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Expanding the computer room

Written by Anna Brunet, vicepresident of Amics del Nepal. With the collaboration of Xavier Calvet and Marina Viñas.

When we heard that the hospital where we work, Parc Tauli of Sabadell, gives used computers to NGOs, we thought it would be a good opportunity to expand the computer room of Balmandir. So far we had only one computer and three laptops (donated by UPC Reutilitza, the exvolunteer Mar and Montse) for 26 children.

For ten computers, after working many years, instead of the expected retirement, it starts a new adventure and long journey. But to take the computers to Nepal will not be so easy. Each computer (tower, screen, keyboard and mouse) weighs 15 kg. Volunteers and a trekking expedition group from Terrassa will take them to Nepal with their own luggage.

To start we sent only two computers to see how the plan works. For this purpose we wrap and protect them well, so they begin their journey. First from Sabadell to Barcelona and then to Kathmandu by plane (two planes in fact). Once in Nepal we put them above the roof rack of a taxi and finally on the top of a jeep (for more than three hours). We have been lucky because it has not rained, but the road is not easy, nor for the computers nor for us, with turns and jumps.

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Anna, Joana and Marina in the airport of Barcelona taking the two computers to Nepal.
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Marina and Joana in Kathmandu waiting for the jeep to go to Bhimphedi with the two computers.

Finally the two computers have reached Bhimphedi where we installed them and connected to the Internet. They work! Even the speakers! So great!

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The computer room of Balmandir looks already pretty good. Some of the small kids using the computers supervised by Rojan, the elder of the kids.

Now the next challenge for the computers will be to survive as long as possible in the hands of Balmandir children. We expect the kids take good care of them and learn a lot about the use of computers.

Soon the rest of the computers will be here as well! Thanks to Parc Taulí and to all people who have helped us to take them here!

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Celebrating the Children’s Day

Written by Marina Viñas and Joana Alsina, volunteers at the Children’s Home

14th of September was the Children’s Day. A general knowledge quiz was prepared in the primary school and the Ramesh Thami team was the winner. It was a nice present for his birthday.

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Ramesh team, winner of the general knowledge quiz

A gymkhana prepared by Krishna – the Balmandir’s director – was prepared for the return of the children from the school. There were different kind of games depending on the age. The first one was “hit the pot”: one stick was in the middle of the football field with an iron pot upside. Each blindfolder player had to touch the pot using a stick. There were some players that just went along, others went far from the pot and few of them get it easily. Even  Ram (the cook) and Maya (didi) tried it.

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Hit the pot

After that, it was the time for the younger children. They were ready for the bag race, ready to start with the whistle signal. Some fell halfway but others continued jumping until finish the race.

The next game was the apple ones: children must eat the apple without using their hands.  The last game was the spoon-bowls race that Purnima won.

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Ready for the bag race

When the gynkhana had finished, the party continued with the football final and the Ramesh birthday celebration. After dinner, we prepared good desserts and presents for the gymkhana winners, and Ramesh also had his birthday’s present. A good ending to celebrate Children’s Day.

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Football winner team: Sujan, Prabhat, Sushil, Kamal, Krishna and Santa.

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Football in Balmandir

Written by Mireia Masó and Jordi Giral, volunteers at the Children’s Home

August has been a very active month about news and changes on the football world of Bhimphedi. Like it would happen if we were talking about professional football, the hot news of the summer have been the improvement on the Balmandir’s football court, friendly matches, the selection of some of our teenagers to play in the Bhimphedi school’s team and even the selection of our small Messi for the region team.

On one hand, for the last months we have been having troubles with the football balls because they were blast very frequently. Which was the reason? When they kick the ball very strong, it is very simple that it ends in the prison wall, which is on the other side of the street, and the iron protection systems, which are used to avoid the escaping of the prisoners, blasted them all. After some days on thinking about what could be done, we decided to build a metallic net to install after the problematic goal. As soon as we bought the needed material, Luv began to work and in just some days he built it. It is a very big net, 10m long and 3m high. Since the moment we installed it, no more balls have been lost.

On the other hand, the goals began to have stability problems. We decided to disassemble them to avoid problems. We rebuilt them, developing better connections between the poles, painting them with black protective paint to make them more durable and we stuck them in the ground using concrete. Finally, we painted white lines and now the football ground has two goals which we hope they will last very long.

