Early this morning, seven of us left the hotel at 5:30 am to take an airplane tour of the highest peaks in the Himalayas, including Mt. Everest. It was awesome, beautiful and left me with a sense of how small I really am in this immense world. Maybe some day I’ll post some of those pictures, but not today.
Later in the morning I and several other Mitrata sponsors visited the Contact Center, where the youngest and most severely impoverished children are provided with education, nutrition, health care, and when possible, continuing participation in the program when they are sufficiently prepared to attend school. Without this start, they would most likely have little they would need to live productive lives. The children greeted us with smiles, laughter, loud greetings of Namaste and welcome, placing beautiful printed scarves around our necks. They performed for us songs, dances and a dramatic play that they put together themselves. The short play was about the importance of washing hands after using the bathroom in order to avoid disease (a topic they’ve been learning about). They’re adorable. They all speak some English, are curious and happy, pepper us with questions, and are fascinated by our cameras and phones, wanting to see the pictures we take, and to take some of their own. To all who donated to my Facebook fundraiser, these are the children you’re helping. Thank you! And they will all need sponsors when they graduate into the full program.
We had lunch together. When entering the Contact Center many are malnourished, some with BMIs as low as 12. Sometimes lower. They are provided two meals a day designed to provide more protein.
After lunch, we did two home visits, seeing where some of the children live. I was heartbroken and left nearly speechless. At one home, seven people from three generations share a single room smaller than my hotel room. They cook on a hot plate and share a single bed. The mother is pregnant again. There is no bathroom. These are conditions that we in he US can’t imagine, a place that would be condemned, but that here is far too common.
I left feeling sad, but even more dedicated to doing all I can to help Mitrata in its mission to serve these deserving children. I feel privileged and grateful, humbled and determined. These children began life with no chance for a productive or content existence. Now they have hope and opportunity. Inside the dirt and dust, the noise and confusion that fills Kathmandu, there are children who may rise from their meager beginnings and build worthy lives. I hope they will pass on what they have been provided, and that the ripples of a new life spread for years to come.
- thoughts from child sponsor Danny Williger