Monday, April 29, 2013

Gunjara School

When I first saw the Gunjara village school two years ago it was in terrible condition with a roof that was full of  holes.  The children could not go to school when it rained as it was so bad.
Gunjara School

Desks provided by NEF

Carol and Me with the wonderful women of Gunjara
The desks were non exsistant or the few that they had were falling apart.  NEF provided some new desks and I took our Qatar sponsors there to have a look.  They immediately decided to take on the project to replace the roof.  This was completed last year only to have one of the walls crumble and fall down.  The construction of the roof was too much for the old walls.  Carol and Keith and their friends then paid to have the wall re-constructed and for the school to be painted.  When we all visited in March we were very happy to see the newly renovated school.  It is a huge improvement over what was there before.
The villagers are very happy.  Jeff hosted a dental clinic there also that day and he was so impressed at the good condition of the children's teeth and said that it was the result of having no sugar.  The village is remote and poor with no store, so no candy.  In the villages closer to town the children had lots of cavities because they had more sugar in their diets.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Financial Problems Caused Suicide

Mr. Lama's death was caused because of worry over finances.  His children needed more than he could provide and the family lived in dire poverty and so it all became too much for him.  Mann and Jagat went to visit there and Mrs. Lama was naturally extremely upset and distressed about the family's future now.  Fortunately the children's sponsors have helped out with donation money which will help them with food and rent until they can resettle their lives.  The children are doing well in school and are good students and hopefully continue to study well so they can help their mother in the years to come.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Another Family Tragedy in Nepal

Jagat phoned to tell me that the father of the Lama family committed suicide last Sunday.  This is one of the stone quarry families and a family that has been supported through NEF since almost the beginning, I think we started sponsoring the children in 2005.  This man was a good husband and very hard worker who always came in to hello to me and seemed always to be grateful for our help.  The family is extremely poor but always welcoming and I have always enjoyed visiting them.  Life is very tough for them as they live in a tin dwelling on the company property and it has been moved at least 3 or 4 times in the last few years as the land was sold and built on.  I had been worried that the time would come when the last of the land was sold and then where would they go and where would they work?  They had to pay an expensive rent just for the land as the tin shack they lived in was theirs but there was not even a toilet for them.  So life for Mr. Lama must have been hard and seemed hopeless.  This unfortunately is the face of poverty. Now his wife and children have to fend for themselves.  The wife is a sweet lady and quite frail.

There is one son who is working and I do not believe he is married.  There are three children still at school.  Mann and Jagat are going there today to visit them.  These photos were taken in 2007.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Mann's Birthday

An Elephant ride for Mann's Birthday present, he deserved this treat

Lovely Liza, Mann's daughter

The Gandarba Family, father sells seringas, national stringed instrument on the street, all children have done well

A sponsor for Rajesh, his mother is Sunita who I found with no food, now she has some help

Jenny with Rahoul, she is enjoying the attention

Me with Lamaya from Chimkhola, she came to see me and brought me honey.  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

On My Way Home

I left Nepal yesterday and am now in Seoul, Korea.  I always hate saying goodbye and I have to do a lot of it.   My last day was a busy one which started by taking Jenny to the vet at 7 am to have her condition checked, the vet suggested I do this before I left.  He said she is recovering well and she had gained a kilo in weight.  Jagat and I carried on and collected letters before going to the hospital to   see a father of one of my families who is very sick.  We then went to see Sima at the hospital with their baby and say goodbye, the baby is doing well and was to be discharged the next day.
I was visited in the late afternoon by Lalmaya from ChimKhola village. She is a school teacher there and the sweetest little lady.  She brought me honey from the village where it is collected from the cliffs on the mountainside.
Now I am on my way home and can reflect on the past weeks.  It has been tough time with a lot of challenges.  Daumaya and her little girls situation was heartbreaking.  On my way to Pokhara I thought I really would have to make arrangements to have them cared for in a children's home but when I arrived and visited the girls I knew that this would be the wrong decision as they were coping and had each other, were going to school and it was best to leave them as they were and
provide food and rent for them.  This family has been with NEF since 2006.  Seeing Daumaya at the cancer hospital in Chitwan was very moving.  Living away from her children with no money for treatment was such a hopeless situation.  When I mentioned this to the doctor he said, there are thousands of women like her.  I do realize this but this was our Daumaya who I have known and loved for six years and her life has been nothing but a struggle.  Her husband left her because she did not produce a son, she is penniless and low caste.  I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to live such a life.
Sunita is the other lady we found with no money or food and a baby and five year old son.  We now
have a sponsor for him and a credit at the grocery shop.

