MAKING THE DIFFERENCE
Friends there in US, have you ever thanked yourself for being a changemaker for underprivileged kids here in Nepal?Do you remember your initial days sponsoring children and do you relatively compare the change you have made yet? Here in Nepal, we Mitrata kids do realize!
In 2016, my boyfriend, Taylor, got to know Ambrose, Leena, Yogesh, and Christine through the Climb for Himalaya Children at Mt. Rainier just outside of Seattle, WA. In the spring of 2017, Taylor visited Nepal and was able to spend a day at BSF’s Contact Center. There, he got a taste of what Mitrata and BSF did for local children in need of education in Nepal. He sent me a few photos of the kids and, of course, I replied, “So cute!” Little did I realize that I’d soon be sitting on the same floor sipping tea while watching little kids perform dances and shout out, “Hello sir! Hello ma’am!”
Long story short: Taylor and I quit our jobs in Seattle in early 2018 to move to Thailand to teach English, travel, and learn about a different part of the world. In the back–very back–of our minds we knew that Nepal was a quick flight away, but we didn’t really have any grand plan to visit immediately. After a year in Thailand, we both began teaching online remotely. This provided an opportune time to head to Nepal, trek in the mountains, and see if we could make use of our time volunteering at BSF’s Contact Center.
Namaste! As we head home from Kathmandu after two very full weeks, we are filled with an abundance of lasting memories, heart-warming stories, and beautiful pictures. We met with almost all of our Mitrata-sponsored students and received updates on their health, family situations, educational progress, and for our older students, employment plans after completion of their studies.
At the Contact Center, Rachana (Program Coordinator) and staff welcomed 15 new children into the youngest class for the new school year, and two or three additional children may be added in the next few weeks. Children from all of the classes performed traditional Nepali songs and dances for us, and per their custom, invited us to join them. The children are now getting protein-rich breakfast and lunch every day, something sorely lacking thus far in their young lives. We met Lauren Kubik and Taylor Massey who are volunteering their time to establish educational performance metrics which will satisfy Social Welfare Council (SWC) criteria, and standards for future expansion.
After one last dinner with the BSF staff, Christine, Isaac Schmitt, and Rick Hendin say their goodbyes and head back home.
A relaxed day taking in the city of Bhaktapur. Aleesh Baniya, a six-year staff member for BSF, takes me out on his scootie for an admirable exploration inside the eldest city of Kathmandu. We take an extra few minutes to jut around Bhaktapur’s made up borders, taking streets even taxis can’t fit through, to end up in the in the city, without having to pay the 1500 rupees it costs an outsider to get it, a perk of experiencing the city with locals. Not to worry, I quickly pay my dues and give back to the Nepali economy as I stop in many local shops and buy a few things. We leisurely stroll around the ancient city walls made from clay, keeping us cool from what should be a hot day. After a while we start to run low on energy and make our way to Aleesh’s brother’s restaurant, a gorgeous five story building in the center of the city. We sit and take in the view, talking about American culture and the vast differences in our lives, and the uncanny similarities that seem fabricated. How our connections to art and thoughts on society have slim to no differences, yet we grew up on polar opposites of the world, raised by completely different people.
Christine and the other trip-goers see the progress on the expansion of the Contact Center, including a new after school program! They also eat lunch and have little fun dancing with the kids, too.
In honor of board member Rick Hendin, Christine, Issac, Rick, and their friends in Nepal celebrate Passover with a few twists.
Isaac and Biraj explore the city on a moped: they visit Bodhnath and a beautiful Stupa, witness a sacred ritual in the Pashupatinath, and travel to the Swyambhunath Temple or “monkey temple,” as locals call it. Along the way, they see incredible city views.
On Tuesday, 16 April, Christine, Isaac and I traveled two hours east from Kathmandu to Nagarkot, nestled in the Central Hills. This area was heavily damaged in the 2015 earthquake and the main road from Bhaktapur to Nagarkot still reflects heavy damage from washouts and hill slides. Some new building construction is visible and many of the retaining walls have been rebuilt, but the roads have not been repaired yet, so travel from Kathmandu takes longer than usual.
The journey here, however, is well worth it!!!
Our sincere thanks to all those who attended our April 6 Trivia Night. With a critical goal of $28,000, we raised more than $30,000 to support our underfunded children, necessary clean water for our Contact Center, catering and party supplies for a graduation ceremony, and alumni program snacks and supplies! We also welcomed new child sponsors who will be supporting five of our Contact Center graduates as they begin elementary school. It was an incredible evening for our children.
Very special thank you to Loryn Feliciano-Nalic and her husband, Edo Nalic, owners of Balkan Treat Box for providing yummy spreads and the Alderie family, owners of Cham Bakery for all the pita we could ever want.