Friday, October 25, 2013

Hospital Visit

A few of the children at Sam's House require annual visits to a special neurology hospital in Kathmandu.  This past week five children and two house mothers recently visited the capital city for their appointments.

Because of your support, the medical treatment the children at Sam's House receive is truly rare for most children in Nepal, let alone children living in orphanages.  Thanks to your support, we're able to provide our children with the best possible treatment so that they can live the most fulfilled lives possible.  From their hearts to your ears... thank you!

 Saran, Rina and Ritika in the cab.
 Waiting for the appointments -- a long way, but no one's complaining.
 Front door to National Institute of Neurology and Allied Sciences in Bansbari.
 Finally the time arrives... we hustle inside.
 Rina, Chija, and Ritika bunking together.
 We used a down day to visit Swayambhunath. Rina lighting a candle in a Buddhist gumba.
 Playing cards (Naraamro chimekki), waiting for dinner.
Mina watching some TV before bed time.

Lauren and Jesse -- Thank you!

This past summer former Sam's House volunteer, Lauren Morrison (who left her indelible mark on the house in the form of a mural that she painted with the children) wedded her long-time boyfriend and new UCLA law professor, Jesse Leuders.

For their wedding, Lauren and Jesse kindly asked their guests to make donations to Sam's House in their honor.  We are plainly moved by this gesture and cannot express our gratitude for the invaluable support this will provide to all the children.

Thank you Lauren and Jesse, from everyone at Sam's House.  Please come see us again soon!!!

The beautiful bride and groom on their special day!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Nepali Board

As you likely know Sam's House is actually a partnership with a Nepali NGO called Kopila Bal Griha.  We have our board of trustees and oversee the fundraising for Kopila; the Kopila board does all the planning for the house and the children, and by contributing in other remarkable, sundry ways (as you'll see below).

The Kopila board meets regularly throughout the year, in addition to subcommitee meetings on house issues, children's education, and child admission.

A couple weeks ago they held their annual meeting at which, by law, they must review the year's accomplishments and start planning for the year ahead.  Like our trustees, the Kopila board serve as volunteers, so the annual meeting is held in a restaurant as a very small token of appreciation for their remarkable contributions.

Secretary Pradip Regmi reads the annual report. 

Dinesh suggests a possible local fundraising ideas for the house.  Board chair Maj. Chandra Bahadur Pun listens intently.

But the board members do not merely serve in a meeting capacity. Trustee Yamuna Buddhacharya traveled with Eka Dev and Ramila to eastern Nepal where they met two young girls whose parents had recently perished in a boat accident on the Koshi River.  This was a three day trip one way with travel over some very difficult terrain.  Both girls are now living happily at Sam's House.

Eka Dev, Ramila, and Yamuna pose with village officials and neighbors who serve as witnesses when the children are placed in our care.

Ramila and Yamuna help Anita across the river.

Monday, September 16, 2013

First Term School Results

Typically I feel it's a little tacky to boast on children's academic accomplishments, but we can always make an exception for Sam's House.

The SH gang recently took their first term exams (Nepali school year starts in April) and the results have come back.  Because of their hard work, your support, and Shiva's excellent and forbearing tutelage, all the children did very well, placing in the top 10 of their classes with few exceptions. Of special note:

Amrit (1st) class seven
Sabita (3rd) class seven
Bishal (4th) class five
Dipa (1st) class four
Sharmila (2nd) class four
Pratima (3rd) class four
- Sam's House, apparently, rules class four
Bibek (2nd) class two
Parwati (2nd) class one

The children continue to recognize the importance of their education and express their determination to do well.  I was talking to Sarita about her class rank for the last quarter.  I asked where she placed.
"That's great," I told her.
"Not for me."

Of course these are just numbers and ranks and pale indicators of what is really much more important... the opportunity to learn that you (our dear supporters) have provided to these children.  Thank you.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Sam's House Birthday

A few days back Sam's House celebrated its seventh birthday.  This is a combination birthday for the house all the children's birthdays, as we discovered that celebrating every birthday individually was getting costly above 20 kids (however, we do celebrate the children's actual birthdays).

Anyhow, this birthday was extra special on one meaningful count: Joyce Rothchild, Sam's daughter, was in attendance, the first of her siblings to visit the house.

I'll let the pictures below tell the story, but I have to add one detail.  About 15 minutes after the program began (welcomes, speeches, dances by the children), the skies opened up.  Rain poured and poured and poured.  The tent held up for a while but it was no match.  Somewhere after cutting the cake and distributing the gifts, we had no choice but to retreat into the house--all 70-plus: children, board members, didis, and invited guests.  We scattered to different floors in the house and ate in shifts.  It was one of those fun moments that will make this party distinctive from all the others to follow.

The tent set up on the playground.  We would set up 70 chairs in here.

 Tara, Asuna and Ramila making papad.

Sangita mixing a potato dish -- aloo chomeki (sp?)

 Mamata braiding Samjhana's hair before the party.

 Shiva (there's nothing he cannot do) and Dhiraj rigging the sound system for the event.

Sharmila, Chija, Dipa and Ritika relaxing up in the "parlor."  About an hour before the event, all the girls sat on this porch together, fixing hair and putting makeup on each other.

Mina and Samjhana
Babit and Dhiraj lead the gang in a welcoming song.

