Sally Benton traveled to Nepal this summer and spent time in Kathmandu and in eastern Nepal. Here is her report.
The children’s home we help to support in Kathmandu has big news! Hopeful Home Children’s home sold their building in Kathmandu and purchased land in Jhaukhel, two kilometers from Bhaktapur, a UNESCO World Heritage site near Kathmandu. The area has clean air and is quite rural. The land they bought is 25 units, or about 8725 sq. feet.
They would like to build a four-story facility, and they already have plans drawn. They currently have 16 children and hope to eventually expand to no more than 50 children. Over the years their numbers have ranged up and down, but when we started working with them, there were about 40 children living in the facility. Some have graduated and are living on their own, and some have rejoined relatives while we continue to support their schooling.
Dinesh, our assistant in Kathmandu, suggested they would like to build this winter, and it would take 6 – 7 months to build an initial three story building, with plans to expand to four stories. However, in further discussions, it appears that while they have savings from the sale of the house in Kathmandu, they do not have the funds now to build more than one floor. He estimated the total cost of building the four story structure will be $65,000 to $70,000.
They are renting a house quite near the purchased land, and we watched them planting rice on the land where the building site will be. The land is on a flat site, with room for a large kitchen garden and playground. In addition, there is a shallow well on the site, which can be used to irrigate the garden.
There is a Community Medical Clinic just 1 km from the land, and there is a hospital 2 km away on the same road, at the edge of Bhaktapur.
We have a new activity director and tutor for the children. He was a teacher in Kathmandu, at their previous school, and wanted to move to the country. He is qualified in math and sciences and also will be teaching at the new school the children are attending.
The school, United Preparatory English School, is very conveniently located only 100 yards from where they are renting, and no more than ¼ mile from their construction site. Dinesh and I visited the school. The Class 10 teacher showed us each classroom, and introduced us to the teachers and students. The kids in each class all hopped up and greeted us in English, and some asked us questions in English. Class 10 was doing quadratic equations on the board. The facility is simple but spacious, with a large central playground and common area, and the class sizes are small. They offer pre-school through Class 10 at this school.
The children are adjusting to their new school, and just finished their term and were on holiday during our initial visit to Hopeful Home. Two of our students are doing quite well in their new school. Riya Shah is first in her class, and Prya Shah is 6th.
The location definitely has potential to be a great home for these children. Gopini, the founder and head of the Nepali non-profit board for the home, is emphasizing this is a plan for the very long term, and even after both she and the current board are gone, Hopeful Home can provide for needy children to have a safe, secure, healthy home for years to come.
Children’s Paradise Home
We also visited Children’s Paradise home, where we also sponsor children to get a good education in Kathmandu. They have moved to a more secure area in the city, but are able to continue to attend their private school. The house has large rooms, with boys’ bedrooms on one floor and girls’ on another, with a patio off the study room on the 4th floor, and a nice kitchen and sitting room.
We visited with the children and are pleased to see that their English is becoming very good. This skill is important in Nepal, as English language proficiency can help them advance in many different careers. The children are happy and talkative, and are doing well in school, according to their report cards. They all know their sponsors and are very grateful for the continued support for their education.
Himalayan Education Center
We spent time in eastern Nepal, in Khandbari and up in the mountains, and had an amazing time.
Our manager, Sunita, is doing a wonderful job mentoring and teaching the 12 girls living at the Himalayan Education Center hostel in Khandbari. She also is the accountant for the hostel, and manages the myriad details that make HEC a thriving facility. In addition she is working to finish her Master’s Degree.
There are some pressures on the budget for the coming year. One area of concern is that the cost of living is rising continuously in Nepal. Food keeps increasing yearly in cost. I looked at some of the expenses from 2008, and saw that then rice was 700 – 1000 rupees for 30 kg, and in 2014 it has been 1600 – 1800 rupees for 30 kg. Sugar was 15 – 40 rupees per kg and now is 80 – 90 rupees. Potatoes were 25 – 30 rupees/kg, and now are 50 – 60 rupees/kg. Propane was 1400 rupees per cylinder, and now runs 1800 rupees.
