Well I made it out of Nepal – despite the strike. My friend sent an ambulance to take me to the airport as the maoist strike didn’t allow any cars on the street. I arrived at 7 AM for a 7 PM flight, because I was told it wouldn’t be safe to go any later in the day. Have not posted in a while because the schools were also closed and there was little time to spend on the computer.
A big thank you to Fred Uncle (Ripley) from Nashville for his recent donation, some of which was spent on new shoes – 27 pairs in total. The note with the donation said “be frivolous” so they are shoes for outings, not the plastic shoes which we wear in the garden, nor school shoes. We have enjoyed ice cream a few times too and several trips to the swimming pool. All a big treat for our kids.
We are now buying all the supplies for the new school year – nothing is free here – the schools have raised their fees, the books are more expensive, the school bus costs almost as much as the monthly fee.! I wish we had our own van. One day I hope.
Many thanks to Colleen Auntie and her brother Bill Boland for their donations towards our future solar power. I have spent $300 of it on an invertor – which provides one light per room back up during power cuts. What a treat it is too. It was not so easy to begin with and we broke the first one on the second day (it was under warranty and replaced). Now there is no excuse for not studying and for poor grades.
Our Govinda did well in his exams only failing in one subject instead of the usual five! and his behaviour has improved tremendously. Manisha failed in three subjects and will stay back in class 4 and Babu didn’t do so well either, failing in two. The other kids passed but some just scraped by. Perhaps it was changing schools yet again that affected them – we certainly have enough tutors and extra help for them so we will have to see what happens next year when there are no excuses.
There are 27 children here in total during the holidays including Laxmi’s three children, Kamala’s three brothers and the cleaning ladies two. And I wonder why I am tired at night. Tired but happy I might add. Today we celebrated small Maya’s and small Rojina’s birthday – and cut one cake into forty slices. Better a small bit than none at all.
It’s been a while since I had time to write anything so I will try to catch up now.
Last weekend Rajina and I went to another children’s home with the Dynamic Heart Project to work with children who had been traumatized, victimized, abused and sometimes tortured by both Maoists and Army. Several children saw their parents killed; some saw their teachers beheaded, and their schools blown up. One poor girl had been kidnapped by the Maoists, raped, and forced to join their ranks. She reluctantly took part in several skirmishes, and one day, whilst carrying grenades, she fell back and ran away into the jungle. This was the second time she had run away, and the first time she was caught and severely beaten. This time she managed to run all day until at nightfall, she had to stop when she reached the river’s edge. As it was during Monsoon, the river was swollen, so she climbed a tree and clung to it all night. In the morning she prayed to be allowed to cross the river, but decided she would rather die than be re captured and forced to fight with the Maoists. She made it across the river and surrendered to the Army. The story does not end there however, as she was tortured by the soldiers and forced to confess to deeds she had nothing to do with. Luckily for her she was released and then taken into care, but the horrors she lived through will haunt her forever.
Many of the children we worked with looked seriously disturbed, but by the end of our visit some of them had opened up a little, and many enjoyed themselves a lot. Many thanks to The Dynamic Heart Project for their time and caring. I hope we have helped these poor children in some way to begin the healing process.
Happy to announce that The Dynamic Heart Project are currently in Nepal working with the children of Ghar Sita Mutu.
The intention of the Dynamic Heart Project is to help abandoned children and destitute women in Nepal through the medium of Dynamic Theatre (DT), which was founded by Mark Wentworth and Filipe De Moura in 2003. It is inspired by Psychodrama, Shamanism and Systemic Therapies and a deep desire and passion to make a difference in the world. Dynamic Theatre is an “action method” using spontaneous and intuitive drama to help people discover their fullest potential.
For more information please go to http://www.dynamicheartproject.com
I am often asked what it is like to live with 18 children (with several others with us for most of the day). Here is a rough idea of what it is like.
School day schedule
6 :00 Children are woken up and they make their beds and get dressed in their school uniforms.
Prayers start at 6.30. Both Hindu and Buddhist prayers are recited followed by a few minutes of meditation.
6.45 Hot milk with horlicks is served and then the small children study on the second floor and the older children study downstairs.
7.30 Lunch is served – rice, dahl and a vegetable curry. Children wash their own plates and take their tiffin (school snack) and books and leave the house at 8 o’clock.
School ends at three but they don’t reach home till about 4 o’clock on the school bus. Friday is a half day. Sunday is a school day.
