It’s been a few days since Christmas arrived at Balmandir, understanding that it is not so important for the boys and girls of Bhimphedi and the children of Nepal in general, the celebration was a bit different from the one we are used to in Catalonia, then use it count We are sorry for the delay in this blog, but as you know in Balmandir, there is always work to do!
Understanding that Christianity is not their religion, what we did is the great Catalan tradition of “cagar el tió”! In the daily activity with the smallest ones we built it, for a few days we have been feeding it until it’s time to crash it! Taking advantage of the fact that in Nepal on December 25th it is festive, we made the crap tonch that day, before but we were doing some activities with small and large!
The big moment came and we started to practice the song of the caga tió, luckily many of them were known, since it was not the first time they “cagaven”, they had done it the previous year with the Dani! And they were doing very well.
They were so excited as they shook him, getting gifts for each one, a bag with chocolate, candy, a cane, shampoos, etc. The pity was that while we were stuck with the collective force they broke the thorium, but it was worth it and there was a feeling of childhood and youth enthusiasm.
On behalf of all the boys, girls, volunteers, director Surendra, didis, and all the people that we get involved in using Balmandir want to wish for Good Christmas and Good New Year! That’s why we leave a video that was made by the volunteer Ainoa, where all the people who walk Balmandir appear and use good parties
Written by Pilar Puigdomènech exvolunteer from the school of Bhimphedi
It was going to be a very short volunteering, 4 weeks in July, too short perhaps? Definitely!!! My son Adrià and I got to Bhimpedhi and knowing we were there fleetingly, settled in our room and got to meet the kids, Surendra, the Didis, the teachers of the boarding school and the other volunteers straight away… and for 21 days we went to our rooms just to sleep. What a wonder!!!!
Journeys were long and light at the same time, from early morning, half past six, to late evening, 9 o´clock… You may wonder why children in the orphanage get up so early… the answer, unbelievable to our European way of living is simple: to study. Children in Balmandir study for an hour and a half in the morning, after having a glass of milk and before breakfast and for another hour and a half in the evening, after their dinner… and this is not the most shocking fact. Despite having been told in advance, it is quite striking to see young children memorizing their lessons by heart, all their lessons, from all subjects. And as they attend a school in which all subjects are taught in English, it is easy for any volunteer to end up, reciting
their lessons too…
I can still hear their voices, their Nepali accents and their singsong. By the way, I haven’t said that children in Balmandir are happy and cheerful kids, and remembering Balmandir is a children’s home, it is more than clear that Amics de Nepal is doing an excellent job there. I wish we had that sort of kids filling up our classrooms, strong and healthy, both physically and psychologically.
I must admit that as a European teacher used to pedagogies which undervalue memorising any sort of information, during their study time, I insisted on making questions related to what they were memorizing to make sure they understood what they were repeating. I soon learned what I now see as obvious; kids who had trouble in memorizing were the same who couldn’t answer the questions testing their comprehension, so helping them to understand what they had to memorize was a very effective way to give them a hand; seen from the distance, it is blatant again!
One of the reasons why we had been accepted as volunteers for such a short period of time was that Amics de Nepal realised the importance of helping teachers at the boarding school improve their English and I have a long experience as a teacher of English as a second language. Except for the subject of Nepali language, the rest of subjects are taught in English, so one may assume that the teachers have an advanced level of English, reasonable at least!
Well, I’m afraid that in the boarding school in Bhimpedhi, this is not always the case, and from what I learned, a lot of the teachers working in the different rural boarding schools throughout
Nepal, are in the same situation. So, how do they manage? It is not difficult to guess, they do exactly the same as they ask their pupils to do, repeat what is in their books…. Welcome to the Boarding School in Bhimpedhi.