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One of the new goals and the new fence, made by the kids to protect the balls from the wall of the jail situated next to the children’s home.

To celebrate this achievement, we played a game with the teenagers which last almost two hours. The result was 10-9. Dani’s team defeated Jordi’s team with a goal in the last minute by RamRaj, the star of the group. Only with the whistle sound, which announced the dinner, the players could finally rest. They went as happy as tired to get the deserved Dal Bhat of the evening.

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Ramesh and Jordi shooting the ball as they were in Oliver and Benji.
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Dani, Love and the other players looking how Sushil receives a ball.

In the regional news, Kamal, Luv and Ramraj were selected to play with the Bhimphedi’s school team. The school organised this team to play a regional tournament in Hetauda. After 4 victories, some of them we equilibrated as they got to the penalties, they reached the big final. The mobilization of the school was spectacular. They organised a bus to go and go back from Hetauda and lots of youngers, teachers and volunteers went to see the game. The unlucky part was that it rained a lot that day and the game was postponed.

Next day, the team and the supporters we came back to Hetauda and that day was very sunny and the game was played under a terrible warmth. The only goal of the match was scored by Bhimphedi during the first time. 1-0! CHAMPIONS! And moreover, our 3 teenagers played the match! The celebration began as soon as the game ended: Once the cup and the medals were handed. The players began to dance and take some pictures with the cup and the supporters. After a while, the bus came and we went again to Bhimphedi. The celebration continued and along the return trip, with drums and music dishes to be sure that every single person in Hetauda and Bhimphedi knew that they won the tournament. “It’s the first time we win this tournament!” Looking at their happy faces and how Bhimphedi people received them when they arrived to Bhimphedi, it seemed Futbol Club Barcelona (or Futbol Club Bhimphedi, as they like to say) doing the celebration with the people after winning the Champions League. Congratulations Champions!

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Ramraj receiving the champion medal.
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Luv receiving the champion medal.
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Kamal receiving the champion medal.
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The champion team with the cup and the medals!

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The three kids of the children’s home selected for the school team, the team that won the football competition. From left to right: Luv, Kamal and Ramraj.

Once the tournament of the Hetauda district was finished, a selection of the best players from different teams was made to play the next phase. The good news is that Ramraj, our little Messi, was selected!

The team also won all the matches of the second stage and qualified for the phase of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Ramraj enjoyed this tournament, but because they lost the first match and drew the second, they did not qualify for the final. However, Ramraj returned to the children’s home of Bhimphedi with a big smile.

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The first rice party

Written by Marina Viñas and Joana Alsina, volunteers at the Children’s Home

Yesterday was 11th September, the national day of Catalunya. In Bhimphedi it was also an important day because one of the village family celebrated the “Bhat Khuwair” (first rice) of Chesang, their six months old son, one of 16 basic rituals that are part of the life of a Hindu.

But the family used the opportunity to celebrate the “Ghunyo Choli” for their daughter Chheku Dolma (a celebration in which parents give clothes to her daughter, mandatory celebration for every girl at any age, but always before she has the age to marry).

Three children from the children’s home were lucky, because studying in fifth grade, the same class as the Chheku, they were invited to the party too.

The celebration began in the morning and people kept going to the house, taking their gift for the honored kids. In the afternoon we enjoyed this celebration together: Dani, the Manisha, Ramesh Thami, Bishnu, Sushil and the volunteers of Balmandir. There were more than half of the town. Perhaps 200 people!

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Manisha and Dani with the three kids from the children’s home invited to the party.
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Some of the friends of Chheku.

The backyard was nicely decorated with a tent built with different colored clothing where the Dalbhat and dessert were served. Outside, there were many chairs and benches so that everyone could take a snack comfortably. Often it appeared someone to serve you more drinks or fill up the plate. Once we were full we went to the porxo, chairs were removed and the garden became a dancefloor. A great feast! Good food, good drink and good dance!

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The Balmandir family grows!

Written by Joana Martínez, volunteer at the Children’s Home

Last week arrived to our children home three new inhabitants ready to share with us a bunch of adventures. They didn’t arrive by jeep nor by bus or any other conventional mean of transportation. They don’t present either  the usual features that the rest of visitors do. Nevertheless, what we know for sure is our new mates will stay for a long time and that’s why they had a charming welcome from those who were in Balmandir. Do you already guess who are we talking about? Do you need another clue? They are furry, soft as a fluffy toy, funny and so cute! Do you know already?

