Sunday, January 28, 2007

Constant power failures

The electric is going off regularly now for about 3 hours at the time, nearly every evening making emailing difficult. Trying to e-mail this before I go out today. I did email some stuff last night but lost it all. I have a new little boy at the orphanage I think I am going to match him with Gary. He is a very shy little boy called Purjal and is 6. Just started him in nursery class the other day. He is a little sweetheart and needs to know someone cares for him.

Today I am going to start doing Yoga with the kids, I think they will enjoy it. I have been running regularly lately. Today I did an hour and ten minutes. Many hazards like rocky roads, traffic, dogs and people. Kamal who runs the shelter is up to 36 minutes now. His father is coming soom and he runs an hour and a half everyday. I am going to see 7 children today and will have to pick from some of them for sponsors. Better go as Kamal will be waiting. We have to go to the village of Hattiban which is quite a way.

Love Susan

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Settling in the new home....visiting children and their families

I am happy to say that Chondra, the woman with the tiny room which I spoke of previously, showed up very early at the orphanage yesterday morning with her son. We were able to take them to the school and he started right away. He seems to be settling in good and his mother did seem very happy with our place and the situation. She asked me to take his photo so she could have one. I am meeting tomorrow with one of her relatives as I am hoping there is something we can do for her but I do not know what yet. She is such a sweet little woman.

I have just visited the two girls, Samjhana and Shirjhana again, whose mother had the mental breakdown. Their mother is not home yet but is supposed to come on Monday. The eldest girl was very sad today, she was having a hard time not to cry. Apparently the mother was supposed to come yesterday but did not. Maybe that was why she was so sad. I will go back and see them again. I have lost some photos so had to retake some again today. I asked the girls about the gift I gave them last week. They retrieved it from under a table and everything was just as I had given it, even the chocolate bars were uneaten. When I remarked on this they said they were saving everything for when their mother returned. I told them that the sponsor who had given the gift was also sick, but even so she had thought of them and sent these things along and they seemed very touched by this.

I also revisited Nauchen and her brothers. I asked here also if I could retake the photo of her with her sponsor's gift. Here it was just the same, the gift although it had been opened, it was all repackaged just like when I had given it to her. The boys that I also revisited had used their gifts though as they were soccer balls and I could see that these had definitely been well used. Here I was offered Dhal Bhat and although it was spicy I managed to finish it all.
We finished by visiting some new children and their Tibetan aunty who I just love. Her name is Dickie and she is small and constantly smiling.

The weather is now warm and sunny and for the last few morning the damp mist has been gone. I think summer is just about here now. The orphanage new home is lovely and so good for everyone. I have now got used to riding everywhere by motorbike as my back does not ache anymore. I must have developed motorcycle muscles. The puppy, who I have named Kushi (it means happy), is doing well and we managed to find a place to get a vaccination for her yesterday. It was quite a thing to get done and the vet looked liked he worked in a quarry. Him and Kamal had to go off on a motorbike in order to find some distemper vaccine but could not find any deworming pills. I will have to work on that one. Nameste Susan

Thursday, January 25, 2007

There is no end to poverty

Good morning everyone,

This morning Kamal met me in town and we went to visit a woman and her son who I sponsored last year. At that time I went to her home once but she was not there so met her on the street where she works selling clothes. This time we met her and she took to a different home that she had moved to. It is in the heart of old Kathmandu where the slums seem to be the worst. The stairs were dark and there was a well at the foot of them that was leaking water so it was wet and the stairs very unstable.

When she opened the door and I stepped in, I was shocked and so was Kamal. I have been in so many poor homes but this one in picture on the right had to be the worst yet. It was no more than 3 to 3 1/2 feet wide and about 10 feet long. Containing only a bed, cupboard and small unit for cooking. Nothing else could have fit in. I immediately got a lump in my throat. It was also very dark requiring a light at all times. She told us that her son was not doing well in school because she could not supervise him properly. This was because she had to work from 5pm to 9pm selling clothes on the street as this is the only time it is legal for her to do so. He is now 11 and starting to hang out with street kids. This woman told us she was married at 14 and then her husband married two other woman. She had to leave the village and he took her possessions from her.

