A Travellerspoint blog

Ngoedup Charbeb Ling Retreat Center

sunny 26 °C

Here I am in a Buddhist monastery teaching English to some nuns. The monastery is located in Showambhu - home of the "monkey temple". For the first week another volunteer was with me - which was wonderful. Ruth came from Australia and had been at the monastery for about 3 weeks. Before she returns home she is on a 2 week trek - Everest Base Camp - not bad for a 56 year old - I was impressed.

This past week has been very odd and a little confusing - I think I was thinking Buddhist Monastery - quiet, peaceful and a time to reflect - well that would not be it. I was thinking the nuns themselves would follow the 3 Ds - discipline, dedication and devotion - again this is not it. Everything I thought this experience would be has turned out to be the opposite.

The nuns range in age from 16 up to 30 something. You would never guess this as they act like a bunch of pre-teens - really !! Ruth and I spent time talking about this and really trying to understand why these women are here. The stories of how they ended up here are interesting - one of them ended up here because her brother told her she was to ugly to get married so she should become a nun - so she did. She really would like to become a nurse - however she has no money nor a place to live so she will stay at the nunnery. I should also say this nun likes to drink whiskey (not what I think of when I think of nuns) Several of the nuns come from Tibet - one of them walked for 4 months to escape China's control (I have gained a lot of knowledge about Tibetan people - it is very interesting) - so she is at the nunnery as it is safe and her basic needs are met. And it goes on - there are many reasons why these women are here - but as far as I can figure out none of them are here for religious reasons - very odd. They can also leave the nunnery at anytime however this would bring shame to their families.

The day starts at 4:30 a.m. with the gonging of the gong. Puja starts at 5 a.m. - if a nun does not show up she is fined 25R. Some do not show up and are fined. I should explain Puja - the meaning behind Puja is a collective bond among individuals - it brings people together as a collective as the belief is people are bond together as they belong to the same cycle of life so they have the same experiences which forms a sense of connectivity of brother/sisterhood and inspires everyone to love and respect each other - I did not get this meaning here luckily I had this def'n prior to leaving. As part of Puja they chant, sing, gong, blow trumpets, throw rice, etc. It makes a lot of noise - however the monks next door - I think there are about 150 of them - those boys make a lot of noise - and it certainly gets you up.

Puja is about an hour and a half - breakfast is at 7:00 a.m. and English class goes from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. Lunch is at 11:30 a.m. and then at 3:00 p.m. is afternoon Puja - about 2 nuns attend this session. After the hour long Puja - the nuns sit on the lawn and chat. Supper is at 7:00 p.m. and that would be the day. Some days the nuns go to Puja to private homes or other temples - they seem to go in full force - one nun told us that they get paid to attend - as well as get fed and have the opportunity to gossip with other nuns from different monasteries. If this was not odd enough - I think all the nuns have mobiles. When we asked one nun - who does she talk to - family maybe. She said no she has many monks that are friends - so she talks to them.

I should also talk about the cook - for the first few days I was here the full time cook (she is not a nun) cooked all the meals. The food is the worse however it went downhill after the cook ran away. One day the cook was gone - the story is that she ran away as she did not wish to have an arranged marriage - she wished to have a love marriage. So she married the guy that was the driver at the nunnery 3 years prior. She is a Buddhist and her husband is Hindu. So it was all very interesting. So now the nuns cook - on the first night we had white pasta in a white flour sauce (it wasn't really a sauce it just kind of stuck in globs to the pasta). So I wasn't sure what was worse - "buff" which means water buffalo or the pasta meal. I should also tell you I have become a complete vegetarian - no meat, chicken nor fish - this is good as the big festival starts and the major food for the next few weeks is "buff" and goat.

The nuns are not involved in good works - working in the community - helping the poor, etc. etc. They basiclly do nothing all day. For sure they do not clean - it is really pretty dirty here. The orphanage looks super clean compared to this place.

