but would sell it. They were charitable in the price they offered to us and I passed this along to the NOH Board of Directors who approved the purchase. I wrote to Amanda and Jill about it and asked if perhaps we could use their original grant for the purchase and they wholeheartedly agreed.

We had been looking for a new house for the boys after the earthquake, as well as for the Sanctuary girls. We found an ideal house for the girls a few months earlier and so decided to give our first owned residence in Nepal for use of the boys.

Thank you, Amanda and Jill. Please discover the special work being done by Sanctuary For Kids

The Boys of Possibilities House

Sanjeev Davit Sandeep Suman

The Chelsea Education Center (CEC) was renamed the Chelsea Education and Community Center (CECC) when we began teaching English to the women of Dhapasi close to 5 months ago. One hundred and twenty women attend daily classes of fifteen each. These women are dedicated students who can be seen looking up from their homework in front of their homes or in their shops to say “good morning,” smiling infectiously as I pass by.

After the Tihar holiday ends we are starting to teach an online math program to 65 more women, many from the English classes. The course has been designed to introduce them to computers, allow them to practice simple English and to learn domestic and small shop accounting.

The staff of the CECC. Missing is our daughter Kabita Karki. She, along with yellow-shirted son Ashok, teach English from 11am to 3pm after they have finished their college day which runs 6am till 10am. They are of course paid faculty and are very popular among their students.

Hem Bimal Sujan Rajan

We have a new batch of 18 Taekwondo students who recently received their yellow belts after six months of preparation.  Our original group had lost its longest attending students, Saroj and Chham, when they decided to quit due to college scheduling problems. The remaining 16 tested a couple of months ago to receive their black tip and their next grading period, in another 8 months, will earn them all black belts.

Waiting their turn, grading for their black tip & new group before earning their yellow belts.

We began Taekwondo as a daily morning practice in 2008. The children have shown a strong commitment enduring predawn sessions in the cold of winter and heat of summer as well as time lost to early morning study, but they all are achievers and handle all aspects of life well.

Maila Hari Ram Sandesh

Our sewing group has been working hard. They stay busy making all of the children’s uniforms and kurta sulwars and they have dabbled in design of clothing that emphasizes originality. We had applied for a grant to have our children make all the uniforms for the Ramechhap School we support, but lost out for this year. We are presently working with two former volunteers from Switzerland and Germany who spent time with the girls and have ordered 10 “original” kurtas. The girls finished them and they are now with me waiting sending.

Sunita wearing one of her designs.

We are selling these in a market making price of $10 plus shipping. The girls keep all the money and pool it to help grow their business. Please consider making orders. The array of fabrics here is quite good, many of the designs ordered from our volunteers were with the idea of pullover beach wear or après beach with jeans. To order, please simply write to me with questions and style suggestions. We use a sizing chart for western women found on the internet, but will happily work from your own measurements.

​ Our tailoring group: From left Sunita, Lalita, Sanu, Puja, Amrita and Kamali

Missing from the photo is Samjhana who remains in school and works only on Saturdays. Amrita and Puja have been hired by our tailoring instructor to work in and manage her second shop. Sunita and Kamali help us at tiffin time by running the sales counter at Café Hope, our school café; Sanu augments her tailoring income by taking care of my house and garden every other day and Lalita goes to the shop at 11am after her college classes finish.

Ramesh Mahendra Ram S. Tilak

August 29th was “Brothers Day”. The girls organized a day to make all their brothers feel special, appreciated and loved. It was, as always, a fun day with singing, dancing, theater, games and laughter. The girls prepared all the food for a many itemed lunch eaten picnic style on the grounds at Papa’s House.

Ram and Sushma Sangeeta and Saroj

Two of our many real brothers and sisters in our family, but the children all have a deep feeling of fraternity with one another.

Dawn Kumari acting the role of stern mother Suman, Sanjeev, Sandeep and Davit
Hope applauding Manisha and Samjhana dancing
Hope laughing during the play Sanjeev and Sandeep in discussion
Some older girls dancing And some younger girls waiting to dance
Gorkha Lalit Bishnu Nama

Jennifer Hyett has been a returning volunteer for several years. Her primary work here is with “Our Children’s Protection Foundation,” a small orphanage near us that we have been helping for a few years now. This past visit Jennifer brought her mother Elizabeth who is 100% Scottish determined and kept up a heady pace of work both at Our Children’s and with our children. Some of the most rewarding times she spent here, for our children, was in knitting with them. We love volunteers like this and would encourage other retirees to consider the same.

Khem Raj Purna Kamal Himal

Sisters Day came on October 3rd this year. The boys outdid themselves in planning and performance. It is really nice to see how the boys, on their own, put together a program, practice it for a month, older boys helping with dance routines and skits by the younger ones, and everyone truly admiring the individuals’ effort.

Davit and Sandeep as characters in a play Ramesh applying Tika to his sisters
Junu, Samita and Manisha Combined effort of the boys
Ram C. Prity
Davit and Nargish Sanu, Urmila and Pramila
Ishwor Roshan Rabindra Nargish (Didi’s daughter)

Our Book Club has had the leadership taken on by Deb Norton and Jacqueline Crowe, two Australian women whose husbands are in Nepal with the Australian Government. The club meets after school every Tuesday and Thursday. The children are discovering the love of reading and becoming good readers in the process. We really appreciate the time, love and effort these marvelous women are giving which goes well beyond the classes themselves, but into the heart of our homes.

​The Book Club. Deb Norton in white with Jacqeline behind her left shoulder.

Saraswati Anita Sima Kamana

On the morning of October 16th 55 of our children boarded a bus back to their villages in Dang district, a 12-hour ride into a simple, farming, mud hut, hand-to-mouth existence from which they came what seems a lifetime ago. With the previously mentioned petrol problem, we had a very difficult time chartering a bus; it took days for the owner/driver to accumulate the necessary diesel. For the first time in 8 years I did not go with the girls; I was unable to find petrol for the scooter and in Dang no petrol existed either so my work there would have been impossible. In the days before, we managed to get thirty-five other children back to their far-cast villages.

The “Sea Princess” arrives in Dhapasi Suman, sad and anxious, Ram resolved
Girls getting settled in Some girls in last looks as the engine starts

It is never easy to say goodbye; the closeness of the family is expressed on these mornings in tears. Going back to their villages is a personal choice. They are often not appreciated and are made to feel a bit alien in a family fractured many years before when they were sold, a family worn down since by severe poverty, illness, alcohol, illiteracy, and death further hardening them as their numbers dwindle. To me it is a hallmark of our children to continually return and quietly roll up their sleeves and help where they can while often under the disparaging comments of a non-nuclear family bitter in spirit.

Sunita Geeta Sushmita Gita

We celebrated Dashain on October 22nd sharing the day and traditional Hindu feast with several of our volunteers.  A much smaller family, we had a light and warm time together, but each of us lost at times in thought of those not with us.

During the blessing and Tika ceremony Prity playing “ping”
Maila and Rabindra Volunteer sharing photos with Manisha
Geeta on the ping Samjhana

Asha, Bimala, Srijana, Anita, and Geeta
​Four amazing sisters with Anita

Sarita Anisha Sarmila Asha

A day at the zoo, October19th. The animals, we found out, sleep at midday.

Kamal, Bimala, and Sapana

Volunteer and Manisha “Wow” most often heard from Hope
The Aviary VN Director Eileen and 10 month volunteer Kelly
Samjhana Juna Prity Kausil

November 12th

Today we had an arranged visit by Chris Ellis, a Sydney Australia Emergency Room Doctor, who had met Deb Norton and was eager to come and teach a course in first aid. The information was comprehensive and covered everything imaginable, delivered in a very lighthearted way which the kids and I will remember for a very long time. 

