Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On our Way Home

We are enjoying a few days in Hong Kong now and leave for home tomorrow.  Our time in Nepal was busy and quite productive.  We did not see all our children but a lot of them.  We spent time at schools with the help of the Annurpurna Rotary Club looking for those that need help.  We started work at Gunjara School and they already have the new roofing NEF provided in place.  Mann's and Sima's wedding was a highlight which we were so happy to attend.  We spent time with our Nepali family and friends and I managed some more Nepali language lessons with Prem.  Our time was short there but every day was filled and we enjoyed it to the full.  The people of Nepal are wonderful, I love them for their natural friendliness and sincerity.  They are so warm and welcoming.  It is always hard to leave our friends there.  Life for them is hard and we cannot compare it ours.  Fortunately the electricty was not too bad with load  shedding only for about an hour per day but they are saying by the spring it will be for 18 hours which means only six hours of electricity per day again. 
When I get home I will put more photos up here on the blog and also on flickr.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Nepali Hindu Wedding

A few days ago we attended Mann and Sima's wedding.  It was quite the occasion with rituals from the past and Hindu rituals for marriage.  It was attended by over 100 family and friends.  A wedding in Nepal is very important and relatives travel long distances to be there.  The first half is centered only on the groom while the bride is getting ready.  He sits with the Brahmin priest and goes through all the rituals from his holy book and the groom dresses as a peasant.  When the bride arrives the groom changes into a suit.  The bride is dressed in a red sari and veil and then rings are exchanged.  There is a small fire which they have to circle three times.  After the ceremony they sit in red chairs and family and friends place tikkas on their foreheads.  We were honoured as family and given tikkas and malas as well.  This was the first day at Mann's parents home.

The second day the celebration moved to Sima's family home and the tikka ritual continued with many guests from Sima's village of Tatapani.  Also the guests also washed the bride and groom's feet.  They take the water wash the feet and then drink and pour the water over their own heads.  It is something to do with the honouring of the bride and her leaving the family.  We were again honoured as part of the family sitting next to Mann and Sima throughout the ceremony.  It was very interesting and so different from our own culture. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Kristie Village School

The other day we visited the village of Kristie with a Rotary friend.  It was near Pokhara but high and unfortunately the weather was cloudy and we could not see the view.  It was a lush area with orange, lemon, pomegranite, papaya and banana trees.  Coffee also grew here and one of the school committee was a coffee farmer and he showed us how the beans were harvested and prepared.  We also drank black coffee, which I never do, but it was delicious.  Everything here was totally organic. 
We were welcomed at the school by the children presenting flower malas as usual.  They were in lines, girls one side and boys the other.  The girls presented to me and the boys to Bob each saying their name.  Very touching.  The school was in terrible condition some rooms unusuable with plants growing out of the floor and walls.  The walls were also crumbling and the roof leaking.  They had three new rooms that the government gave them.  Bob came up with the idea of partitioning the new rooms to make six rooms instead of three as a temporary measure.  He felt it was urgent to remove the children from the unsafe rooms that they were in especially the youngest children.  They are going to give us a budget to see if we can help them with this later.  They also had no drinking water.  The children were crowded on benches.  Six children on a bench made for three.  They had no library etc.  Actually they had nothing!!!
Of three new schools we saw last week we felt that Gunjara and Kristie were the most urgent and deserving of any help.  Gunjara has already repaired one roof with the material we sent up last week. 

Accepting flowers from the children

Condition of the classrooms

class one with no desks

Mann picking oranges but still talking on his phone
I have been having computer problems in the last two days as my laptop would not hook up to the wifi, today is okay.  We left Pokhara today which is always sad as we have so many friends there and Mann's family which are like our own.  We also attended Mann's wedding for two days more on that tomorrow and photos. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Women's Literacy

Yesterday we visited the women's literacy program in Simpani for the second time this week.  There were many new women all wanting to start and many of the original group.  A new lady of 74 was starting and our grandmother, Shree Ram Pun, 68 years old, is now nearing the end of her third year in the class.  In the begining she told me she was too old to learn to read but now she is one of the longest attending students.  As usual they showed their gratitude with many flowers and keta scarves. 
The new handicraft program we wanted to start with about ten students we cannot start for another five months as we found out that the material, a type of grass, is seasonal and only available to be purchased during the summer season so we will have to wait on this. 
Literacy Ladies