It is to bad Ruth and I were not together for 3 weeks as we would have gotten these nuns in shape and this place clean - but that is not to be. Anyway I have found ways to work around the many things that drive me crazy so it is all good.

I am hoping to get pictures up this week - it has been a very painfully slow process with little success. So I will sign off now and get back to my downloading.

Posted by LiseD 22:12 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

FULL BODY MASSAGE and POLICE ESCORT

sunny 28 °C

So the next day I am getting ready to leave to go to catch a flight to Pokhara. Before I leave the cook at the agency home makes me breakfast - I am not sure if it is one big egg or something else. It is a little burnt on the outside - but I taste it and think to myself - this so reminds me of home and my home cooking - a pancake - burnt on the outside and raw in the inside - I am feeling a little home sick.

Off I go to the airport - it is odd - security is pretty loose and everything can go on the plane - the only thing missing are the live chickens. It is very odd. You wait in this large room and they yell out the airline and flight number - you get on a little bus and they bring you to the plane. It is amazing they are on time - my flight is called so I get on the bus. The only problem is the driver is not sure what plane he is suppose to take us to - so we spent about 5 - 10 mins driving around the tarmac while he ask different people if this is the plane going to Pokhara. I am thinking -Yeti Airlines - maybe not. However it was the best flight and 40 mins later I am in this amazing place. I meet my hotel person - he says his name is Knob (I am not sure how it is spelled but he did say Knob) - we take a taxi and travel about a half hour outside of Pokhara - walk a bit - I walked in a herd of water buffalo and one of them looked at me and made an awful sound and would not get out of my way. I said to him I agreed with the government that water buffalo should keep their heads - that seemed to please him so he stepped out of my way.

Next we take a boat ride across Begnas Lake - it is about a half hour - I should add one guy is paddling - no motor boats here. It is just amazing - you hear all the insects from the jungle singing - the noise is very loud. We arrive at the Begnas Lake resort - it is really nice - stone chalets with hard wood floors - and best of all hot water and almost like real beds and very, very clean. I am greeted at my chalet by a guy holding a tray - hot towel, cola and a little vase of flowers. Too prefect. The grounds here are well cared for and the plants are very interesting. There is the one plant that the flower goes from white to pink to red.

I go into my room and I am excited - this is great. I notice one of the things they offer here is Herbal oil massages. That sounds good to me - a full body massage for an hour is only 900R - that is around 20 - 25 dollars. Sounds great to me - I book it and I am told they come to your room. Great.

This next part is not for the weak or people who get visual images - warning, warning.

So a knock on my door - this woman with a big mat is at the door (I later find out she is also the room cleaner) anyway she comes in lays this mat on the floor and brings in this tray of oils. She says take off clothes and lay down. I am thinking OK - she says to me - take off panties - I am thinking not - I just act like I don't understand her and she gives up. Very different then Canada - no towels here to cover up. Anyway she starts on my feet and legs - very strong hands but it feels good in a painful way. Anyway she keeps going up - at the end of the leg and bum part of the massage I am now wearing a thong - not very comfortable. Anyway after the back and the back of the head - turn around - OK - she does my legs - even my bellybutton - very strange and then my chest area - that hurt. She does my face and the top of my head. After she is finished she takes hot towels and wipes off the oil. Now I have learnt a lesson - never get a full body massage with a full length mirror close by - I have decided I am one of those people that look better with clothes on or in the complete dark. Anyway she leaves and I am thinking that is an experience I do not want to repeat. No I do not have pictures. However I must say I am feeling pretty relaxed. So relax I book for the village walk for the next day - that will be good.

Knob is my guy - he services me when I go eat and he is always asking do I need anything. I am kind of liking this. So I get up very early the next day - 5:30 a.m. as we need to start walking before it gets to hot - I am a little confused - what I did not understand is that it is many little villages that go all the way up this "hill" - I would not call it a "hill" - it is bigger then any hill I have ever seen - it is a 4 hour walk basically straight up and then down. First part of our walk is to climb 279 stairs - I did it - however I did not realize at that point I would need to go up another I think it was 624 stairs along the way at one go - not an easy task for a smoker - anyway I did make it to the top with a few short breaks along the way. It was beautiful - fruit plantations - rice fields - little villages and on the top was an old fort that the army use to use as a look-out tower and then the pit where they kill goats and water buffalos for the gods (LOVELY). I have wonderful pictures of the Himalayan peaks.