On the positive side we did a lot of dental camps with our dentist, Jeff Phillips.  He worked every day and saw and treated hundreds of children and adults, many of which were NEF students.  Mann did a great job as dental assistant.  Many thanks go to Jeff.
Our children are all doing well and I saw all but three of them.  When Mann's baby got sick last week we lost time and some things did not get done on time.  We have a new women's literacy program and school improvements at Kristi, Chalnakhel and Gunjara have all gone well.  I have not put these on the blog but will do so during the next week.  There has been so much to tell you about that I could not get it all done.
I do not know who reads this blog and never will and it does not matter.  This to me is like a journal and writing here of the days events helps me express my feelings.  I can never tell you what it is really like that has to be experienced and it is not for everyone.  Someone said to me the other day that when you set yourself on a course to help people your heart will never be at rest.  This is true and sometimes it is a simple thing that you did not do that keeps coming to mind.  When I was standing outside the cancer hospital people starting gathering around me as they do not often see foreigners here in this southern town.  One man started to talk to me in basic English.  I asked him where he learned this and he told me in school and he had passed class 10.  I told him how good that was and he asked me if I would buy some carrots off his cart, his face showing  hope, "only 20 rupees" he said.  I got distracted and did not know what I could with carrots right then.  I did not buy them.  I regretted that so much.  There was something so simple and genuine about that man and he had finished school in that town so far south, he obviously had worked hard in school.  I looked for him the next day but it was a strike day and he was not there.  Sometimes it is the little things that matter. Also when dealing with so much sadness it just takes one small thing to haunt me at the end of the day.  A few days ago I lost my wallet with some money, credit card and bank cards.  With all I have experienced it did not seem like a big deal.  I am sure I did not put it away safely and must have put it down or dropped it.  I will finish today by saying how very lucky I am to live in a country that has free medical, electricity 24 hours a day, water, hot and cold, always having food on the table and I can travel anywhere in the world I wish.  These basic things we take for granted are denied to millions of people in the world and the world is our neighbourhood and these people our neighbors.
Many, many thanks to all my Nepali family and friends for making me so welcome.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Women's Literacy

As a lot of you know we have been running a program for women for about four years now.  During the last few months the attendance has been dropping off.  I feel that probably the women have reached a saturation point with what the teacher was teaching them.  We only had one class so they really could not move up.  It was a tough decision to close it as some of the regular women were still showing up.  The Annurpurna Rotary club were asking me to start a new one at Sarangot.  There was a great demand among the women here and I met with them and decided that we should give other women a chance to learn to read and write.  Most literacy programs here only run for six months and ours has run for four years.  I interviewed all the women and out of 28 only 2 had had a little schooling, all the others had never been to school even though some were very young.  Also the Rotary said they would help monitor the program which is a help for us.  I hope the sponsors of the women in the program will understand my decision to switch and help more women.  In the last program I saw the women make great progress in only six months, they learned to write very quickly and during those four years even learned a little English which they all want to do.  The first priority though is for them to be able to learn Nepali and be able to sign their name etc.  This program costs $10 a month to sponsor one women.  When I met them in the classroom they were excited but nervous.  Some had sad stories to tell about their personal lives and their tough conditions.  I talked to them about the great benefits of education and being role models for their children and wished them luck.

