Monday, June 22, 2009

The Day Begins

I love the morning rush of action at Sam's House. It amazing how much activity fits into three hours, from 6:15 to 9:15. There's morning tea, homework, morning dal bhaat, washing up, getting dressed for school, and many ministrations to hair, skin and clothes. Everyone pitches in. This morning the eldest boy triumverate (Babit, Dhiraj and Amrit) were especially helpful, combing hair, tying shoes, and fixing ties.

Just because you're in nursery school doesn't mean you don't sometimes need help with your shoes.

One of our star students, Sarita. While the other children were watching television last night, she was studying for her social science exam.

Pratima and Ramila.

As the outfit says, SH has its first diva. Jamuna really looks the part, hoina?

Ganga and Jamuna hot-footing it to play group with Pramila. Love their clothes. Jamnua has learned to respond "Hajur" (yes) when you say her name. Ganga is still working on this.

The short walk to the bus stop. Just at the end of the alley. Big girls leading the way.

Laxmi, her nine-month old daugher Lillian, and husband Dil. They came over for family photo.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Photo Day with the Didis (and More)

One of our donors asked that we use their gift to do something for the didis, so I took them shopping for new clothes in Mahendrapul. This was very exciting as I think it's probably a good bet no one has taken any of them shopping before, which is a shame because they definitely deserve some pampering.

Ramila and Prema opted for saris. Asuna, Tara, and Pramila chose kurtas. And they all picked up a new pair of shoes to go with the new outfit.

A couple days later Asuna asked, on behalf of the other didis and after an enormous amount of embarrassed tittering, if we could have a photo day when their new clothes came back from the tailor. How could I say no? Here are the photos... many of these I printed out for them to hang in the didis room.

Tara didi, our longest serving didi.

Prema, who asked to be photographed with two of her three daughters. That's Sangita on the left, and Sunita on the right.

A short tribute to Prema didi... she scares me to death and I mean in that old-fashioned good way, like a strict school teacher that you appreciate years later. The kids love her but they also mess with her the least. Sometimes when she lectures one of the children who's being naughty, I have to hide my face because it's so so funny. She takes no guff, works like mad, and plays the heavy with no problem. When I try to sneak out of the dining room to wash my own dishes, Prema gets on me immediately, "Chris Sir! Chris Sir! Yahaa rakhnous! (put the dishes here)" I throw them down like they're hot. Future volunteers be warned! =)

Asuna, all four-feet, six inches of her.

Ramila, the new house warden. She now manages all the day to day doings in the house.

Pramila, our newest didi.

Me and the didis, photo by Mina.

Sometimes people ask if Rina's changed at all. As this photos indicates, I think, the answer is "not much."

Got a nose full? No problem.

Manju and Ganga

"People, I'm serious. Just once I would like to potty train in private. Anyone got last week's New Yorker?"

Saran and Santosh

Dinesh Shrestha--New Trustee

I had the pleasure of having dinner with Dinesh Shrestha the other night, one of two new trustees on the Nepali board. Ranjit and Ama hosted on the roof of Sam's House because it is so very hot in Nepal right now.

Dinesh is retired from the Agricultural Development Bank in Pokhara and now is the director of the Pokhara Sports Council. He came to the dinner armed with a donation from the Council--several sporting items including a basketball, soccer ball, badminton set and other things.

On behalf of the many Sam's House family members, welcome Dinesh!

Dinner on the roof of Sam's House.

Dinesh with a gift to the house from the Pokhara Sports Council

Mr. Shrestha

Friday, June 19, 2009

Help from the Gurkhas!

Through Ranjit's connection to the British Gurkhas, his relative, Khusiman Gurung, who serves as major for the 1st battalion of The Royal Gurkha Rifles in Brunei, has collected donations from his men totaling nearly $2,500. The money will be used to construct an outside bathroom and a hot shower for Sam's House.

This will be a fantastic addition to the house as our current bathrooms are old and small, and frankly cannot accommodate so many children. Bath time on the weekends takes several hours. The shower will enable the children to wash on different days during the week.

On behalf of everyone at Sam's House, a special thank to the The Royal Gurkha Rifles in Brunei for their incredible generosity.

Future Tennis Stars

I recently wrote about Sports Day and I wanted to add a few things here about Ranjit and Ama, our landlords, but so much more than that.