The new Balmandir inhabitants are three newborn little goats! It’s already few months that some of our goats are pregnant and bit by bit the little ones will get born. For now we have already three of them, who arrived in less than one week between them. We are looking forward the rest of little cousins to arrive during the coming weeks.

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Kush taking care of both, mother and daughter.
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The two  newborn sisters barely can stand in their feet.
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The mum caresses her daugther.
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Kush with the whole family.

Didis and Kush took good care of them in every moment. They made the mother labor as much comfortable as possible and watch the little ones during their first hours of life. Kush is our shepherd kid: he takes the animals to graze, he feeds them properly, he heals them if they have any wound… He even delouse them with a special product when it’s required! Consequently you can imagine the arrival of the little goats has been a nice event; you should see how he is doing his utmost for them!

In Balmandir, the rest of us went to welcome them properly and to melt watching them do their first steps clumsily and the big adventure that was for them to arrive to their mother breast so thirsty. We leave you some of their first photos so you can also enjoy them! See you soon!

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Didi Maya, Santa and me with the little goats.
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The youngest of the family!
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The two sisters.
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Kush helping the littlest one to find food.
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A greenhouse in the garden of Balmandir

Written by Joan Fisse, a volunteer at the Children’s Home

To improve the performance of the kitchen Garden of Balmandir and protect plants from torrential Monsoon rains that break the fruits before time, it seemed interesting to build a greenhouse, or more accurately a tunnelhouse, whose function is to work as a giant umbrella. We searched information on similar constructions in Nepal and found out that the most used material is the wired bamboo covered by a plastic. So we started the project!

First we chose the location in the garden and we decided on a barren plot that allowed us to make a 20m x 5m greenhouse. We were conditioned in terms of width by the size of available plastics. There was only one problem: in the middle there was a tree that was used as a support to a cucumber that was in full production. The garden is full of giant cucumbers.  Every day a child or two walks around with a plate with a chopped cucumbers offering to the other children, staff and volunteers.

After several conversations, on the same day in the afternoon, the cucumber and the tree that were in the desired plot had disappeared: Santamaya didi had taken the decision.

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We started the adventure of buy the required materials. For that we had go to Hetauda (around 26 km from Bhimphedi on a bus). Finding the right materials and transportation is not so easy. The most complicated was to carry the sixty 6-8 m long bamboos. But luckily the roof of the bus works for anything so we put them there. Unloading was easier when we reached to the Children’s Home because everyone took part in the event.

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We also cleared the ground of grass with the collaboration of everyone. Pere, a volunteer who came for few days, helped us in that as well. We built the six goals that should support the entire structure, cutting and painting the bases to protect them from the moisture, and began to put the first bamboo. On the goals and the central pillars we fixed the rest of the structure, working as often as the Monsoon rains allowed us.

But what the monsoons didn’t take into account was the arrival of Esther, an expert in agriculture and management of greenhouses, who gave us the push we needed to complete construction of the structure and the following steps till finishing the works.

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After placing some wire to prevent rainwater to make small pools on the roof, it was time to put the plastic. It was an exciting time since it was a real team work. Three people pulling the plastic and other three people, with the help of three sticks with sacks on top, were accompanying the plastic to prevent it from tearing with any of the obstacles.

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After testing the roof with the torrential rains of recent days, we fixed the plastic roof areas where water stayed.

Meanwhile two teams dealt with the two rooted trunks we had to take out of the middle of the greenhouse. We still had some works in mind: to refill the holes left by the rooted trunks, to kill grass and works of the soil using a plastic and the powerful sun of this latitude, add a fertilizer and finally to grow tomatoes, strawberries and other tasty vegetables.

All this would have not been possible without the participation of all including the new volunteers Mireia and Jordi and also the help of the two days visitors, Laura and Pol (volunteers two and a half years ago).

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Bernat, a volunteer who has passed like a lightning, has really helped us with the construction of a germination table and with the works of high-altitude while assembling the structure of the greenhouse. On the table we have already some seedling growing of Moringa. In addition, Bernat has left, as well, the workshop as if it was professional workplace.

