Thursday, February 08, 2007

First Child Files Arrive and Staff Training

The Sam's House staff started their training officially this morning. Dinesh and I took a cab with Tara to Namaste House where we met Indreni and Shova. They will spend the next three days and two nights observing and working alongside NH staff, learning the routine and tasks for daily work.

Then next week, around Wednesday, they will officially move into Sam’s House where Rekha will conduct two days of training on food preparation, child care and other chores.

They seemed quite excited to begin this morning, despite the fact that it was extremely cold (for Pokhara). Namaste House is a converted hotel and nearly all the floors are marble. Indreni and Tara did not bring indoor chapelles (shoes) so they were walking in bare feet.


In the afternoon we had a visit from Sushil, the program director at Namaste House. NH is currently at capacity for children but they continue to seek out other children in need and then farm those applications to the other orphanages. They have asked us to take some from their waiting list. Sushil brought their 12 most at-risk children (and by “at-risk” they mean unless these children find a home some worse fate than mere parentlessness or living on the street will likely befall them).

Sushil compiled the files personally by making visits to the areas where the children lived. In some cases he didn’t have to leave Pokhara. For others he had to take a bus or make a 12-hour walk to a village. In the future, Dinesh, or another staff member, will be making similar visits.

Each file contains similar information—a cover sheet with a summary description of the child with their biography and current status; death certificates of the parents (if applicable); and letters from the village officials averring to the truth of the situation.

Here are just a few of the stories (with names changed)…

Pasang (5 years old): his father left his mother when she was pregnant. Mother died in childbirth from complications with the delivery. She might have lived if she could have reached a hospital but the night curfew imposed by the government during the Maoist conflict prevented her from leaving the house. Pasang now lives with grandparents, one of whom has diabetes (the report said “suffering from sugar”) thus requiring them to spend nearly all of their meager income on medicine.

Manika (7 years old): father is a drug addict and missing; mother is mentally unstable and deserted Manika when she was three, returning to her home village where she had another child. Relatives located the mother but she disowned Manika. Manika now lives in “a small tin room along Baglung Highway” in Pokhara with her paternal grandmother who has no income and works for food.

Laxmi and Anil (5 years old; brother and sister): Their father was in a jeep accident a few years ago and needed six months of treatment in a KTM hospital. They sold the family farm to pay the hospital bills. The treatment did not work; the father returned to the village deformed, near-paralyzed, and eventually died of an infected bedsore. The mother, now a widow with no money or property, sunk into a deep depression that later morphed into, according to the report, “general madness.” Laxmi and Anil have been shuffled from neighbor to neighbor.

So, thank you again, Sam’s House supporter. These are just three of the children you are helping today!

We will probably take at least six from the NH list. The Nepali trustees also have some children that need help. It’s sort of the worst job, having to choose children. After reading the NH files, you wanted to take them all. But we know that we need to show restraint or we won’t be able to help at a level these children need.


Switching back to mechanics, an electrician worked at the house all day, installing emergency lights, inspecting light fixtures and adding some outlets where we needed them. The bed quilts also arrived. And, as you can see above, Rekha started putting the children’s library together. Every day, another touch is added. I love to hear Dinesh say “I think this will be the nicest orphanage in Pokhara.”

Incidentally, our tagline has been translated into Nepali: “Ajako ghar… bholiko aashaa.” It’s not a perfect translation because, as Rekha tells me, there’s no Nepali word for “hope” in noun form, but this will do all the same.

That’s all for today. Thanks for the e-mails and comments.



Carole said...

You should all be so very proud! Love, M

Sheila said...

You guys are smokin'!

Jennifer said...

If it is possible for your heart to swell beyond capacity with pride for all of you, then mine has completely filled this room. You are living the dream - my heart is with you.