Monday, March 31, 2014

A New Project

There is a government school very close to our office that I have wanted to help in the past but the principal at that time was an uneducated woman who was scared of change.  She is now gone and a new lady Principal is there who would love to better her school.  All the teachers are women, smiling and friendly great role models.  This school has no library, no science lab, no teaching materials and no windows, they are open to the weather.  There are 250 students in this school in classes nursery to class 8.  They have a store room that could be divided into a library and a science lab.  The science teacher said it is so hard for her to teach science just from a book with no practical work because they have no science teaching aids to work with.  They had no books either.  The English teacher's first choice was a library and the science teacher's a science lab.  They have science from class one on through 8.  We have a list of basic science equipment from her that we are going to price out.  When I look at these schools they need so much that it is hard to know what is the most important with the few funds NEF has.  The nursery class also had nothing, no teaching aids, educational toys etc.  This school is located in a well off area.  Big homes mainly owned by British and Indian army retirees.  But there are pockets of extremely poor people here who are labourers for the rich.  It is children from these families who attend this school.  Very poor and low caste children.  There is one world for poor here and one for the rich.  So this school gets totally overlooked.  The Chairman of the Board said some help would give them hope and hopefully get the ball rolling.  This has certainly happened at other schools where we have helped.  It is almost like when we start and do a project everyone wants to get on board.  This has happened at Kristi, Pumbi Bhumdi and Chalnakhel.  It is like we touch it and it turns to gold.  Let's us hope it does here also.  These schools are all helping the most vulnerable here, the poor and low caste.  Photos of the school and children just getting ready to write an exam.  Photo of the teachers, principal in bright pink and science teacher in green.  I really like the fact that they are all women, promise for the future.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Yesterday we went to Hattiban and Chalnakhel to visit our children.  It is always a good day and the sun always shines.  Sitting drinking tea with the kids and sharing time with them is my favourite thing to do.   They are mostly girls, just two boys, and some of the girls are young ladies now, three of them are entering class 10.  Most have been with NEF many years and you their sponsors have been inspirational to them.  Asmita can speak reasonable English and loves to talk to me and yesterday sang to me which was a delight.  An added pleasure yesterday was that we were joined by two sponsors, Sue Darlington and her husband.  They were visiting Anjali who they have sponsored for many years.  Somehow I missed taking a photo of them which was a shame maybe they have one and I will post it later.  We sponsored three new very poor children at Chalnakhel, three young little girls.
Today we have to take a mother to the hospital, there is always at least one person to take to the hospital every year.  They seem to get more attention if I go with them and we actually get a diagnosis then.  The patient does not understand what the doctor is telling them and never ask questions.  Last photo is Mann showing Ridhika a photo of her sponsors in front of a map which shows where they live in Canada and where she lives in Nepal.  Very neat.  I love this photo.

Friday, March 28, 2014


I do not know what it is about Kathmandu but after being out on the motorbike visiting children for four hours Mann and I are both so tired.  We both slept when we got home.  I think it must be the pollution and traffic.  It is hard to wear both a mask and a helmet in the heat.

Today we visited our stone quarry families.  The Lama family's father committed suicide just after I left left year.  Their living conditions are extremely poor and they keep having to move further up the street because of construction.  They just build another shelter out of blocks and tin.  Now they are wondering when they have to move again.  There are three other families we sponsor who are in the same situation.  All the children do very well in school though.  So many of the children that we sponsored eight and nine years ago are now young men and women and it good to see how they have matured and succeeded in school.
Yesterday I was so impressed with a boy named Prabau.  He was not doing so well a couple of years ago but now he is a very polite and confident young man just starting class ten and comes from a very poor background and has a constantly drunk father.
Another boy Suman I decided to drop about three years as he was not attending regularly or doing his school work.  He was warned many times and in the end his sponsor decided to help someone else.  Then a strange thing happened Suman would not stop coming to school even though no one was paying his fees.  This school has a very kind lady principal and he keep telling her that I would come and pay his fees.  When I saw him again I could not say no to him and offered to donate some money to offset his fees.  I saw him yesterday and he was shy but I was told he was doing well in his studies.  He has completely turned around and now his older sister is taking an interest in him.  If anyone would like to help him please let me know.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tough Year