Traditionally, a boarding school provides education as well as lodging and meals. However, in Nepal, boarding schools are those which use English as the language of instruction. Are they called boarding because they are supposed to be and Elite educational option? I still wonder. Teaching English to the teachers of the school was a privilege, one of the nicest you can experience. A group of young teachers with different levels of English and interests but all
willing to learn. It was far too short, at least for me. I would have enjoyed staying longer and seeing their progress go forward.
I remember so many unforgettable moments… One day while practising ways to give advice and instructions I asked them to imagine that their soul had gone far away on holiday, to the
nicest place they could think of, and my soul had set into their bodies, to cover up. They had to give me instructions on what to do at home so that nobody would notice anything weird was
going on. I told them to talk directly to me and tell me how to behave with their husbands, kids, parents, neighbours. I gave them a few silly examples like: when you wake up, say hello to
my husband and give him a good morning kiss; you mustn’t drink milk as I never do, you should wake my children up once breakfast is ready. I told them, they could make up whatever
they wanted and that the important was to have fun and enjoy while they were writing… I still remember the way they looked at me. It took me a few minutes to make myself understood, but once they started, it was magic! They enjoyed and I amused myself seeing their sparkling eyes and hearing their giggling. I expected some entertaining, carefree essays, but, once again, I was wrong. What they wrote was, in general, far more intimate than I could have ever
imagined, talking about the relationships with their husbands and kids, their feelings, their desires, their hopes… and, as you can imagine, they all wished me to do my best to enjoy my day in their bodies and take care of their beloved ones.
A pleasure to meet them all and to know that shortly after my departure a young English teacher was going there for a much longer period of time. My son and I will always be grateful to the children in Balmandir, Sir Surendra, the Didis, the teachers, Josep, Joan and the rest of the volunteers and to Amics de Nepal for allowing us to take part in such an admirable project.
Written for Guillem Pujol,volunteer at Bhimphedi Children Home’s
This December we had a stellar activity in our lives! We have gone with the family of Balmandir to Picnic !! Yeah yeah! Now a month ago, Kamal (the young boy from the house) suggested that we leave with all the boys and girls to make picnic. And so we have done it …
This past Saturday 9th we went to visit the C.G Temple, in the Chitwan region. The day before twe were so nerveous , we were blossomed. We started cooking the night before, a special Dalbat, because it was spicy and coconut, we also cook papad, shrimp bread, and a long etcetera. On the same day 9 we took off very early to finish making all the preparations, then take a bus, which was all for us alone!
Also volunteers came, Didis, the Ram the cook, the Prabat, teacher of children and young people from Kathmandu too! It was a long bus trip, but it was definitely worth it! Upon arrival, we went around the outskirts of the temple, looking at the new environment where we were. It was very hot, More than what we are used to here in Bhimphedi! Since we were very close to India!
The time had come to eat, and how tasty it was all! mmm!
Finally we were entering the temple, it was very different from the temples that we are accustomed to here in Nepal! Since its construction was relatively new, so new that they are still building it now! Very pale and bright colors, with very characteristic and different shapes. Then you can see a few pictures, of that strange but beautiful temple.
In addition, we were also able to go into Nepali history, thanks to a museum that was under the temple. We both entered into small children and we learned new things, which we did not imagine. The time went by very quickly and it was time to return, but Rohit (Kathmandu’s young person) gathered to tell us that we had a mission to do among all!
And it was to clean the entrance to the temple, which was very dirty and , as we left home we wanted to do social action to help improve our environment. The material was obtained thanks to the contacts that the young people of Kathmandu have with Clean Up Nepal, since it is not the first time they work with them.
After this cleaning, we took the return bus. This time but after the long day we fell asleep a few. When we arrived at Balmandir, we had dinner quickly and go to sleep! That the next day we had school. It was a very nice and full day, where we enjoyed this great excursion and picnic.
The following link use will be sent to a video where you can see all the photos of the output:
We hope to repeat an experience like this one soon!
