Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Getting There...

So as you can tell from the photos the beds and playground have arrived. The swings have been hung and the paint on the slide has dried. The beds are all put away. This weekend we'll lay down the mattresses and quilts. The place looks downright liveable now.

Yesterday Dinesh and I went to Ekta, a Nepal-based bookstore chain that specializes in children's books, toys and athletic gear. We stocked up on educational posters and children's books. Bought a soccer ball and some badminton rackets. Our library should fill up nicely. I think whenever we have a volunteer who would like to donate something to the house we'll suggest they go to Ekta.

We are currently looking for a weekend worker--someone who will be part-time, working three days a week, one to spell each of the full-time house staff. We had one interview yesterday but the woman didn't seem particularly interested, which seemed odd because she had gone through the trouble of applying. Dinesh has realized that recruiting staff will be an all-the-time task, constantly adding potential hires to his file.

Dinesh spent much of yesterday afternoon writing our admissions contract. This is the legal agreement between us and the closest guardian of the child who will move into our home. Oftentimes that guardian may only be a neighbor or village official, but we have to have someone as witness to the exchange. The contract stipulates that SH is now responsible for the child and states guidelines for visitation and so forth.

Speaking of admissions... we also did more work on generating our child list for admission. If we admitted children based on sad stories, of course we'd take them all. Last summer we established criteria for selecting children: 2-5 years in age; true orphan as opposed to one parent, or two parents both unfit; low caste v. high caste. Then we assigned points to the various grades within each category. It's kind of harsh business but it's what we do for now. Until we get a bigger place.

The house staff moves in to the house tomorrow to start cleaning and training with Rekha. On Friday night (maybe Saturday) they're going to cook dinner for us and Ranjit and family as part of their orientation and as a way to thank Ranjit and Ama for their generosity. For while we are paying them rent, they have gone above and beyond in terms of support and enthusiasm.

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Now I know the US has been gripped in a freeze for the past couple weeks, but I'm going to ask you to relate to the cold here in Pokhara. It seems monsoon season has come early. The mornings are bright and clear. By afternoon you can see huge white clouds forming atop the mountains and they bring rain by early evening that falls until some time in the night. But today the rain has kept up since last night, a total downpour. The temperature is in the low 50s which probably sounds delightful until you consider that houses don't (typically) have heaters. So when its 50 outside, it's also 50 inside. After a while it chills you to the bone. It reminds me of camping when you have to leave your sleeping bag to use the bathroom. You have to decide whether you'll be able to get back to sleep or to dart to the bathroom as fast as you can.... just a painful decision.

The rain has also caused several power outages and the government said yesterday that the loadsharing of electricity will increase from 21 per week to 40 per week in KTM. Pokhara's 21 hour loadshare will be the same. This is due to low water levels and less electricity generated in the North. Loadsharing, by the way, is what the Nepalis call rolling blackouts. Each day the power in Pokhara is cut for three hours--but not all at once. Your blackout is determined by your location. And your blackout changes from day to day--the government prints a schedule in the paper. For two days you lose power in the morning, for another two you lose in the evening, and so on.

It's rather ironic because Nepal (according to Dinesh) has the second largest potential for hydroelectric power in the world (Brazil is first) and yet they are plagued in the dry seasons by lack of generation. There are hydroelectric plants in operation, just too few. If Nepal could harness the hydroelectric potential, they could sell massive amounts of power to northern India, Bangladesh and possibly Pakistan, and meanwhile offer power on the cheap to its citizens. Alas, that is not the case at present.

I've played tennis twice since last posting. I'm getting a little more comfortable but no better in terms of playing. I'll take some pictures next time I play.

Dinesh and I will shop for food this afternoon--huge burlap sacks of rice and lentils, and three-gallon tins of cooking oil.

I leave two weeks from today--as usual, far too quick a visit.

1 comment:

Julie Lundin said...

Hi Chris -

Hope that you are doing well. We're snowed in today in Cleveland...YEAH! It's a real winter wonderland outside! As you can imaagine, the girls enjoy having Tom home for the day!

It's really great to read about your amazing progress. It seems like we've been sick for weeks but reading the blog has been the highlight of our sick days! And I have to admit that reading your puking story made me giggle for days!!

The pictures of SH are beautiful. What an amazing house. It's really great to imagine children running through the halls and playing in the backyard. What a blessing that you and Jen are able to touch and change so many little lives.

And what a blessing Dinesh and his family have been to you, too! I hope your remaining time at SH is productive. As always, you're in our thoughts and prayers.

All Our Love, Julie

p.s. Happy Valentine's Day XOXO