This week we had a visit to make us laugh without stop. A troop of red noses came to make a tour Bhimphedi and Hetauda: the “Trup de Nassos”.
The first show was at the community school Aadhar Bhim where the kids of Balmandir study primary level. Although at first the performance was only for the children and teachers of the school, the laughter that could be heard from the main street called many curious villagers to join to the public as if they were another kid.
The clowns after finishing the show wanted to make a new one, but it was already dark and the following events were organized only for the next day in Hetauda. The performances were very special in Hetauda next day. The first performance was in the special education unit “Imagine” (if you want to know about this wonderful project founded by Aina Barca, please visit their website or Instagram). The second show was in the children’s home Disabled and Helpless Child Rehabilitation Center.
For the third and final day of the tour in Makawanpur district, the Clowns came back Bhimphedi and did a show that closed their tour in Nepal (after 17 shows). The last show was in the public school Suping where children are doing exams this week. The show made them laugh and relax before the exam. Hopefully that helped them to perform better!
This is not the first time that we have funny visits. We can remember the visit of the Clown Magi and the recent visit of the entertainment group Atrapasomnis. And nobody in the town can forget the visit of a funny magician who came to the town to show the most wonderful magic, Magic Andreu, who visited us in 2013 and 2014. He performed without resting in Bhimphedi and Hetauda, in children’s homes, schools, on the same street and even in the state prison of Bhimphedi.
Written by Joana Alsina, volunteer of Bhimphedi Children’s Home.
Saturdays in Nepal children do not go to school. Saturday mornings, in Balmandir, we make the common tasks. One group prepares the snack, another helps in the kitchen garden and the last one cleans deeply the kitchen. Saturday afternoons we have free time and the kids play, bath, use the computers…
The smallest kids wanted to go to the hills and after lunch we decided it was a good time to go for a walk. The kids of secondary level had to study for exams, so they couldn’t join. With Manisha, Xavi and all the kids from the primary community school we left Balmandir at three o’clock. Our destination: the big pipe of the hydroelectric plant. It has been a long time that they had not gone and some of them, as Purnima, Samir and Sarita had never been there before.
We climbed up to the peepal tree and we stopped, as we always do, to admire Bhimphedi’s view. Some of them climbed up to the tree but they quickly came down because they wanted to reach down to the river.
We continued our way, the kids went faster than us because we stopped often because Sumit was teaching us many of the plants that we were finding on the way. Chestnuts, ferns… When we reached down to the river we found the kids fishing, with the hands and feet inside the water. But this time the prays were not small fish but crabs. A pity that Tonyo has already gone because we would have done a tasty rice.
Crossing the river we found soon the huge pipe and began to climb the stairs.
Some kids were counting the stairs (while they were telling us that there were 1100 to reach up), others were making music with the echo of the tunnel and the most brave were climbing uphill without using the stairs. When we had reached almost three quarters of the way we realized that it was getting late, and we decided to return at home.
The descent was faster, especially for the kids who run stairs down. When we reached to the foot of the huge staircase we found the kids playing. With plastic bottles they had made sleds and they were racing. And some of them finished with holes in their pants…
The way back was very fast. We did not stop to see plants or to catch fish or crabs. When we were descending the sun was setting and when we arrived to Balmandir where the dinner was ready.
Written by Joana Alsina, volunteer of Bhimphedi Children’s Home and coach of the Bhim Aadhar Football Team.
This Friday was not a regular Friday. The community school students finished classes earlier because they had to prepare a inter-school football competition. At twelve o’clock, players and spectators went to the football ground. We did not know how many teams would be in the ground but finally all of the expected came; Suping’s team, Dorsing’s, and the team of the public school of Bhimphedi and ours (the Bhim Aadhar). Each school had selected their best players from primary level.
Bhim Aadhar school had chosen 7 players from Balmandir, so we were very happy. The lineup was:
1- Sushil Thapa Magar – Keeper.
