Workshop by Mercè Vega Castellví, beekeeper and artisan.
This week we have been learning about bees. All the kids already knew that honey is produced by bees. But how does a hive work? How do bees make honey?
The first activity was prepared to differentiate the 3 types of bees: the queen, workers, and drones. Everyone draw his own bee.
We explained what is the work of each type of bee, and why the bees are important for the pollination. The second day we made a mobile to hang in the corridor. We began drawing working-bees and drones, flowers of different colours and hexagons for build the hive.
With this activity we showed them how wives’ bees are organized. At the central part there are the queen, eggs and larvae. And in the external part the honey and the pollen are stored.
But how do people extract honey from a hive?
Mercè had been a beekeeper and she brought some tools. They loved test them.
Finally, we did a mural with all what we had learnt about bees.
Written by Joana Alsina volunteer at the Children’s Home
In Balmandir, at six o’clock from the morning it’s the tea time for the biggest and the buffalo’s milk time for children. Five litters of fresh milk are bought every day, which quickly are gone! But we are in very special dates now and some of the biggest boys from Balmandir have gone to celebrate Dashain with their family so every day we can spare a few litters of delicious buffalo’s milk. Making mozzarella seemed too risky, so we decided to try to make yogurt.
Transform the milk into yogurt is not really difficult; you only need a portion of yogurt sample – which is needed to transform the milk -, a thermometer – to measure the water and the milk temperatures – and a yogurt-maker. Despite we have neither yogurt-maker nor thermometer in Bhimphedi, we still decided to try it.
Every day we take two litters of milk. Once it has boiled and while let it cool, we put another pot of water to the fire. This will works as a yogurt-maker. Once the milk cooled a bit – and we believe that it’s around 46 degrees – we add yogurt and stir it trying to avoid lumps. We fill in metallic glasses and put them in the pot with hot wather.
Then we cover it with a plate and we wrap all with blanket to keep the heat all night, like in a yogurt-maker.
The next morning, we open the pot and …. surprise, yogurt is done! We don’t use thermometer and for this reason they get different textures every day. We don’t like routine so it is fine for us. We keep them in the fridge until we have enough for every child. Every three days in Balmandir there is yogurt afternoon snack!
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.
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!
What do two Nepalis, a Catalan and four Basques do at 4 in the morning in a remote valley of Nepal?
We have a long walk up to Damar, where we are supposed to pick up our Bufala (bhaisi) and its male baby. It is clear, which makes the climb more bearable… and in Damar we are welcomed with a delicious tea, made with fresh buffalo milk.
Soon it appears… here begins the most interesting part of the morning: bring them down throw the long way to Bhimphedi without hurting them or hurting ourselves. Two hours later we arrive to Balmandir where children start shouting and running excited all around. They accompany them to their new home… and hug and squeeze the new baby of the family.
These past weeks we have been involved in preparing the stable for buffaloes and goats (bakhara in Nepali). The first thing we had to do was emptying the space that we would use as stable as it was full of wooden beams. Some of them were very long and heavy so we had to ask for help from prison workers. After Dani visited the prison at least ten times to ask for help, they finally came…
Two weeks later when the place was finally empty, we started with the reparations… and it seemed easy at first: one of the beams was broken, one of the pillars completely rotten, when replacing this one we had to move the one next to it, the metal sheet that made the back wall was set with the ripple backwards so that the water came inside, the roof needed fixes, making the door was not easy, we put an old unusable gate as part of the wall, we put six pillars to tie the buffaloes, a layer of concrete to smooth the floor inside and give inclination… Gradually the stable was taking shape. Meanwhile we also made a small extension to settle there the goats (previously we had ducks and chickens, and a dog with three puppies. This children’s home is becoming a farm!).
On the other hand, goats and buffaloes need grass, plenty of grass… so we used a part of the garden to plant grass: First we brought the ox prepare the land, then we removed all the remaining grasses and plants, and then we put the seeds. But then, to separate the area of grass from the garden area we needed a fence… so what better than to build it ourselves! We will leave this story for a future post …
So we finally have buffaloes in our farm !!
Nerea y Mikel
Long stay volunteers of Amics del Nepal for the Chindren’s Home of Bhimphedi and the program of reconstruction and improvement of the affected houses by the earthquake.
P.S. Did we tell you that Ricardo and Jorge came from Kathmandu the day before yesterday and brought 4 rabbits? Yes. In Balmandir we have also rabbits.
It’s been almost two months since we brought chickens from Hetauda, and although we have not got a single egg. Every morning we go to the henhouse full of hope and leave it with our hands in the pockets.
Didis tell us that if we don’t have a cock, hens will not give eggs very soon nor very often. Really? So we need a cock… but here they are so big and scary! After negotiating it with Kush, we decide to buy a cock, but not very grown up, we do not want him to break the peace of the henhouse.
