Happy New Year 2072 from Bhimphedi!

In early April in Nepal children finish the school course. Everyone, including those studying nursary make final exams. For one week students only go to school to make the daily exam. After finishing exams, holidays!

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Basu happy to be on holidays after scoring very good results in his class.

The Nepali new year begins in mid April. This year we start 2072, we celebrate it by eating chicken and and shrimp bread! And, of course, rice with lentils soup (no Nepalese is satisfied if he doesn’t eat Dalbat twice a day).

This year, all 28 children living at the Bhimphedi Children’s Home have passed the course. Everyone is very happy. Binita, one of the girls of the center, has been the first of the class (about 55 students), here they don’t care much about the marks but on the possition within the class.

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Binita, in holidays, cooking “rotis”.

Ashok S. is the only kid of the center who has finished class 10 this year, so he had to do SLC (very important exams for Nepalese students). To do this test Ashok moved to Hetauda for 10 days, living in the nearest town (they can not do the exam at the same school where they study). The results of these examinations will not be made public until the end of June, so Ashok has gone to Kathmandu to start a new stage in his life, now out of the children’s home. He has to think what to study, where to work, to meet interesting people who do interesting projects in the capital, and start making friends there; so Ashok will spend his holidays doing a course in EduLift (www.eduliftacademy.org) we will tell you how things are going for him!

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Ashok (left) leaving the children’s home to do the examinations after class 10 in the nearby city.

The other children, staff and volunteers of the center, we continue our daily life in Bhimphedi. One day we went to play cricket in Hetauda with children from other children’s homes, our kids were very confident about their victory, but after an hour and a half we were already out… “They were small but they were very good playing cricket!” say the our kids! “We do not ever play cricket and they had a lot of practice; we didn’t win because we have failed to make any point “balling” (no idea what balling means) and they have made twenty” they complain. And it is true, because since some weeks ago, the only sport they practice is basketball, but that we will explain in the next post!

We are also doing the usual work at the center, we collected all the potatoes and planted corn (lot’s of them for the animals and weat, and some to make pop-corn). We have also improved the entrance to the center, cleaned the water channel, cooked roti (a type of bread shaped crepe), practiced typing, planted trees and did other projects we will explain in future posts as well.

In early May the new year begins, here between course and course students don’t have very long vacation, but they do have, instead, many festive periods; in August nearly a month of holidays for monsoon, in October another month to celebrate Dashain and Tihar (most important festivals for Hindus), and many other festivities… I will keep telling you about many of them!

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Don’t worry, Manoj only has the bottle of beer on the hand to use it to flatten the mass of the “rotis”, what a chef!

 

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Some of the kids and staff cooking “rotis”.

 

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This group turn: helping in the kitchen garden.

 

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After recollecting the potatoes, it was time to plant the corn.

 

Holi, the Party of the Colours

Holi by Paula Minguell, Coordinator of the Health Projects of Amics del Nepal.

You can notice Holi is approaching, when the street shops are full of water guns and colour powder. During the previous days, kids would charge them with water and colours and shot anyone passing nearby. Although it wasn’t my first visit to Nepal, it was the first time I would celebrate Holi here. This festival after Dashain and Tihar it’s the thirdth most important celebration and one of the most enjoyed by people who have survived to it. So I decided it would be better to move from Kathmandu where we are working for the reopening of the Health Center that Amics del Nepal has, to Bhimphedi to enjoy the day with the kids of the Children’s Home.

Holi is a hindu celebration that settles the beginning of spring, leaving the long and cold winter behind. It is also known as the love festival, because as well as you leave winter behind, it is the moment to get rid of misunderstandings and bad feelings. The colour powders are used in honor to Vishnu, the god with a characteristical blue skin.

So I head to Bhimphedi with a big box of water balloons and powders of all colours. When we got there we found Mar, a volunteer, with a cold. “The kids have been throwing water balloons the whole day, and today was not a warm day…” she told us. And she warned us “Be prepared for tomorrow”.

Early in the morning, the kids were awake as usual but specially calmed, walking around the compound, with their hand in their pockets and angelical faces. We saw this weird behavior from the windows of the volunteer room (we are not ashamed to say we were a bit afraid) and we decided we wouldn’t go out of the building until we were well prepared with a good defense: a basket full of water balloons. That wasn’t really useful, as soon as we stepped out of the room water balloons started raining from all directions.

Once we where completely wet, we decided it was time for the colours and that’s when the real war started. The colours went from hands and water baskets to faces and clothes. Every time the recipients to throw the coloured water were bigger and bigger. Children running trying to avoid the water and balloons and colours kept flying through the air for hours. We went from green, to blue, to red and pink depending on the colour we were using at the moment. Even the staff got into the game.

And in this way we enjoyed the Holi, and also the days after as cold and paint accompanied some of us for some days. Anyway, there’s no way to be happier than listening the kids saying “Happy Holi” while they paint your face with colour powder.

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The dentist Sole in the Children’s Home

I`m Soledad Paredes from Chile and am a Dentist. I´m in Childrens Home Bhimphedi, for realize activities in promotion and prevention (as the first part) to introduce children in oral health.

