Number 1, September 2014
It’s been almost a year now since Sansar Nepal became a registered NGO (non-governmental organisation), and ten months since we moved into The Garden, so it’s high time to take a look at how far we’ve come – and how far we have to go!
Firstly, a very sincere thank you to everyone who has helped to make Sansar Nepal at The Garden a reality. It hasn’t been an easy road for anyone, neither for us, the fundraisers, nor our long suffering manager Leela, who has had to become a master juggler to pay bills, keep the house running and pay school fees, all of which he has somehow coped with admirably, and mostly with a smile! Hopefully the worst is now over as sponsorship money is starting to come in, and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
So let’s concentrate on all that has been achieved in our first year…
Six of our eight resident children are attending school and doing well, whilst the two oldest, Prakash and Manju, started college courses a few weeks ago, after passing their School Leaver’s Certificate, both achieving Division One. Manju is studying Management at Sagarmatha College and Prakash passed the entrance exam with a high enough position to secure a place at the Pokhara College of Engineering for a three year civil engineering course!
We are very proud of both of them, and grateful to their loyal sponsors who have agreed to support them through higher education. In addition, we are also supporting the education of two other non-resident children, who also enjoy the extra care and opportunities offered by Sansar Nepal. (In the picture on the left you can see some of the children enjoying an excursion up into the hills above Pokhara, on their way to visit the famous Japanese peace pagoda.)
Thanks to the support of our friend Bea Toews, who visited the house in March of this year, we have been able to send all of our children for a dental check up and any necessary treatment. It’s hard enough studying, let alone when your teeth are hurting! Two youngsters who were complaining of headaches have been prescribed glasses which has also made studying much easier.
Generally, all eight resident children are over the moon with their new home. In their words, it’s a dream come true; they have comfortable clean beds, warm showers, three healthy meals a day, a place to study, and time to play when their work is done. Most importantly they are loved and respected, and encouraged to fulfil all their potential.
First to arrive, back in February, was Clive Hocker from the UK, taking the opportunity between jobs to do something completely different. With his help over four weeks, the house gradually became functional, our Facebook page was updated, new documents drafted, and some of the kids learned to play chess – and were soon beating him!
Also in February we were joined by Laura Nolan from Scotland who gave freely her time and attention to our children, listened to their stories, their hopes and their dreams, and taught them some yoga. (Laura and Michelle, can be seen shopping for baskets in Pokhara, below.)
It was a full house when Ana and her four year old daughter, Akira, arrived and spent a week with us. Akira soon became great friends with Binisa, and Ana taught us how to make sauerkraut and a fermented tea drink, Kombucha.
Bea arrived from Thailand and spent the month of March with us. Her business and marketing skills were soon put to use as she got us organised with spread sheets, account books, lists and plans! Her leaving gift of a gleaming new treadle sewing machine for the house was much appreciated, and the children and our house mother, Dilmaya, are now learning to sew.
As Bea left, twelve teachers from Mont Kiara International School arrived in Kathmandu for a 10-day Nepal tour. Whilst in Pokhara they spent a lovely evening at the house, brought books, games and craft materials for our library, enjoyed a typical Nepalese meal and sang with us around our first campfire! The children were introduced to s’mores, which went down very well!
As they left, Mike, an electrician, arrived from the UK, on his second visit to Nepal. He had been before in April, the previous year, hoping to help us move into the new house, which didn’t happen until November(!!), so this time his skills were put to good use. During his month-long stay he helped us to install a solar-powered back-up electrical system, providing an emergency light for each room, enough to see us through the frequent power outages that are a signature of Nepal. This has been a huge help to the children who now can study by electric light, rather than by the flame of a candle. Many thanks to Victoria Parker (a friend of Remco Bruijn’s – see below) who raised the money for the installation of the solar lights.
Fortunately, before the back-up was installed, each of our guests arrived with a solar powered reading lamp, which also helped things along and these now supplement our one light per room. Mike, a keen rock climber, also took Binod, with whom he formed a strong bond, to Pokhara’s new climbing wall, which was a great experience for both of them.
When I left for Kuala Lumpur at the end of April, we had already planted vegetables, fruit trees and herbs in the garden in preparation for the approaching monsoon season in Nepal, when everything springs to life, and now these are providing food for the table.
In August, Leela and the children received another guest, Inga, a music teacher from Germany, who brought with her recorders, and taught the children to play. She also volunteered at Himanchal School and worked with the music teacher there.
I will be returning to Nepal during October and November of this year. As the children have school holidays for much of October, we are planning to organise a summer school, with various activities on offer, for our children as well as some less privileged children from the neighbourhood. We will be assisted by a former MKIS teacher, Annette Hynes, who has just completed her yoga teacher training, so perhaps yoga will be one of our offerings!
We also have a collection of donated household items and materials for the resource centre waiting to be shipped to Nepal. Once we know how much the shipping costs will be, we will be sending out an appeal for small donations to get these important supplies over to where they are needed. Your help will be much appreciated on this.
We are fortunate that Bea, a dedicated teacher of many years, so inspired a former pupil, Remco Bruijn, that he has launched an online appeal, at her request, to raise money for Sansar Nepal, which will enable us to buy necessary equipment for the house, such as tables and chairs for outdoor teaching and activity areas, paint, fencing, plants and trees, etc. Please visit www.pozible.com to view and contribute to the appeal.
Finally, and most importantly, we would like again to express our sincere thanks and gratitude to all who have contributed, in whatever way, to make reality the dream of an NGO and a beautiful home in Pokhara, one which hopefully will shelter and nurture many children over the years ahead. We have a long way to go and many plans, and with your continued help and support, we have no doubt that we will get there!
PS. Don’t forget to keep in touch, and keep up to date between newsletters by liking our Facebook page – see you there…