Our patient Kamal had a pretty bad day suffering everything from a common cold to brain infections, diarrhea, vomiting; he was burned and choking, had a severed artery, a cut vein and he was in an auto accident near the end. Thank you very much for your wit and wisdom, Dr. Chris Ellis.

Amrita Rita Man Kumari Nirmala

Children’s Day was held on September 15th at Skylark School. Among the day-long festival there was a costume contest.

The children dressed as characters in Hindu scripture or in their native dress.

Kabita Asmita Srijana Sandhya
Hope Angel Bimala Pushpa Sapana

The girls of Imagine House

And below the managers of the three houses shown above.​

Anita Mahato Cila Regmi Deepa Regmi Sam Isherwood

Anita, Imagine House; Cila and Deepa, Sanctuary House and Sam, Possibilites House. The three girls came to us as young children and grew into this role, Sam has been working for NOH for around 5 years in different capacities and makes an extraordinary manager for the boys.

Missing from these story breaks are the girls of Harmony House, known here as Papa’s House, and those of our college boys’ house. All the children’s photos and names can be found in the gallery here on the website.

Nepal Orphans Home received an incredible outpouring of donations after the earthquakes, designated for earthquake relief. We were deeply touched by the faith in us to properly distribute these funds as directed by the donors as well as by the sheer display of kindness and compassion from several hundred donors. We have left to distribute the funds earmarked for rebuilding the school in Ramechhap, though a lot of other Ramechhap relief was immediately dispatched after the earthquake. The school rebuilding has been a long process, but now with the monsoon over, the engineering for the school finished, and the government’s position on school rebuilding participation noted, we will begin construction.

Thank you very much.

All my best,

July 2015

The Final Term of the 2014-2015 year at Skylark School saw us take the first position in 4 classes out of 10; 2nd position in 7 classes out of 10 and 3rd position in 3 classes out of 10. We believe that the children’s hard work, love of learning, and the existence of the Chelsea Education Center have all contributed to these excellent results.

CLASS 1:        
CLASS 2:        
CLASS 3:        
CLASS 5:        
CLASS 6:        
CLASS 7:        
CLASS 9:        
Ranked second in their respective classes Ranked third

Ranked first in their classes

Laurie Levine of the NOH Board arrived from Sydney, bringing her abundant love for the children. Laurie manages at least one trip each year. Laurie is a teacher, speaker and author of books meant to help us to live a better and more purposeful life through spiritual affirmation. She has delighted in watching the children grow into such radiant and accomplished young people.

Samjhana, Laurie and Junu Laurie with Priya after Yoga and Meditation
Laurie with a few Harmony House girls Laurie brought 10 reconditioned laptops with her


Returning volunteers, accompanied by their children this time, were inspired originally by Laurie. Our friends, Fuchsia and her very special sons Noah left and Ridley, and Misty and her precious daughter Charli brought a lot of insight, love and joy to our children.

And Hope found a big friend in Misty’s partner Clint who offered her endless entertainment.

Three wonderful young women (Linn on left from Sweden, Mariana from Brazil and Erika also from Sweden, but only here meeting Linn) who met as volunteers two years before and stayed in touch, reunited again at Volunteer Nepal and among many projects for the kids found time to decorate the café. 

Also returning for their third or fourth time my beautiful cousins Anne and Liz, their close friend Cici and bringing with them for the first time my Aunt Judy, her niece Meghan and friend Kelly. This group had been planning their trip for quite a while and wasted no time in bringing books, art and dance to the children’s days.

Anne and her two daughters had been a part of the Billion Rising Dance phenomenon and decided that we should hold one in Dhapasi, so they managed to get the others trained in the dance and upon arrival began preparations for it.

My Aunt Judy (left), cousin Liz and friend Meghan


They made posters expressing their personal reasons for why they wished to be heard

And walked the streets of Dhapasi posting flyers for the Billion Rising Flash Dance

And taught a select group of Captains how to do the “Break the Chain” dance


The morning came in brilliantly clear blue skies

Guest speakers included the Skylark Principal Sangita Rai and Cici

The (not lame) balloon man came to inflate hundreds

Children danced

The air was charged with a collective passion for doing something so right together

And finally a radar filling release of balloons rising along with the consciousness of each attendee watching with eyes shielded against the sun until the balloons left our sight. We then turned our attention to bonding over more grounded joys: strawberry, pistachio, chocolate and vanilla ice cream.


The boys' house interior and our Dhapasi neighborhood

Moments after the first quake, after being sure that the children and staff at the house where I was were safely together in our open ground, I raced on the scooter for Hope. The road was littered with debris, people dazed and bewildered, wide eyed and incredulous; dust filled the air where buildings moments before sat purposefully, it seemed so random. In those moments, not knowing what I would find reduced my life to one simple knowledge: love is all there is. I prayed so hard to a God I hardly know, “Let them be okay.” When I found the house still standing I came through the gate and in a distant corner of the yard Anita was holding Hope who was crying, surrounded by the children who were all terrified. I ran to Hope and when I took her into my arms she hugged me so hard and stopped crying and just held on. Then she wanted to tell me what happened and did so by holding her fist in the air and shaking her body as if suddenly possessed by St. Vita’s Dance. I had to laugh and then she did also, and I knew we were going to be okay.

Thirty minutes later I had been able to go to each of our houses and make sure everyone was okay and then guide them back through streets filled with broken glass and rubble to be together on our main ground. All the security walls that surround every house were gone and our main ground, large as it is, was filled with people huddled together. When all the children and staff were together we were okay. We sat in a tight circle and ate the lunch I had earlier prepared with 2/3rds of it surviving and rode out several very powerful aftershocks; there was strength and comfort and even some private humor among the children and staff that helped them get to a point where, with gratitude for our good fortune, we were ready to move on.

An hour after the earthquake I asked the children to circle around and as they did I took some photos. Each of these children felt attacked by the earth; the floors they were on buckled and rolled, leaped and lurched sideways, violently throwing them to the ground. These small people felt they were going to die.

The night of April 25 was perhaps the longest night any of us had ever experienced. I had convinced all the children that they were safe and that nothing so strong was to come again, there would be aftershocks but not enough to do further damage. There wasn’t a soul in all of Nepal I think sleeping indoors that night and as we saw, it took 6 weeks to get people who had homes back inside.

Sleeping outside was not safe for all our children and the children trusted me when I said we would be fine. In each house the children slept in a single room together near the front door.

Several times in the night a sound like a barrel of rocks rolling out of control down a metal gangplank would pierce the night, the floor would shake us like a pebble in a miner’s sifter. Outside the community would wail as if the end had come.

There wasn’t any electricity,  so water which comes from a well by pump was nonexistent. But the underground tank in my house is kept full, so we spent a couple of hours in a bucket brigade bringing water to the main house. Midafternoon on the 25th, Sam, Anita and I bought as much gas, dhal, rice, and biscuits as we could and got those distributed among the homes. We bought lots of medicines in anticipation of the suggestion that Kathmandu might become a breeding ground for disease, and we had earlier purchased masks. Then the shops closed their shutters and remained closed for some time.

We divided the girls of our Sanctuary house into two groups and had them sleep at the other two girls' houses. The boys split their time between the ground floor kitchen and outside under a tarp they had set up.

We began clean up on the second day. Neighbors under their tarps watched listlessly, their faces drained. The confusion of the neighborhood was keen, everyone grim. The rain would come and go and the certainty that another massive quake was soon upon us was all they spoke of. When an aftershock would come you could hear voices rising together in panic, moaning until it subsided.