 Joyce Rothchild addresses the gathering.

 Nepali board chairman, retired Maj. Chandra Bahadur Pun makes a speech. He served 44 years as a Gorkha soldier and yet was never educated.  He encouraged the children to make the most of their education.

 The cake, of course.

Joyce hands a present to Ambika.

 Durga and Ganga modelling their birthday presents... new shoes.

Shoes were the big present this year... Mamata, Maya and Sarita.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Thank you, Dinesh... Welcome Eka Dev!

     Dinesh on the job    

Eka Dev Devkota

From the first day of Sam's House, when it was only an idea back in 2004, we knew that our friend Dinesh Rajbhandari would be the only person who could make it happen.  At the time, he was considering looking for work in the U.S. But when we approached him about Sam's House, he decided that's what he wanted as well.  And thank goodness he did... starting Sam's House turned out to be, logistically, about 100 times harder than any of us expected.  In spite of all our research beforehand, we could not have anticipated how much unknown accompanies starting a children's home.  But no matter how hard the turn, Dinesh took everything in stride and, in just a few years, made Sam's House into one of the most respected children's homes in Nepal.  It's not an exaggeration to say he has been the single most important person in making Sam's House a reality.

* That photo above is from the annual Sam's House picnic in 2008. A goat wandered into our picnic area and without hesitation Dinesh popped up, grabbed its leash, and led it away.  Just one of the many, many unforseen tasks that directing Sam's House would require.

Working in Pokhara was keeping Dinesh and his wife Rekha away from their families in Kathmandu.  As much as they enjoyed Sam's House, family obligations were calling.  Earlier this year, Dinesh took a position in Kathmandu.  However, he won't go far... Dinesh has agreed to take a position on the board of trustees where he joins Rekha, who has served as a trustee since 2007.

Of course we were very concerned about who would fill Dinesh's extremely capable shoes... we only had to look as far as the Nepali board of Sam's House.  Eka Dev Devkota, who has served as board chair since 2007, vacated his spot to become the new director.  And we couldn't be happier since he already had intimate knowledge of Sam's House.   For nearly 15 years, Eka Dev has worked as the mobile camps coordinator for the International Nepal Fellowship.  He has extensive background experience in management and administration and we are just so excited that he will be leading Sam's House into the near future.  His energy for his new position is already very obvious and we're confident that Sam's House will continue to fulfill its mission to serve orphaned and at-risk children in Nepal... thanks, of course, to your continuing support.

So thank you, Dinesh!  And welcome Eka Dev!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Vacation Days

The Nepalese school year starts in late April/early May, meaning the SH gang recently returned to class.  The break in between school years lasts about a month and affords the children some time to make short trips around Pokhara.  Here are a few photos from the latest round of excusions... 

 Splashing around in the Seti River

 At the World Peace Pagoda above Phewa Lake.

At the Mahendra Bat Cave

These opportunities would not be possible without your support.  Thank you.

Mother's Day

The children recently feted the didis on Mother's Day.  It's hard to describe all these women do every day. It's also difficult to describe how seamlessly they work like a well-oiled machine, each of the didis taking a different role, making sure all the children's needs are met, and always available to meet the new and unexpected challenges that arrive every day... just like in any family.

 Presenting gifts to the house mothers.

 Asuna placing tika on Ganga.

 Mina receiving tika from Pramila.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Dance Program

The older children recently participated in a dance program at their school.  The photos below show an interesting mix of traditional and modern styles...

Maya, Sarita, Mamata, Mina and Sabita 

(top) Sabita, Maya, Mamata, Chija, Sarita, and Sharmila
(bottom) Amrit, Babit, Suroj, Dhiraj, and Bishal

When we look at these photos we think, initially, "they're so big now!" And then we think how wonderful that they have opportunities to take part in events like these.  And then we think about how you have all made these opportunities possible.  If you've ever been to the house, you know how much the children enjoy dancing, so to link up with these larger events is the ultimate.  They practice for hours and have a blast doing so.  Thank you, thank you, thank you... 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Care for a Game?

Several of the Sam's House children have developed a love for table tennis by virtue of playing at school. Sabita, you may recall, won a tournament recently.  Dinesh decided to invest in a table for the house which arrived a few weeks ago...

 Babit and Mamata square off.
Dhiraj and Babit while Bishal looks on.

If you've ever been around the house, you know the children's back packs take a beating and in a short time.  Recently Dinesh was visited by two former language students of his from England.  They were really impressed with the house and purchased new bags for everyone.

Hike to Dhampus

During a recent school holiday, the older children at Sam's House made a two-day trek to Dhampus, north of Pokhara.  Twenty children, including Prema, Shiva and Ramila hiked to a place known as the Australian camp where they spent the night and hiked back.  The views of the Annapurna range are spectacular in that area.

 Just north of Pokhara, the terrain goes quickly uphill.

 Prema, Sarita, Pushpa and Ramila taking a break.
 Having lunch at a lodge at midday.
 Babit, Amrit and Saran in front of Machhepuchhre (Mt. Fishtail)

 Getting ready for bed at the Australian camp.
 The whole gang trying to stay warm in the morning.

 Because of your support, the Sam's House children have opportunities like these: to explore their surroundings, to learn a little more about natures, and to spend time outside the home doing fun things with their brothers and sisters.  Thank you, thank you, thank you...