Great News

I have not been able to update this blog as I have had no Internet.  The great news is that I have had a donation of $ 1500 rupees towards Daumaya's treatment.  This really takes a load off me  as I keep thinking  about her. Mann phoned her and she is very happy and cried.  Mann's baby has had surgery to correct an intestinal problem and is coming along fine.He and Sima are at the hospital all the time.  I will try and go back there tomorrow when I get everything done and then I can say goodbye. 
I have been working with Jagat and we are trying to see the last few kids but it is going to be down to the wire as I leave on Friday.  I will add photos after I leave as the Internet connection is so slow.  I have a long list of things to do and it is so extremely hot.  I went all the way to the bank today on the bus after meeting with one of our blind students only  to find the bank closed because of some holiday that nobody else seemed to know about.  I could not believe it because it was quite a long journey and I just sat there for awhile in the air conditioning as it is in a shopping type mall.  Sabitri, one of our blind students, is in second year university and is a lovely person.  I bought her some lunch and we had a good chat.  Her English is perfect.  She wants to get her Masters in English language or sociology.  I am sure she will.  I took the bus with her to my stop and she held my hand all the way.  I thanked her because she always calls Mann to see how he is and wish him greeting for whatever festival it is.  He appreciates that and she said Mann has always helped her and you must be appreciative to those that help you, same as you and the sponsor.    I love her.  I sponsored the last two children I had sponsors for today so that is finished.  First thing in the morning I am taking Jenny the dog back to the vets at his instruction and then I have another two families to visit etc etc.

I will add photos when I get a good connection again.  The electric is out here for about 12 hours per day and the internet just does not exist anymore at the apartment.  It is getting close to the monsoon and that is why it so hot and at night the mosquitoes are out in full force.

More tomorrow.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

More Problems

I managed to get to the cancer hospital yesterday as they allowed motor bikes on the back roads .  We saw the doctor and he said she could be cured but the cancer may have already spread.  The cost of the treatment though was more than I could afford. I gave her the money for two more chemo treatments.  By what the doctor said the treatment was going to $1500 to $2000.  When I said she was poor he said so are hundreds of women.  No money no treatment.  That is how life is here.  Now I am going to take the tourist bus back to Kathmandu.  Mann's baby has been taken ill and is in hospital so he has gone on a microbus ahead of me.
Before we knew about the baby we tried to forget about everything for two hours and took an elephant ride in the jungle.  It was a birthday present for Mann.  I wanted to do something special for him as he has been so supportive and really has gone above and beyond.  He truly loved that ride.  But then it was back to reality.  I could not help thinking about Daumaya and her last words to me.  "Tell me the truth about what the doctor said as if there is no hope I do not want to waste your money".  What a terrible situation this is especially with her four little girls waiting for her return caring for themselves.  Now I have Mann's baby to worry about.  It is some kind of stomach problem but as usual do not know the details.
Fortunately I have seen nearly all the children just ten more to see and I will have three days to do that.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