But with each passing day we grew stronger and accepting that whatever will be we are together and will not dwell on it. We stayed busy. Nights were long; all the children huddled together in a communal area near the door, but gallows humor prevailed. Loud aftershocks in the night were the worst and we welcomed early morning. Each day at five am, like before, we would go for a walk together, visiting the other houses and greeting neighbors in passing, spreading as best we could a sense of good cheer and lack of worry.


Hope’s Birthday! We decided to celebrate it well.

For a few hours all was forgotten, the kids talked, danced, had ice cream and cake, took lots of photos and laughed. During these times when we all get together we find parting at the end difficult. With the frequency and strength of aftershocks and continued talk of odds favoring a massive earthquake coming at any time, things grow quiet as we part company.  Many of us try to keep the atmosphere easy, but I see the children searching the eyes of their brothers and sisters as they shake hands and say something light that betrays their concern. 


Today we welcomed into our family a brother and sister who had been orphaned a few months previous. They had been taken in by a woman and her two sons temporarily while searching for a home that would accept them. None would. They were at our gate last Saturday at exactly the moment the earth started punching and kicking up through the surface, and sat with us for a few hours before walking back to their own home which was now a pile of debris. Today, at the same hour as a week before they again were at the place where our gate once hung and walked in to see the ground filled with happy children.

Samita, 8 and Sanjiv, 6

Sandip and Sanjiv Samita in our fashion show


Nepal Orphans Home May Flowers Fashion Show

On the previous Sunday as we sat around talking after our early morning walk, we decided to have a fashion show to be held on the following Saturday. All were invited to participate in an age-divided event that included Best Dress, Best Hair, Best Make-Up, Best Catwalk, Most Original and Most Transformed.

Dhiraj, our resident tech wiz, handled the music while Kausila and Bumikha were our MC’s.

The skies were clear, the children in the audience very supportive and fun, the participants showing off some truly unique ideas were gorgeous; 21 children were awarded prizes, and we had another opportunity to forget what lived underneath us.

A second earthquake came and finished off buildings previously damaged. These pictures were taken from the yard of Papa’s House. Everywhere one looks this is what they see, reminders of the moment are the children’s new landscape. It had been over two weeks, aftershocks come loud and quick so many times in the day and night and everyone, including scientists, maintain that they would not be surprised to see a magnitude 9 anytime. It is a huge setback emotionally that after a couple of weeks when you have accepted aftershocks as something to live with, another earthquake hits. This one made buildings sway to a point you feel you must be imagining it, and then again aftershocks which make you wonder how much more our houses can stand.

Despite the new earthquake we forge ahead with plans. We are together and after lunch we gather the children around to award the prizes for our latest writing contest “My life in Five Years” We enjoy having writing contests; all the children enter them and we save their entry and put them into their permanent file to read over and share with their own children one day.

First Place in Imagine House went to Gita, Sapana and Srijana

Possibilities House Tilak, Sujan, Himal, Nargese, and Sanctuary House Asha, Elena and Mary

I will share excerpts of the top three:

“I have become manager of Heaven House, our home for babies. I give them all my love and I will help with their education. I am sitting with Papa and helping him with his work. I am happy because my dream has been fulfilled.” – Gita

“Today is the happiest day of my life; I have become the youngest professor in the history of Tribhuvan University. I have published a book about Papa’s House that is widely acclaimed. Papa is the one who gave light to my life.” – Srijana

“I am peeking out my kitchen window, I am watching my husband work in the garden, he sees me and says let’s go shopping. On the way we meet Anita Mahato who is with her husband and own children, we talk and then we walk on and find Papa who has a stick in one hand and Hope Angel holding his other hand. One day I will be an old woman eating ice cream with my children, wearing glasses and sharing with them my life at Papa’s House.” – Sapana

We rented buses to take us to The National Botanical Gardens. The ride there pierced through the widespread destruction of the quakes, but the last 5km was on a narrow road under a canopy of trees where the sun comes in sprinkles through the bus windows and everyone feels as if they are entering an enchanted forest.

We found the parking lot empty and the small staff of the gardens surprised by our presence. We had the place to ourselves and took full advantage of it.

It is my dream to be playing in a tidal pool in Maine with Hope. It will be early fall and bursting with color; sea smells and a warm sun like a loved one’s hand on our back.

The Gardens is a beautifully manicured and thoughtfully designed 100 acres or more with a stream meandering through it. The water runs cold and shallow over small rocks and in some places collects in quiet swirling pools. Hope and I stopped by one and there we felt stones and watched our hands glide along the rocky bottom.  A pleasant prelude to my dream.

We walked the length and breadth of the gardens and strolled through the greenhouses; we placed no demands on the children, but they all stayed close, perfectly happy to follow along and be together. We found a good spot for our picnic and everyone pitched in to make a light task of it. After eating we lingered, quietly soaking in the warmth and sounds of nature. After some time we fought our inclination to sit forever and rose to the uninspired business of heading back to the buses. We arrived at the gates to some panicked employees asking us to go and sit a spell longer because an earthquake would be here soon. This is the world we live in; people exercise such a willing departure from reasonable thinking. We convinced the jittery staff that we would take our chances and asked them to open the gates. We boarded the busses and drove silently back home, everyone deep in their own thoughts.

I decided to try and find a safer place for as many children as possible. Yesterday was spent calling relatives of our children who live in areas that have not been affected by the earthquakes. This constituted about 80 children. We hired the same bus which took us to the gardens and had it come this morning. We loaded up 50 of our girls whose villages are in Dang where not a hint of trouble has come and, with Papa’s House manager Anita Chaudhary, sent them back until things settle down. By nightfall we had said goodbye to another 30 children.

After the second earthquake, the little bit of ease that had crept back into people’s feeling of security was replaced with a fresh new wound. Plans to reopen school were scuttled across Nepal’s affected districts. We had a paint crew inside the Sanctuary girls' old house and they quit work saying they did not want to be inside the house at this time. It took three weeks to get them back to work.

Our remaining 55 or so children combined into two homes and we had fun.  Our days were busy with work on the new Sanctuary House, or in the gardens, or in removing our old wooden beds and carrying them to the carpenter who had bought them and then carrying the new metal beds to each house and getting them set up with the new mattresses. We cleaned every room thoroughly when replacing the beds, played games, took long walks at sunrise and ate well.

Kathmandu is growing deserted and, with few willing to work, supplies are getting short.

We arranged for a bus to drop us off at a place in Thamel called “The Garden of Dreams,” two acres of high-walled compound filled with coy ponds and Roman-influenced gazebos, meditation areas and places that invite one to lie down and sleep. Sadly we found all the architecture roped off due to severe damage, but the grassy areas were green, the fish swimming happily and the sleeping areas welcoming. These are gardens designed to induce quieting the soul, to speak softly and to generate smiles from the heart. We brought along all the day staff and their children as well.

After our spirits were refreshed, we walked across the street to “Fire and Ice,” a legendary tourist pizza palace.  We had earlier made arrangements and gave a preorder of 61 pizzas; we were treating ourselves to an extravagance that was to please all our senses.

One thing about an environment of pervasive concern: it helps you to let go just a little and enjoy some simple pleasures today, not tomorrow. Once we are comfortable with the knowledge that there are many tomorrows yet to come, we can make up for these unordinary indulgences. 

All of our children are back and we have enjoyed our Saturday tiffin together. The returning children had to get reacquainted with the daily aftershocks while those who had remained felt like old veterans who could offer a sense of calm and sage advice.