In talking with her, it was decided we take the child to the orphanage so he could be safe and get an education. I was fighting back tears the whole time as this boy was the only thing she had but she was willing to give him up for his sake. It was the best decision because she needs him to be able to work to keep her in her old age. I asked her what I could do for her and she said "I need nothing for myself only for my son". This made me feel worse and as much as I wanted to leave and let my emotions free and have a good cry I accepted her hospitality to stay and have tea.

Tomorrow she will bring her son to the orphanage. I have never felt so sad in one these homes as I did in this one. This woman at 35 had had no life and no hope of one to come. We could barely get the four of us in this room. I could not even buy her a little gas range as there was no room for the gas cylinder. She represented one of thousands in this city. I love these women for their courage just to carry on. I do not think I could. Last night I stayed at the Kathmandu Guest House so I could dine with friends and I thought about the 20 dollars I had spent and that it would have paid a months rent and food for this woman. And I did not sleep as well as I do at the shelter. Namaste

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

We Are Now Moved Despite The Ongoing Strike

Hello everyone.

The political situation here is worsening again. In the two weeks that I have been here there have been 3 strike days and this one is two days in a row now. I hope it is not going to go on all week. When there is a strike you can go nowhere. This is why I had to get on with matching children right away, as in Nepal one never knows when there is going to be a major shut down. There have been many demonstrations also.

We moved this morning and fortunately Jagat found us a vehicle as there are none on the roads. It was a bit of a panic as we thought we were going to have to get porters and carry everything. Now it is chaotic at the new house so I thought I would step out and catch up on some e-mailing. There are still many problems with people getting shot and police still getting beaten up. This they call "Peace"??. It seems a bit like Iraq where there will never be peace as we know it. People say to me "ahhh.... this time you come and there is peace" and I just smile back.... best not to tell them what I think.So when I will get back to work I do not know.

My new room at the house is the best one with an attached toilet, shower and little balcony. It has a western toilet which is always a disaster in Nepal. They never work properly and the seats are always missing as is this one. They are better to stick to the sqat type that they know best. Anyway it is a big improvement over my 'little blue bucket'. I think they will all be happy (Pictured on the right) in the new place although the kids look a little done in today. They all worked very hard. They want to go back to school and of course cannot because of the strike.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Quiet Day today as it is Strike Day

Strike day today Nepal. Banda as they call it here. Do not really know why except some people got shot in the south and buses burned. Hope it only lasts one day as there is no transport so cannot really go out except to the internet. It is very cold with no heating I never seem to get warm. There is this heavy mist that hangs around until about 11 am. I hate to get up and
then hang around in front of our one little heater. Doors are always open. Brrrr......


Progressing Well with Matching Children with Sponsors and with the New Shelter

Yesterday when I finally went home from the internet place, and when I returned, the children had a small puppy in their arm. Kamal's mother, (Kamal runs the shelter with his wife), had taken the children out for a hike and got the puppy from someone. So now we have another new addition in the house. It is a female, very sweet and cuddled up on my lap last night by the heater. I have been experiencing difficulty trying to send pictures but I definitely will try again soon.
I have just spent an hour trying to send photos and it is not possible. The man is now eating rice so I cannot get anymore of his help. I have tried from this site and from gmail with no luck. I would rather tell you about what I am doing than trying to do this photo thing which is frustrating me. The computers here are not like ours. They are third world and not the most modern.

The new Child Blessing Shelter Home

Anyway the house(new shelter), as you see in the picture, is a bigger six bedroom house quite close to where we are now but not as luxurious at it seems as it is all concrete inside. It has a small enclosed yard and has a good sized kitchen, dining and living room. Two bathrooms, one with shower and other with just toilet I think from what I can remember. There is solar hot water which means usually luke warm at this time of year. We move in a few days from what I understand. I have to go now and visit some children.

Sponsor/Child Matches.

