Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Few More...

Tomorrow we leave, bholi janne, but we are looking forward to seeing/speaking to all of you.

The house doctors: Dr. Tejesh Malla and his wife, Dr. Kalpana Malla. Both pediatricians.

A message from the gang to all of you.

Mamata builds a tower.

The future president of Nepal, the honorable Bishal. He'll wear the lavendar chappals to the inauguration.

The irrepressible Saran.

Jen was asked to give a lecture to Gender Studies faculty and students at the Pandy Karyan campus of Tribhuvan University. After the lecture with faculty.

Jen and Mala Rai, her research assistant in Jiri.

Does this dress make my forehead look big?

(All future correspondence should be mailed to the Stevens County Home for Divorced Men, c/o Pete and Timna Wyckoff, Morris, MN)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Have Left

Very sadly we left Pokhara this afternoon while the children were at school. It's going to be hard to be away and we're trying to figure out how soon we can come back. Next summer is too far away.

Here's a few more fun pics from the last days.

Rina and Diksha budding around.

Ketaharu. "The boys" before school.

With Babit and Dhiraj


Dinesh helping Amrit with his tie this morning before school.

Sarita lining up some crayons.

Pushpa looking tall.

Ketiharu. "The girls."

Sarita distributes lychees to children. They have hard, spiny shells that have to be peeled off. They're delicious but the initial taste can be a little sour as Maya's picture below illustrates.

An overhead view of the yard during playtime.

In sociology, there is a concept called "cultural universal," which is, as you can tell from the apt name, something shared by all humans regardless of culture.

There are very few actual cultural universals but I think we can add children's dislike of haircuts as Rina demonstrates here.

Rina after the cut and a shower, still appearing dissatisfied with the results.

Jen gets a check-up from Doctors Binita and Maya.

Santosh and Bishal

Babit and Sabita

Friday, June 22, 2007


This morning I visited SOS Children's Village in Pokhara. Sarita, who grew up here, came with me on the start of her two-day holiday, which includes, tomorrow, SOS Day, celebrated in SOS Villages around the world.

SOS Villages have a family model that we hope to emulate one day. The grounds have smaller, cottage-style homes for ten children, one mother and one house sister. It's just a beautiful place, almost idyllic.

After visiting with her "Mommy," as Sarita referred to her, I got a tour of grounds and had a short meeting with Bagat Shresta, the Village director. He has been very helpful to Dinesh in the early days of Sam's House, not only recommending Sarita to us, but also with other types of advice and ideas.

He says the biggest challenge for SOS and other orphanages is reintegration. While the orphanage does its best to prepare the child for life as an adult, the Nepali economy just doesn't have room for more 18-22 year olds seeking jobs. Moving out of the orphanage can often be too shocking, too difficult for the child.

Though our oldest is just nine years (Mina), Dinesh has already begun thinking about ideas to help children assimilate after Sam's House. The education and vocational training will be helpful but sometimes the jobs just aren't available.

So Dinesh has been thinking entrepeneurship, starting local businesses that we might construct to give the children a career start and which could be used to help generate some revenue for the house. Also, we might partner with some local businesses to have our children intern with when they are older. For example, Bharat Malla, one of the Nepali trustees, has a travel agency. He might be able to bring in some children to teach them the business or get them aligned with a trekking agency, so forth and so on.

Bagat invited Dinesh and me and Jen for dinner tomorrow during SOS Day. There will be awards and an entertainment program with the kiddies. It's what we hope to be someday. We'll see.


We leave for KTM on Monday. Can't believe it's already here. I'll try to post some more pics on Sunday before it's time to leave. It will be so tough. I've been saying that Jen and I would only come once a year and that we'd rotate our visits. I don't know if we'll be able to abide that now.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Carter's Visit

Perhaps you've seen in the news that Jimmy Carter recently finished a four-day visit to Nepal in which he met with the prime minister and leader of the Maoists, which is something the US ambassador refuses to do.

After the visit the former president said he hoped the US would remove Nepal from its travel warning list and cease branding the Maoists as terrorists, since they have complied with UN requests to lay down arms. The US is the only country to include Nepal on its travel warning list.

Obviously, being here, we support those sentiments. Travel is key to Nepal's economy and there aren't many other options, so making travel easier and less worrisome for Americans would be a positive step.


Yesterday was our third wedding anniversary. We celebrated by having dinner with the Rajbhandaris and Priti at a local restaurant. It seemed fitting to celebrate with Dinesh and Rekha, the directors, since Sam's House started on a June 19th through the generosity of all the people who attended our wedding and sent gifts.