School began again on Sunday the 31st, the largest classroom building at Skylark which has three floors was deemed unsafe and so temporary classrooms were cobbled together. Teachers drifted back in from their villages and bit by bit we are getting to where a full complement of them are where they should be most of the time.


Winners of the writing contest “Me and My Earthquake”

June seemed to have swept through as uninterrupted as tumbleweed across the desert. We had the winners of the “Me and My Earthquake” writing contest receive the admiration of their peers and their prizes one Saturday, another Saturday we had a celebration of June Birthdays. Saturday lunches were different and fun, mostly tasty ones of assorted color, my trademark.

We welcomed back many far cast members of the family.  Our former Volunteer Nepal Director Michael Triozzi came from a break in his graduate studies in Italy to manage the boys' house while Sam was in America; he also stepped in to manage the Volunteer department while Eileen is back in New Zealand for a spell. Michael is still here and more narrowly focused on Smiley the dog and the Volunteer department followng Sam’s return.

Vinod and Alecia have returned after three years spent in college in North Carolina. They will be here for six weeks and both are working hard to help with the children.

Emma McDonald is an editor and writer from Australia who was here last year and worked with the children’s reading program. She sought and received some time off recently to return and be with her NOH family during this time. The most common comment about her from the kids is “Emma is always so funny.” 

Emma and friends

Sam generously offered to be our host for some of our Saturday visitors

Michael Triozzi guarding his biscuits from Marian, Eileen's twin

Alecia and her sister Abbie Vinod and his adoring Mom
Girls learning about Islam Sujan looking cool


Chham was invited to accompany the internationally recognized photo journalist Rui Pires and learn how to be an assistant during a three-week trip by train to a few cities across India. Rui is a good friend to NOH and in a previous trip got to know Chham well. This was a wonderful opportunity for Chham to travel and learn about the different cultures of India as well as developing a keen eye and passion for beauty and how to capture it on film.

The following photos are all taken by Rui and kindly shared by him with us here.

Rui Pires has for two years in a row won the International Humanitarian Photographer of The Year award; we are humbled to call him our friend.

One of our newest sons Bimal is not only exceedingly kind and polite but he possesses an array of creative talents. After the earthquake I encouraged the kids to express their feelings and Bimal did so both in writing and in a painting shown here. I was so impressed by it that I shared it with friends online. One thing led to another culminating in someone wishing to purchase the painting for $500 and wanting to see more of his work. They had a friend traveling in Nepal at the time and he was supposed to come by to pick up the painting, but never did. Bimal was not the least bothered by that, he paints he says because he likes to.

The painting The artist, who is a young man (at the fashion show)


This has been a long update, the last 10 weeks running between uncommon and surreal. To live on top of a rumbling earth that pierces up anywhere at any time it pleases has a way of changing one's perspectives on life and maybe that is its silver lining. The aftershocks continue. We partially rate our days by the Richter scale; the children have become adept at accurately sizing up each aftershock and becoming knowledgeable in suggesting our distance from the epicenter and depth of each. Morning greetings usually include “Did you feel last night's?” Many are now sleeping through them.

We have managed to keep to as normal a schedule as possible throughout this time; in reflection it has been good. As soon as the Chelsea Education Center teachers were able to return they did and so we continued with our afternoon classes.

Ted Seymour, who spent about 6 weeks with us from January and who is the person responsible for bringing the Khan Academy online math program to our children, returned in June to further work with our children.

We are at this time developing an adult education program at the Chelsea Center which will teach math and English to local women. The response to our flyer indicates great interest. We hope to have the program commence in the third week of July. Our 2nd year college student son Ashok will be the teacher. His college classes run from 6-10am each day and the Adult Ed classes will go 10:30 to 12:30pm. 

Ted Seymour and Purna

We had seven girls who this year formed a tailoring group. They are doing really well and make all our uniforms and kurta sulwars. Amrita, who had received the most training, was asked by our tailoring teacher to manage her new shop and has thus hired her away. During the day if any of the remaining six girls have a question, they either go to Amrita’s shop or our teacher Goma’s shop for help.

Our daughter Amrita and the tailoring shop she manages near our Chelsea Education Center

Hope has grown a lot; she is getting tall and speaks in semi-complete sentences. She loves everything and everybody. She works hard to make sure all the children are polite; when I go to her house at suppertime she usually greets me outside and when we walk into the dining room if the girls in chorus have not yet said “Hi Papa,” she asks them, “Where is Hi Papa!”

She has wanted to attend nursery school so we take her for 30 minutes when school starts and again at lunch time. She is a quiet observer of the rules and behavior and when some kids get a little rough, she has learned how to find safe territory. When we walk in the door she usually asks me to sit near it while she ventures deep into the classroom. 

Hope at tiffin time in the nursery. The Principal loves Hope, even when she is eating a mango on her lap; here Hope is wearing a dress that Mrs. Rai bought for her.

On the Principal's birthday she was giving a talk up on the stage at the morning assembly. Hope had a gift for her and was patiently waiting for her to finish so that she could give it. The Mam was a little upset over the behavior of some Class 10 students and was sternly reprimanding them. After a few minutes while it appeared the Mam was just finding the groove of her speech, steam building, Hope called out really loud, “Mam!” The principal stopped and looked at Hope, and Hope said, “Happy Birthday, Mam” and waved the gift at her. The Mam noticeably deflated a bit and came over to Hope while remarking, “You all should be very thankful to Hope for bringing my talk to an end. I can’t stay angry when Hope is around,” and received the gift while the 600 student body clapped and called out “Happy Birthday, Mam.”

And with that I wish you all the best.


Anita and Hope Hope and her Papa


April 2015

I have not yet adjusted to saying 2015, seems like a pretty big number when I reflect back over my life as a teenager growing up in Maine in the 60’s, which doesn't seem so long ago. As youth we look to the future, as we age we remember the past and in our middle years we become a bit wall-eyed. Memories to the mind are like distances to the crow; they are short flights.


In the last update I wrote about Gita and our finding that she indeed had a deficiency in her growth hormone that could be remedied with daily injections long into the foreseeable future. Within days of the update being posted on the website we had a few people write and ask how they could help.  This included a couple of doctors in Germany. One family from British Columbia however immediately wired enough money for a year’s worth of treatment, following that with a letter of explanation. Julie and Stacy Owczarek have redefined acts of compassion.

Gita is a real trooper; she is always smiling and indeed maybe more with each nightly injection as she feels it is a magical elixir bringing her closer to renewed growth. I began the injections and then trained her sister Sapana to do them. Gita herself is willing, but her fingers are a bit short for the task.


Above in the dim light of a solar bulb Sapana prepares to inject her sister. The medicine is on the right. The bottom center shows sisters Sarita on left with Gita and Sapana before school.

In order to achieve the best discount we bought a six month supply which filled the small refrigerator (the first purchased in the history of NOH) with her medicine. With our daily power supply being twelve hours, we only open the door once a day and hope for the best.


The first three months of the year are packed with Nepali holidays:  January has the Maghi Festival and Saraswati Puja, February Valentine’s Day, March Holi and now in April we celebrate the Nepali New Year, which is the ending and beginning of the new school year.

Maghi is the Tharu New Year; the Tharu ethnic group accounts for over half of our children. The day is celebrated by togetherness, dancing and eating finger-sized sweet potatoes boiled in very large pots. In the children’s life before us, it marked the day that middlemen would come to their villages and make contracts with the guardians on all girls 7 years of age and older if somehow any older girls happened to be there, and then taking them away. Here the children nestle into the certainty of their security and the love of their family.

