Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dasain

It is the holiday season in Nepal right now, analogous to our Christmas season. The festivals of Dasain and Tihar take place from mid to late October.

A few of the Sam's House children visited relatives (if it was possible) for a day of celebration. All the others went to Dinesh and Rekha's house for a day of ceremony, treats, and play. Typically gifts are given--sweets and sometimes toys or clothes. By all reports everyone had a fantastic time.


Mamata receiving tika from Dinesh.


Dinesh giving tika to Banita.


Rekha giving tika to Sarita.


Pratima and Kiran.


The whole gang after blessings.


And the best part... celebrating with a meal prepared by Rekha. That's didis Tara and Asuna in the background.

Maya's Birthday

A few quick photos of Maya's birthday party, her ninth birthday. We may have to add a budget line next year just for birthday celebrations--20 plus staff. It must seem like a TGIF there! Well, at least without the amphetamined wait staff.




Laxmi cutting the cake.


Maya with Mina, Pooja, Rina and Santosh. Check out the new dresses for the girls. Very cute. See the bangles on Maya's wrist--likely a birthday present.

Pooja and Kiran

In the last month, two more children have arrived at Sam's House.

Pooja came via the United Nations Human Rights Commission from the Terai region in southern Nepal. She lived in a village that for a time was a Maoist stronghold; they occupied the city. Pooja's father cooked for the Maoists, or more likely, was forced to. When the Maoists left the village after the ceasefire, some villagers labeled her father a sympathizer and murdered him. The UNHRC feared for Pooja and her siblings so they helped relocate them to children's homes in Pokhara.

Pooja's case also illustrates the kind of challenges that Dinesh faces from time to time. The UNHRC called him and said they were bringing Pooja and her siblings. Dinesh told their representative that we only had room for one child, which was true, and because he thought they wouldn't want to separate the siblings. The rep replied that they would bring Pooja only tomorrow. Dinesh asked them to wait because he wanted to consult with his board about the admissions process in accordance with the by-laws. The UNHRC showed up the next day with Pooja. Dinesh couldn't say no.


Pooja

And that's something that's difficult to explain. Of course on humanitarian level we wouldn't say no to any child. But right now we're at capacity in our home and we hadn't planned to be until next year. And while we like to abide our rules and regulations for admitting children (orphans, 2-to-1 girls/boys, etc.) sometimes Dinesh is put in politically sensitive positions that require his cooperation. Good ole' Dineshji.

Being from the Terai, Pooja did not speak Nepali as her primary language, instead using a dialect indigenous to her village. For the first few days at Sam's House she was pretty spooked. But lately she's been coming out of her shell as her new sisters play with her and make her feel welcome. She also had not been to school, so she'll take an aptitude test to make sure she gets placed in the proper grade at Gorkha English Boarding School.

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Two years ago, Kiran was a street child in Pokhara with no known parents. Local police placed her in a children's home that has recently run out of funding. So this group has been reaching out to other homes to place their children. Dinesh used our final spot for Kiran (there is a 20th spot but it's already been promised to Sandeep Pariyar, who will arrive shortly). Kiran is now four years old and she will likely attend nursery school at GEBS.


Kiran

So now we're at capacity at Sam's House--20 lovely children. Everyone going to school, eating warm meals, wearing clean clothes and playing with toys. There's more we can do and more we will do but I guess it's time to start thinking about finding land, or at least a new place to rent.

Please go to the official website when you have time. We've added short bios of the children.

CB

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Board Meeting

The Sam's House board held its first in-person meeting this weekend in New York City, graciously hosted by Delta and Brad Schonhoft. Our special guest of honor was The Director, Dinesh Rajbhandari, in the flesh, all the way from Pokhara.

The Director brought everyone up to date on the progress at Sam's House, including his plans and budget for the coming year. We reviewed those and discussed our fundraising goals for next year.

Despite the frivolity of these pictures, it was a very productive and fruitful weekend. Topics we had scheduled for an hour's conversation, tracked into two and three hours--but in a good way. We're all very excited for the future of Sam's House.


The night before the meeting, the binders still needed some assembly thanks to yours truly. We got the job done.


In the morning, before the meeting. Jeff, Delta, Brad and Dinesh.


The board at work. Around from the left that's Jen, Delta (hidden), Brad, Katie, Dinesh and Jeff.


After a long day of meeting and discussion, we treated ourselves to a Nepali dinner. In other words, we violated the customs of Nepalese hospitality and asked Dinesh cook for us yet again. Thanks, Dineshji.


After much prodding and pleading with her, Katie performed some flamenco after dinner.


We ended our productive weekend with a windy lunch on the beach. That's teamwork keeping that blanket down.


This man would like you to donate to Sam's House. Won't you please oblige him?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Marathon Redux

Team Sam's House took to the streets of Akron, Ohio this past weekend to raise money for its namesake. We fielded three marathon runners and a relay team.

The weather and scenery were beautiful, but the streets kind of hilly making for an interesting four hours. Pledges are still coming in but we have already raised more than $2,000 for Sam's House, a month of operating expenses, a month of food, clothes, school and love for 17 children.

Special thanks to the following donors, helpers or just generally great people:

Matthew and Addie Bender
John and Carole Butler
Michael Carey
Mark Cerame
Jennifer Clunk
Ron Copora
Darla Dackiewicz
Lisa Dauderman
Corie Dimagard
Lynne Duchon
Pat & Susan Ertle
Dan Fauver
Jennifer Forshey
Jack Goldsmith
Chuck Hurley
Stephanie Landes
Matthew and Patricia Lansell
Bill and Pat Lundin (as ever)
Sarah Melamed
Dave Prusak
Rick Riley
Bill Roddy
Irwin and Ruth Rothchild
Anna Mae and John Searfoss
John Straneiro
David Tracy
Michael and Darlene Williams


Relay team captain, John Lundin, preparing race bags the night before.


Warming up in the pre-dawn hours.


Entering Canal Park Stadium in Akron. I just wanted to show how the logo looks in (slow) motion.


The whole team, post-race. From left to right: Tom Lundin, Julie Lundin, John Butler, Paddlefoot, Kyle Holler, Justin Stieglitz, Rob Gress and John Lundin.

We're always looking for new runners to join Team Sam's House. Talent optional. But you must own your own shoes.


Smiling on the outside, crying on the inside. After the marathon, sights set on the Twin Cities marathon in 2008.

Blood Drive

Sam's House belongs to a network of children's homes in the Pokhara area. This group organized a blood drive recently as a way to give back to the community.

Forty seven people gave blood and the children, though not old enough to donate, were on hand to help out and watch the proceedings.


Members of the children's home network in Pokhara. They formed this group to share ideas and resources for operation.


Dinesh giving blood, moments before passing out.*


Mina presenting a certificate of recognition to Visma Poudel, the director of Namaste House.


Babit, Mina and Dhiraj at the blood drive.