Shree Ram Pun
This is still a great program and the women love it and it provides them not only education but a social outlet also.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Special Moment

Many things have happened in the last two weeks that have been emotional for me but today a really special moment.  We have noticed a young lady in Simpani over the last two or three years who has a handicap and cannot walk unaided.  She has always used a handmade wooden structure with wooden wheels attached.  We thought it would be an advantage for her to have a walker from Canada that would be easier for her to use.  Last year I bought one at a church sale for $10.00.  On this trip we brought it as an extra piece of luggage.  Today we took it to her home where she lives in one room down by the river.  She was so happy and was all smiles while Mann and Bob showed her how to use it and how the brakes worked and showed her that she could also sit on it if she needed to.  She is quite handicapped physically but seemed to be a bright girl.  As we went to leave she said "Thank you Aunty and Uncle".  I got quite a lump in my throat but managed a "swagatum" which is  "you are welcome" in Nepali.  We had never actually met this young lady before but hope that this walker would make her life a little easier. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Today we visited the village of Gunjara.  This was an amazing day.  It took about an hour to drive to the road up the mountain but we arrived there to find the road washed out.  So the big bag and other supplies we had to carry up.  It was very humid and we were soon sweating buckets.  When we reached the village of Jumuna we stopped for cold drinks and fortunately found a porter to carry the bag.  We finished the steep climb to Gunjara and on the way some children came to help carry our stuff.  We were warmly welcomed at the village school.  Here we have supplied 24 sheets of steel roofing and some desks but they cannot be transported up the road until the weather is better and the road more stable.  We were so very touched by the simplicity of these village children and people.  They had never had to do a welcoming ceremony before so it made it more sincere.  The 40 children who attend the school sat in rows before us with the mothers gathered around them.  We had some very simple speeches and then we presented the children with novelty pens and hats which caused a lot of excitement.  We had a bag of clothes but left these for the principal to give out.  We presented a football and badminton set.  The school is in deplorable condition but at least the roofing and desks are a start.  Now the children will be able to attend school when it rains.   They played music for us and we danced with the women.  A delicious lunch was prepared for us at one of the village houses.  This village has virtually no water.  In the dry season there is none.  I, of course, needed a toilet after lunch and two women led me some distance to a hole in the ground surrounded by a canvas sheet.  When I came out they had warm water for me to wash my hands and were delighted to tell me that it was warm.  They held onto to me while we walked back.  These women are amazing and just love to look after me.  I was just so touched.  This village would never see white people.  They wanted us to look at their orange tree orchard but we did not have time unfortunately but they gave us a bag of the most delicious oranges.  These really are organic. 
Gunjara School children

Child happy with pen and hat
It was such a great visit.  I could not help but think how lucky I was to experience these visits to remote villages.  We cannot imagine the life these people live, like waiting all day for a bucket of water.  I feel privileged indeed.   I hope we can further help this little school that has nothing.  My thanks to the people of Gunjara for their hospitality.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pumbi Bhumdi & Rotary Meeting

Today we had an enjoyed visit to Pumbi Bhumdi where we saw the library that NEF provided and the computers donated by the Friends of the Qatar Wooden Spoon in Doha.  The children were just delightful and we were adorned with flower malas.  They told us how grateful they were for our help and how the school is progressing because of it.  Registration at the school is now rising.  Most importantly I was told that now the children love to come school because of the library and the computers and even ask if they can come in the school holidays.  They have a computer teacher who is teaching from class 3 up and is teaching them how to type and do basic things on paint etc. and they can also play games on the computers to help them learn how to use them.  On this visit we presented the school with $300 from the Qatar Friends to pay for school uniforms.  They were very happy.  We then were given a nice lunch of Dhal Bhat (rice and lentils) and takari (curried veg).  Although it is a government school they are introducing programs like that of a private school especially in English language classes. 
New computers

Children at Pumbi bhumdi School

Tonight we attended the Pokara Annupurna Rotary meeting and enjoy fellowship with them afterward.  This is always enjoyable as I have known them for a few years now and they are friends.  Tomorrow we go with them to the village of Gunjara where NEF is presenting new roofing material and some sport equipment.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Program for Women