We take a different way down - very rocky - we walk on top of the walls in between the rice fields - my big concern is that I will fall head first into a rice paddy. However it was interesting to see how they do the terracing. Along the way I do stop at the school and the reading room that Wanda helped build. It is really wonderful.

When I get back - Knob says - you should get massage - I am thinking - NO - however I smile and say no shower and nap would be good. At supper - by the way I am only eating fish caught in the lake - no rice please - excellent food and the wine taste not bad (of course at this point I couldn't tell the difference - it's wine that is all the matters) - a little interest note - they make wine in this area from millet. Anyway the owner of the resort and I have this wonderful discussion about community mobilization and what has happened to this area due to Wanda, the business community and the people - it is a wonderful story. It really makes me think of the book "Getting to Maybe" - it is a success story.

The next day at about 7:30 a.m. I hear this voice at my window - I am told that a general strike is happening today so that means no taxis - I am leaving today so a taxi would be good for the half hour ride to Pokhara. I am told not to worry but I will need to leave by 8:30 a.m. Great - so I pack up - have breakfast - get on the boat and go. The owner comes with me as it is his friend that will be giving me a ride - OK It is a beautiful day as we go across the lake. We get to the other side and his friend and 10 others are waiting - the Nepal Police will take me to the airport - I do have a picture of the guys and their guns. This is good - they drive me into Pokhara and stop at a check point - I now have to go with a different group of police as they just got a call and need to go. I arrive at the airport with my guys - people are looking. One English guy ask who I am - I look at him and say "don't you know?" Anyway I thought that was funny.

I now have an earlier flight - someone is suppose to meet me at the Kathmandu Airport at 3 p.m. - I will be arriving by noon. I get back to Kathmandu - of course no taxis - and I forgot the name of the temple the agency home is by - I have a mobile phone that was given to me - and I try to call - I don't really understand the phone number system here. Anyway this nice man helps me place the call - I ask Hom to tell him where I need to go - so he does. I ask the guy if he has a car - he says no but he has a motorbike - I ask him if my big backpack will fit - he says yes - we make a deal 500R and off we go. Big backpack in between us and small backpack hung over one of my arms - as that looks cooler then having both arms in the backpack. Yes I am cool - I am hanging on to the guys jacket - I am cool until I get off the motorcycle and see the big sweat stains on the guys jacket where I have been hanging on - yeah I am cool. Anyway Hom says I made a good deal - on days like this 1000R is more like it.

Now on to my next placement. It's all good !!!! I am really hoping to get pictures up this week - I think I am now close to 600 pictures.

Posted by LiseD 20:56 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Boys and other things

rain 27 °C

Before I talk about the boys I wish to tell you about an interesting day. Yesterday I decide to go to Tamel to exchange money and to buy an English newspaper and some books. I get to Thamel and the bank does not open for another half hour. I notice that there are groups of police in riot gear - nothing to worry about I say to myself - I really don't know why I tell myself things like that - but any way off I go to look for the book store - I notice just about everything is closed - I go into one of the shops and ask about the book store - the guy looks at me like I am crazy - he says not open today. I thought OK I will just walk around for a bit - as I am going down the street I notice the army - also in full riot gear - actually nicer gear then the Nepal police - I am now thinking this is not good. In my state of low panic I am confused and don't know what street I came from nor how to get back to the main road. After about 15 mins I find the road and look for a cab. I ask to go back to Budhanilkantha- and the cab driver tells me 1000R - it only cost me 300R to get to Tamel - I don't think so - The driver says to me "protest - general strike will be in Thamel by 11:00" - I look at my watch it is 10:40 - we haggle for a bit and come up with 500R - he is still saying 600R - 5 mins have went by - at this point I don't care - let's go. We have to go the long way around to avoid the protest - I am thinking an English newspaper would be good !!!