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Once children filled the holes of land, the smaller kids take the lead on the sealing of the solarization plastic. A great team effort! With good outcome! Only wait 3 or 4 weeks and already we plant!

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Thanks to the information provided by Maya didi we can now prepare a good program for planting in the greenhouse.

We look forward to the first harvest!

Janay Purnima, the Full Moon of August

Purnima is one of the girls who joined us in Bhimphedi Children’s Home last April. Her name means “Full Moon” in Nepali. A very appropriate name, because her eyes are as spectacular as the moon in its splendor.

On Thursday 18th there was the full moon of August, and this is known in Nepal as Janay Purnima, a festival which is celebrated throughout the country and India in different ways.

For the Nepalese Hindus of the mountains, priests are rubbing their hands, because it is a busy day for them: they roll a colored red and yellow thread around the left wrist of all people in exchange of some rupies. This type of bracelet will protect them but it can not be removed until Tihar, a festival held in early November.

For the Nepalese Hindus of the plains bordering India, sisters put some bracelet and “tika” to her brothers, as a sign of love and care.

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Beli didi, one of the workers of the Children’s Home, putting the bracelet. Both caretakers of the Home put bracelets to all the kids and volunteers.
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From up to down: Bracelets from Maya didi, from Beli didi and from the priest.

In any case in all the houses people eats “quati”, a mixture of 12 different types of pulses half sprouted with buffalo meat, reach food which provides them the energy to recover from the rainy season.

The day before the Janay Purnima festival, our Purnima had warned us: “Tomorrow is my birthday!”. In the file, the birthday is not that (besides the festival changes the date with the Moon). But her brother, a year elder than her, supported his sister statement. So the day of the August Full Moon, we didn’t only celebrate Janay Purnima festival, but we also celebrated the birthday of our Purnima.

The celebration was pretty beautiful, singing songs and eating cake in the light of the full moon of August (throughout the afternoon we had one of the common energy cuts).

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The gift was a box of crayons, and still another box of plastic colors and little box of paints, with a small notebook of white sheets to draw. All wrapped up among dozens of newspaper sheets, and girl exultant of joy.

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The diversity of festivals of Nepal, and the intensity they celebrate them, is surprising: the very next day of Janay Purnima, we celebrate Gai Jatra (the cow festival of the Newar caste) which commemorates the dead of that year. On next Thursday, we will celebrate Krishna Astami (birthday of Lord Krishna) on Friday Bhimsen Jatra (the big festival of Bhimphedi). The following week the Father’s day, followed by Teej the women’s day. The next week, Indra Jatra and between all these festivals still we will celebrate an Islamic festival, but we can not say the exact date till one day before celebrating. It is a country of festivals.

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One cow dressed for Gai Jatra, the Newari festival to commemorate the defunct of last year.
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Prachande, the funny character of Gai Jatra, who throws water dirty of cow poop to any fool who dares to come near him.
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Some kids dressed for the Gai Jatra, remembering the defunct of the last year.

We must also say that we are not only entertained by these festivals, but we also have bus strike because the traffic police has been very strict allowing buses only to take the people fitting in the seats, which leaves the owners of buses without profit and the villagers without transportation (because there is never any seats available). And of course if there are no buses, teachers can not come to the village to teach, so the school is also closed. As I said, Nepal is a festival of a country…

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See you soon Marcel!

Written by Joana, Bhimphedi’s children home volunteer.

Last Friday we said goodbye to Marcel who, after three months, has finished the wonderful adventure of beeing a volunteer in Balmandir. As usual when a volunteer leaves, Marcel came early in the morning to say goodbye to all of us. Didi Maya was already waiting for him in the kitchen with the obligatory ritual ready: in a little plate, the sindoor, this red powder made with plants used to mark the tikka in the person’s forehead; a handmade flower necklace and a little bunch of wild flowers. With all this, the ones who stay wish a good journey and best of luck to the one who is leaving.

From my point of view, the moment when the didi marks the volunteer forehead with the tikka is always the most moving part. It’s a little gesture that recalls in just few seconds the intensity of all the experiences, feelings and anecdotes lived during the time the live has kept for us in this magic place. This gesture indicates our experience is about to come to an end and that it’s time to pack your bags and fill them with all we have learnt, with the faces and smiles of all the people we’ve met and with the memories of the most special moments shared with Balmandir children.