Today we went to Simpani and looked at a new handicraft program for some of our literacy women.  It involves making about 5 different items, two which we saw today.  One a very high quality basket which among other things is used when women visit the temple to take offerings in.  The other a mat for a teapot or other item or to put a vase on.  Then there are also coasters.  Other items I have not seen yet.  The items are made from a thick grass and some of the grass is dyed to make patterns in the weaving.  Apparently there is quite a market for these items and they are bought by a distributer in Lakeside here in Pokhara.  The teacher would need three months, six days per week for two hours a day to fully train ten women.  By the second month they should be able to sell some of their items if they are good enough.  After training they could work at home.  This type of work they could do if they have no other work or to subsidise their other income.  They could also teach their children.
It would cost us about $500 to run this program but I think it is worthwhile as the product was very good quality.  We have not made a decision yet as we wish to do a bit more research.
The sewing program we have decided to close as it was costing us too much money every month.  Also we have trained about 50 women and ten of these have already opened shops in the area.  I think that we do not want to flood the market and it is time to move on to something else.  We have given our two full time ladies a sewing machine each.  One, Maya, plans to return to her village and open a sewing shop there as the village does not have one.  She has been with us since the begining so is well trained.  Daumaya is going to do sewing at home.  I think it has been a successful program and has had a good outcome.
Today I also saw about 35 children of NEF's at High Mount School.  All looked well and happy.
Yesterday we drove high up to a village to look at a school.  It was on the Royal Trek route that Prince Charles did many years ago.  The views are superb but of course the weather was socked in yesterday and it seemed more like a rain forest.  The school had a building but no desks, teaching supplies etc.  and needed a wall so the children did not fall down the side of the mountain.


Tomorrow we go to Pumbi Bhumdi to see the work that we have completed there at the school.
Rabika who has no parents and lives with an aunty
Raining here like it was monsoon season. Very unusual for this time of year and as usual I left my umbrella in Kathmandu!!  Sorry these photos are jumbled up but it is very difficult to upload them with slow connections.
Some of our Students at High Mount

Table Mat

Saturday, November 12, 2011



Children at SBCH childen's home in hats donated by a friend

Smitri and Abeska on their way to school

Pinky & her mother
Smitri and Abeska have been sponsored for about five years now.  The improvement in them is quite incredible.  When Bob and I first saw them we were quite upset by their poor condition.  They are low caste children who we felt needed our help.  When I first put Abeska in school he did nothing but cry but as you can see by the photo they are doing very well today and happy to be in school.  Pinky is a sweet little girl with some bone problems and is tiny for her age of 8.  She is the mascot of the Pinky Fund in Qatar where she is sponsored and also the Qatar Friends of the Wooden Spooner provide money through NEF for school projects.  Sagar has been sponsored for about two years now.  He has a mother and baby sister living in a very small damp room.  We visited SBCH a couple of days ago and it was quite a delight to see all the children in this home doing well and they all seemed very happy.  SBCH is run by Mann's brother Kamal.   

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pokhara tomorrow

Tomorrow we leave on the bus for Pokhara and we will have a busy time there seeing our children and women in the literacy program.  We will also be visiting a very poor school that desperately needs some improvement.  We take the bus at 7 am and will arrive about 3 pm.

This photo is of Liza's school transportation, different kind of school bus and certainly environmently friendly.  Liza is Mann and Sima's little girl, Mann is NEF President and we share the apartment with them.
We visited several children this morning, one of them being Pinky who is the mascot of the Pinky Fund in Qatar.  More from Pokhara.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kathmandu Children

Jitesh above and Deepesh below, two of our successful students.

We visited some of the Kathmandu children yesterday who are located in the centre of the city.  All were doing well.  Also saw Uma who I wrote about in the last post.  She is a fine young lady now.  The children are all growing up and some have been with us since the begining in 2004.
When we came home two young men Deepesh and Jitesh came to visit us.  They travelled two hours by bus to come.  I was so impressed with them, they are both in college and Jitesh is also working at a hotel.  They are about 18 and so very polite and respectful.  They have both been sponsored by NEF for many years and their sponsors would be very proud of them.  This morning another young man, Pasang, came to visit and he has just started college.  His father is a security guard at a building site and they live in a tin shack.  He also is a fine young man now.  We tend to focus on girls but our success with these boys is quite impressive.
Today we visited the Kathmandu Animal treatment Centre.  This small charity spay the female dogs in Kathmandu and also treats street dogs with mange and other injuries.  I always enjoy my visits here although it is sad to see the state of the dogs, they are doing great work.  Dr. Keith Grey from Duncan donated several boxes of Advantage Multi which I took and I gave some brushes and pens.  A very nice young volunteer from the US was working there for one year and showed us around.  This charity was started by a British lady and with her work she has stopped over 50,000 puppies from being born and this has stopped the poisoning of dogs in Kathmandu. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Life in Nepal