The days have passed and as you know, in Balmandir there is always work to do and things to repair. One more year Tonyo’s visit has allowed us to do a whole lot of improvements. The floor of the study room has been renovated, the whole gazebo has been painted, the slide and swings have been fixed and painted. Thanks to all these painting sessions we have achieved that Balmandir is prettier than ever.
The mosquito net fabrics of all the windows that have been torn apart from their use have also been repaired. They have purchased metal baskets, office supplies, cleaning materials, light bulbs, care materials to equip the bottle, As you can see we have done a recharge of basic things in general, which is always good.
This was more to plant potatoes, with the help of agronomic students, Hector, David and also Tonyo, it was decided to make a larger plantation of potatoes. Both small and large participated in this plantation, be it in the daily sessions of “kitchen garden” as the “extra work” on Saturdays
Now the problem is to water this great field of potatoes. That is why we had to buy a new water tank (1000l), new hoses, taps and 4 sprinklers. But we also need more power, that is why Xavi has made us come up with a majestic and powerful water pump that gives us a lot of work.
Paint and brushes have been purchased to paint the entire porch we use from a stencil to the clothes of a dark green color that makes it cleaner and more bucolic. It has been a week of work, first we had to wash and then paint. We have been doing it little by little with the collaboration of the children.
They were the youth of the house that took the paintbrushes and the paint we had left and painted everything they could, until the painting was finished. Now Balamdir reigns in the dark green color, it’s really good!
Xavi also visited us for two weeks. It has helped us in these jobs and has done more! Since for a week he has done electronic sessions with the children of the house. They were motivated !! We have also fixed one of the latrine pipes that had a water leak, we have been advised by Dayli, the new volunteer of the Awasuka project specializing in latrines.
Thank you one more year, to Friend Tonyo, to the Friends of Benicarló and “penya del Setrill” that they support! Obviously also thank Xavi for all the work done and the motivation he has given us.
Written by Anna Brunet, viceprecident of Amics del Nepal
Over the past few weeks we have had many visits, all from people who have come to help us to make this house a place to live and grow happily.
At the end of October Madi and Dani visited Balmandir, they spend a day to see the house and meet with its small inhabitants. However it was a school day and we could not share a lot of time together. We would like to give thanks ! With they donation we have been able to buy blankets and bedspreads, now that winter is coming, it will make our nights more confortable !
The same day cames Enric, the current president of Amics del Nepal and myself, we spend 4 days in Balmandir. We could check how all the children grews up in one year and to find out about the new small children: Bikram, Manisha, Binita, Kushal and Ekendra, all them came to Balmatir last April and they are already very well adapted to the new family. The visit was also very useful to talk with the new director, all the staff and volunteers that are working in the centre. We hope to have made a great push to continue working and improving!
In November we had two more visits. First came a group of climbers, they had crowned a mountain of great technical difficulty, Ama Dablam (6812m). Sergi Mingote and his colleagues wanted to spend they last day in Nepal to meet Balmandir. We received them with a presentation and a video that had been prepared by the children to tell them how Balmandir is doing every day. Kush, one of big boys, also gave them an explanation with Power-point.
The climbers brought us a flag of Amics del Nepal that was crowned Ama Dabalam and all us signed on it.
They give also another surprise, they bring a Dron, that children wanted catch, luckily they could not, on the other hand, the Dron did really good images from us.
The second visit of the month of November filled the House of Magic. Once again we would like to thank the Mágic Andreu, who, during his stay in Nepal, came to visit us. We all enjoyed and laughed a lot with their tricks! On the next day the Magician also went to make a show in the school, so children from Balmandir had a double session.
Written for Guillem Pujol,volunteer at Bhimphedi Children Home’s
The second most important festival in Nepal is here! This October we are in constant celebrations and we like this. So how has this holiday gone? Well perfect! Many different things have happened and others similar to Dashain.
First of all, say that Tihar consist of five days of followed celebrations, this is also called Diwali or Deepawali.