A few of our over 70 girls who have seen both sides of Maghi


Saraswati Puja is a celebration in honor of the Goddess of Education Saraswati. The children all take this quite seriously. Anita Mahato and the girls in her home start the day before preparing all the foods associated with the occasion and rise hours before dawn on Saraswati Puja to bathe and finish setting up the shrine and plates of food to be offered on the shrine and eaten by all after they have offered their prayers at the altar.

Anita Mahato

The altar is ready



Gita and Saraswati

Hope mimicking what the others have done



Valentine’s Day

Possible Worlds (Toronto NGO founded by NOH Board Member and Filmmaker Toni Thomson) sponsored the annual Valentine’s Day celebration that keeps getting bigger and better.

This year we asked Sharmila Rai of Skylark School to handle all the decorations.  She has demonstrated in the past some pretty amazing artistic creations for other school events and has a love for doing it. Our Volunteer Nepal staff headed by Eileen Witham and Sunita Pandey organized all the voting on superlatives, made individual bags for over two hundred children, lined up a guest of honor, bought all the prizes and awards, organized the program start to finish and worked with our café staff to deliver a special lunch.

Sam’s boys showed up early at school to help Sharmila prepare the venue and they stayed after to take it all down again and return equipment to its proper place. These guys never fail to be there when asked and always bring good cheer to the task.

Kabita Basnet and her sister Apsara served as the Masters of Ceremony

Apsara and Kabita as MC’s

Kamal and Apsara voted “Most Likely to Succeed”

Kabita voted Skylark School Princess

Ramesh, Kabita and Chham performing

We were very pleased to have a surprise guest in one of Nepal’s musical legends Mr. Raju Lama who graciously attended and brought the crowd to its feet when he entered and took the stage where he had everyone swaying and singing along to one of his more famous songs.


After finishing his song Mr. Lama was introduced and then called to the stage was Mr. Santosh Pant famed Nepali actor and social activist who is also a member of the Nepalese Board of Directors for Nepal Orphans Home. Mr. Lama wasted no time in letting everyone know how humbled he was to be in the presence of “the true legend here.”

Dhiraj voted favorite student by the teachers

CEC Math coach Anita voted best new teacher

Among some of the other winners of the superlative voting were:

Tilak for “Most Handsome”

Purna for “Friendliest Boy”

Ishwor for “Smartest Boy”

Himal and Anu Basnet “Would Face Danger for Another”

Rabindra and Puja for “Funniest”

Ram and Rupa “Most Likely to Be a Star”

There were many musical and dance performances by children of both Skylark and NOH.

Sarita, Chiya and Sushma

Muskan and the girls of Sanctuary House

We are deeply grateful for the many years that Toni Thomson and Possible Worlds has supported the education of our children as well as ensuring a very memorable Valentine’s Day event each year. This is one of the days that captures all the children’s imagination and fills them with the happiest of memories.


The day was full of surprises and excitement and one very special and completely unexpected performance by our Hope Angel.


Hope and Anita were on one side in front of the stage and I on the other taking pictures. Suddenly Hope left Anita’s arms and started walking towards me, her first solo walk. The distance about 20’, I curbed the impulse to run out to meet her and with her eyes locked into mine willed her to make it all the way. These photos were caught by someone near and given to me the day after. Later we received many more perspectives as we found that a lot of eyes were on Hope and knew what was happening and all recorded it.

Hope had a busy day. Here below she is sitting in the photo booth with the first grandchild of NOH Sujan, who is the adorable son of our daughter Santi who has returned to the fold and become the cook of Sanctuary House.


Random shots and some of Anita Mahato’s girls who choreographed their own dance.


Then Came Holi!


A day of water balloon fights and color which always attracts our more sporting volunteers.




Chham Gurung is my second Nepali son; he was in the first orphanage that we rescued. In 2014 before starting class 12, Chham decided he wanted to get a room on his own so that he would have the freedom to work both before and after school to help his poor aunt and her children. He accepted no money from us other than his college fees. He found a little room nearby and would go to the wholesale vegetable market at 4:00 in the morning to find the freshest vegetables he could buy and deliver to his aunt to sell.  With each day’s profits he was able to buy more and she sell more. She would sell out quickly because Chham picked only the freshest vegetables available. In the evenings, Chham became a door to door salesman for low energy light bulbs. During school vacations he would go back to his village and be a porter for European trekkers. When Portuguese Humanitarian Photographer of the Year winner Rui Pires came to NOH to film the children, he met Chham and saw himself in him and the two became close friends. Rui is taking Chham next month to film at two locations in India for a month’s time. He will be teaching Chham the art of photographer’s assistant. Just recently Chham, who has been doing porter’s work for a couple of years, was selected by the Nepalese government as one of 750 people to be trained as Licensed Trekking and Mountain Guides out of 2500 registered guides who applied. Chham, who is one of the strongest people I know for any size man, passed the two week course with flying colors in time to return to college for his final exams.

Chham has always watched out for little kids or those more vulnerable, or with few friends.


Kabita Basnet

Kabita in 2007

Kabita February 2015

Kabita and her sister Apsara have from day one been very special to us all. Simply put, they are the best of the best. They are exceptionally close sisters with great admiration for each other’s character and achievements. I have written about Apsara recently, how sick she was when she first came and the week I spent nursing her back to health really bonded us. Kabita, even so young then, was very protective of her sister and had guided her through a very difficult time when they were removed from their home and brought to us. At her age and in her role believing that she was the only one to really care about Apsara, she watched me nurturing her back to health and she felt trust.  In her innocence, she saw a guardian angel had come to insulate them from further harm. We have always been very close and it would be Kabita that I could turn to for the truth if ever there was a dispute.

Kabita has worked very hard at school, putting in longer hours than anyone else and managing a respectable grade from it. She has repeatedly been honored at school and at home for her character, and her house mates voted her to be their House Captain.

Kabita recently sat for her School Leaving Exam and now has three months of holiday. She and two other college-bound girls moved into the girls’ college house to begin their transition to independence. Last week Kabita came to see me and announced that she felt that she should go and help her mother. Despite events of the past, she has always loved her and felt sorry for her. Her mother lives in a small room without plumbing; she sells items on the sidewalk to get by. Kabita told me that she would get a job and take care of her mother and then when school starts she would work and attend a college near her if we could help with the fees. Kabita is leaving behind a comfortable flat with some of her best friends, all expenses paid and opportunities to simply study or work with us in some capacity part time.  She is leaving what she has said has been a dream of a family and her sister whom she is so close to, because Kabita is the type who puts others first and feels that the right thing to do is the only thing to do.

On April 1st, a line about 150 people long queued up to give Kabita a blessing and hug goodbye. She wrote beautiful letters to several of us and handed them over before leaving.

As it is with all of our children we will always be there for her in both good times and bad.



Puja Sapkota

Puja has always been a confident and very funny little girl. I believe that a sharp humor illustrates a person’s intelligence and I feel Puja is very intelligent, though she has preferred to hide it from evidence in more traditional ways such as school grades. Pupu, as I have always called her, has been steadfast from day one that her life needs balance and she should not give an inordinate amount of time to study. She has been consistently in the middle of the class almost perfectly so, as if she had her eye on that mark and would tap the brakes a little if she thought she would exceed it. This past year Pupu was in class nine and she began to gain height and recognition from the boys for the striking metamorphosis taking place. And something else started changing in class nine. Her first term results had her leaving the middle pack and start to gain ground, she finished 15th out of over forty.  She claimed it must be some sort of grading anomaly. Her second term she was 9th. “I don’t know what is going on,” she said with a dismissive shake of the head. In the third term she was voted Captain, a high honor by the faculty, for which only a few of our children were selected. I am watching as in a 5000 meter race, Pupu has pulled away from the middle pack with a couple of laps to go and has caught the end of the front pack whose runners turn their heads in disbelief to see her. Pupu smiles affably, but as they turn to resume their demanding pace they hear Pupu’s determined stride letting them know that if they wish to win she will be bringing them through new thresholds. The last lap is already in the books and we will learn this coming Saturday where she finished, but it is clearly no anomaly.