I an now in Chitwan inthe south of Nepal.  We decided to come yesterday to see Daumaya the lady who has cancer and the four little girls.  She phoned us crying as she had no money for her chemo today so she was going to go home.  We could not send it as it was a Saturday and today is a strike.  We thought if we came we could pay for the chemo and speak with the doctor to find exactly what kind of cancer she has and her prognosis.  So this morning we will meet her at the hospital.
We had to take a microbus to get here and it was a bus trip from hell.  Four and a half hours of it.  I have only taken one other microbus journey before as they are so dangerous.  This guy could have qualified to be a NASCAR driver.  He drove at breakneck speed constantly passing every vehicle whether safe or not, pulling back in at the last minute.  They jam as many passengers in as possible and when we stopped for tea I found it hard to get myself out of the tiny spot as my leg had become so cramped.  Back in the van we sped on again, horn beeping contanstly, music blaring and then the old man in front of me started vomiting.  The man next to him kept giving him blue plastic bags, even holding them for him, while he vomited and then the bags were thrown out the window.  This went on for some time along with so much coughing and sneezing from other passengers that I really hoped my immune system was at its best.  It was oppressively hot and when we finally reached our destination my clothes were all stuck to me.  When we got off one of the children on the bus immediately started vomiting.  Funnily enough the driver looked normal, clean cut standing on the road but behind the wheel he became he became some kind of demon.
Now we were in the town of Naranghat which has more cycle rickshaws than any other town I have seen.  We met Daumaya and now the problem was where to stay.  We looked at rooms near the hospital but I could not bring myself to stay there after Mann pulled me aside and mentioned bed bugs, lice and any other germ he could think up.  The rooms had a bed, dirty sink and no toilet. So we drove half an hour to Saurha where tourists stay next to the wildlife park.  I walked in to this hotel grounds full of flowers and birds and felt the stress fall away from me.  I even was able to have a hot shower.  This morning I am going to have my breakfast on my little verandah and listen to the birds.  Today is a strike so I will have to take a tourist bus back to town and worry about the rest of the day later.  Daumaya is staying by the hospital and Mann is at a friends so hopefully we can all meet up.  Problem is I will not be able to get back here!  Next installment tomorrow.

Friday, April 5, 2013

New Women's Literacy Program, more on this tomorrow, a poor  single mother with deformed hands from being burned and Sagar and his little brother

Life is Tough in Nepal

Life is very tough here.  There is a petrol shortage and Mann had to line up for two hours last night to get some.  The electricity is off for hours at a time which means no Internet either.  Hot water is just a dream and I really cannot get used to cold showers so go without.  Food is always the same rice, lentils and veg.  I do buy fruit though that is readily available.  cannot complain as a lot of people do not have any food.  Jenny the dog still not doing well and had to go back to the vet again today.  The vet said most Nepali people cannot look after themselves let alone a dog.  dogs are just dogs here where in the west they are part of the family.  I am sure this dog hates me now as I have put her through all this.
this afternoon we went back to City Academy to sponsor a child and then to visit two children, one which was not home even though we phoned a neighbor but guess they did not get the message.
Sunday is a countrywide strike.  Why I do not know and no one else does either.  I have to say that Nepali people are very tough and uncomplaining.  I cannot imagine what would happen at home if the electricity went off for hours every single day and strikes were a regular occurrence.
I only have ten children left to visit and probably will see half of those tomorrow. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Baby Gift

Today I bought a baby blanket and some diapers for Sunita's baby girl.  The baby was wrapped in old clothes and I think every mother should be given some nice gift for her baby.  In truth the gift was for  me because the joy I had in giving it to her made my heart swell and seeing the big smile on her face was the true gift of giving.  I sat there for a while just enjoying the moment.  The baby was dressed in some used clothes I gave her yesterday.  She did not know how to properly diaper a baby so Mann demonstrated which was also a precious moment.  Sunita has never been to school and has only been in the city a few months so she appears nervous most of the time but in spite of that I saw big smiles today.  I really needed this.  There is so much sadness here and poverty that sometimes we need moments like this one.
Also this morning I was visited by 5 students who live very far out so we had them come to the office.  These five have been with me since the beginning and are all successful and brought letters for their sponsors.  They were Deepa, starting class 9, Deepesh first year university, Dinish last year of college, Abeska starting class 5 and Ambika starting class 6.  All looked smart and well groomed.  This is the success of NEF.  Photos of Sunita with her gift,  Mann diapering the baby and Dinish who is finishing college and a super young who thanked me for our support over the years.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Suman and others

Suman who we want to give another chance to
This is Delisha with her sponsor's family photo and below Principal Sushma with some NEF students and parents.  All photos taken in Sushma's new living room.  It is always inviting and today I sank into the couch and waited for the tea with great relief.