2- Sumit Bhandari – Right wing
3- Bishow Rai – Central defender.
4- Ramesh Thami – Forward
5- Raju Thapa Magar- Right wing
6- Santa Jirel – Midfielder
7- Bishnu Mandal – Forward
8- Bishal Mijar – Left wing
9- Aakash Tamang – Left wing
Seven students were playing from the beginning for each team. Every team had two extra players but only two changes could be made during the match, therefore many of the kids ended up breathless. After making the warming up and speaches the crossings were decided.
The first match was against Suping. This team also wore red shirt (like ours), so it would had been difficult to distinguish them if it was not for the size of the kids. The physical superiority gave results quickly and in the first part Bhim Aadhar school had scored 7 goals. In the second part we made some changes. We gave rest to some of our best players and the match was not so unbalanced. First victory by 11-0.
The next match was between the public school of Bhimphedi and Dorsing. The game was very intense and balanced. After half an hour of game still the result was 0-0. But finally the organizers decided to disqualify Bhimphedi’s public school because they had used some elder players than allowed. Thus we already had rival for the final; the Dorsing team.
The final began with great intensity. Both teams wanted to win. The first part was very balanced. Bishnu opened the score and few minutes later Ramesh scored again. But the calm did not last long, since Dorsing shortened distances in a stop ball shot.
Despite this goal the guys did not lose strength. Our keeper, while refusing a long ball, scored directly to the other goal, it was astonishing and all the fans widely celebrated it. From that point the match was not balanced again, and the final result was 6-2.
Once the match was finished, players and supporters of Bhim Aadhar left singing and celebrating the victory until Balmandir, where a good reward was waiting for us; a CREMA CATALANA prepared by Tonyo!
Written by Mònica Sans, co-coordinator of Bhimphedi Children’s Home and AWASUKA
The Rana dynasty ruled Nepal from 1846 to 1951, reducing the monarchy to a mere figure and making the posts of Prime Minister hereditary. The Rana government was characterized by being a tyranny with excesses, economic exploitation and religious persecution. However, the Rana developed many infrastructures in the country and Bhimphedi is a good example of this: the hospital (it was the second of the country at the time), the public school building, Hatisar the elephant house (where there are still many historic saddles), the rana minister’s palace (currently in the jail compound), the royal palace (inside Balmandir orphanage plot), the Janajati Hall building (now hotel of entities, formerly temporary residence of the English Prime Minister) and many more buildings. And besides the buildings, they also built the water network and the reservoirs still supplying this town.
Asking Surendra, one of the characters who knows well Bhimphedi’s history, he explains to us that the school building was originally a travelers’ hostel when the village was a major crossing point on the route to Chitwan and India. It later became a public school and has been in use to last friday 18th of November 2016. This last Saturday it has being emptied by removing all furniture, to bring it down soon. The government has decided to do so, because of the minor damages it suffered during last year’s earthquake. The architects who have been in Bhimphedi for the last year, participants in the Awasuka program, are sad because of the government’s opinion, as we believe that the building is easily repairable and retrofittable. But the Nepalese government advocates for complete reconstruction rather than repairing and retrofitting the historical buildings… a real pity! We’re attaching some photos of the building, which will soon go down in history.
Writen by Daniel Roig, coordinator of the Children’s Home
Dashain and Tihar festivals are over. Everyone returns to normality, but here this does not mean routine.
Last month, the children who have some known family members have been with them, 9 of the 26 boys and girls. But now they have all returned to the Children’s Home ready to resume their studies.
I also return to the Children’s Home with Manisha, after almost a month away, something I had not done for the last two years. But we do not return alone, we arrive with two new volunteers, actually returned volunteers: Tonyo and Xavi, one year after their first visit, come back to the Children’s Home.
The children who have stayed for the festivals in the Children’s Home are very happy that all the people come back and welcome us with shouts, and a bit of expectation for seeing what we bring for them as a gift from our hometowns: Homemade sweets (sun-dried Jumla apple slices, or different types of cookies, popcorn…), Kush and Love come with a couple of ducks of the best breed from their village.
