Monday, April 30, 2007

Mamata's Birthday

Mamata turned seven years old yesterday, our first birthday at Sam's House. The staff held a small party to celebrate the occasion. Dinesh reports that the children were extremely excited for the event.


Mamata and gang with the cake. That's Santosh, Dhiraj and Maya.


Rekha gives Mamata tika for wishing an auspicious year ahead. Mamata is now, as they say in Nepal, "seven years, running eight."


Indreni feeds Mamata some cake.


After Mamata, all the children receive tika from the didis.

Off to School...


The gang in the morning before school in their shiny new uniforms. Your donations helped provide these clothes, the tuition and all the supplies the children need for school.

The neckties are stitched with GEBS for Gorkha English Boarding School. If you look closely you can see handkerchiefs tucked into the belts of the young boys and everyone wears an ID badge clipped to their chest pocket.

Babit and Sabita


Babit and Sabita are seven and six years old respectively. Their father died five years ago. They were living with their mother in a multi-generational home with 18 people, all of whom were their father's relatives. Because the father had died, Dinesh says they were not treated well by their in-laws. Here are a few pics of their home...



Dinesh visited their village, north of Pokhara. He says both children are very intelligent though they haven't much formal schooling. They now attend GEBS with their friends.

Babit and Sabita brings the Sam's House gang up to 16 children where we'll stay for the rest of the year. Dinesh says the house mothers are very busy now and he's looking for weekend replacements so they can have some time off.

Jen and I are going to Nepal in couple weeks and we'll be sure to bring back plenty of photos and stories. Thank you, everyone, for all your help.

Dhiraj


Dhiraj is six years old. His father was unknown and his mother abandoned him to marry another man in a different village. Abandoning Dhiraj was a condition for her new marriage. Dhiraj's uncle took him in but already had three children of his own for whom he could barely provide. Dinesh says "their condition of living was miserable also." Dhiraj came to Sam's House just before the start of school. Dinesh says he has been a quick learner.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

School Begins!

The children started at Gorhka English Boarding School last week. School years in Nepal start in April so the last few weeks have been devoted to getting uniforms and supplies. Dinesh said some of the children were very excited while others were a little nervous.


Loading onto the bus near the home.


First day of school. Many parents ride along on the bus.


Sarita, Maya and Pratima on the bus.


Walking in the front entrance of the school.


Santosh and Manju meet their teacher.


Dinesh called this picture "Looking nervous in the classroom," a fitting description. From left that's Santosh, Mamata, Pratima (looking especially enthused; how funny), Bishal and Saran.


Sarita, Pushpa and Amrit at their desk.


Every school day starts with assembly. Here they do roll call and a series of calisthenics before going into the classrooms. It is really cute to watch.

Doctor Visit

Dinesh arranged for Dr. Kalpana Malla to visit Sam's House last week. Dr. Malla is a physician at the Manipal Teaching Hospital, an Indian-owned health care facility located in Pokhara. She examined all the children and will provide routine check-ups in the future.


The doctor looking at Santosh's tummy.


The doctor examines Mamata's eyes

A Picnic

A few weeks ago the director of Namaste House, another Pokhara orphanage, suggested having a picnic for the various children's homes. Dinesh was excited about the idea and took on the responsibility of organizing the event, which must have been a ton of work.

The picnic served several purposes. One, to give the children a fun afternoon playing games and meeting new friends. Two, helping to normalize the living experience by showing our children that there were other children in the same situation, and three, to let the directors meet and share ideas. Dinesh says it was a rousing success.

Pictures below.


They rented a tent for the meal, I presume, because the temperatures in Pokhara hover in the 90s these days.

Those are your guys across the front. From left: Suresh, Saran, Pratima, Santosh, Bishal and Rina. The meal appears to be roti (flat bread) and some curried simi (beans).


The directors having lunch together. I don't know how many homes participated nor how many are represented by this group. The gentleman in the black shirt is Visma, the director of Namaste House and sitting to his left is Suresh, the person in charge of field visits and admission at NH. Suresh came with us on a couple field visits to meet some children on their waiting list.


They had a footrace for the boys. That appears to be Amrit in the red shirt and jeans halfway back.


Mina and Maya dancing.


House mother Indreni blindfolded and trying to break the clay pot on the ground. The Nepali version of pinata.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Yard Sale, the Second!

We hosted our second Morris yard sale yesterday afternoon. After sweating the prospect of snow and cold keeping people away, we woke up to sunshine and warm temperatures and plenty of visitors, most of whom shopped and others who simply came by to say hello and enjoy some free coffee.

We raised $2,245 for Sam's House, in other words, an entire month of operating costs for the orphanage--food, meals, clothing, tuition, play time and salaries all covered for one month after just a couple days of work. Not a bad exchange.

As usual, we were fortunate to have many people contributing to the sale's success--from the donors of goods and pastries to the people who loaned a table or spread the word. We'd especially like to thank...
Katie Clark
Adele and Jim Cotter
Jennifer and Brad Deane
Pieranna Garavaso and Lory Lemke
Jen and Troy Goodnough
Sandy and Paul Grove
Leila Horman and the RFC
Julene Hansen
Skip Hesse
Jo and Mark Johnson
Rebecca and Jamey Jones
Brittany Kill and Family
Chrissy Kolaya and Brook Miller
Pareena and Todd Lawrence
Jennie Lazere
Peter Lund and Jeanne Sammelson
Argie Manolis
Carol and Roger McCannon
Leslie Meek
Anne and Steve Noonan
Larry and Carol Perkins
Ruth and Irwin Rothchild
Marynel Ryan
Owen and Jan Sammelson
Jen and Tamler Sommers
Dennis and Cheryl Stewart
Emily Stout
Kristen Strissel
Marie-Therese Sulit
Bonnie Tipcke
Timna and Peter Wyckoff

On behalf of the 13 children and four staff currently working/living at Sam's House, thank you for your generosity and support! Photos below.