Pupu was roommates with Kabita and Apsara and after Kabita left, the house voted Pupu Captain and representative at the children’s council. And as you have read she was also voted the funniest girl in school; a year of accolades for a girl who has always had a well-rehearsed defense for wanting always to be right in the middle.


“We have been working hard here on creating programs to continue to challenge our children academically and vocationally and some are falling into place this month, an exciting time for everyone with many exhilarating moments when something works and a few disappointments when they don't. I tend to learn more from my failures and constantly trying things has brought me a lot of education. In the end my children appreciate our attempts that fail just as much as our successes as they are illustrations of our love if not our wisdom.”

I wrote the above in a letter to a friend at some point in January. We had three teaching programs that had been in planning for several months and were looking forward to their commencement in early January. Though I had thought that I had covered all the bases and the programs were sure to be resoundingly successful, I had in my optimism overlooked a potential fly in the ointment, the human element,  and all three programs met with somewhere between never getting off the ground to helpful in a totally different but unsustainable way.

A fourth program has more than made up for the other three and in hindsight I feel that had one or two of the other programs worked it would not have been as positive in its effect upon the children’s learning as the fourth program alone.

Ted Seymour had come for a visit last fall and vowed to return. In late January he did, with the desire to set up the Khan Academy online math program for the children under our Chelsea Education Center. In a little over six weeks’ time, Ted accomplished our setting up five sessions of this individualized program for 55 children. NOH, through grants and donations, bought an additional 22 laptops, battery and inverters for three dedicated Khan Academy rooms, and internet and routers for each. Ted interviewed and hired three young college math professors as coaches for the 11 children in each room.  They assist our own son Dhiraj who is very advanced in his knowledge of computers and math and Anita, our math tutor from Skylark. The Khan program is an amazing tool and the children have eagerly embraced it.

In addition to this, we have considered utilizing the Khan Code Academy in our computer science curriculum where we presently serve 38 children in three different levels of computer science from basic learning of the MS WORD Package to web design and more advanced program writing. We have two extraordinary young teachers for these three classes and our Computer Hardware class is now taught by the trouble shooter for our ISP. All these new folks are dedicated to teaching and have developed great relationships with the children.

Though Ted has gone back to California, he continues to monitor the program and has joined the NOH board of advisors. He is a very smart man who inspired the children with his calm, happy, fun approach to learning and we look forward to his return and advice in between visits.

Ted with his grateful students

Dhiraj, Ted, and Emily Gabbard, a mathematics whiz volunteer, who worked with Ted for the success of the program, and on the right one of our new teachers.​

Ted with one of many signs of thanks

Two of our coaches monitoring a class
Dhiraj doing an introduction to potential students and one of the new dedicated Khan rooms.

Several years ago we had the pleasure of meeting John Lambert who was leading a group of students from a Saudi Arabian private school on a trekking tour of Nepal. This had been arranged by a wonderful 16 year old volunteer with Volunteer Nepal named Sally Cai who was a former student of the school. She contacted John who admired Sally very much and suggested that John’s trekking group spend some time at NOH, and so he arranged to do just that. This year was the third year that the NOH children and ARAMCO children have spent a memorable day together learning about each others’ culture and developing friendships. All the ARAMCO kids are special, but I would like to make mention of a few standouts.

The ARAMCO students in red t-shirts and their NOH partners

Two thirteen-year-old girls named Maya Dalia and Angela Hernandez did fundraisers before coming which netted $2250 USD. I have exchanged e-mails with these bright young girls who have lived in several countries in their young lives, and they reflect a maturity and understanding of the universe that is seldom found in college students. Their efforts were initiated and carried out alone; they illustrated a great understanding of business and marketing.

And a third student named Chiara Fitzgerald at 16 years of age has come twice with the school. On her own Chiara managed to collect clothes, games, school supplies, shoes, dolls, under garments and more, the total weighing over 300 kilos. She paid for the baggage fares herself from her after school and weekend work. The items brought are absolutely beautiful and so useful. But Chiara was not done yet; she also brought a gift for Hope which may have required a separate seat purchase it was so big.

My hat is off to these incredible kids and to their parents for having raised such generous and caring human beings. All three have pretty spectacular futures in store for them.

The relationship with ARAMCO has helped me to gain three very good friends:  Julie Brockish, who with her husband and children have finally returned to the Pacific Northwest where they are in their dream home in a beautiful area; Louis Spencer who retired after almost 30 years with ARAMCO as a teacher and who volunteered with us last October, a man whose company I enjoyed very much; and last John Lambert who like Louis retired the same year.

After the children were returned to Saudi Arabia with their school staff, John remained behind. He has been coming to Nepal for close to thirty years and has many friends here from his early days. One of the best known trekking and mountain guiding companies in Nepal was started by his Nepalese friends. John wanted to take a group of our boys exploring one day with his friend and one of the owners of this trekking company. He wanted to expose them to a potential livelihood and have a fun day of talk and seeing new sites.

They picked up Sam and the boys early in the morning and headed out to Bhaktapur. John shared his life story with the boys and had his friend do the same, 30 years of friendship. John has followed a unique path in his life from dropping out to playing professional basketball to exploring the world and finally settling in as a teacher for 30 years. John has a gift for listening to people and drawing them out. Our boys had a wonderful day and came back full of thought about John, their own futures and the infinite landscape that is their future and how not to be afraid to address it. In a nutshell, they came back eager and inspired.

We really appreciate people like John who go out of their way to bring kindness, wisdom and good times to our children.

Learning about Nepali ancient history with John and his friend in Bhaktapur

John Lambert, center, and one of his lifelong Nepali friends on the right​


Nepal Orphans Home welcomes its newest son Bimal, who comes from Dolpa, where he has been in the care of a longtime friend of Volunteer Nepal. Bimal is a very bright 13 year old with a confident command of English. He will be starting in class seven when we return to school on the 19th of April. He is very polite and well-mannered with a pretty good sense of humor. Space has been made available for him in the boys’ home, after the opening of our college boys’ flat.

Bimal and Sam in front of the boys’ house


In closing this update I would like to share my grandchildren with you. In March I returned to Florida to surprise my youngest son Aaron on his 37th birthday and to reunite with my three beautiful grandchildren whom I had not seen in about four years. My son Aaron and his wife Jo are both in the Air Force where Jo is an RN and Aaron a CRNA. They are stationed in Destin on Florida’s west coast. I met many of their colleagues and heard many flattering things about my son and daughter-in-law. I also went with my grandchildren to and from school and met some of their teachers.  I could not be more proud of my son and his family and regretted that my days there were so limited. So, without further ado, my grandchildren:



Nora Lynn

Grandpa feeling ever so relaxed
Making names out of dough to place on our Calzone and bake; my daughter in law Jo is an amazing mom and cook.

And my new best canine friend Ava, over 80 pounds of fierce protector of her family wrapped into the sweetest dispositioned dog I have met. I volunteered to babysit for her one day and thoroughly enjoyed a quiet tree-shaded backyard, a good book and Ava at my feet.

And, my beautiful 4th grandchild born a couple of weeks after I left on March 31st. Please meet:

​Paxtyn Francesca Hess

Thank you.