I think that is 11 matched so far with another 4 tomorrow and about 7 on Monday.

A Tragic Story:
The Rana Magar children have a rather tragic story. 18 days ago their father got up and went to the toilet, he fell while in there hitting his head on the toilet. He died on the way to the hospital. He has left a wife and these four children. The mother has no money or income. I talked to her brother who did speak some English. I asked whether we maybe could get her to learn some skills such as sewing so she could at least have a way of making an income to support her family. She sat there silently crying while we were talking about this. It is a hard reality that she has to find a way to make some money. I picked her youngest child for the beard growing Bristol Boys (showed on the right), from England because they want to send a child to private school for who it's whole schooling years and college if needed. This lady will need a son with a good education to keep her in her old age. The father was 43 and a trekking cook so had only had a small income but now there is nothing for her and the family. They were very appreciative of our help and support.

Stone Quarry Family

We visited here twice now. The other day we paid more off Sanu's debt. For those that do not know. Sanu went off to Kuwait last year to work as a domestic. In spite of us pleading with her not to do so, she went anyhow as she wanted to earn money for her family. Within a few week, she was desperately wanting to come home as she was being badly treated. All this incurred a debt of about 500 dollars. We previously paid $200 from the garage sale money and her sponsor. While we were paying the auntie who secured the loan, Sanu sobbed her heart out with shame. The father all the time was saying that if she had listened to us all, this money would not have been necessary. He and Jagat, my trusted aid, were also telling her that now she has to work so hard at school and to repay us by doing well at school and going to college.
No one seemed concerned by her tears but me. I told her that the loan is being repayed by us so she can finish school (otherwise she would have to go to work to pay it) and start life with no debt. This is a huge amount for them to pay that would have taken years. I told her she owes us nothing, but I would like her to finish class 10 and only go to college if she wants. I told her we all make mistakes and she was only trying to earm some money to send home to her family. I stopped her tears by telling her that I would take her out for lunch and shopping.

In the meantime her little sister Juni on the left, was dancing around in a Snoopy raincoat I gave her stopping occasionally to look at her sister with concern. This family lives in a little tin shack at the quarry. Her father and Mother are very grateful but the father seems to be very hard on Sanu. He only makes a dollar a day so I guess all this debt is a huge amount of money to them. The mother is so sweet and looked so nice in the new clothes I bought for her a few days previously. These were also generously donated by her sponsor.

Gary I am still at this darn poo poo computer. The letters don't correspond to what comes out on the screen. Must be a secret code or something. We Went to see Nauchen today. She is in class 10 and now starting to take her SLC exams. (School Leaving Certification.) She is a lovely girl. Her older brothers look after her and they are very keen that she does well. One brother asked me if I was satisfied with how she was doing. I said of course I was. He said she has done better this year with our help. She would like to carry on to go to college and they are going to let me know much closer to the time.

The brother was a new teacher but only made about 60 dollars per month. They wanted to give me a picture, the brother had made of the late King Birenda but Ram who was with me suggested they make one of me and then they wanted a photo. I told them that I do not walk around with photos of myself. But Ram said he had some at home. These little gifts make them feel they are giving a little back. They are all so grateful. These three really touched by heart. The boys cared for their sister so much and her success.

I also visited two girls who were among my first sponsored. Samjhana and Shirjhana. This is a sad story. When I met them two years ago they were a wonderful little family. The father had little work. A year ago he went to Kuwait to work. The family missed him terribly. First Samjhana was having problems at school, but she since seems to be okay. Now the mother has had a nervous breakdown and has been in a mental hospital for a month. The two little girls 11 & 12, manage by themselves. Cooking and cleaning and managing the money. They showed me radishes they had pickled. Fortunately I had a nice gift for them both and some extra money. How sad that people have to resort to this just to make ends meet.
I am still very busy doing matches of children with their sponsors but I am making good progress on this. I will update you soon with more developments.

Namaste Everyone

Saturday, January 13, 2007

We have a House! ....And so exited about it!