Yard sale-ing expert Jo Johnson and Jen man the cashier's table.


Scheduled to start at 9am, shoppers arrive at 7:15. We were ready.


For the second year running, my mother-in-law, Ruth Rothchild, wins the "Most Breaks per Hour" award. Hi, Ruth! (She's Jennifer's mother, in case there was any confusion about the appearance.)


The most popular item of the day.


Jo Johnson unofficially starts the newest culinary craze by eating Cheez-its and coffee for breakfast.


Sequoia and Acacia Wyckoff attending their second sale in a row and coming away with some Connectors.


Newfoundland puppies were a new addition to the yard sale catalog. Eight pups still available. Call Skip Hesse.


Jamey Jones, Brook Miller, Parker Miller, Rebecca Jones and Jen pose for the camera while Chrissy Kolaya waves to no one in particular.


Parker Miller samples a pumpkin muffin.


Sales slow down in the late afternoon. Good time for a chat.


The Sam's House Yard Sale staff. Across the top (L to R): Larry Perkins and Owen Sammelson. Middle row: Steve Noonan, Anne Noonan, Ruth Rothchild, Carol Perkins. Front row: Jo Johnson and two drifters.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Santosh

As you can see from the earlier pictures, Dinesh has been busy finding needy children to live at Sam's House. But often the children find him, so to speak. Now that Sam's House is open, he is beseiged with referrals. It's difficult for him to sort through the details to determine if the person is describing a child who meets our criteria.

Recently, Dinesh learned about Santosh, who was living with his sister and mother in Arukharka, a village nearly 50 miles away, or in Nepali terms, 1.5 hour bus ride followed by a 2.5 hour hike. Dinesh decided to make a field visit there and, according to him, it was the most difficult trip to date. He writes, " In one place we had to walk through the cliff. It was so scary. If you slipped on the edge, your body would never be found." As you can see, he wasn't exaggerating...


Dinesh reached the village and met Santosh's family. His father committed suicide and the villagers said it was because he was ashamed that he could not feed his family. Santosh's mother is epileptic. Once she had a seizure and fell forward into a cooking fire, badly damaging her hands...


As a result she cannot work and has difficulty doing daily chores. Santosh's sister looks after her. Santosh is five but he hasn't been to school yet.

Dinesh filled out the needed paperwork but Santosh lacked some documents that we require for admission--his birth certificate and his father's death certificate. So before leaving Arukharka, Dinesh and a neighbor walked to the village office: "The office was empty. There was a broken chair and a steel cupboard in which all the official papers were stored." Fortunately, they found what they needed and started the trek back to Pokhara...


One of Santosh's neighbors accompanied Dinesh on the trip home to make the transition easier for Santosh. And it seems Santosh took to his new home quickly: "As soon as we got to the orphanage, Santosh immediately started to play with other kids."

The neighbor had been an orphan himself and he was overcome with joy seeing Santosh's new home. "He was really thankful to us after seeing all the arrangement for the children. As he left, he hugged me! Wow." The "wow" reflects the unusual expressiveness of the man's embrace. Nepalis typically do not hug.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Sam's House Gang...

And one more photo because I'm just so thrilled about everything...

Pushpa

Pushpa is from a village north of Pokhara. Her mother died during childbirth with her three-year old brother. Her father is mentally disabled.

Pushpa and her younger brother came to Pokhara to live with their aunt who has five children of her own. A French visitor supports Pushpa's younger brother, but they do not know how long this will last. He may join Pushpa at Sam's House.

Here's Pushpa at her auntie's house...



And Pushpa after coming to Sam's House...

Amrit

I've written about Amrit before. He was living in a room all by himself, living on food given to him by neighbors. His father was alcoholic and once tried to throw Amrit and his brother under a bus when they wouldn't give him their Deshain money. Onlookers turned him into the police and Amrit's brother went to Namaste House. But they had only room from one child.

Here's his old room...



The first time we went to meet Amrit, he was not very excited about the prospect of living at Sam's House, even though his neighbors tried to tell him it would be fun and good for him...



Fortunately, we were able to convince Amrit to join us at Sam's House. He finished the school year at his old school (Nepali year ends in April) and came to Bagar to join his new brothers and sisters. He seems much happier now playing with Bishal and Suresh and the whole gang.

Mina, Saran and Rina

You may recall from an earlier post that Dinesh told us about three siblings who had been dropped off at the house looking hungry and tired. Their mother "left to look for work." Here they are when the arrived at Sam's House...

That's Mina (9), Rina (3), and Saran (6).

Here's how they looked a few days later, all cleaned up, a few good meals and some new clothes...



So as you can tell from these photos and from those earlier today, Sam's House is filling up rather quickly. We'll stop at 15 for the year. Not because we want to but because that's what we've budgeted for the year until we can shore up some more funding. In the meantime, I hope you congratulate yourself for the accomplishment--your support is no small feat. And I know these children are certainly thankful to have your help.

A Few More Pics...


The girls playing with toys in the downstairs.


A game of carom. Very popular game in Nepal; on nearly every street corner.


Indreni and Sushma cleaning up.