Yesterday we had an easier day. The apartment kitchen needed new lino
as it was in tatters so we went into Patan which is a short ride in a
tempo, a three wheeled vehicle with as many people as can be squeezed
inside with some hanging off the back. Cost only ten rupees about 12
cents. We purchased the best quality in the shop for a cost of $60
and to my surprise the man said that included installation and it
would be done by 5 pm today and it was now early afternoon. How is
that for service? It looks very nice and so much cleaner. We had
lunch in a local restaurant of coffee and chips. I do not like french
fries in Canada but here in Nepal they call them finger chips and they
are delicious and the coffee is a milk coffee like my mother used to
make years ago. I suppose a true coffee drinker would not like it but
we do. Mann delivered some wedding invitations for their wedding in
two week's time.

Life here in Nepal is getting tougher with the rising prices
everywhere. We never eat in the tourist area or restaurants as the
prices have risen so much so when out we use Nepali restaurants for
half the price. Jobs for unskilled persons are very hard to find.
Mann's brother-in-law, Mohan, leaves for Qatar today to work in a
dairy and will be earning only $80 per week and he also has to pay
back his agent fee and airplane ticket over the next months. They
work long hours six days per week but he says it is better than not
working at all.

Uma, who I wrote about earlier here, has nearly finished her sewing
course and has also now got a job in the passport office as a cook.
Mann tells me that the sewing course really changed her and she became
a responsible young woman. So now she has a job and her sewing as
well. I am going to visit her home today. Uma gave us a lot of
frustration over the years but our patience and belief in her has paid
off and many thanks to her sponsor who never gave up on her either.

Now we are going to visit some children and will have more photos tomorrow.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Visiting Children

Today we visited some children and delivered some gifts and letters.

Most touching was a little girl, Samjhana, who lives downstairs from
us. Her sponsor is a pilot and sent her a large photo of him in the
cockpit holding Samjhana's photo. In a letter he told her that he
carries her photo with him wherever he flies so that she is also
travelling to these places. Watching her looking at the photo and
listening to the letter brought a lump in my throat. She is just such
a poor, hardworking little girl who always looks so sad. This brought
a bright spot to her life and was just so touching. When she is not
at school, she is cleaning, cooking and looking after her brothers.

Samjhana with the photo of her sponser

I also saw Pradip, Parmila and Sandeep today who were the first family
I sponsored. Now Pradip is in class ten. Both Pradip and Sandeep
spent time on the streets and with our help have turned their lives
around and now are respectable young men who are studying hard.

We visited the stone quarrey family which includes, Juni, Bijaya and Puja. They are all doing well and growing up fast. These families bring me a lot of satisfaction by their success and all of them live
in extreme poverty.

The weather is quite cool for this time of the year and we have had rain. We have three more days here in Kathmandu before leaving for

Friday, November 4, 2011


We arrived in Nepal on Friday just after midnight. It was a very long
journey and tiring journey. On the flight to Hong Kong a heavy
laptop fell from the overhead bin and hit my face but fortunately I am
okay. My glasses saved my eye but they are chipped and bent. I iced
my eye for an hour and then it started to feel better. I was lucky
not to have been seriously injured. The crew were very good to me and
gave us first class pyjamas and chocolates. Now I am walking around
the apartment in Chinese pyjamas!!!

When we arrived in Nepal we rushed to get at the begining of the visa
line up with our papers all filled out only to then realize I had lost
Bob's visa photos. We had to leave the line up and go through all my
things but no luck so Bob had to have another one taken in the
airport. Then we were at the back of the line and had to wait nearly
two hours finally leaving the airport at midnight. Mann and Jagat had
been waiting two and a half hours outside.

So today is Saturday and a holiday here. Tomorrow we will start visiting.