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Manoj handing a bunch of flowers over to Marcel parents, who came to Bhimphedi to pick him up.
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And Anoj doing the same thing with Marcel.
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Didi Bely was very touched saying goodbye to Marcel, while his parents looked at them (so moved too!)
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Marcel, Bhimphedi’s tower, with Krishna, didi Maya and didi Sushila.

Marcel got this moment over as a champion and maintaining his composure all along (some of the others couldn’t…), said goodbye to the children, didis, Krishna (the director), Kali, Ophsi and Tate (the dogs), Dani, the rest of the volunteers and to this impressive place which is Bhimphedi now that the monzoons has made the mountains reborn and the rivers (finally!) flow strongly.

The ones who stay in Balmandir (even if it’s just for a few time), wish you a very nice way back and the best of luck in the new post-Bhimphedi period that you are about to start. We hope you take always with you wherever you go the best moments of this experience. And… remember… we’ll always have Bhimphedi!

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Marcel and me, the volunteer dúo during these three months in Balmandir.
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Group photo before saying goodbye!
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Marcel and his parents, escorted by Ophsi and Kali in his way to the jeep and with their backpacks well decorated!
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A wedding out of the ordinary

The coordinator of the Children’s Home is getting married with one of the teachers of the school! The children of the children’s home are very excited. All their friends don’t stop asking about the topic that everyone talks about in Bhimphedi.

Children Balmandir are eager to celebrate! We will celebrate our wedding only within the family: Manisha’s family and mine in Nepal (meaning the children and workers of the children’s home).

“When is the wedding?” Here things can not be planned, if someone plans something sure Nepal will make sure your plans change. This uncertainty makes things difficult but exciting. Even five days before the event, when the date was already fixed on Sunday 26th June, and some guests had already hired the jeep to come on Saturday to Bhimphedi from Kathmandu, things changed: the priest told to Manisha’s family that Sunday was not a good day for the wedding, so we had to do it on Friday, two days earlier. Everyone, run…

On Friday morning, accompanied by all the children and staff of the Children’s Home and friends, in a well decorated car and dressed in a peculiar way, the groom moves to the bride’s house.

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After her family welcomes the coming team, we celebrate the ceremony in a small temple and take the bride. Here, when the girl gets married becomes part of the family of the husband. But in this case however, Manisha not change her surname or stop meeting her family.

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4) celebrant la cerimonia

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4) celebrant la cerimonia en el temple

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Friday afternoon the party took place in Balmandir, all the kids had lots of fun: creating the decoration, preparing gifts, eating lots of delicious foods (including lamb, chicken and paneer) and especially dancing.
Boys and girls who no longer live at the Children’s Home this year also came to the party, so this was also a good excuse for meeting friends and brothers. A day to remember!

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One of the gifts that the children and volunteers prepared for us was a video: any resemblance to reality is pure coincidence…

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A tractor comes to visit us!

Written by Marcel, Bhimphedi’s children home volunteer.

Last May 14th a tractor came to Balmandir to help us with the plugging of the kitchen garden. It was easier than ever!

Tractor working on the kitchen garden.
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Work finished!

The children were delighted by this visit and they were the whole time near the tractor looking how it was working. In fact, when it finished the work, without any hesitation, they mounted on it and began to play as if they were actually driving it.

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Kush, Manoj and Raju “driving” the tractor

This visit was a great help for us, because the corn that was planted has been growing and growing very much, we will have a good harvest this year, though you can not say till it’s done.

The corn is growing
It grows very quickly!
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Now the mazes are 2 meters high. In the middle of the field: the “naspati” fruit tree (a fruit between an apple and a pear, very common in the area). The tree is now full of fruits. Always there is some kid on the tree taking some fruits for himself and for his friends.
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On the beautiful mountains of the valley (or hills as they call them) the beautiful clouds, very common in the raining seasson. Now it rains every day…

Meanwhile, the smallest of the house have prepared to the volunteers a delicious dish, they cook for us some kind of grass (“sagh” in nepali) that was growing wildly in some of the margins of the kitchen garden. The most delicious grass we have ever tasted!

Bishnu, Som and Anoj heating the oil.
Cooking the “sagh”.
Almost ready to eat!

www.amicsnepal.org/bhimphedi