The protest is about the big festival coming up- the government decided to cut back on the funding for festivals as well as limit the number of water buffalo and goats that could be beheaded for the event - I think people are really into this decapitation of goats and water buffalo - so the end result has been a number of protest. The government as since changed it's mind so funding was given back as well as no limit on the number of beheadings.

Late in the afternoon (the same day) the Lions Club comes to the orphanage to bring rice (8 bags - that is rice for a month), cooking oil, spices, salt, chocolate bars and mango juice. They hand out the chocolate bars, some type of other candy and the juice. One of the men gives me mango juice - and says mango juice brings luck. Well I don't think mango juice is lucky - I never got a chocolate bar - at this point I would actually knock over small children to get a sugar fix. I didn't get a chocolate bar but I get Pepsi instead. This is another odd thing I noticed - for special things you get a glass of Pepsi - this happens as well when you have a meal at someone's house - after the meal they give you a glass of Pepsi - I am thinking I will do this when I get back to Canada this would be good as I could save the wine for myself - not a bad plan !!!

The other thing that happened yesterday was that I have agreed to become the Canadian Co-ordinator for the agency that supports the orphanage - they do have a person in the States who I will contact but it all looks good. It is very difficult to get money into Nepal - so we are working out the details - so when I get back to Canada I will deal with Tax Canada and do a few things and hopefully will be able to help them out. They are not only looking at funds but as well as volunteers for the orphanage and some of the really remote villages. I just think it would be a good thing to do and maybe provide some help to these children.

Now I have to talk about the boys - I don't know which name is attached to which boy a lot of the time - I know them by sight. For example the group of boys that are always together and doing things that they should not be doing - like flying a kite off the roof over power lines. They are trouble. They are Ramesh - 10 yrs old - he came to the orphanage due to poverty. He has bad eyesight and really bad teeth - I hear his name a lot as he is always in trouble. The other is Bishel - 8 years old - his father abandoned the family and remarried - again poverty. He as most of the younger boys are very small for their age - I first thought the age range was between 6 and 7 years of age. Then there is Sim - he came to the orphanage as his family was homeless - he is always smiling and trying to get into every picture.

SherBrd is 10 or 11 years old - he came to the orphanage as his mother was sick and the family lived in extreme poverty - he is the comic of the group. He is really very funny and always trying to make others laugh. Last night I was out on the step - another power outage - and he comes and stands beside me - very serious and says "Mother you not forget me - you promise you think of me when you in Canada" My heart just broke - this child tries so hard to hide his pain by always laughing and joking around. That is one thing I have noticed that crying is not acceptable here - the children rarely cry even when they are sad and missing their families.

The other three boys are older - Khem Raj - 14 years old; Newaraj - 15 years old; and Anil - 15 years old - They all came to the orphanage due to poverty. KhemRaj's mother died and a new step mom came - this did not go so good. These boys are interesting as they all try to be the older tough guys which they are not. KhemRaj is always hanging around me and likes to do crafts and play Old Maid. They also like pats on the back and lap up any positive comment. The other day KhemRaj came up to me and asked me for a hug - big step for this boy - again my heart broke - how sad that this boy has no one to hug or care for him.

Then there is another boy - Jagadish - he is more like the "geek" of the group - oh by the way he wants to be a social worker. He is 13 years old - his family ran away from a village that was being taken over by the Maoist. He has one sibling that died - I am not sure how - his parents could not support the family once they arrived in a safe area - he has two siblings - one who is in another orphanage and one who he thinks is with his parents. He wants to be a social worker so he can help other children in the same situation. He is sad and hopes one day to find his parents. He is a child that is always trying to please and he tries so hard.

One of the things that I did find out yesterday is that social workers in Nepal work for the government but do not get paid. I said I am glad I live in Canada.

