Monday, March 30, 2009

The Trials of Kathmandu

Things are very bad here in Kathmandu. There is little to no water fresh water and electric is only on for about 4 hours per day. The water is a real problem and a lot of people are becoming sick from drinking unboiled water. My friend Kamal is in the hospital with possible Typhoid or some other water related illness. he is quite sick with very high fevers. Some of the children at his orphanage are also sick. For me this is temporary but for the people here ist never ends. I cannot imagine living like this all the time. Not being able to wash, showering is just a dream.
Yesterday we visited Hattiban and the children there and took with us a sponsor from Duncan to meet her child. All the children here are fine and in this village they do have water. But there were no buses, a strike over I do not know what. After we finsihed there were no taxis either so walked a long way until we found a person with a private car and they give us a ride. Fortunately otherwise it would have been a two hour walk. Hattiban is always nice to visit. We are busy filling out forms for every child for the Social Welfare Councils requirements. It is a big job. On little girl, now 13, blew me a kiss as I left, that is the first time i havew seen a Nepali child do that. Sushant the little blind boy was home for the holidays and he is doing so well. He showed me two medals he had won. One was for first in long jump and the other a third in 100 metre dash. How proud he was of that. I promised to meet him at his school in three weeks. i am going to stop now as I sure the electric is going to go any minute. Excuse any mistakes.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Return to Kathmandu

Tomorrow I return by bus to Kathmandu. I have had the last couple of days off and have immersed myself in Nepali language for about four hours per day. I need to improve my Nepali so this time I am determined to do that. The language teacher is very good. I am going to continue in Kathmandu trying to talk mostly Nepali when at the apartment.
The weather is warm and sunny and I have enjoyed the company of volunteers from Australia at breakfast every morning. They are working at an orphanage.
The inflation rate here in Nepal offically is 14.9 per cent but they say unoffically it is much higher. I know when I buy groceries for families many items are much higher and also the school fees have increased a large amount. This is a bit worrying.
I now have a busy month visiting all the schools and children in Kathmandu. For new sponsors I have matched most of you but internet is expensive here in Pokhara so I will get the information to you as soon as possible. Electric is only on for about 4 to 5 hours per day and sometimes that is in the night so you can understand the problem.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Women's Literacy Program

Photos: Literacy Women's Group, Our oldest student Ram Shree Pun age 64 and Khim Maya Chantrelle blessing her sewing machine. I love these women.

Today I met all the women interested in the literacy program. We had arranged a meeting this morning and 18 women showed up. We talked to them about the program, took group photos and an individual photo of each lady. I think they felt very important especially when I told them I was going to put the photo on the internet and it could be seen all over the world. About three of the older women had sons working in the middle east and they wanted to know how they would be able to see it. I told them that I was very proud of them and wished them all luck. They were very happy and they start school in about three weeks after the school holiday. I told them I would try and get them each a sponsor.

We bought two sewing machines yesterday which eventually be used in our sewing program but for now they are with the two ladies who took the sewing course. They were just so happy. Today when I stopped by at one of their homes she was down on the floor measuring and mending a garment. This lady lost her little five year old daughter last September and of course was so sad but now she seems to have such hope and is so happy with her sewing and now the literacy program.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

New Project

We have been busy here filling out forms for all the children and having the parents sign agreement forms but so many of the women cannot even sign their name. Also two of the women who have just finished their sewing course did really well but they had trouble measuring and writing things down. Mrs. BK showed me all the things she had made and had done really well. So now we are starting a literacy program for the women who would like to learn basic reading, writing and arithmetic. One hour per day and two on Saturdays. We have decided that we cannot sponsor anymore children as we will have about 160 when we have finished this month. New sponsors will have to go on a waiting list for when a child loses a sponsor. 160 is as many as we can manage especially now with all the paperwork required by the Social Welfare Council.
But sponsorships will now be available for one of the women at a cost of $10 per month for a minimum of six months. These women are really keen to learn. We got seven names today, five of our mothers and two other older women. Mrs. BK cried when I asked her. She said she had never, even as a child, had the opportunity to learn to read. The two older women, in their fifties, were excited and more than willing to take part for the six months trial. If it is successful we will then continue it. One lady said she needed glasses but would be okay if the teacher wrote large letters. We can always get her some glasses I think. It is great to see the joy in these women at the thought of learning to read. I think this will be really satisfying. We will probably end up with at least 10 or 12 women.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Photos belong to story below. Ramaya and two of her children. the other photo is of Puspa who I stopped to see on my way to Pokhara. She is studying for her School Leaving Certificat next week. She had no light in this room and I wondered how she could possibly see what she was doing. She works so hard and has good marks and is hopeing to go to college. I told her that somehow we would manage to send her.