This has been a tough year in that we have lost sponsors and children, more than any other year especially sponsors.  It is always heartbreaking to tell a child that the sponsor has moved on.  I try to brightly tell them that I have a new sponsor for them but their reply is always "why does my sponsor not want me anymore"   I have to have a convincing answer to that, not easy.  With younger children it is easier as they do not understand as much and have not bonded with the sponsor but the older ones it is very upsetting for.  Children are not pawns and we must remember that, they think very highly of their sponsors, sleep with their letters under their pillow and have the sponsors photo on the wall.  
We lose children because life gets too tough for a single mother in the city so she returns to her village or a teenage boy,who has family problems, drops out of school or a child has started school too late and ends up being in a class with 8 year olds when they are 14.  Sadly we sometimes lose a teenage girl because they have been married off.  
The other heartbreak, which happened today,  is a child who does not get a letter and his siblings do.  
Today I visited a home where there were six children from two families, five got letters and photos one did not.  He looked expectantly for his but I did not have one but I did give him a new sweatshirt from our supplies but he did not have that personal letter from his sponsor and the disappointment was all too evident on his face.  I felt terrible.  So next year I have to write fake letters as the situation has to be rectified as it is hard on the child and on me.  Life is tough and children learn that very early here, we are hopefully trying to make it better for them.

Monday, March 24, 2014


We are now back in Kathmandu and it is very unpleasant.  There is road construction everywhere and in Nepal that means you tear up miles of road and leave it that way for months.  Although the roads are a horrible mess I have seen no work crews doing anything.  Miles and miles of the ring road are just dirt and the dust is horrific.  The dust along with the regular pollution is just choking.  It is going to be very difficult to get around to see the children.  I definitely will be wearing a mask.  The weather is much wetter and cooler than usual and there is a severe water shortage and of course the electric is off for at least half of the day.  Life is difficult in Nepal.  
Today we went to Hattiban where Jeff did a dental camp seeing 73 children.  We have to go back there on Saturday as I did not get to visit with all our children and give out letters etc.  I also have to visit the Chalnakhel school there.
Jeff working on Anjali and below our student Asmita who is just starting class 10.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Dental Camps

Dr. Jeff Phillips has done several dental camps in the last two weeks.  Yesterday we did one at Simpani where he treated a lot of NEF children.  He saw about 80 patients there, children and mothers.  The children are so brave about having teeth pulled and seldom cry.   He is returning to Kathmandu today where he will do two more camps before returning home next Wednesday.  It is an excellent service as nearly all these patients have never seen a dentist before except for NEF children who have been seen through us in previous years.  This is Manu being treated with his grandmother looking on.  Manu has a tough life and his teeth were in bad condition.  Also Dr. Jeff, Momta his assistant and a blind brother of an NEF child.

Children at Pumbi Bhumdi

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pumbi Bumdi

Visited here yesterday.  Always a delight to visit this school.  Dr. Jeff conducted a dental camp here and also along were Keith and Carol from Qatar.  Keith and Carol and NEF have donated to the school over the last four years and tremendous improvements have taken place here.  The school enrolment 
 has gone from about 45 to nearly 100 in that time.  NEF put in a library and Qatar sponsors donated computers and paid for Montessori training for the teachers.  They have just completed four new replacement rooms and hope to rebuild the remaining three or four in the future.  70 percent of the students are low caste and very underprivileged but at this school they are blossoming and most of them speak very good English.  The classrooms are bright and cheery and are inviting to the children.  The Principal, Mr. Prakash Gurung, has made a tremendous change to this school and he is hoping to add to class 8 from the present class 5.  NEF now sponsors 14 children here and we have donated, along with Carol and Keith from Qatar, money towards the new rooms.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Women's Literacy

Visited the ladies a couple of days ago but did not see all of them as some were still at work.  We went too early so have to go back again.  We have lost a few dur to family problems and one had moved away but there were new ones there who wished to start.  This is a six months program so some do six months and others want to keep attending.  
We put in solar lighting here but they do not have desks or a table which is a bit of a problem but the manage.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ganga and her mother and her Home

Newly Sponsored Child

This is Ganga and she is five years old.  We have just sponsored her as she is extremely poor.  She lives in a room made out of blocks on the edge of the river which is used as a stone quarry.  Her mother works there carrying rocks out of the river and she earns $60 to $70 per month for four to five months a year.  Once the monsoons come the river is too big to work in.  Her father owned a truck which he used to earn money in the quarry.  Two years ago a dam broke further up the river and it caused a large flood killing many people and the father lost his truck.  Since then he had a mental breakdown and turned drink so the wife does not see him now.  The sons, 8 and 15, go to school and told the principal that if he allowed them to go there free of charge that they would pay him back when they grow up.  They are really nice boys and little Ganga not only cute but very happy.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Meeting Families Today