Tonyo, Xavi and I also brought some surprises! We arrived at the Children’s Home with 4 computers donated by the Taulí hospital of Sabadell (thank you Xavier Calvet!). And we also brought two high quality seats to finish the reparation of the swing thanks to the material donated by HPC Ibérica (thanks Ramón Coderch and Mònica for the coordination!).
Tonyo, Xavi and I, with the help of the children and Papu, after few days of intense work, we set the new computer room with Ubuntu well installed, the swings in full functionally and on top of that we also have the front area of the sinks improved and the water and electric facilities improved.
1. Fixing the swings:
2. Improvement of the water conduction:
3. Improvement of the water channel:
4. Extension of the computer room:
Also the kids, who have left the Children’s Home this past year are still trying to find their place in the world. Sanu has finally obtained the Nepalese identity card (not easy to obtain for children with irregular family situations) and has already returned to Bhimphedi to rejoin the AWASUKA project to complete the three anti-seismic prototypes (the wooden for Maya didi, the concrete block for Santamaya didi and the stone and mud for the community). Papu, who has spent the festivals in the Children’s Home, and has used this time to work also for AWASUKA and help in the Children’s Home, has decided to stay in the village with Sanu and also join the AWASUKA project to finish the prototypes. Jay who has spent the festivals with his family reunited 14 years later (we will explain his incredible story another day), he has also obtained the identity card, and has come to Bhimphedi a few days to get a letter of recommendation from the public school where he studied high school to be able to put the correct information, now that he knows it: new name (Anish Malla), new date of birth and the names of his parents. Ashok Praja has already resumed the Veterinary studies. Ashok will now work and live closer to his school, and we hope he will do very well (thank you very much to Prakriti, who now lives in Patan Children’s Home, for helping Ashok to find a job her aunt village, near the veterinarian school).
Another big change is that the public school changes location. The historic building that was affected by the earthquake will be demolished, so the children are already beginning to study in the temporary barracks located on the village football field. (You can read the post written by Monica about this topic).
There have also been two very important changes in the center. Two very special people no longer live with us in the Children’s Home. Although we will miss them very much, we will stay in touch and we are very happy for them for the changes and achievements in their lives. The first is Krishna Pudasaini, director of the Children’s Home for the last 15 months, and who has done a very good job during this time, having great successes like finding families of some children. Krishna has won a government job in the Nepal Electricity Department (where they have a lot of work if they want to reduce the electricity cuts). The second is Susmita, a 9-year-old girl who has gone now to live with her mother and younger brother (we will explain her story in the next post!).
And life goes on in the Bhimphedi Children’s Home, with joy.
The kids go to school to finish the second term. Tonyo and Xavi now work as masons and carpenters. Marina and Joana, returned from a week of well-deserved rest, have resumed the computer, English and Spanish classes. Prabhat and Manisha help the little ones with the studies. And I, up and down, watching everything go more or less well: supervising the center, the young kids and the children that we have scattered throughout the country, looking for a new director for the center, helping bigger kids of the Children’s Home with the maths exercises…
Writen by Marina Viñas, volunteer of Children’s Home
This last month we go from celebration to celebration. Once finished Dashain, it is the turn of Tihar, also known as Depawali and Yamapanchak. Five-day-long Hindu festival of lights, music and dance that begins with the Kaag Tihar and ends with the Bhai Tika.
Walking by Bhimphedi we see that the shops are filled with garlands, flowers, pigments of colors and lights that will be used to decorate all the houses. In the street, in front of each house, we see patterns on the floor (such as mandalas) made of colored rice, dry flour, colored pigments and flower petals. It is the so-called Rangoli, which is meant to be the sacred welcoming for the Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism. We also note that it is time to paint the facades and put lighting – like Christmas at home -. And garlands of flowers in the doors and windows. Balmandir could not be less. In the first place, rooms must be thoroughly cleaned and Krishna commissioned to children to paint “the circus”. The Didis, with the help of the smaller ones, made the flower garlands that were placed on the doors and windows. We also put lights on each one of the modules of Balmandir. How nice, at night, when Balmandir is lit red, blue and green! And in addition with candles in front of each door.
