The Orphanage- Brighter Future Children’s Home!
It has been 6 weeks of living , eating, working and becoming involved in the rural community of Bistachaap, in the Katmandu Valley.
Last time we explained our daily routine and this time we want to introduce you to all the wonderful people that we have had the fortunate opportunity to get to know.
After we last wrote, we were planning to take a bus back to our placement , however, there was a bus strike,for a couple of days and wanting to avoid further expenses of staying in the city ,we decided to walk the 20 k’s back. Tor was sick but nonetheless a trooper and walkthe whole way with minimal complaining.What a guy! I should note that we thought that this was quite an accomplishment and IT WAS, but there are many Nepalese who do that walk way more often that we ever will. When there is a bus strike and they have to get to work , there is no other option.
So let’s start with the crew at Brighter Future Children’s Home. The first week was a bit of a challenge for Tor and I as we were learning to get to the each of the kids and their daily routine.However as time passed and we got to know their individual personalities, andit was an honour to get to work with them.
So let us introduce them to you. I should mention that the English name in brackets is the name I gave to them on one of our first days there. It was very fun giving them there new names and with a meaning that I simply made up.(hahaha)
Udai (Tommy) – He was the youngest and has been at the orphanage since he was three.He is a really independent fellow and rarely complains about anything. He has had troubles with wetting his bed at night and so we implemented a sticker system to encourage him to get up and go to the charpe (the toilet) His English is also pretty good and we are all using one of his endearing expressions. For example, If he is cold when taking a shower, he will say, “It is so cold, yes, so cold” or when we had a special dinner with a variety of foods He said “So many foods, yes, so many foods. What a cutey!!
Shailesh (Derek)- Probably one of the biggest eaters and one of the skinniest,Shailesh was easy to talk to because of his great English conversation skills. With big brown eyes, he was also pretty hard not to fall in love with. Ger and Tor had lots of fun throwing him up in the air whenever we were going on walks because he was so light, which of course he loved. Also very independant and rarely asked for help with anything.
Little Bishnu (Katie) – One of the four girls at the orphanage, L. Bishnu was probably the most attention seeking of them all. Although she had a mischievous side to her in attempts to get what she wanted there was a warm loving side. One day when I was not feeling so well she was the first to wrap a towel around me to make sure I was warm and comfortable and often when we left the orphanage for the day she would watch and blow us kisses.
Sujan (Tor) – He wanted to be named after Torin, so he got the short version. Sujan, well what can we say , definitely the most energetic of the bunch and loved to play any sport or games at all. (soccer, badminton, the Karam Board (a game that is similar to crokinoe). He would often use a screaming voice to communicate , which just about broke my ear drums , so we spent energy trying to teach him to use a more normal tone of voice. Despite his exuberant energy which could get him into trouble, his impish grin , was enough to melt anyone’s heart.
Sunita A (Samantha)- Sunita A was one of the three children at the orphanage with physical challenges. She was born with cerebral palsy and last summer had an operation to correct her one foot and arm to give her more mobility. So I was involved in doing physio exercises with her on a daily basis. It was kinda of boring holding and counting for 10 seconds for 30 minutes every day, so Sunita has learned to count in 5 different languages.(Nepalese,German, English, French and Japanese) We taught her the French version. Despite her disabilities , Sunita was a determined and stubborn girl with a strong desire to do everything for herself. The one on one time that I spent with her really helped to build a close relationship and her warm friendly smile and good naturedness made it easy to like her.
Sunita B (Jasmine) What a beautiful girl! Very reserved and shy at first but once you got to know her, she proved to be quite the gal. The most outstanding quality of Sunita B was her ability to work hard. When we went into the forest to gather wood for a fire , she worked like a beaver, when she washed clothes ,she would finish her own and then help the others who were having trouble, when we were walking or out on hikes and Sunita A was behind , Sunita B would volunteer to stay with her and take care of her. A very caring , loving kind , young woman, indeed. It is believed that her parents were killed by Maoists and that her extended family was not able to care for her and her brother Kamal (who I will describe next)
Kamal( Ben) This is Sunita B’s brother and he was blessed with the most thick curly beautiful black hair ever. Kamal was a quieter type of kid and at times I would find him doing an activity by himself in a quiet corner. Kamal was an amazing artist and spent many hours drawing beautiful pictures and creating little booklets with English stories. Kamal also had a great singing voice.Just like his sister, Kamal also had a very kind and loving side and on the day we left he showered us gifts, little string bracelets, a picture of him and his sister and a card.
Suresh (Bob) Suresh, Sujan and Little Bishnu are all siblings and all of them have strong personalities. Suresh being the eldest has lots of leadership characteristics. He also loved , really loved soccer and enjoyed hanging out with Tor. Suresh was usually the first dressed for school and was responsible for making sure all the kids were safe on their walk to school( about a 20 to 30 minutes walk). His English was the best of the bunch. A very bright kid and one day when I asked him what he would like to be when he grew up , he said without thinking too much ” A Doctor”. Despite having some responsibilities on his shoulders, the day I left, he very much enjoyed the big Canadian bear hug that I gave him.