Although there are several stories of the celebration of Tihar, the most famous is the story of the god Yama (God of death) and his sister Yamuna. It is said that these brothers had been separated for a long time and, in an attempt to contact, Yamuna sent a crow, a cow and a dog to his brother. When she did not receive a reply, Yamuna visited Yama herself, bringing with her exquisite delicacies to honor her brother. Once together, she blessed him by putting the tika and a flower necklace, and Yama gave her presents and money.
The tihar is very important in Nepal because for five days it shows respect not only to humans and gods, but also to animals such as cows, crows and dogs. People make drawings in the houses or in the front yards with colored rice, flour, colored sand and flower petals, called Rangoli, to welcome the gods.
Decorate the houses with colored lights and at night groups of people come out to sing and dance. Every day something different is celebrated: the first day honors the crows, the second the dogs, the third the cows and Laxmi (the goddess of money), the fourth the oxen and the last day brothers are honored and venerated.
In Balmandir the day of the brother is the most awaited day of tihar. The boys sat on the floor forming a square that surrounded the girls. They drew small circles on the ground where they then put calendula petals and gave water to their brothers. Then came the moment when the sisters put the tika on the forehead of their brothers, one by one. The tika of tihar, unlike that of the Dashain, is composed of several colors placed vertically. Once the tika was put on, each child was given a flower necklace and given a box of sweets and nuts. At the end of the ritual each brother gave money to his sisters and everyone enjoyed family lunch.
Written for Guillem Pujol, volunteer at Bhimphedi Children Home’s
In the month of october takes place the biggest festival in the nepalese annual calendar, Dashain . It is celebrated all over nepal, just like Christmas in our country. But what is the story behind this festival?
This commemorates the victories of the gods against the demonds. One of the reasons of this tradition is because god Rama killed Ravana, the boss of the demonds. But he didn’t do it alone , since he was helped by de goddess Durga. who was the one who overcame the demond.
That is why the first days of the Dashain symbolize the fight between deities. Now, the goddess Durga is adorated like the deceased mother, offerings and sacrificies are made in her name.
During these days, everyone travels the necessary miles to meet at the family home and spend all these days together offering diferent things and making rituals for Durga and all her manifestations. For that, the Balmandir family couldn’t be less and we also celebrate Dasahin.
In the dining room everything was ready: a tray with rice mixed with flowers, a tray with pasta for tika- rice, coloring and yogurt- and only sprouds were lacking.
According to tradition, the oldest people of the family put tika to younger relatives to bless them abundantly in the coming years and give them Dakshina (a small amount of money), along with blessings. So Didi Maya started: she first took flowers and, as if she was baptizing, she scattered a little water over her heads. Then he tossed some rice with flowers on top and put the tika on the forehead, between the eyebrow and the eyebrow (where there is the third eye). Finally, they gave them a germ sprout wrapped in money. This was done onechild at a time, from the smallest to the oldest. And the great surprise was that she also did it to us! Then it was the turn of Surendra and finally, the Didi Belly.
During these holidays other rituals are also made, such as animal sacrifices. Normally we only eat “mass” (meat) on Saturdays night, which is the holiday day of the week. But during the days of Dashain “massu” is quite present in each meal. And the surprise was yesterday morning when Surendra arrived at the center with an unknown man . He had expressly come to sacrifice one of a goat, previously bought by Kush, a young boy from Balmandir.
We went wherever they were doing the ritual and, Basu helped by Ram under the eyes of the children of the house, began to peel the goat, clean it, spread it with an orange paste (which for what they have explained is to conserve and to give flavor) and to squash it. After removing the different viscera, the children helped to clean them.
The next day came the members of the Nepal Children’s Organization to put the tika and all together we took some pictures in the garden of the house.
Written for Guillem Pujol,volunteer at Bhimphedi Children Home’s
These last days Valeria visited us, she was one of the first volunteers who started Awasuka project. With her also came her mother and brother, with this opportunity and being the Dasahin days we made a lot of activities with the boys and girls of the house!