All my best,

January 27, 2015

We left you in our last update with the idea of Thanksgiving being introduced to the children. We did it and the day was a lot of fun. We served a menu unlike anything the children had previously eaten:  a vegetarian selection with garlic mashed potatoes, pearl onions, wok-fried stuffing laced with apple, mushroom gravy, candied sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and a huge array of sweet breads brought by Kathy Procanik and friends. There were several countries represented by many volunteers in the Volunteer House who had returned from placements to join us. In fact the only Americans present were Sam and me. The company was inspiring and left in mid-afternoon with both appetites and spirit sated. Our sweet-bread-bringing guest Kathy is a special friend who was instrumental in bringing us together with our daughter Hope. She had returned to Nepal in her ongoing work for Medical Mercy, the Canadian NGO headed by another great friend Elsie James. Please take a look into the incredible work they're doing at www.medicalmercycanada.org.

We learned a lot while in the kitchen preparing all of this to be simultaneously ready without ovens and using only 3 gas burners. We will build on our knowledge for next year. The kids loved the food and have asked if some of the dishes can be offered occasionally in the evening meals or Saturday tiffins, and we will. 

We served outside and ate picnic style, pods of children dotting the ground.

Sarmila contemplating what this might be on her fork.  Others going back for seconds.

Kathy with Naumaya and friends and with NOH volunteer teacher Maureen.

Dil Kumari and two of her children at Thanksgiving, and on moving day!


A few days in the life of Priya

In the last update I wrote about Dil Kumari and our search for a new home for her. We resolved this shortly after Thanksgiving.

Dil Kumari and her children share a 2 bedroom flat with a living room, kitchen and a good size bathroom with one of our older daughters Shanti and her 2 year old son.

Shanti returned to us during the October Dashain holiday after a 2 year absence. Shanti walks Dil’s children to school and back again every day and does the cooking for them all; in exchange Dil will watch Shanti’s son in the late afternoon should Shanti wish to join a course at our Chelsea Education Center. We are hoping to find a vocation that Dil would be interested in so that she can learn to live independently sometime in the future.

Together in their new home

Bottom flat is theirs

Dil Kumari’s children

Our boys coming to move the family


Our son Anil in his 3rd year of 5 at Kathmandu Medical College studying pharmacy

December Birthdays

Puja, 20 (in Tailoring shop)

Deepa, 20 (Asst. Manager)
Lila, 19 (college)

Suman, 11

Kanti, 12

Gita, 20

Bhumika, 13

Jenny Rai, 13

Alija, 17

Kamal, 18

Binita, 20


Gita Lama has been with me almost from the beginning. She has shown her loyalty to me and the family of NOH during times of countrywide danger and confusion which fortunately have been rare, and during all the good times when opportunities for her have come around she has never flinched. Gita has always made me feel like a father to her, a role I am honored and delighted to feel truly and comfortably fits. Gita and her husband have just become the proud parents of a beautiful little baby boy who as yet, according to tradition, is unnamed.

Gita has taken a 6-month paid leave and with her husband and son will stay on the small rented farm they have where they raise chickens and grow vegetables. Despite everyone’s urging her to go home and prepare, Gita continued to work with us until 1 week before she gave birth.

We had several possible choices for taking over the management of the Sanctuary House, but after only a brief deliberation we asked sisters Deepa and Cila if they would like to do it.

These two girls have shown exceptional maturity and kindness. They are both in college but one has the morning shift and one the afternoon; they are adored by everyone, always willing to do anything that needs to be done without being asked and have a fun sense of humor.

Deepa and Cila have been with us for a long time. Deepa has been the big sister who always does the right thing, urging Cila, a bit more adventurous, along a path as direct as she can to accomplishment. Deepa applies this same loving guidance to their younger brother Roshan. Before the girls were asked to manage, they spent their after or before school time tutoring the girls in Anita’s house and helping out at the café or taking kids to the orthodontist. We are very proud of their accomplishments and see them as perfect role models for the others.

Deepa, center, and Cila on right being honored at a recent Skylark School function.


Some snapshots of Davit’s world

The last few months of 2014 brought many changes and all of them good. The children are getting older and evolving into their futures with joy, excitement and confidence. One of the most pleasing developments is in the care of our daughter Aakriti. For two years Aakriti has been cared for in one of our homes by a wonderful woman who gave Aakriti a lot of love and special attention. This past fall Jishnu decided that she should return to her husband and children who are quite far away. One of the older girls in our Sanctuary House where Aakriti lived has always given her a lot of attention and shared a warm comfortable relationship with Aakriti. Bipana has also suggested for some time that she wished to drop out of school as she did not see a future for herself that would be smoothed by it. Bipana was in class 9 and had, she felt, enough math to serve her well and saw no sense in the other studies. So when Jishnu announced her intentions, Bipana quickly asked if she might take on that role. She did and things have been great ever since. We enrolled Aakriti into one of three schools for the blind; this one will be for 6 months while she develops a few skills necessary for her to move into another school which is the best and oldest school for the blind in the valley. Bipana takes her every morning and remains at the school helping out until the students are dismissed in the middle of the afternoon. I went to visit one day and left so moved by the work Bipana does at the school. I found that she has become the go-to person for all the parents with questions. The teachers at the school cherish her and how she serves them, the parents and children alike. There comes a moment in every parent’s life when they first see their children in the environment they have created outside the one they share with us, when we see them as others do, as young adults not as the daughter or son of us, but as equals. We watch other adults approach them and hear the respect in their voices when asking them for guidance. These are clarifying and very satisfying moments when we realize our children have grown up and maybe kept this from us by staying in the role of daughter at home when actually they are both daughter and independent young adults. I could not be any prouder of Bipana, she is exceptional by all standards, but also very typical of our children.

Aakriti this past summer

With Bipana at tiffin early this month




The “Tharu Olympics”

A little more than half of our children are from the Tharu ethnic group which is known to possess uncanny abilities to balance heavy and asymmetrical objects on their heads while performing whatever task is at hand. We discovered that balancing eggs in a spoon or catching them when they drop is not one of their strong suits. But they distinguished themselves on a cold Saturday by balancing various open containers of water on their heads while racing to and fro. 

The “Tharu Olympics Two” will take place in the warmth of spring with hard boiled eggs.


Here is your sandwich and chips...what else can I do for you? Whew, my turn now.


Our beloved uncle Jake flew in from Australia on December 15th making Christmas a very fun and heartfelt time. On Christmas Eve we tried to show 10 years of photos of the children on a new projector. The first few photos broadcast on the side of the house brought a wave of cheers and laughter from the assembled, and then the machine turned itself off and refused to yield more than an occasional sputter of a picture.  So we turned to one another instead and by the yellow glow of candles the children mangled the verses to all the Christmas carols we could come up with.  We drank lots of hot chocolate, we basked in the warmth of being a special family together and when the chocolate was finished and the candles burnt low we walked home all together, the most distant house the first to say goodnight at their gate.  Then one by one we watched the other children enter their gates under our affectionate eyes until the last house from where we began turned to say goodnight to me and I walked alone then to sit with Hope while she fell asleep. In the early morning’s light the children would find the crunchy ice brittle ground peppered with bags concealing useful and fun gifts that appeared under cover of darkness with the help of Jake and our volunteer director Eileen and several of her wonderful volunteers. 