Today is my last day at the Orphanage. I am going to spend the weekend in the Himalayas - I am really very tired so hopefully I will be able to recharge and be in good shape for my second assignment which starts on Monday. And maybe even get rid of this cold that has been hanging on.

It has been a very sad few days - one of the girls gave me a note as soon as I woke up - the note asked me not to leave. I know today will be sad and there will be tears - however I will be back before I leave as I wish to give the children copies of the pictures I took - I will not print them all - I think I am up to around 400 - they are not all of the children - I think only 250 pics are of the children and the orphanage.

Before I leave each of the children present me with flowers -I am not sure where the flowers come from - I don't ask. They also make me two necklaces out of these wonderful little flowers. It was very touching. To make it a happy time as I will be back for a visit before I leave Canada - we turn on the CD player and have a dance and singing party. It was a lot of fun.

I have to keep telling the children that I will be coming back for a visit -most of them find this hard to believe. So I leave with the children running behind the van yelling - bye mother, bye mother. And that is when I cry.

So off I go to the agency home for the night before I go to the Himalayas for the weekend. I just think it is so cool to say - I am spending the weekend in the Himalayas !!!!

Until next time !!!

Posted by LiseD 20:09 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

THE GIRLS

overcast 28 °C

What can I say - I love my girls - they are - Rekha, Bhagawati, Sadhara, Kungang, Dolma, Doma, Rechana, Durga, Minijang, Omni and Mindul. Each are unique and very special. The ages for the girls are guesses - as it really hard to figure out how old they really are !!

Nepal is trying hard to rid itself from the caste system - however the children are very aware of which caste they are placed in - Durga is among the highest caste in the Orphanage. She is 14 years old and has been living at the orphanage for the past few years. Her parents gave her to an aunt and uncle as they could not able to care for her. The aunt and uncle could no longer provide for her and so she ended up at the orphanage. She has a look about her and height that makes her look like a runway model. She is very talkative, bossy and a little hyper. She likes being the center of attention and of all the children I would say she is the moody one. She makes me laugh as she is very funny. She would like to stay at home and do household task as opposed to going to school. She is treated differently then the other girls by the family and I am unsure if it because she is older then the other girls or if it has something to do with her caste level. It is hard to figure out.

She also thinks that she is coming to Canada with me. During my first week at the orphanage she asked me to come to Canada - she thinks that I am very nice and kind. I told her that would not be possible. She has not talked about since but these last few days she keeps asking me as she is worried that if she is left behind that I will forget her.

Minijang is 11 years old and ended up at the Orphanage as her father was victimized due to political reasons. She is one of the children that can cook a meal for all the children with little problem. She is very good and is always quick to smile. She is sad as she really misses her home and she hopes to return one day. She calls me her Canadian mother and that works well. She is very gentle and is the mother hen of the bunch. She is the one that asked for the Louse shampoo.

Dolma is 12 years old and ended up at the Orphanage due to poverty. She is very shy and it has taken time for her to speak to me. She would not even let me take her picture as she felt she was not as pretty as the other girls. It has taken time to build trust with her - she would often sit outside the group of children I was playing with and just watch me. She now makes me little things and gives them to me - she likes when I say positive things about her. Her English and level of understanding is not as high as Minijangs however we do some how manage - it takes time - sometimes a lot of time.

Doma is 11 years old and ended up at the Orphanage due to her father being ill. Poverty was another factor as she comes from a very large family. She is very sweet and is always interested in doing things. Teaching her how to play Crazy 8s and Old Maid was a lot of fun. She is a clinger and I often back up into her as she is right behind me.

Bhagabati is 10 years old and ended up at the Orphanage due to poverty - she as well comes from a large family. I call her Spunky as she is a little live wire. She is also the resident Louse Picker - she is always checking the other children. She was one of the girls that got her head shaved during the last really bad outbreak at the end of June.