The other day Jen met a British volunteer who had visited Sam's House about a month ago. She described it to Jen as "perfect." Being so close up, we spend time talking about things we could do better and will do better, keeping in mind that Sam's House is only three months old. But it was certainly nice to hear that, and actually, it is a pretty amazing place.

And how could it not be? We made our first tax filing just before we left in May. I was counting up the number of donors who have supported Sam's House. It was well over 150 people and families.

I haven't been saying much about the pictures but I hope they convey the happiness and fulfillment that these children now have thanks to you. Just a few months ago they were struggling for food, missing meals, not (or barely) attending school, and living in relative squalor.

Today they wake up to a warm meal, put on nice clothes for school, study, come home and do homework, then play in the yard until dinner. Then they watch a little TV and off to bed and repeat the same routine the next day with all their brothers and sisters and four house mothers watching over them to teach them good habits, clean their wounds, stop their tears, give them love and hugs and so much more.

And it all started three years ago yesterday with you. Thank you so much.

Life is good.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Photo Day

Over the weekend we had a photo day where the children put on their best clothes and patiently posed for a series of pictures.

Binita, Sushma, Sarita, Pushpa and Mamata on our way to the ice cream store.

Manju, Pratima and Sarita at the ice cream store.

Everyone getting tired after ice cream. It had been a long day.

The didis got dressed up too.

Rina recently up from a nap with her birthday hair clip and Spiderman sandals.

Sabita too shy for photos.


The littlest ones (minus Rina during nap time): Santosh, Pratima, Saran, Suroj, Bishal and Sabita.

Pushpa. The girls received new barettes (sp?) for photo day.


The girls in the middle: Manju, Pushpa, Binita, Mamata, and Sarita



The Big'uns: Amrit, Mina, Maya, Babit and Dhiraj.

Over the weekend, we cleaned up the yard. Dhiraj volunteered to collect the weeds.

Binita and Santosh

Do you have any idea how exhausting it is to entertain everyone all the time every day? Rina does.

Maya teaching me a hand pat game.

I could watch this all day--Saran doing limbo. Jen taught the children this game. Saran could easily walk under this rope but doesn't seem to know that yet.

Asuna and Amrit

Mina doing a dance while Dhiraj, Jen, Babit, Priti and Sushma look on.

Jen Aunty visits after long day of research, greeted by Binita and Pushpa.

Maya circles the group; this game is the Nepali version of Duck Duck Goose.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Some Photos and a Few Awards

The house sisters love to look at photos but they rarely have time or the courage to ask. Usually the request comes from Sarita behind whom Sushma and Tara can be found tittering nervously. Of course I don't ever mind.

Today we were a staff person extra so the women had a few spare moments for picture taking. As you can see, they had a hard time keeping a straight face, especially Sushma.

It was fun to do this. They were laughing long after we stopped and viewed the pics on the computer. I can't stress enough how hard they work.

Sushma and Tara in back; Sarita and Asuna in front.

Maya shows off some balance.

Sarita with her doll. I love that face!

Maya works on her Nepali homework.

Sarita offers Dhiraj some consoling advice for life on the playground.

Dhiraj and Suroj.

Kamal, the house tutor, with Mamata and Saran.

Sushma and Tara lead the walk to the bus stop.

Girls huddling under an umbrella for the walk to the bus stopy wearing their Friday whites. At GEBS, there is a separate uniform just for Fridays. Dinesh doesn't know why either. We're thinking it's a British end-of-the-school-week thing.

Maoist rally and speech in Mahendrapul yesterday afternoon. All the red baseball hats are supporters. They read "YCL" for Young Communist League.

Jen, Priti and Joe lead the group in a game of Telephone Line.

Saran and Manju playing quietly.

With my stylists, Maya and Mina.

The "Eddie Schor" award goes to Sarita for her fine looking hockey choppers.

The "Most Reminds Me of a Relative" award goes to Sabita, who looks like my little cousin Suzanne Atkinson.

The "Would Make a Grandmother Proud" award goes to Mina who gained four kilograms (nine pounds) last month. Mina, with the doll, poses here with Dinesh's mother, Maya, Ritesh, and Pratima (head turned).

The "Paris Hilton" award goes to Bishal for his frequent and quick trips in and out of confinement (time out room). His engaging smile and charm keeps him in the sisters' good graces.