Namaste everyone.

Just a quick email to let you know that we signed for the nice house this morning for a period of two years. It is the best I could do as I did not want to move out of this area because of the children's school. Hopefully we can move in, in a couple of weeks time.I will check regarding getting a post office box for letters and such. I have been a bit sick for a couple of days due to the usual stomach upset problem. Food sometimes does not agree with me very well. Houses around here are still expensive in comparison with home. It sounds like $300 is a lot of money but what would we pay to rent a 6 bedroom house? For Nepalis this is a huge amount of money and I guess that is why the families I sponsor live in tiny little rooms with corrugated tin roofs etc. I was surprised too at what we are having to pay but anything less was pretty horrible.

I will email you photos of the house when we move in, in a week to ten days time. It has six bedrooms and it is quite grand, Nepali style with gold around the ceilings and a nice portico and walled perimetre. It has a big kitchen and a dinning room and sitting room. Very different from where we are now. I am quite excited about it. I Will let you know when I have worked out the costs and feasabilty. I think we can make this work. I have visited four families today so I am tired. More later.
Namaste...Love Susan

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

My first day.....I am back doing work I love

Hello everyone, I thought I would pass a couple of things along. Today was my first day working back in Kathmandu and I visited 3 families. One the Dhal family is doing well. I am finding that when we help a family, it seems to lift them out of their plight and they become much more positive and then, better things start happening. This is the case here as the mother is now learning to sew, as is the eldest daughter. Their new room is a big improvement on the last one. Just one daughter that I am very concerned about. She is 15 and very sad, no schooling and she does all the work. We are going to try her at the orphanage and they are coming tomorrow to see us. We are hoping that she becomes another Uma. We have to give her a chance as she is so sad.

We have found a new house for the orphanage. It is not quite what I envisioned but we cannot wait as the owners want us to move out so they can get the current place back, and truthfully, it is kind of a hole anyway. This newer house has no kitchen and open stairs. If the kids fell it would kill them, no exaggeration! We made a deal that we would take the place if the owner made a kitchen and fixed the stairs. It is not very homely but for what we can afford it is the best we will get. 1200 rupees a month which is about $200 dollars. We looked at another lovely place yesterday but it was too much money at $300 a month. So we will take this one. It had a couple of children living in it on their own, who were suppose to live at another orphanage but not well cared for. We can move in within in a week I think. Somehow I do not think this will be ready but we shall see. I bought a bike helmet today as we only had one. If you thought driving in a taxi was bad, believe me it is nothing compared to riding on a motor bike. I think I need a full suit of armour. Feet especially vulnerable as they get banged against other bikes and curbs. So if I come back with no feet you will no why.

Anne, Uma is amazing. She went to her home today and took Prokash along until tomorrow. The kids are on winter vacation. So she was there when I visited her home. She called out to me by name which she has never done before. She had on that purple top you sent her and when I said to her "is that the top Anne sent?" She said yes and it is very lovely. For Uma to speak to me in English is a huge accomplishment.Many developments here politically and I am not sure I like them. More on that later. Take care.

Finally! I am here in wonderful Nepal

Arrived yesterday and how good it was. My friends, Kamal, Jagat, Ram and Rajinda were all there to meet me. I loved seeing their warm smiles. It was good to see the sun as well and warm weather. They were all so happy to see us that I just felt warm all over myself. The children were all waiting on the step at the orphanage along with Samjhana, Sema and Aama. I cried when I got there as it was all just so emotionally wonderful to be back. The baby is so sweet and so tiny and perfect. Last night electricity was out so we sat by candlelight and talked and it felt so good.

We have one new boy at the orphanage his name is Parjual, age about 6. We have to move very soon. The place is too bad and the owners want it back anyway. No water, no security. I had someone who broke into my room this morning. My fault as I forgot to lock the door. There is a man across the hall from me who is not so nice. So hopefully in a day or two we will move. I have a bad habit with locks and misplacig keys. Fortunately all that was missing was about $30. I learned a lesson from that and will be more careful.