Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bedding, Carpets, Pillows and Much Much More...

I haven't written in a while but there's been plenty going on. Where to start.

Last night we had a trustees dinner with the Nepali board at a nearby restaurant called the Apple Cafe. There were nine of us altogether with Ritesh and Diksha. The board had met a couple times but this was the first time they had had a social gathering so there was plenty of get-to-know you conversation. Dinesh and Rekha have gathered a really interesting and capable group of people. There is one lawyer, an accountant, a former major in the Gurkha army, and local business man. We'll have biographies of each trustee on the website when I return to the States.

The lawyer trustee, Shova, has already done a great deal of work for us, helping prepare the documents for registration. She will also assist with the house mother interviews this weekend. Speaking of which...

Our first substantial bump in the road has already appeared. We have only two applicants for the staff jobs and, on paper, each seem unqualified. This has caught us by surprise. Dinesh and Rekha said they never imagined it would be so difficult, and I agree. But these are the circumstances: the adverstisement requested single women, at least 30 years old, with an SLC certificate (HS grad), and without children. We have several women available who fit all those recs except for the children. It is extremely difficult to find women without children.

The age requirement is to ward off house mothers getting married and leaving the job. The childless requirement is so that house mothers won't be tempted to show favoritisma. Since Sam's House will stress education for the children, we thought it was important to have educated staff as well.

We were talking the other night about possible exceptions to the child rule. Namaste House has a house mother whose child lives in. We were thinking it might be possible. We'll revisit that topic later.

In the meantime, we have feelers out in all directions. Dinesh is trying to contact someone at SOS Village for possible contacts. So, we were planning to do interviews today (Tuesday); now we'll aim for Saturday, giving us just three days to find applicants.

Of course, a little of this haste (not really haste; D and R are equally eager to begin) is to please me, in order to open before I leave at the end of February. If it came to that, I will change my ticket. If it still doesn't work out, we won't hire unless we find the right people. I can miss the opening for that; it honestly wouldn't matter to me. It's too important to get the right people.

One of the applicant--by the way, point of interest, just so you know some of the color of the job market here--is a divorced woman with a five year old. She says she is willing to leave her son with her parents to live at Sam's House. She doesn't even want the salary. Just wants us to send it to her parents so her boy can go to school.

We've been on a shopping spree since the last post, buying bedding, sheets, towels, carpets, floor liners, curtains, pillows and more furniture. It's so interesting to watch the bartering process. The other day we went to a bedding store where Dinesh and Rehka haggled for more than an hour on 30 pillows, 15 foam mattresses, towels, etc. It's the system but more importantly, our donations are being stretched as far as possible without comprosiming quality items for the children. In fact, the landlord's wife came downstairs today to inspect the work going on. When she saw all the new purchases stacked in the kitchen, she joked that she wanted to open an orphanage for old ladies.

Speaking of which, our landlord and his wife are really sweet people. I don't think they need the tenants but they are interested helping us.

Today was a long day of labor at the house. In the morning the bedding arrived, piled high in the bed of a pickup truck. We put those items into the kitchen because in the late morning the flooring guys came with vinyl liners and carpeting. We put vinyl liners in most of the rooms; they look nice and they're easy to clean. We put carpeting in the upstairs kitchen and dining room, which will be play areas for the children.

By the way, the bedding, mattresses, towels and pillows came out to 49,000 Nepali rupees or (at 70 NR/USD) $700. And the purchased enough for 30 children. Quite a deal.

I'm always amazed at how Nepalis get the job done with the most rudimentary instruments. The carpet guys came in today with knives and free-hand scissors for cutting. No t-squares or any other measuring device but a tape measure. And still they get everything square and tidy.

With the carpeting guys, we moved a "showcase" (think massive wooden hutch with sliding plate glass front), that must've weighed 600 pounds (heaviest thing I've ever moved beside my brother-in-law's gym-quality treadmill) from the dining area to a sitting room. We had three carpeting guys, me, Dinesh, and Ranjit, our landlord, the 75-year-old, former tennis pro with diabetes. The showcase had very few places on which to grab hold so we moved it along by placing three welcome mats underneath and sliding it along the floor inch by inch. A very funny ten minutes.

Tomorrow we start shopping for kitchen items. This will take the most time and Rekha will be the lead bargainer. After that we'll move past the necessities for things like a TV, DVD players, toys, books, etc.

Keep us in your thoughts for some good applicants for the house mother position.

Tyatti ho--that's all for now. Life is good.

CB

6 comments:

Jen and Chris said...

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Irwin and Ruth said...

So much is getting done! It has to be satisfying to see the progress. We have our fingers crossed for the right housemother to come along soon! It will work out. Take time to relax also. All is well in frigid Morris.

Irwin and Ruth said...

So much is getting done! It has to be satisfying to see the progress. We have our fingers crossed for the right housemother to come along soon! It will work out. Take time to relax also. All is well in frigid Morris.

Jen and Chris said...

test comment

Jen and Chris said...

test comment

Sheila said...

You guys are rolling!

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