Big Bishnu (Dave) Big Bishnu and Tor really enjoyed each other’s company and had very similar personality styles. Big Bishnu although officially disabled because he was born with only one arm, was totally capably of doing anything and everything that an able bodied person is able to do. A true ” mountain goat” him and Tor had great fun racing up the big mountain right across from the orphanage. There is no way this mid 40’s gal could even think about catching up to them. Although his age is unknown, it is thought that he is about 14 years old. He was probably the cleanest and most well groomed and very sharp looking. An incredibly charming and likeable young fellow with lots of ambition.
Raju (Andrew) What a card! Raju has Downs Syndrome but was quite clever and could communicate in Nepalese and minimally in English. He loved to dance and wiggle and jiggle and was often the clown and centre of attention in front of a crowd. He could be annoying when he would follow me around, like a shadow, trying to communicate something that I could not understand or repeating an unreasonable or impossible request for something. Raju and Krishna are great pals and have a language of their own. Raju being the smarter one , often can make Krishna do things that no one else can. Unfortunately the future for Raju is so uncertain as he has no family and no chance of being completely independant, so at this point it looks like he will be at BFCH for the rest of his life.
Krishna (Jay) Tor got a real kick out of learning how to communicate with Krishna, since he had no language at all. Tor would make funny faces and Krishna would imitate and then they both would get a good laugh out of it. Krishna also with Downs Syndrome was at a much lower functioning level than Raju and needed constant supervision , to make sure he wasn’t eating his toothbrush, to make sure he was washing all the snot and guck out of his eyes, to make sure he had clean underwear on and to make sure he wasn’t destroying some toy. Lucky foreveryone though Krishna was pretty quiet had a pretty easy going personality style. Both him and Raju loved going for walks to the various temples in the area and it was fun activity for me to do with them.
Laxmi (Ruby) The oldest of the group at 20, Laximi, did not go to school anymore but was assigned the job of assistant didi( older sister) So most of her days were spent helping the Didi do jobs, like washing clothes and bedding and preparing vegetables and meals and cleaning around the orphanage. Laximi had polio when she was younger and has mild physical disabilities and is also mildly mentally challenged. She loved singing with a loud and boisterous voice and would give me a huge smile when I complimented her. Her life is limbo as she is supposed to be leaving the orphanage to go back to her family but her father has not made any commitment to coming to pick her up. She was quite sad and melancholy about this for a few days and I have to say I can’t much blame her.
So there’s the kids that we have come to love and care about. The other Nepalese adults involved in the kid’s lifes were:
Jaagu- Our host father and also the manager of the orphanage.
Didi Sita – The woman who does all the cooking of the meals for the kids and big cleaning jobs. Didi Sita’s story was also interesting. She is a woman in her early 30’s , she doesn’t know her exact age and has two kids but they live far away and she only sees them once every two years. Her husband went to Saudia Arabia to find work and never came back, so she is left trying to support her kids and her parents, who look after the kids while she is working. Since Didi Sita had no English , it was hard to communicate with her but to me she definitely had sad aura.
Beekram – The daytime security guard. A young fellow in his mid twenties Beekram was pretty shy and it was only at the very end that he seemed to open up and start to feel comfortable chatting with me. He was hired to watch the orphanage because I guess at one point there were strangers coming onto the premises and harassing the volunteers.There wasn’t alot that he did during the day , and it was a bit hard for us to see the validity of his job, but who are we to say.
Ramisan – The nighttime security guard. This man would come at 7:30pm at night and sleep over in the shed at the front of the gate , to make sure that the kids felt safe and secure through out the night. He was also the fellow who worked at the tea shop and so the community gets smaller and more intimate. The kids loved with Ramian would come because he would bring a radio and they would get to dance and boogey the night away.
The Last Night
To celebrate the completion of our volunteer experience and to say Good-bye to the kids , we decided to make a western meal for them. After some discussion and thinking about what kinds of food were available to us we decided on a Sandwich Party. Much to our amazement, none of the kids had ever had a sandwich. Can you believe it, never had a sandwich? Something we Westerns often complain about, after having had too many lunches of sandwiches. Needless to say it was very very fun, giving a lesson to them about how to eat a sandwich. We had buns , egg salad, canned meat, canned mackerel, mayonaisse, sandwich spread, cheese , pickles, loads of raw veggies and chips and pop. It was a huge success and kids got the hang of making sandwiches with everything piled on top very quickly. As Udai then said, ” So many foods yes, so many foods!
On Monday morning , we made our last stop at the orphanage, to give hugs and say final, well almost final goodbyes. We are planning to go back in March after our trekking , to show and introduce My dear friend Carole , who is coming to visit and travel with us for several weeks.
I would never have said in the beginning that I would have become so attached to these kids but when you have a group of Nepalese children who enjoy singing silly made up songs(creates by a woman in her mid 40’s) and love going for walks up mountains and through forests, who are incredibly independent and resilient and who have the bestest, most beautiful smiles, despite their life circumstances ,it’s pretty hard not to fall in love!!!!!