They live on the third floor of our building. Their children live outside Nepal, and for a time they were raising their grandchildren whose parents are working in the UK. Last fall, Sumenta and Rion, their grandchildren left Nepal to live with their parents, and I think it was really hard for Ranjit and Ama who enjoyed having their energy around the place.

Since then, they've doubled their involvement with the SH gang--though, if you've followed this blog, you know they've always been very kind and generous with the children. At about 4:30p each day, they come down the yard for "duty." They sit in plastic chairs and lend an extra set of eyes to the 20+ scurrying bodies on the playground.

Sadly, Ranjit and Ama will be leaving us soon. Possibly as soon as this fall, they'll be going to the UK to live with their children. As ex-Gurkha, Ranjit is eligible for a long-term visa there. We are going to miss them terribly.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More Photos from Movie Day

Lots of rain lately which means a lot of time at the drawing table.

Manju, Mina and Ramila










Monday, June 15, 2009

It Has Begun

We love to show you the good things happening here at Sam's House but it can be equally interesting to hear about some of the "behind the scenes" developments as well.

Since we opened, Dinesh has been conferring with some other children's home directors, getting their advice for the years ahead. A recurring theme is that the challenges are just beginning. Our oldest is only 11, and Dinesh has been told many times that adolescence will bring all the same concerns and anxiety that teens everywhere encounter.

Case in point: Babit and Maya now flirt with each other constantly. Slapping, pushing, hitting, teasing--all the suave, understated techniques of early love. Dinesh and the didis have had some conversations with each of them separately to try and finesse the situation, and it's under close surveillance.

Which reminded me of something my biologist friend Pete Wyckoff had told me. He read an article that found, biologically-speaking, unless you know someone or have a relationship with before the age of 2, you have a much greater chance of developing amorous feelings for that person. Obviously our children don't have that relationship, so this will continue to be an issue as more of them come of age.

So the flirting brigade is just starting.

To resolve this matter, Dinesh belongs to a network of children's homes and they plan to increase their socializing so that the boys and girls will have more outlets for relationships that won't necessarily disrupt the home life.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Last Saturday, we went to see a movie called "Iku." It's based on a television character from a children's show. The premise is that Iku is a jungle resident who frequently gets caught up in event with Nepalis from the civilized world. Hijinks ensue.

We got to the movie theater a half-hour early and the balcony was already full. So we had to sit the SH gang in four different sections. I ended up sitting with Ramila, Mina, Maya, Santosh, Dhiraj, Jamuna (who slept), Bishal, and Rina (standing between my legs). Sandeep, sitting with Prema, I heard slept through the entire movie. You don't pay for little ones tickets if they're in your lap. The kids loved it, needless to say.

Since everyone was dressed up and washed up for the movie, I took some photos.

Interesting post-script... there's a young woman Iku saves in the jungle from a band of men (sort of an adult-themed altercation, I digress) and she takes him back to KTM in appreciation. This is where we learn that Iku cannot live in the city. Quite tragic.

Anyhow, I see this woman's real life photo on one of my Nepali friends Facebook pages. So I write her and say how much the kiddies enjoy the movie, et cetera, and include a link to our website. She wrote back and says she might be able to come for a visit. The kids will blow a gasket if that happens. It would be fun.


Sandeep, the little big man.

Saran. He can't keep from exploring that new gap in his teeth. =)




Maya, Ramila and Mina

I don't know if there's anything I like photographing more than Pratima laughing.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sports Day

Friday afternoons at SH have become sports day. School lets out early on Fridays and Ranjit, our landlord and tennis pro with 15 years athletics coaching experience at the local college, does tennis and basketball drills with the gang.

Today's exercises were regretfully rain-shortened, but fun all the same. Ranjit is such a natural. It's a funny thing how coaching behavior transcends cultures. From the use of the whistle, the positive exhortations, and the clipped directives. The kids love it and it's fun to watch.

A quick few laps around the yard to get the blood flowing.

Arm stretches. Please note Rina wearing her athletic attire.

Some calisthenics led by Mina and Maya.

Throw the ball, clap three times and catch. A very popular exercise.

Ranjit throws grounders right and left in succession. The kiddos have to field them and roll them back. Here's Dhiraj.

Santosh's attempt elicits a good laugh.

It's kind of a bummer when you're too little to participate in Sports Day.


Sandeep has a little trouble with that top button.

The prime minister slips into his Keds.

Me and Sarita. Photo by Mina.