Tihar is the second biggest Nepalese festival after Dashain and shows reverence to humans, Gods and animals – as crows, cows and dogs-. Each of the five days of Tihar feast has a specific symbolism. The first day is called Kaag Tihar. The cawing of crows and ravens symbolizes sadness and grief in Hinduism, so devotees offer crows and ravens sweets and foods placed on the roofs of houses to avert grief and death in their homes. The second day is called Kukur Tihar. People offer garlands, tika and delicious foods to dogs – the animal that occupy a special place in Hindu mythology – and acknowledge the cherished relationship between humans and dogs.
The third day – Gai Tihar and Laxmi Puja- people shows their gratefulness to the cow by garlanding and feeding them with the best grass; and Laxmi – the goodess of wealth – is thanked for all the benefits that were bestowed on the families by lighting oil lamps or candles on doorways and windows. That day, Deusi and Bhailo is celebrated with lights and fireworks. Deusi is balladic and tells the story of the festival, with one person narrating and the rest as the chorus. In returns, owners give money, fruit and sel-roti (a Nepali roundel made of rice flour and sugar). On the fourth day of Tihar, there are three different known pujas, depending on the people’s cultural background: Goru Tihar or Goru Puja – worship of the oxen -, Govardhan Puja – which is worship towards goverdhan mountain – or Mha Puja – worship of self -.
The fifth day is called Bhai Tika. It is the last day of Tihar and the most expected for the girls of Balmandir. That day, the girls put the tika to their brothers to ensure long life and thank them for their protection. The girls of Balmandir made a ritual (with the help of Didi Beli) difficult to count with words. All the children sat on the floor and girls began: they made two circles – one yellow and one red – on the floor, in front of each child, in which they put flower petals and incense; they spread oil and water around all children; one by one, they placed flower petals on the head, put the tika on the forehead and offered them sweets and water while the boys offered them money. Once completed, all ate fruit and typical Nepalese food. It was a very special moment.
PS. We can not lie to you… we didn’t miss the opportunity to eat some chestnuts to celebrate the “Castanyada” either.
Writen by Jordi Masferrer and Laura Mas, “Els Atrapasomnis”
«Els Atrapasomnis» is a musical group for children with a large experience in Catalonia trying to awake smiles into children’s faces. After a short break of concerts in Catalonia we have decided that maybe it would be a good time to do some concerts in some disadvantaged schools and children’s homes in Nepal.
After crossing several mountains and about nearly four hours by jeep we finally reached Bhimpedhi. We just walked for two minutes and we arrived to Balmandir where the volunteers Marina and Joana were waiting for us. We quickly realized that it was really gorgeous place where we can breathe peace, calm and harmony. Joana and Marina showed us all the corners of the children’s home giving us all kind of explanations, and all the children gave us a warm welcome.
After visiting several schools and children’s homes in Nepal we could sense that this one was a different one. First of all because of the special natural environment, secondly because all nepali staff and catalan volunteers offer here their best in order to offer a good life to the children.
During the first day we helped in all we could, like helping children while they were reading and writing or doing the homework, removing the weeds.
At midday we did a little bit of hiking in order to reach to a peepal tree located at the top of the hill where we could see a wonderful view of Bimphedhi. We spent a great time there while the children were jumping up and down from the tree.
In the afternoon we decided to organize our concert. Taking into account that it was Susmita’s, Basu’s and Bishwo’s birthdays we organized a party in order to have fun all together. We enjoyed for at least one hour playing, singing, dancing, jumping and laughing. Each concert is different and special and this one was not an exception.