For one cock is not worth going to Hetauda, so we buy it for 3 euros per kilo (the animals are not cheap here). We place immediately put him with the hens. The first day the cock is a little intimidated by these ten hens older than him that don’t stop biting him. But the next day they are already friends.
Now there is no excuse, We Want Eggs! If not, you all might end up together in the pot and served on Saturday Dinner!
Two days later Kul comes with a huge smile from the henhouse saying he has good news! We got the first egg!
Kush and Maya didi argue that having ducks would be a very good project: “Ducks eat rice and worms (no need to buy them food), they like water and therefore they will have no problems with summer rainfall (monsoon) and eggs are highly valued (three times more expensive than chickens’) especially Nepalese New Year, mid-April.
So this time we go to Hetauda with the mission of bringing six ducks, 2 males and 4 females. It seems a fairly simple task, but with the experience we had with hens, we don’t want to be overconfident, although we have been told of a place where they sell ducks.
We take an electric tricycle. Oh, it is farther than I thought, after 15 minutes we’re not there yet. Finally the tricycle goes in one way next to a huge pool. Ram tells us that it is a fish farm. At the entrance of what appears to be the office, a woman welcomes us. We ask where we can get our six ducklings. She looks at us as if we were asking for hummingbird chicks… but in every street in Bhimphedi or Hetauda chickens and ducks are walking all around… it can’t be that hard getting 4 females and 2 males… Ram insists that they must have ducks in this center, we have heard that someone had purchased some here… “No, we only have fish” she says…
We go back with the same tricycle stopping and asking. Everyone looks at us like we were asking for hummingbird chicks… I think we will not fulfil our mission today… What if we go again to the same place where we bought the chickens? 15 minutes more of electric tricycle.
We reach our destination and ask whether we can buy ducklings… Nothing, just like if we were asking for hummingbirds… how can it be so difficult? We enter to one of the courtyard, no one there, but from one corner 5 ducklings come running, all together. Oh! We go out excited and ask where the owners of the courtyard are (and what is more important, of the ducklings). From a dark room comes a didi. We almost have it! She says that chicks cost 175 rupees each (one euro and a half). “Deal! We take all five!” (we wanted 6, but 5 is pretty good!). “Oh, but how many of the five ducklings are females?”. Well… we can’t know yet¿? They are too small to differentiate … No matter, we put them in a box very fast before she can change her mind and we go back home!
We arrive at the Children’s Home and everyone is excited. To avoid stress for the ducklings, we don’t allow the small children come near the animals, so they have to watch from the distance. We put the ducks into their new home. I turn and I see none of the small kids… Maybe they got angry…
After a while one of the kids come with a plate. Behind him all the other kids with expectant faces. The child shows us the dish, it’s full of worms for the ducks! “Ok, you can come to see the ducks”. Kush, our expert on animals, feeds the ducks and the others look at it from the door.
But a few days later we realize that something is not right… two of the ducklings do not walk with others as they used to. They just sit and rest…
We only have three ducklings… Was it too cold for them? Perhaps they were too young to get wet… Or maybe we touched them too much… Children decide that ducks need a box like hens and from now on only Kush will take care of them.
Fortunately, two weeks later we still have three ducks, and they have grown a lot! I think they will give us eggs after some months! if there is any female… if not at least we will eat “duck à l’orange”!
After the arrival of hens and fixing the henhouse door, kids decide they want to further expand the family: Saturday we will go to fish! Kul and a couple of assistants repair the old eating place in the area of animals, to use it as a fish tank.
Saturday we eat breakfast, consisting of a huge bowl of rice with fresh seasonal vegetables and lentils (this is called “dalbhat”, all Nepalis eat it twice a day, and we are not exception), and we gather the expeditionaries to fetch the fish: 19 children and two adults, will it be enough to catch any fish?
In Nepal, winter is the dry season, almost no rain at all in half a year. So the river next to the Children’s home does not have water, and we go about 3km away, where there is another river with some water, near there is a small dam where children are convinced that we will find fish, and bigger kids will swim for a while in this wonderful sunny day.
Older children walk ahead, and once Edu and I arrive to the place the kids have already caught a few small fishes. After one hour, they have 10 fishes and three crabs. Now we eat the picnic and return home trying to leave no plastic behind…this will be more difficult than collecting the fish…
The cement of the “tank” is not dry yet, so the fish will stay in a bucket for a day. We leave the bucket at the door of the room of the volunteers, but the next day it’s not there! Weird… It’s 7 am and I go to wake up the kids with a “good morning”. I go room after room, some smiles and some sceptical faces not believing it’s already time to wake up. In one room, surprise, I find the bucket with the fish. One child say “it’s too cold out there” … Okay, but today we put them in the tank.