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I have taken on Saturday is a day without school, to initiate activities.

We started with a competition to clarify three important concepts: that the teeth are used, How do we keep our teeth Healthy? and What foods are bad for our teeth?

Using posters they`ve made and cards with the concepts, we did a competition with two teams (male vs. female), to see who succeeds in placing him more concepts in the right question. Result of competition: girls have won and are very happy!

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After we perform different activities at different ages were conducted to show that we use to brush our teeth and we have also introduced new concepts to understand that we speak (fluorine, cavities, cavity, etc). The activities were: painting boards, join the numbers and wordsearch. With these last until the bigger they are excited, and the smallest have remained happy with the drawings.

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And so we have finished the day and the activities we had planned for two days have gone and asked for more activities for the next day. So a hit today!!!

Mar in the Children’s Home

A few words from Mar, a volunteer of Amics del Nepal in Bhimphedi

Once upon a time there was a little girl who wanted to know Nepal, it was her dream. When it came the time, she traveled again next to the window of the plane.
The impact was such that nothing it would never be like before.
After doing a bit of tourism in the country with two friends… she was all alone again. Again, but this time with fever. This time it was not in a tropical country, it was far away from paradise. This time she wanted to leave and go back home. A new kind of feeling.
But then, she arrived to Balmandir, “the temple of the children”. The objective was to cooperate helping 30 children of all ages, abandoned by their parents. What she did not know was that they will save her.

A month in Bhimphedi (a remote village in a hidden valley and away from the crowded Kathmandu) and it seems like I arrived here last week … when you are comfortable in a place, time flies. In Balmandir (Temple of Children in Nepalese) there is no time for boring, there is always something to do; crafts with children, helping in the garden, peel vegetables with “Didi”, playing volleyball with the oldest children, build a water channel, studying in the library, make games, hiking in the river…
I have traveled all over Asia, but there is nothing like Nepal. Struck me from the beginning and now nothing will ever be the same.

I leave you some pictures of these unforgettable days of winter!

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Shivaratri Day

The great night of Shiva is one of the most popular festivals of Nepal. It is celebrated for two thousand years ago. Shiva represents destruction, unbridled passion, sex, human misery, …. It is also related to fertility and, consequently, is also considered the god of creation. It is a popular Hindu festival in India and Nepal.

Like all Nepalese parties, there is no fixed celebration because they depend on lunar cycles date. Shivaratri it is celebrate during our February and “Falgun” for the Nepalese.

There are many stories about the origin of Shivaratri … and it’s a special day for women as those who are married tend to pray for the good of their men and children. Single asked to find a good husband. Most devotees stay awake all night.

One of the most interesting places is Pashupatinath (Kathmandu) It becomes a center of pilgrimage for the faithful. During this night hundreds of people come together in this temple to adore the god of destruction.
Hours and hours waiting for making offerings to Shiva. A bonfire is made and surprisingly, only during this night, it is permissible Cannabis consumption.

In the Children’s Home we had a great day together. Children and adults we went to the mountain to collect pine cones and wood for a bonfire at night.

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During the whole day we work to have the biggest bonfire.
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We spend a great day all together in Bhimphedi Valley.

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When was the moment of truth, we met together around the fire. It was a special night around the bonfire…

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Also, we enjoyed a different plate; The famous “Alua”… exquisites vegetables!

Working Teams

In Nepal Saturday is the only day off. But do not think that this makes the children to go to school more often or the offices to open more days than in other countries, on the contrary, there is always a good reason to take a holiday: a festival, a general strike, a competition sports, holding a summit…

Nepal is a relatively small country, it hardly reaches 30 million people, but it has a huge cultural diversity. To give you an idea of that diversity I speak, in the census was in 2011, it was determined that there were in Nepal 123 different languages as first language. You can also observe the various factions of the inhabitants, some Mongolians and other Indian… To respect this diversity of cultures in the Nepali calendar there is a long list of public holidays. Most festivals are celebrated only by one of the ethnic groups, and if you ask someone of another ethnicity he will most probably do not know the name of the festival, but anyway the schools and offices close.

So the mornings the children are not in school, we split into groups and each group is responsible for the cleaning and improvement of a different area of the children’s home. Last week the kids have had three free days: a festival and two strikes, so we have been able to do some work: improvement in the area of waste, cleaning of plastic and herbs, stones removal of the playing area, and the biggest challenge: creating a super-channel to carry the water from kitchen and sinks for washing clothes and hands until the end of the garden.

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The begining of the channel, it was always a quagmire.
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The water now flowing under the path.
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The channel surrounding the onion field.
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The channel going to the third level of the kitchen garden.
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And finally surrounding the potato field.

Till now every day there was a pool in the garden area and mud was made on the toilets’ way, we hope that it will work, at least for a while…

Are you sure they will give eggs?

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.

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Now we do have a chicken male!
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Not bad looking at all.

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!

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The first egg where Kul found it.
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Edu, the volunteer who has leaded the project, looks pretty happy.
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Kul shows the first egg to all the kids that come from the primary school.

Ducklings in our family

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!