We are really happy that «Amics del Nepal» opened the doors of Balmandir’s world. Thank you so much to everybody.
Writen by Marina Viñas, volunteer of Children’s Home
On the plane Barcelona-Nepal, an special passenger accompanied us: NEPCAT CONNECTION, a project whose main objective is the cultural exchange between Balmandir children and Catalan children, opening the door to new ways of living and understanding life by exchanging emails.
In Catalonia we have an accomplice – Glory Iniesta, teacher of the Col·legi Mestre Pla of Castellar del Vallès – who presented the project to their colleagues. All of them agreed immediately. So good! They have two classes of 5th and two 6th grade with which we started the project. So we can make four groups. Come on, let’s go!
We created an email account and divided the children into four groups, mixing them for ages, so the eldest ones can support the younger kids. It looks like an easy job, but it’s not when we start. The first day, I immediately realised that including one of the elder boys in each group was a great idea. That day, I had to start only with the two youngest children because the eldest had to study. When I said: “Come on, how can we start an email?”, I just got silence and astonished faces as answers. But persisting, in two weeks we managed to finish and send the first mail with each group. Then it was the turn of the Catalan students. Will they answer? Will it take long?
Meanwhile, we connect to google maps and begin to look at the place we are sending the emails. Children enjoy seeing the buildings and streets of Castellar del Vallès. Once we have seen the school and the houses around it and we have discovered this new Internet tool, the kids request me: “Can we see the Camp Nou?”. So “travelled” around the Camp Nou, Sagrada Familia and the sea! As if we were looking through a window.
Four weeks after landing to Nepal the project had already begun to take shape: one group had already received the first response! yuhu! And now, after eigth weeks of the arrival in Nepal, we had exchanged photos, food recipes, traditions…
We are very happy and thrilled, hoping that the trend is going to be very positive and gradually grows. It is not only an exchange of perspectives, of their day to day, of the concerns, traditions, etc. The “connection NEPCAT” wants to go further because it will also allow the group work, practice English, explore new tools to search for information, Internet tools, etc.
Written by Joana Alsina volunteer at the Children’s Home.
Dashain is already over but we are still in holidays waiting for Tihar’s festival. During these holidays the weather is being very nice so we decided to do some excursions. The first hike we did was with the youngest ones. We took the goats to graze to the hills and after crossing the river we went until the Peepal Tree, a sacred tree.
There is quite a climb from the river to the tree. Some of us climbed quickly and others went slowly, but all of us finished sweaty. From the tree there is a beautiful view of Bhimphedi. Sitting under the tree contemplating the landscape was very relaxing, but the calm did not last long! Kids wanted to go back down quickly because they knew that after the hike we would go to the river for fishing and bathing. And they really love it!
After a week, we did another hike but this one was a serious trip. Our destination: Hattisude hills, the elephant trunk mountain (2900m). Only the biggest ones were allowed to do it. We left after Dalbhat around 9 am with our backpacks full of water. We went to Supping, the neighbour town located at the top of a small mountain. We crossed a hanging bridge and we started climbing. Along the way we met people over-loaded with plants, packages, shopping or milk-can on the back.
After half an hour we reached Supping. This village is divided into three areas: Low, Middle and Upper Supping. The houses are scattered through the mountains and there are approximately 700 residents. His livelihood is agriculture, horticulture and livestock. Corn is the main crop but they also cultivate ginger, beans, peas and other legumes. At this season they have already harvested the corn. There we could see corn drying hanged in the balcony or forming circles in the columns of the houses. When we arrived to Upper Supping we met Maya and Ram (Children’s home workers) who would guide us to climb Hattisude Hills.
So, we went to the jungle with beautiful landscapes behind us. At the beginning the path was well marked but we lose it and we started to climb the mountain. As they say “monkey way.” There were many trees and plants unknown to us, even though we were in the jungle we didn’t see many animals, only a lot of leeches! If you stopped to breath for a few minutes they already were inside your shoes, or climbing up the pants. If you put your hands on the floor to help yourself to climb, in seconds you could find leeches between your fingers and on the arms. It was a very enriching experience, especially for them!