We have had some great successes this year. One student, Babina, has graduated from her +2 (post high school) course and is ready to continue on to university studying mathematics. She is a very special young woman, an orphan who was raised by her grandparents. To have her come and be so successful at HEC has been a great achievement.
Another student, Chinchippa has accomplished great things, graduating from college, passing her teaching exams, interviewing and winning a coveted government teaching position in her region. She is waiting to hear where she will be posted. We’re very proud of her.
There are going to be four students working on their post high school education at HEC, compared to last year with only two. They all have passed their School Leaving national exams.
Simma Library Opening
We had a good trip to Simma to open a library, funded by Chloe and Deri Frazee of Sisters. Simma is a small village up the Arun river valley, a two day hike above Khandbari. The school has 225 kids, in kindergarten to Class 8. There are nine teachers, 5 government funded, and 4 locally funded. The students were out of school so only about forty were on hand for the ceremony, including the head of the board, and all the teachers. The school has done a nice job. The library is housed in a separate room in a Kindergarten building. Very nice benches and bookcase had been built, and there is carpeting on the floor! Our weather was very hot and humid, but downpours at night helped cool things off. I was accompanied by Sunita, Chinchippa and a neighbor from Khandbari . The local people
treated us to a great opening celebration, with cutting of ribbons and opening of bags of books. We supplied 800 books, and it was wonderful to see everyone poring over them. Everyone enjoyed reading, from toddlers to teen aged boys to the elderly grandparents. We then had a party, with gifts of katas (ceremonial scarves), red tikkas (marks of honor placed on our foreheads), gifts, and of course, Mountain Dew for everyone to drink! We intend to finish the library by putting in a solar light this fall, so everyone in the village can be able to use the facility both during the day and in the evening.
Chichilla Medical Clinic (supported by Dr. Debendra Karki of Chisang Clinic}
After opening the library, we walked back to Num, and took a jeep to Chichilla, where we met Debendra Karki, PhD. and two Canadian medical students who have been volunteering at his medical clinic in Chisang. Dinesh and I had previously met with him in Kathmandu.
Debendra is a unique Nepali. He came from this region in eastern Nepal, from a poor family who believed in education. Debendra was very bright, and earned a place in a boarding school in Kathmandu, and then a scholarship to go to college in the US. He received his PhD from Harvard, and his post graduate studies included work in Berkeley and in New Zealand. He then worked for the WHO and USAID, and has published demographic research on Nepal. Then he decided to come back to Nepal, and use his training in Health Administration to make a difference here in his home country. He has founded a Nepali non-profit and built two medical facilities, one named Chisang Clinic, in Baune, and one above Dhankhuta higher in the mountains. We had met him last November, and he was working on establishng a maternal/child and immediate care clinic in the mountains above Khandbari where there is an underserved population.
We met with an elderly retired Gurka soldier, Karka Bahadur Gurung, whose home is on the main road in Chichilla, local farmers and businessmen from the surrounding villages, and an employee from the hydropower project who has an annual contract to rent all the rooms behind the house. The home has four rooms on the ground floor that are unused. After discussion, Mr. Gurung agreed wholeheartedly to rent the space for use as the Chichilla Medical Clinic. Dr. Karki will hire and train staff, and hopes to have the clinic open in November of this year! They will provide prenatal/child and immediate care services. He looks forward to welcoming international medical volunteers for come and work at the clinic, as he has in his other two clinics. This is a wonderful opportunity for the people of this area, and Ten Friends has offered seed money to help with the start up costs of the clinic. Dr. Karki’s experience is that he can fund the ongoing costs of the clinic from volunteer fees and other donations. Our hostel manager, Sunita, is helping with the hiring process, and we hope this project can offer volunteer opportunities for the girls at the HEC hostel as well.
On returning to Kathmandu, we shopped for new and different items for our winter fundraiser and met with some of the Nepali business owners who have been so helpful to us and in doing so have helped those in their own country. They provide ideas and products they think donors might like to see and buy at our fundraisers, so we can put those donations to work back in Nepal. It’s a win – win partnership!
We hope to see you all at our winter fundraiser December 13th at the Belfry in Sisters! Thank you all for your continued contributions to help the children and families of Nepal!