Sunita a little better Today

The lady I wrote about below is named Sunita.  I went to see her again this morning as I had not paid for the groceries as I had no money on me at the time.  The shop keeper knows us so it was okay.  I went to her room and she was cooking some onions and spinach into some soup on the little stove and she looked happy doing it.  I asked where the other groceries were but she told us that she was too frightened to take them in case I did not come back to pay for them.  All she had was the onion, spinach and the biscuits which she had given her son to take to school for lunch.  She has them all now plus some baby clothes I had in my room and shirts for Rajesh.
I have had an offer from one of my Australian sponsors to sponsor Rajesh to go to school and we thank him for that.
We were out today registering students and visited my favorite school here in Kathmandu, City Academy.  The lady principal is a friend and it is always a pleasure to spend time with her.  She has a big heart and has a lot of students on scholarship and houses a few poor families in rooms at the school so I try to help her out by sponsoring some children there.  I have had a boy named Suman there for some years but two or three years ago he started skipping school and not applying himself.  We warned him that he would lose his sponsor if he continued this way.. The following year he was not doing any better and his sponsor decided not to continue and I could not blame him as it looked like we were wasting money on him.  The sponsor, a very good one, went on to sponsor a little girl who I saw today.  Meanwhile Suman continued going to school.  The principal could not turn him away even though she got no payment.  Suman kept saying that Susan would pay for him.  He is doing much better now and when he stood before me today I felt so sorry for him.  I told him that I could not get another sponsor for him as he is 16 now and everyone wants younger children.  He is just starting class nine and has come so far from the little boy we sponsored years ago.  So he went through a bad patch, he has no father and his mother is no role model as she does not support him and comes to the school swearing at the Principal.  I told him I would pay some money for him.  I just could not even imagine not giving him one more chance as if I did'nt it could wreck his life.  He has two years to go to get his school leaving certificate.  So here I go again.  If anyone would like to help him for two years it would be $150 per year as that is what I paid today.  It is really  $350 but I made a deal with my friend the Principal.  I will put his photo when I download it in a minute.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Desperate Situation

This morning we were visiting a couple of our children when we were asked to see a home across the street.  There  was a little shop and it was the shop keeper who was asking us so we went to where he led us behind his shop.  In a little room was a  very young lady with a small baby in her arms.  She looked about 16 but she said she  was 21.  She also had a little boy of 5 years who was scruffy and dirty.  I went in and sat on the bed and asked if I could hold her baby girl.  She was scared so I thought this would make her feel at ease and she handed me the baby.  She had been married off at 15 or 16 to a drunk back in the village.  They moved to Kathmandu ten months ago in the hope that things would be better but he only comes to see her every couple of months and drinks away whatever money he makes.  She had absolutely no food, not a grain of rice and lives on left overs the neighbours give her.  The rent has not been paid in six months but the room is owned by the shopkeeper who seems to have some compassion.  The son had been allowed to go to school for free but he had no notebooks, pencils or uniform, bag or shoes so now he does not want to go anymore because he feels different from the other kids.  The mother's  eyes  told her story as they were vacant and sad.  I looked at the  baby in my arms, so sweet but born into a hopeless world with no future. There was only a bed in the room and a small kerosene cooking stove.  That women have to live this way is so shocking and cruel and I cannot even imagine what her life must be like.  For some minutes I could not say anything but looked at the baby as  there was a big lump in my throat.  I placed her back in the mother's arms and went and bought her a month's  supply of food.  Rice, lentils and some vegetables, eggs, oil and some biscuits and soap for washing.
I need a sponsor for this little boy.  It will cost $125 per year to put him in school with a uniform etc. Her only hope is through her children.  Most of us spend a lot more than this in coffee shops per year.  I will put up photos later as I am in an internet shop and my camera is at home.