Finally we returned to the main path when we were already close to the top. The jungle was becoming clearer and there were few trees, exposing a completely different landscape; meadows of tall grass with flowers and really wonderful views.
At the south side, towards Hetauda, we could see a small village surrounded by high mountains. To the north side we could see Bhimphedi, Balmandir and even the Peepal Tree. The pity was that we couldn’t see Himalayas because of some clouds.
After 4 hours walking we took snack. Maya told us that she was born in the summit of this mountain. Her parents farmed these lands, where they grew potatoes and lived in a stone house.
The descent was much quicker, although we often stopped to harvest medicinal plants, fruits and flowers. This time we went down by the right path and it was much easier. When we reached to Middle Supping we took a little path that led us among the crops and we went to visit Krishna’s family. We were invited to a cup of tea and some cookies.
Finally at 5 pm we went down back home with tired legs but with the mind full of memorable images that we carry with us.
Note: I would like to thank Marina for her great contribution to this tour, attracting all the leeches. Thank you for your generosity, we all appreciated it very much!
Written by Marina Vinas, volunteer of Children’s Home
The Dashain is the Nepal’s national holiday comparable to Christmas. It is the main, longest and most auspicious festival in the Bikram Sambat, the annual calendar celebrated by all Nepalese people. During these days, everyone goes to the family house (parent’s home) and spend these days together making offerings and various rituals to worship goddess Durga in all its manifestations. Balmandir family could not be less and we also celebrated the Dashain.
A few days ago Maya Didi began to prepare the needed things for the tika day. Eleven days later, when we reached to the Children’s Home in the morning and opened the door, kids shouted: “they’re here, they’re here!”. They were anxiously waiting for us to start the festival, all dressing the new clothes (new pants or shoes) they had got a couple of days earlier. Maya opened the door of the “storeroom” where she had left a leave plate with seeds. A floral scent from the germinated sprouts came into our noses. In the TV room all was ready: a tray with rice mixed with flowers, a vase of flowers, a tray full of things for the tika (rice, colour powders and yogurt) and the germinated grass. According to tradition, elders put this tika on the forehead of younger relatives to bless them with abundance in the upcoming years and give them the “Dakshin” – a small amount of money . So Didi Maya began: first she took the flowers and, as if she was baptizing, she sprinkled some water over their heads. Then she threw some rice with flowers and put them the tika on the forehead, between the eyes (where the third eye is) and gave to each of them a hand of germinated grass wrapped with money. She did this with each child, from the younger to the older. And the big surprise was that she also put the tika to us! Then it was the Krishna’s turn (center director) and Ram (the cook). And finally, the Belly Didi’s turn. After that, we asked if we also could put the tika so Joana and I could also blessing with our best wishes to each of them.
During these holidays they also make other rituals such as animal sacrifice. Normally we eat “masu” (meat) only on Saturday night, which is the holiday of each week in Nepal. But during the days of Dashain “masu” is very much present in every meal. A chicken one day, buffalo another day. And the surprise was yesterday morning when Krishna came with Basu who made the sacrifice of one of our goats. I was lucky that when I discovered the reason he had come for, the goat had already been sacrificed. Joana and I went to the place they were doing the ritual and Basu, helped by Ram and under the eyes of the Balmandir kids, began to peel the goat, clean, smear it with an orange paste (which as explained to me is to preserve and flavor) and make different cuts. After removing the different organs, the kids helped clean them. That day the members of the Nepal Children’s Organization came to Balmandir to put the tika and all together we tasted the goat meat.
Still I have to tell you about another tradition. These days all children make kites and make them fly high, very high. Almost as high as the mountains that surround us. They have not explained the meaning, but perhaps these kites are done to make fly our best wishes to all.