Rekha - I spoke about her the day Sam became ill. She has the sad eyes - even when she is smiling her eyes are sad. She is always looking out for the little ones and makes sure they don't miss out on anything. She is all about pink things, butterflies and ribbons.

Sadhana is 10 years old. She came to the orphanage as she was "politically abandoned" - I am not sure what that means but I gather her father was part of the Maoist army and her mother could not feed her. She is one of those children who doesn't really fit in any where. She is very sensitive and cries easily. One night we were sitting on the step (another power outage) and she asked me to be her mother. That was very tough - I told her I am not her mother and I can not be her real mother - she asked if I could be her mother while I am here. Yes I can do that - she is one child that needs lots of hugs.

Kungang is 12 years old. She came to the orphanage as her mother was sick and the family owned no land. She always is smiling - she is very shy. She can sing very nicely if you can talk her into it. She really likes to be clean and is always washing her feet.

Omni is 8 years old. She came to the orphanage as her father disappeared and again extreme poverty. She is very tiny and hardly says a word. She doesn't hang around the other girls and is often just sitting by herself. The one time that she was first in line and smiling was when I was washing (de-licing) all the girls hair. She was another one that had a shaved head with the last out-break. And she even gave me a very wet hug.

Mindul is 7 years old - I think she is more like 5 - but what do I know. She came to the orphanage as her father abandoned the family - again extreme poverty. She attends grade 1 and is trying really hard to speak English. She is pretty independent and takes care of herself. She does not receive any care from any adult - she is attached to some of the older girls and boys. She likes tummy tickles.

Rechana is 5 years old but again I think she is more like 4. She has been at the orphanage since she was around 2.5 years of age - her father died and her mother is disabled. You can not help but love her - she is so cute. What really is amazing is that she cares for herself and she is not attached to any adult. She really likes balloons !

Those are the girls. What amazes me is that these children care for themselves - no one tells them when to get up or go to bed, what to wear, when to wash, etc. They all seem to know what is expected of them and they just do it. They all have little trunks that they pack special things in - they collect everything - old balloons, little bits of paper, etc. The packages of kleenex I gave them to make flowers - they have the empty packages stored away. It makes me so sad - these children have nothing but yet they find joy in everything.

On Monday we washed hair and hopefully got the lice maybe a little under control. One of the things I told them that we need to do is wash the bedding and shake the pillows and blankets out. They did not know this - so Tuesday I got up very early and went to get bucket wash soap. I started washing the little bedding they had - their bedding is old and torn - the pillows are just "gross" but I smiled and I showed them what to do - after putting in the first sheet and pillow case in the bucket I quickly realized this will be a big task as I do not think anything has ever been washed - so I had to wash the first set three times and rinse twice and I still don't think it is clean - but at least it is a start. When the girls come home from school we will be beating pillows, blankets and anything else that can't be washed. I told them they need to do this at least once a month or more - I thought that would be good as it is difficult to do. They all made faces until I said louse and little bugs that bite will go away - they understood that and now thought this was a good plan.

The girls have been really clingy these pass few days and they keep asking me not to forget them. Everyday they get up and come to my room to tell me how many more days before I go. They have also asked that I come and see them before I leave for Canada - this may work as I would like to give them some pictures I took of them.

They are amazing children and I hope they can continue to beat the odds. Tough life for little ones - It makes me think maybe I really don't have anything to complain about

Posted by LiseD 22:12 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

The Orphanage

sunny 28 °C

To have an understanding of the orphanage I have found that having an understanding of the state of Nepal is helpful. So I will provide a bit of back ground in regards to this country. Nepal is a country with a great deal of potential that will never be realized. The politics have caused a great deal of hardship for the majority of the people. In 1996 the Maoists declared a People's War after the failure of democracy to deliver improvements to the people. This resulted in the various parties in power at any given time fighting against one another. Fighting for control the Maoist finally became successful in ruling the country. This came at a high cost as both sides were involved in horrific human rights abuses including executions, abductions, torture and child conscription. The rural areas suffered greatly as the civil war raged in these areas as it was easier for the Maoist to gain control of the country bit by bit. The other result was that much needed government funding for health, education and increased standard of living went into fighting the Maoist. Life in the rural areas became increasingly difficult and many left the country side to come to Kathmandu or India.