Finally time tells us the kid was right… one day after putting them to the fish tank all the fish are dead! Some have jumped out of it, other lie inert… Small failure… Why has this happened? Children make their hypotheses: the water is too cold in this tank, or perhaps we should put a net so they can’t jump out, or perhaps the cement needs some extra days to get dry…
We decide to forget the project until it’s not so cold, but in the same evening kids have already another idea. “This idea is really good!” they say. Even one of the caretakers, Maya didi, looks eager for it. We have to bring ducks!
Hetauda is about 20 km south of Bhimphedi. Bhimphedi is still in the mountains, but Hetauda is already at the entrance to the plains of southern Nepal. This area, which in some regions the forest, elephants and some tigers are still preserved, is known as Terai. We take the 8am bus, and just over an hour later we are already there. We’re very lucky because Bhimphedi is the first bus stop, so we can find a seat (although knees hit the seat in front, even though we are not very tall…). There are thirty people sitting in the bus, but in the corridor there are thirty more… the more people enter in the bus, the more comfortable our seats seem. The “kalasi” walks through the crowd collecting the money from all the passangers. Everyone just seems confortable! it’s a common day, “garné ke” (Nepali expression that means “what to do”).
After about fifteen minutes walk from the bus stop, we arrive to the hens “shop”. They show us some chicks, but they tell us the chicks are all booked… In any case we do not want chicks, because it would take months them to grow and give eggs, plus the risk to die in the cold nights. Then, they show us some chicken with the perfect size. But after a while they say they are just for meat. Why can’t we use them to get eggs?? They are all cocks… It seems today we will not succeed…
Finally, when we were about to lose all hope, they bring us to another house, and yesssss! They have some young hens, about three months, only a month to give eggs. They are big and strong, we will take ten of them! It’s two euros per kilo. We tie them from the legs and we go.
In the next house we buy some food for hens, we put it all in one electric tricycle, and we go to the bus stop! The poor hens will still suffer quite a lot before they reach their new home, but once there they will have a couple of years to be happy, well-cared and provide eggs for our children.
After leaving the chickens near the bus station we go to do some shopping. We have to use the days we go to the city. We buy three bags of rice husk in the mill so the hens can be very comfortable. We buy seedlings of onions and we go to the Hetauda office of Nepal Telecom to request for the installation of phone line and Internet, but that is another story…
Finally, we head to the bus stop, we load the hens and sacks on the roof of the bus and we sit at our reserved seats. After an hour of a bouncy road (poor hens… will they be alive?) we reach to Bhimphedi after a long day in the city, without having had time even to eat (neither we nor hens). In the Bhimphedi “bus stop” there are 7 eager children ready to help with all the load and bring it to the children’s home. At the door of the center, the younger children receive us shouting: “kukhura aayo!” the hens have come!
So fortunatelly the hens arrive home healthy and save. Kush brings them some water with sugar so they can slowly recover, and he leaves some feed so they can eat when they are strong enough. The Edu’s torch will be with the hen tonight. From tomorrow they will start the routine. Let’s hope that within a month the hens will start giving us eggs!
Everyone is very happy with the success of the mission. Kul, one of the most helpful kids in the center, ensures us that they will fix the henhouse with some more cement. And younger children of the center, who are very eager with the new “farm” are already thinking about the next project! But I do not spoil anything, you will have to wait for a while…
The henhouse is ready, but we have to think about what they will eat as well. We need crushed corn. Fortunately we collected some few months ago from our kitchen-garden and we left it drying in the attic of the volunteers’ house.
Shelling the cobs, cleaning the grain, bringing it to the mill. It’s not as fast as it sounds…
Hens will also eat the organic foodwaste and a little bit of mixt-cereals that we will have to buy.
Everything is ready to welcome the hens. Everyone is eager and excited, tomorrow we will go to Hetauda to buy hens!
Before the hens come we have to have ready their home. We have a space that is very appropriate in the north part of our land. There are three houses where some time ago thre pigs lived. Two of thte houses are quite demolished, but one remains standing, just like the story of the three little pigs. Next these pigs houses there is another house, a little bit bigger, it just needs a door and a few minor improvements. We decided to use this 5m2 house to accommodate our future hens! So let’s work!
Edu, with the good help of Papu, begins to build a door out of nothing. An old bed frame, a hammer and a few rusty nails become miraculously a door frame. Then, with a plywood and a piece of metal net, they build a door foxproof and hopefully childproof as well… because none of the kids misses any of the project events, and some children are very curious and some times some things are broken.
The older kids, eager to work on the project, find in the store-room a bag of sand and another of cement (left over from old reparations), and start working to seal the frame of the door and put a patch to the henhouse.
Meanwhile, Edu has already learnt to love to work with rusty nails, wooden slats and rickety chairs, and he has already built two boxes where the chickens will feel very safe to lay their eggs.
Advantage that we Hetauda, the city closest to the people, to bring a child to become a medical test and buy all the materials we need to take a manger and buy a water dispenser. The chicken is now nearly ready!