Then you can find a summary of those!
Trekking to Dorshin
The last Saturday and taking an advantage that the children had holidays of the school, we went to Dorshin! The trek was so nice and beautiful, it came all the children, babies and also the oldest and, at the end, we were waiting for a stunning surprise!
No less than good waterfalls to refresh up, after the exercise we had done and to be able to recover for the return!
It was a great experience that it will cost to forget .
Another activity that we did with Valeria’s family was a kitchen workshop, and what we cooked?
Well, we cooked a lot of delicious CREPS! In this case they were only the youth boys of the house who participated in this activity, because the youngest was still going to school and therefore they were in class.
But the children didn’t miss to try these delights, because Didis took them in their Snack Time directly to the school and still hot.
No matter how intense theses moments were, Valeria’s family has had to leave us to continue with their fabulous trip through Nepal. We hope you visit us again shortly and go all very well!
Written by Josep Mas, volunteer of the children’s home in Bhimphedi
It is monsoon time when the landscape acquires an intense shade of green and a scent of earth and vegetation. The plants in Bhimphedi valley grow at dramatic speeds, and the sound of the rain keeps you company all day long. How is life in Balmandir Chilrden’s Home with the arrival of the rainy season? Keep reading to know more about our activities, games and outings these days… and about the arrival of a new brother!
Despite the rain, there are sun spells every now and then, and the activity in Balmandir doesn’t stop! Let it be painting, playing, or making origami works…
There are also those who impatiently wait for the door of the computer room to be opened. Power outages happen on a daily basis, but as they say here, “ke garné!” (what to do about it!)
One of the trends these days are trolley strolls across the garden, something that everybody enjoys, and not only the kids!
But not everything is staying in Balmandir. Nature is all around, and rain is not an excuse for giving up on small outings! In fact, puddling in all possible ways makes the walk much more interesting!
Going to school is also much more exciting under the rain. Everybody hurries up to get hold of a raincoat or an umbrella before leaving, to avoid getting drenched from head to toes….
These days the river grows bigger and, when in calm, it’s an ideal place for a refreshing dip. There are skilled youngsters in Balmandir who don’t lack inventiveness to build a pool with stones and branches, where they can jump, dive, and maybe catch some fish…
If sun shies away as the afternoon progresses, a small bonfire by the riverside helps warming up before coming back to Balmandir, just in time for a good dal bhat meal!
But as you know, not all are good news during the rainy season. Monsoon also brings problems every year with transport, flooding, and landslides. Young Bikram, born in the vicinity of Bhimphedi, lost his parents and brother in one of these fatal landslides about a year ago. Nepali newspapers related about that episode of floods and landslides that took away the life of tenths of people across the country,
After a few months living with his grandparents, without enough resources to offer him a secure future, Bikram got into custody of Nepal Children’s Organization (NCO), who assigned him to Balmandir Children’s Home in Bhimphedi.
Here he started a new adventure, new house, new school, and a big family where everybody shares the conviction that whoever enters Balmandir becomes a new brother! This is for the good and for the worse, to share fun, games, some fights, and happy moments.
After a few weeks Bikram is already making himself familiar with Balmandir and its surroundings, catching insects, collecting plants, or climbing somewhere high with a good view from where to contemplate the valley of Bhimphedi. Who knows which new adventures are awaiting for him?
Another monsoon day grows older in Bhimphedi, as the music of the falling rain leads us once more to the world of dreams.
Writed by Vanessa Martínez Lozano at the children’s home
It was 20 years since the last municipal elections in Bhimphedi, and for this reason there was one week of official holidays. We took the opportunity that we had holidays again and that it was very hot to go to the river many days!
While small kids enjoy the river and learn how to swim, some of the big boys are fishing.
We use the walks to the river to take pictures of the plants and later look for information about them. The kids know a lot about local plants properties and they love to search for new plants.
When we return to Balmandir everybody works together on cleaning and cooking the fish.