Early Christmas morning

Children doing their secret Santa exchange
Children starting to arrive on the grounds

Jake, who towers over us all, helping to serve Christmas dinner and on the right Broadway director Scott Embler sharing his enormous talent with our choral group.  Scott came to NOH as a volunteer as he approaches the end of his around the world trip. It is awe inspiring to see what a professional can do with a group of kids who have been in a singing class for two years. He somehow opened some understanding in them that coaxed out sounds so rich and varied that it had them smiling too hard to keep singing. Scott spent several days over Christmas filming “A Day in the Life” of our kids and will edit this after he reaches home. On his way there he has a stop in Iceland to prepare for his next stop: diving in Antarctica. Scott is an amazingly kind and talented man with a huge appetite for life. 


To help the children to understand the meaning behind Thanksgiving we held a writing contest in which we asked them what they felt the purpose and meaning of Thanksgiving might be. Our Volunteer Nepal director Eileen and a few volunteers spent a week carefully reading all the essays and chose the best two from each house. As it is with everything the children have written I have saved these thoughtful, touching, humorous essays for the children to have back one day. And the winners are:







Ram Saran


The awarding for best Thanksgiving essays, judges Eileen on left and Laura on right


Sam recovering from gall bladder surgery with the medicine of love 


In a year of many firsts we also decided to have the children vote on the one child who they felt had the best year and represented the character of NOH. The voting was impressively spread among many children. All three of these girls have a similar trait and that is their kindness and willingness to help anyone anytime. They are all very hard working and achievement-oriented students who take the time to tutor any of the children without hesitation.

Anisha received the third most votes

Anupa the second most votes

And the clear winner with the most votes: Cila, shown here wearing her award, the Tori Poynton-designed Nepal Orphans Home necklace. Some of Cila’s accomplishments this past year are passing her School Leaving Exam in the first division, winning a full scholarship at Morgan College to play basketball, ending her first term number 2 in her freshman class academically, helping in the Café after school each day, tutoring the girls in Anita’s house every afternoon after school, managing the budget for the college girls’ house and with her equally great older sister Deepa being asked and accepting the job of co-manager of the Sanctuary House. Cila, like all our children, makes us very proud.


Three countries, three individuals giving of themselves for the children:
Paulo from Portugal, Ted from the US and Hannah from Germany

We have been working hard here on creating programs to continue to challenge our children academically and vocationally and some are falling into place this month, an exciting time for everyone with many exhilarating moments when something works and a few disappointments when they don't; I tend to learn more from my failures and constantly trying things has brought me a lot of education. In the end I find the children appreciate our attempts that fail just as much as our successes as they are illustrations of our love if not our wisdom.


Gita is now 11 years old, she and her two sisters have been with us for 6 years. I have long suspected that she may have a growth hormone deficiency but I kept waiting to see if she would have a growth spurt in keeping with a couple of other girls that are her same age and original stature. Finally this past fall I found an endocrinologist that had been trained in Massachusetts, a really bright young man, and we started to have Gita tested. Unfortunately he was here only temporarily, and after he returned to Massachusetts, I began another search which ended blissfully with a great doctor who has trained in endocrinology in other countries. He studied her previous test results and ordered what he deemed was the definitive sequential blood test for her and the results came back showing that she was substantially below the established benchmarks for indicating a growth hormone deficiency. He suggested that she should have a good reaction to the treatments and offered growth rate expectancies which were encouraging if not exhilarating. I high fived Gita and told the doctor, let’s get started on what was to be a daily regiment for several years. He then said you should carefully consider this and he wrote the name of a pharmacy rep and told me to call him directly. It turns out that the course of treatments would run us about $22 a day.

Gita is a wonderful girl, always happy and interestingly reads the Bible every night before sleeping. She has not gained much height in the time I have known her. Just now I went to school to have lunch with the children and saw Gita standing next to Juna who was the same height when we brought them both into our homes; Juna is now a foot taller than Gita.

We have always found a way to help not just our children, but other children in the neighborhood, receive what has been on two occasions lifesaving medical treatments. Gita’s life is not in jeopardy, but the issues of quality of life are. The doctor said that she likely would not grow much more than she is now if we do not help her, so is her future to always be the height of a seven year old? If we help her she may attain the height of her shortest sister which is 5”3”, her elder sister is 5’6” and her brother about 5’9”. These are all normal heights in Nepal.

The greatest struggle that I have is that this comes down to a question of money, but I am making it a philosophical one. I have gone over the budget and examined the expenditures we have on behalf of children outside our home. If we stopped sending 20 poor children to school, stopped a five year program of feeding a hot lunch to 100 dalit (untouchables) children every school day, and quit supporting the medical and food cost of 10 blind children we could cover Gita’s growth hormone.

“All for one and one for all” wrote Alexander Dumas, but what does that really mean? It sounds great, but it is best left unexamined. Does it imply that the individual is willing to sacrifice for every individual or for the benefit of all and that the group is also willing to sacrifice for the benefit of one? If so we have a stalemate.

In Nepal there is a tremendous amount of need and we are faced many times a week with decisions like this: Who can you afford to help without placing any burden upon your own children, but now it is one of our children whose help would greatly affect the lives of 130 other children who are unfortunately outside our home.

Is it her destiny to be tiny? Is this a part of a karma she is here to experience? Questions like this I try to ignore, but I have these suggestions brought to my door quite often. Meanwhile Gita waits quietly though I feel in her eyes she is wishing to hear “Tomorrow we will start your treatments;” instead I ask, “How was your day?” and wish her a goodnight’s sleep and remind her of fun events coming up. 


We live in a world of smiles here

2014 has been a very good year for us at Nepal Orphans Home. Our Volunteer Nepal department has brought some spectacular volunteers to our shore and they have all left their mark in wonderfully contributive ways across Nepal as well as in Dhapasi. They will always be connected by their experience with us and the ongoing help to those who touched them while here. The donors to NOH have also made what we can do for the children and others possible; there isn’t a good enough way to thank them for their trust and belief and care for others.

The children are truly nothing short of amazing and in just a few more years I believe that our older children, armed with higher education and vocational skills, will in their independent lives be reaching back in support of their smaller brothers and sisters still with us.

2015 is firing on all cylinders, the programs that I mentioned above enthusiastically received and I will be reporting on them soon. Comfort should be taken in the fact that the people here to help are truly dedicated and special people whose purpose in life is all about helping others, richly talented folks opting for a year’s emotionally abundant life over another year’s materially abundant one. These are folks who do not mind the problems encountered with building programs as they become more energized by successfully navigating through them.

In closing I want to share a story about 20-month-old Hope that I had shared in a letter with a friend but felt it worthy of repeating.

On Christmas day the children put on a program as they do every year. It is always well rehearsed with each of the four homes providing many sorts of entertainment. We had some wonderful guests with us to celebrate Christmas and I was called away at one point in the program in one of the guest’s behalf. It was at this point that Hope somehow ended up on stage and was given the microphone. Hope is very observant and tends to mimic what she sees to perfection. I have only these two photos and the recollection of a few people about this with which to reconstruct it again now.

Hope took the microphone in hand and paced a little back and forth while coolly scanning the crowd of 150 or so. She did not say a word, but seemed to be in deep thought as to how to begin. People waited, smiling in nervous anticipation, and she looked and they waited some more. Feet began to shuffle and a few called out to encourage her. She paced a bit more like Steven Jobs searching for the right words to announce his latest creation before a crowd with baited breath.  Then she sat down on her mom’s feet, smiling as she slowly scanned the crowd, and then she spoke, one word, like the sermon from the mount, but she had just one thing to tell the assembled before handing the microphone to her mom, one message delivered for them to ponder. Hope simply said, “Papa.”

And that’s my girl and the update for January the 27th, 2015.


Clockwise from top left: Hope paying respects to Saraswati, the Goddess of education; calling a baby goat; Hope when the goat came to her; Hope and her mom in quiet contemplation.