Today we went to Simpani and met with all the mothers of the students at High Mount and I took photos of them with their children.  I gave out letters to those that had them, then we visited some families at their homes.  Some had lengthy letters that needed reading and interpreting.  A touching moment happened when I gave a letter to a little boy named Manu.  He is a very poor child and his single mom cannot work as her hands have been badly burned and are now useless.  We sponsored him a year ago.  I gave him the letter and he held it while I took their photo and then he handed it back to me.  I said "no this is your letter". His face lit up and he took off running across the playground towards home.  I watched him go and thought that this child has never in his life received a letter or card.  We went to his home and I asked him where the letter was.  He went to the bed and took it out from under the pillow.  I read it to him and Mann translated, it also contained a photo of the sponsor and family.  The sponsor made this child so happy and it was a delight to see.  He is about 8 but only in nursery class as the mother could not afford to send him to school until we found him last year.
Letters bring so much joy.  When I was leaving he said goodbye several times in English and his face was so happy and bright.  
Some letters are quite detailed with information about the sponsors lives along with pictures and the children listen with such interest, even children who are neighbours, it is like reading a story and everyone wants to listen.  These are my favourite times.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Visiting Children at High School

Today we visited Simpani and High Mount School.  At this school we have 43 children attending and in the photo below 3 were absent although I saw two of them later.  This is the only school where we have so many NEF children sponsored.  It makes it very easy for us and the principal, Tol Prasad, is always in touch with us.  All the children seem to do well here also.  Tomorrow we are going back there to meet with all the parents and see the children again.  Then we will visit some of the homes.  Next week we also have a dental camp planned for Simpani.
We also visited Daumaya and her children.  Daumaya is the lady that had the cancer last year and had to be away from her children for about six months.  She is looking so much better and the children were definitely happier with their mother home.  A kind donor paid for her medical treatment and so saved her life and the children have their mother back.  Last November Bob and I decided she had to have a bigger room and asked the landlord what she could do.  There was a store room that was much larger than the tiny room they were living in so it was cleaned out and is a much better living space for them.  It really was great to see this family together again and their mother looking well.  This time last year we just felt despair for them.   When I visited her in the Cancer Hospital a year ago she was in a very bad way.  
I am having trouble posting photos here as there seems to be no way to resize them on this iPad so I am just going to leave them the way they are or I will drive myself crazy trying to fix it.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Official Opening of Kristi School

Today we attended the official opening of the Kristi School.  The ceremony was quite long and it was very hot but the children were very patient through the long speeches.  They performed some Nepali dances and sang songs.  The school looked so different from last year and was bright in its blue and white paint with brown trim.  We wish it a good future and that it has many students within its walls.

Afterward the Charter President of Annurpurna Rotary, Dev Raj Chalise, gave me a ride back in his car, saved me going on the motorbike down that Rocky Mountain road, and we had lunch together.  He is the Principal of a science and technology college here in Pokhara so is interesting to talk to about education in general.  

Tomorrow we start visiting children in earnest before the days slip away.  I think I am over jet lag now, this morning I felt really rough but hopefully that has passed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

First day of work

Arrived in Nepal Monday night and then flew to Pokhara yesterday, Tuesday.  Met up with Jeff, the dentist and his friend Ivan.  Today we went to the Kristi school for a dental camp.  It was a very successful day and Jeff worked from 10 am to 5 pm.
Last November the Watkin family visited here with us and they offered to paint the school and pay for some desks.  They had previously fundraised with the Pollock family, also from Duncan, to help rebuild the school which is now completed.  The painting looked great and made the classrooms so much brighter.
Mann and I also went further up the mountain by motorbike on a road which really was a steep rocky trail to see another poor little primary school which needs some help.  These children are really adorable and I enjoyed sitting with them, taking their photos and showing them.  They are always delighted to see themselves on the camera. 
I did not stay the whole day at the school as I was tired from travelling so came back and had a sleep.  Jeff said it was a very successful day though and that the organization was good.  They saw about 100 people who had never seen a dentist before.