This week, our Nepali partner BSF distributed a set of fleece blanket, bed sheet and pillow cover to each of our students at the Contact Center amidst the clouds that were forming in the Kathmandu sky because of a tropical cyclone Phethai that had originated over the Bay of Bengal which quickly rendered Kathmandu and many eastern parts of Nepal frigid. For our Contact Center children and their families who mostly live in small rented tin shacks or single room apartments, which are ill-equipped to keep themselves warm, winters are always a harsh and biting reality.
For 16 years we have made a difference in the lives of poor children in Nepal by providing education, healthcare, housing and support services. Your contributions through the years has made this possible.
This September, the Social Welfare Council (SWC) in Nepal, in their annual organizational audit, required an immediate increase in classroom space for our Contact Center or a reduction in the number of children we serve. We are not in a financial position to relocate the Center immediately or in 2019. As a temporary solution, we were approved to add two classrooms in a nearby neighborhood building, requiring additional staff members and funds to set it up properly. Thanks to a few Mitrata friends, we raised the funds necessary to setup these temporary classrooms. In 2019, we plan to look for a larger permanent space to move the entire program to meet the SWC’s requirements in 2020. We will begin planning this critical need early next year and estimate an overall budget shortfall of $32,000.
I never imagined that it would turn out this way. My friend Christine founded the Mitrata-Nepal Foundation for Children six years after I took my first trip to Nepal. Having been profoundly moved by the people of Nepal, I wanted to do something to give back. When presented with the opportunity to sponsor a little girl, I jumped in. Mamta was six years old when the sponsorship began. Ironically, she was born the year I first traveled to Nepal. I received photos of her a few times a year and we wrote very simple letters to one another. She drew cute pictures of houses and mountains, all of which I still have. We had a shared dream of meeting each other, which we finally did when I travelled back to Nepal for a sponsor trip in 2009. After seven years of letter writing, Mamta and I were thrilled to meet! We were both a bit shy with each other at first, but that shyness dissipated after we got the opportunity to dance and shop together. A lifelong bond was formed.
Please join us for our Annual Holiday Bazaar on Sunday, December 2, 2018, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge in Webster Groves.
Shop for the holidays and listen to great music to support our underprivileged children in Kathmandu, Nepal. All textiles, jewelry, and handicrafts were personally selected from fair trade artisans by Stephanie, Mamta, Alexis, Christine and our Traveling 20 while in Kathmandu visiting our children.
So my trip this year is at an end and the last couple of days have been busy! I met with staff and went over the budget, shopped and gave parting gifts to all staff of BSF. I enjoyed a delicious dinner with Leena and her family to celebrate the onset of Dashain, the biggest Hindu holiday celebration in Nepal.
We saw the kids who live at Reliance boarding school off for the Dashain holiday. They come to the BSF office first before going home for holiday. It was fun to see them especially as they just got their report cards, amazingly loads of A’s!
I am often asked what I do in Kathmandu when the sponsor travel group leaves. So here is just one jam packed day. First I met with the children who have graduated or will graduate soon from Mitrata Nepal Foundation for Children and are on their way to independence.
We are starting an alumni program and they had lots of good ideas including mentoring young children in our programs and doing special programs for them using their talents and expertise. They all agreed that being a role model was important.
The Dashain Festival in Nepal is about to start. It lasts for two weeks but our kids have a month long holiday. So many of them go back to their villages to visit their families. Puja has not been in two years so she is excited. We had a special Dashain Festival dinner at the Cake Bakery, a Nepal chain restaurant that hires deaf and disabled staff and has great food, for the kids who live at the group home located on the first floor of the BSF office in the Sukedhara neighborhood. We then went shopping at Bhat Bhetani market. It is a long ride back by bus and you can’t go home without gifts of chocolates!
Every year I visit with our children who are living in boarding schools. I meet with school principals and teachers. We have two main schools right now for our elementary school age kids who board, Reliance Residential and Childrens Model Secondary School (CMS).
My wonderful group of sponsors left for the USA and I am now staying in the office at Sukedhara, a suburb of Kathmandu. I am greeted by three older kids, Pasang, Puja and Bijaya who stay in the apartment downstairs with housemom Sarita.
And I get a special greeting from Kalu the puppy we rescued last year. He is no longer a puppy but sweet and a good watchdog too.
While most of the group wandered off to Thamel to finish their shopping expeditions, Child sponsors Arlene and Steve took off with BSF Program Coordinator, Aleesh to spend time with our oldest teenagers, college students and staff at the BSF office in Sukedhara. Arlene and Steve presented an “inspiring or very inspiring” (the kid’s words!) training on risk taking, awareness, addiction and grounding. The young adults appeared truly interested, attentive and appreciative. Hewie’s beautiful daylily pictures served as a symbolic representation of the varying effects of the marijuana plant. Many plants can be manipulated by growers and not all plants can be safe for consumption. The group was particularly moved by Steve’s story of addiction and recovery and they gobbled up his books on the 12 Step process. We appreciate the hard work of the BSF staff for arranging and attending this training....thanks for the tea and cookies too.