4 PM Fruit and tiffin ( either chow mein, fried rice, pancakes and chick peas (not my favourite) is followed by homework. At least an hour.
Free time to play outside, we have a basketball court, swings and a large lawn to play on. Some of the children take showers water permitting, read or play music.
All the children have music/singing classes thrice a week, and the older kids have karate classes. Both teachers are volunteers.
7 pm is dinner time followed by indoor play, board games, chess or a sing along with either Babu or Krishna playing guitar. All children participate in washing up – divided into three teams.
Television is carefully restricted. The children can watch on Friday afternoons for an hour, usually a national geographic program, sometimes a cartoon. On Saturdays the children watch a movie, usually an English one, sometimes Hindi, divided into two groups of older and younger ones.
Friday Night is Family night. A short meeting is followed by a treat of some kind, cheese and crackers (they love it) or some chocolate. We sometimes have a dance party (electricity permitting), a talent show or play games. If all of the staff are tired we watch a movie together.
On Saturdays everyone takes a turn in the kitchen as it is the cooks holiday. All but the smallest children wash their own clothes and all tidy their rooms. There is one study period in the morning. Most of the children like to go for walks so we often go to Boudha, sometimes to the jungle or occasionally we rent a bus and go for a longer excursion/picnic.
Once or twice in the holidays we go swimming . Happily for us a local pool has opened nearby charging less money than the hotels we used to go to.
The long school holidays are hectic but fun with a lot more free time for the children. Usually we go for a daily walk, sometimes we have a sports day and sometimes go to the fun fair. The children love to draw and paint, make up small plays and dance. We are planning to visit Bal Mandir – the state orphanage again this holiday (next week is the end of the school year). We went to Bal Mandir before and were all shocked at the l number of babies just lying in their cribs with no toys or stimulation. Our plan is to take some toys and cuddle as many of them as possible.
Most of our children have never been out of the Kathmandu Valley and one day, funds permitting, we would like to take them to Pokhara for a holiday and to see the mountains.
Despite all the hardship, Laxmi’s children all do well in school Navaraj spent four months in the hospital with his mother and still became 2nd in his class. Sabita was in first position, and Gauri 2nd position. Wish the GSM kids could do as well. Even with all the tutoring and encouragement some of them still fail in one or two subjects.
The Doctor strike continues and I have been unable to take Laxmi to the hospital where she was treated previously. Instead, I took her to the local clinic to see the Tibetan doctor again, who gave her acupuncture for the first time. He told me to stay with her while he went to treat another patient. . After about 15 minutes looking quite peaceful, she lifted her head and muttered something then fell unconscious. I was glad that it happened at the clinic and not when I was walking her back to our home. The doctor came back in to revive her. It took a while though. He taught me a couple of techniques to get her to come round, when it happens again at home. (pressing and rubbing under the nose with a pushing up motion, and massaging above the hairline over the third eye).
He talked with her for quite a long time. “What’s amazing”, he said, “is that she doesn’t know what the doctor said about her condition and didn’t ask any questions. These poor women see a doctor in a suit and tie and are scared to speak, let alone find out anything about their illness. That’s another thing you can teach them, Beverly, a strong out-spoken woman like yourself.”
Will do Doc. Next month my lawyer is giving our trainees a workshop on their labour rights. When I asked my cleaning lady if she would leave the job if I beat her for making mistakes, she looked at me as if I was mad – “of course not,” she said. “If I don’t do my duty you can beat me!” As if I would!
While Laxmi was sleeping Ambika came in . I first met Ambika, six years ago begging at the Stupa, trying to make her five year old look like a baby by carrying her on her back wrapped in a shawl. Tourists tend to give more money to beggars with babies. I enrolled her in our paid training program, first the sewing classes for a year, then felt making and finally candle making. Unfortunately she was not able to learn much, or couldn’t retain what she did learn, although she was always good natured and willing to try anything. The thing she was good at was selling the candles we make so when I arrived I went looking for her as we have many candles to sell.
“ Mummy!” – she shouted in delight when she saw me at the Stupa – but a little shame faced because she was begging again. Come tomorrow, I said, and she agreed happily. I was surprised when she didn’t show up. She explained why when I saw her at the clinic today.
Last week her husband stole the little money she had, then beat her up and two of their daughters. She took a job carrying bricks and on her third day on the job she was knocked down by a motorbike. The driver stopped and gave her money to see a doctor, but the husband stole that too. Little wonder I had trouble getting to sleep again last night.
Makes me feel like the luckiest woman in the world.