Simpani, Pokhara

Sorry to be late in updating this blog. Since being in Pokhara I have been so busy, every day is full and also I have had two evenings in Rotary meetings.
Things have been quite sad here. Matching children has been difficult because of having to choose between so many especially at the private school where I only have a few sponsors. Families have fallen on harder times so the need is greater. I see a lot of mother's tears and this is hard to bear. At the government school things are difficult also because of the poor children there. I sponsored three children from one family who were at the top of the list for a sponsor. They looked so desperate. The mother came to the school and begged for them to admit her children and they did but they have no uniform, books, pencils etc. It looked like they needed regular clothes as well so Mann is bringing some today.
Yesterday we went to visit their home and mother. This is definitely the poorest family I have ever sponsored. They live in a quarry on the river edge and the mother works all day in waist deep water finding rocks to fill her dokha (basket) on her back. Everyday with no breaks and for about one dollar per day if she is lucky. She was 35 years old but looked at least 20 years older and was stooped. Her 14 year old daughter had stepped on a nail and her foot was infected. We walked for some way along the river and then some people stopped and we squeezed in their taxi and went to a medical post. Here she had a tetanus shot and medication. I put them in a taxi and sent them home. When I had sat in her little mud room and I had asked her about her life her eyes had filled with tears. Her husband left her for a younger woman in the village and so she had to leave and find a place to make a living to feed her family and this was it. I really felt that no one should have to live like this and if it was me I would rather be dead, it was that bad. When she left she wound down the taxi window and gave me the biggest smile. That was my reward for an emotional day. Maybe we had made her life just a little brighter and given her a little hope.
The women of this country have a very hard life and that is why I am concentrating mostly on girls now. On a brighter note I took a group photo yesterday of some of the children sponsored here and how different they look from when I first met them. It is a huge improvement. That gave me hope as sometimes it is hard to find the silver lining. Today we are going to buy shoes, bags etc. Tomorrow the children are off school so I can visit with them at leisure.
More later.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pokhara tomorrow

It has been a full few days since being here. I have met with families and seen to paperwork and banking. tomorrow I am taking the bus to Pokhara to work with the children there.
I met with the family of the boy who has not been going to school and it was very upsetting with the mother sobbing. It is her eldest son and so it was important for him to get an education. The mother works at two jobs to keep the family going as the father is no good and does not work. It is hard to hold a mother who is crying so hard and what can I tell her? I have been upset about this.
I matched a little boy with a new sponsor yesterday who had been apart from his family for some years. He has been in an orphanage as his parents were too poor to educate him but it turns out that he has not been in school for the last 7 months anyway. I asked them to bring him home and I would sponsor him. It turned out that this was a child that I met over four years ago and liked him on first sight. When I saw him yesterday and put my arms around him he cried but I think they were tears of relief and joy at being with his family again. Sometimes I find it hard to keep my own tears back and wonder if I am just too soft hearted for this job.
Now I am feeding a stray puppy at the apartment. the neighbours look at me like I am crazy as I sit in a dirty old chair outside cuddling this little thing. somehow he makes me feel like I am at home holding my own puppy Lily who is so much more fortunate than this little thing. this country is full of stray children and dogs all in a hopeless situation.
More from Pokhara. Looking forward to a shower and washing my hair there in a guest house.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Arrived in Kathmandu

Well this is my second day in Kathmandu and I feel good after my journey. First day working today and we have visited a few families. Unfortunately we found that one 16 year old boy has not been attending school the last month which is disappointing especially as he is a very bright boy. I now feel that we should be concentrating more on girls as their success rate is much higher. We are going to discuss this along with the fact that when we sponsor new children that they should be no older than 7 or 8. Putting older children in school is a challenge for them because they are so behind and in classes with younger children. Plus a lot of these children have poor role models in that their fathers drink and do nothing.
Anyway we have to put that behind us and move forward as the other children are all doing well.

There are great difficulties here with so little electric and water. I manage to get a wash in the morning and that is it till the next day as there is just not enough water to waste washing hands.
Things are bad in the west but they are so much worse here with loss of jobs and with such poverty there seems no hope or very little. So many things in short supply. Men who were working out of country are losing their jobs there and being sent home making for more jobless people. Petrol still in very short supply. Food prices skyrocketing.
Anyway I will let the new sponsors know their children as soon as I match them but we need to take our time doing this.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

On My Way to Nepal

I am on my way to Nepal typing this in Vancouver airport waiting on my flight to Hong Kong. As luck would have it I have been upgraded to business class. Never thought such a thing would happen to me but it has and I am going to enjoy it especially as the flight leaves at 2am. Maybe I will really get some good sleep in a nice wide seat.
Finally all payments are in and I can get on with matching new sponsors. We lost 6 sponsors involving 7 children and these will be replaced first.
I will keep this blog updated as often as possible while in Nepal. I am looking forward to seeing all the children again and of course to seeing the guys who work for me and their families which is my Nepali family. Next entry from Nepal.