With the Maoist in power things have deteriorated even further. The energy crisis has been a major factor as the government has put tight controls over this resource. Some of the people think the government sold power to India for a quick dollar while others think that Nepal has always bought power from India - I am unsure what is and isn't in that regard. All I know is that the energy crisis not only impacts day to day living but industry as well. One of the largest tax paying companies and the biggest exporter in Nepal shut it's plant down last week. The Maoist demanded another 10% as a bonus for their government. The Dabur Company has responded that it will move the Nepal plant back to India. This was the only big business left in Nepal. Industry has left Nepal due to political unrest and more recently due to the governments lack of support to keep them in the country. Industry has not been given any special treatment in regards to energy - they would suffer the same plight as the rest of the country. Energy would be limited making it impossible for most industries to function fully. Add the high taxes to this and Industry has moved out and more then likely to India.

Nepal currently does not have any major industry which has caused an increase in unemployment and poverty. Combined with world food shortages/cost and gas prices it has become a desperate country. Rice the main staple and gas have increased 2 -3 times over in the last 18 months. This has caused a new level of the "poor class". Non-rice eating families are increasing and this is very concerning.

Many young people are leaving Nepal for India with the promise of a better live and work. Due to the number of young people leaving Nepal a shift has occurred in this culture. The young people have always looked after their elderly parents and now that so many have left the country concern is growing for the elderly. This is an area where the government has actually shown forward thinking by developing a home for the aged. However in saying that this issue and concern is growing quickly so the government will need to move quickly. Moving quickly does not appear to be something that happens in Nepal in many different areas so I do believe the next few years they will see many elderly people on the streets or starving.

The other group that is impacted by the government, world food and gas prices are the children. I should also explain that the word 'Orphanage' is not the same as ours in the Western world. Orphanage is a home for children who have been removed from their parent/s home due to extreme poverty, politically suppressed situations and abandonment. If these children did not end up at various orphanages they would more then likely end up being trafficked to India for labour or for other abuses. Children are placed in the Orphanage by government social workers however the orphanage does not get any funding of any kind from government - they are government approved. It is currently funded by about 3 or 4 people - and certainly it is in a situation of hand to mouth on any given day. Conditions at the orphanage has improved greatly in the past 7 months due to these people. The question always is that it is just the very basics being provided now - if one person decides to no longer provide funding - I am unsure how this orphanage would make it.

At the orphanage I am staying at there are 28 children - it is really hard to determine age as they are underdeveloped so I am guessing the range would be from 4 to 20 years of age. The orphanage is divided into two houses that are side by side - the boys side which houses 17 boys and the girls side which houses 11 girls and the family that oversees their care.

The children get up between 5:30 - 6:00 a.m. - they all have a chore of some kind and quickly get to it. After they finish all the girls end up on the boys side on the open second story and either study or help with preparing the food. The food is cooked over a wood clay oven. They get two meals a day - one at 9:00 a.m. and the other at 7:00 p.m. - it is always the same - rice with some type of veg that is over cooked as it is cooked with the rice. They get a snack after school which is bread that is stale or fresh depending on the piece they get. These children do not eat any fresh fruit or veg, milk products or eggs/cheese/meat. The lack of a balanced diet really shows in their development - you have a 10 year old that looks like a 6 year old. There is no fridge or stove. Besides the clay stove the family uses a hot plate powered by gas to cook on.

The wood that is used for the clay stove is hauled and chopped by the children. One evening all the children were hauling big pieces of bamboo for about 3 hours. The interesting part is they did it happily while singing songs and everyone helped even the little ones.

After they have their breakfast the children change into their school uniform if they have school that day and are off by 10:00 a.m. I should mention the children change their clothes once per week and do sleep in them. Their school uniforms are washed every couple of weeks or so.

After school or if they do not have school the children are free to do what ever except if they have chores. Chores here range from washing the families clothes, looking for veg in the field, cleaning the rice, sweeping, doing dishes, chopping wood, etc. However washing clothes is one of the worse - on Saturday is the big wash day and everyone gets clean clothes. They have soap to wash the clothes but no soap or anything else to clean themselves with except for cold water. The older children try hard to keep themselves clean and tidy but it can be difficult at times. There are also no paper products like toilet paper, kleenex, etc.

I should mention that washing dishes is just rinsing them under cold water - no soap and left in a pile to dry. I bought dishsoap to make more bubbles with the other day. Well this turned into a 1 hour discussion on dishsoap. One of the questions was do we use dishsoap in Canada - I said yes and was going to say we also have dishwashers but quickly decided no that would be even harder to explain.

The children sleep two to a bed - usually it is an older child with a younger child. Some of the that sleep on the top bunk have their own bed The beds are very old steel framed bunk beds with a sheet of something like plywood with a very thin mattress (about 1/2 inch thick or less) covered by a thin sheet, a blanket and pillow. If you share a bed you get two blankets. All the girls sleep in one room - the boys are divided into two rooms. I have been here for nearly a month and none of their blankets or sheets washed. It is very difficult to have the children talk about such things as they fear they will get into trouble.

There are no toys, art supplies nor books. It is interesting to see what children will play with - rocks, twigs whatever they think of something. The art supplies and games that I brought with me have provided lots of enjoyment. Some of the children are very good artist and very creative. As well to balance all the craft things I bought a ball for the boys - they have been pretty excited about that one.

One of the most difficult things for me has been to watch these children go without an adult's touch - a hug, a pat on the back, a kiss on the forehead for days or a word of praise. One of the little ones - 4 years old was ill and she sat by herself for hours - the older children would check on her but basically she was by herself crying her little tears. At the end I scooped her up and rocked her - at first she was fighting me to break away but after a few mins she calmed down and actually fell asleep. Now she comes to me and wraps herself around me - big hugs !!!

I try to give a hug to most of the children every day or to a least praise them in someway. This has resulted in being surrounded by children wanting hugs, holding my hand, etc. It has also resulted in the boys saying after they finish a drawing or something - "this is very, very good, yes"

The other thing this has resulted in is not so nice - that would be lice. Anyway today everyone gets a treatment. What usally happens is the hair is shaved - the older girls with longer hair do not want their heads shave. They are always picking lice or as they call it louse from each others hair. So last night they asked me which is pretty big for them for Louse shampoo - so I said not a problem but then I thought maybe they should check my head as it is itchy but I was thinking cold water wash the shampoo stays in, etc. Well that wasn't it. Oh well - that and bedbugs - what the heck. This actually will be a prefect time to talk about washing their bedding and airing out their pillows and mattress. So it is all good.

The school system here is divided into either government or private. From what I can figure out the government school does not teach English. A few of the older boys attend the government school. The rest of the children attend the school across from the house. I have pictures - it is pretty sad. At this school there is not enough teachers - the children are often learning on their own. The classrooms are very small with little wooden tables and benches - very few. It is void of any type of anything that would make one think this was a classroom. The walls have some green slimely stuff on it - it is not good. But at this time that is all the orphanage can afford - the other the school they were attending - which I visited looked wonderful compared to this school - not to a western standard - but pretty good for this part of the world.

Education does not play a high role here. Most days there are some children at home - why they are at home it is hard to figure out sometimes. They do go to school 6 days a week and have the month of August off. I should say they have a lot of holy days, etc.

These children have so little so anything that happens is big. This past weekend we went on a major outing - we were going to leave at 7:30 a.m. - the children were up by 4:00 a.m. - already excited and ready to go. Of course we didn't leave until about 9:00 a.m.

I will be leaving here in a few days and I can't help but feel that these children have become a part of me and are in my heart.

Posted by LiseD 21:45 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

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