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Ram on the tricycle, back to the center of Hetauda, after finding five ducks, which are in the box.
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The electric tricycle with which we go around Hetauda.

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…

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Binita and Maya didi take care of placing the ducklings in their new home.
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Today only older kids can enter the area of the animals.

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.

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Sumit brings a plate full of…
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… worms for the ducklings. Now the small kids deserve to enter to the animal area to see how the ducklings eat.
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Kush feeds the ducklings.
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The ducklings eating.
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Many people looking how the ducklings eat.

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.

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Team work to build the box for the ducklings.

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”!

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The three surviving ducks.

Internet at the Children’s Home – Second Part

Days pass and nobody calls us to go to Hetauda to buy the cable, phone and router. We begin to worry… But suddenly, a car stop at the entrance of the center, and two gentlemen say they have come to install the phone-line…

– But you bring the necessary equipment for installation – Ask a surprised Ram, the cook of the center.

– Oh, still haven’t you bought the cable? – asks an even more surprised technician.

– You told us you would call us so that we could go to Hetauda to buy everything you needed and then the technicians could come with us. – Assures Ram.

– How could we have called if we didn’t have any contact number on our papers? – Protest the technician.

– I gave my phone number – Ram answers.

There is nothing we can do now, maybe some other day we will be more successful… but at least we make the technician to tell us exactly what we need to install the phone-line: 120 meters of cable, a phone, a modem, a couple of line boxes (or something similar)…

– Sunday we will go buy everything! – Ram says.

– Uff, but we will not be able to come till next week, on Friday… – says the technician.

Ram protest a little bit. But I would be very happy if we get the internet connection next week…

On Sunday it rains, on Monday Ram has a meeting with “neighbours” (he lives on a mountain, in the middle of nowhere, I do not know who will show in this meeting…), Tuesday is a holiday, so on Wednesday we go to Hetauda to buy the cable…

After all the shopping we go to the office of Nepal Telecom to confirm that the technicians are coming this week. The bureau chief sees us there again and asks us if we have not yet Internet. “It can not be!” says flatly. And he asks for an explanation to the technician. The technician explains the misunderstanding, and says he will go on Friday to finalize the work. The boss asks “Why Friday? What work do you have to do tomorrow? Go tomorrow”, the technician says “Hunchha” (meaning “ok”), so he will come to install Internet tomorrow morning.

Friday morning the technicians come to install Internet.

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When they finish to connect the cable and equipment, we are asked to sign some papers, and then they will go to the office to activate the line. Signed, they leave, and after a while we have phone-line but no Internet… It was too good to be true…

After two weeks of repeatedly calling different employees of Nepal Telecom, ask a computer technician to try to solve the problem and even change the year, the head office of Nepal Telecom decides to send a technician “Thursday, Friday morning or Sunday. “Maybe someone will come Sunday, if we’re lucky…

Surprisingly on Friday they tell us that a technician is on the way! I just do not believe it until he reaches the center.

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After two hours, we have phone line and Internet. It seems that this 2015 will be a good year!

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The first website never opened in Bhimphedi Children’s Home.

From the Bhimphedi Children’s Home, through our new ADSL, Happy 2015 to everyone!

Santa Claus visits us

Miguel and Montse from Petit Món have come to visit the Bhimphedi Children’s Home. Petit Món is a Catalan Foundation, it has a Children’s Home in Jorpati, Kathmandu, called “Sano Sansar” among many other projects. It makes us very happy that they could finally come to visit us, but they brought still another surprise. At night, Miguel becomes Santa Claus! Although Nepal doesn’t celebrate Christmas that much, everyone recognizes the character at first glance and in a second the entire center is upsite down. Children come from everywhere, running with a huge smile on their face, to meet Santa Claus.

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When the kids are around a fire, suddenly Santa Claus appears.
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Santa Claus walks around the center, talking with everyone.
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All the kids want a picture with him, as if he was a Bollywood star.

Once we are all in the room, Santa Claus takes out of his bag plenty of paper cups containing candies for all boys, girls, didi and volunteers. There are of all flavours and even some chocolate! This gift was prepared by the Seolmi, a Korean girl living in Nepal (Thank you!).

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Santa Claus gives a sweet cup to Maya.
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He has sweet cups for everyone.
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Smiles.

Finally, when everyone has his candy cup. Santa Claus takes out a final gift from his sack: A projector! (donated by Andrea and Jordi from Terrassa). There is a ovation in the room. But just when the ovation is over, younger children ask older children in nepali “What is a projector?”, when the big boys explain, the second ovation comes, louder than the first.

Just after few minutes, the projector is already working to show “Chicken Run”, although the sound is not very good. But no matter, no child misses the first film of the new cinema. They don’t look away from the screen (a bedsheet) until the popcorn comes.

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Bhimphedi Children’s Home Cinema.
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Some kids and Montse eating popcorn.

A few days later the projector has a good sound system and it’s ready to project television, DVD, flash drive… From now, every Saturday, the only holiday of the week in Nepal (apart from a infinite number of festivals and holidays), we will watch a movie as if we were in the cinema.

www.amicsnepal.org/bhimphedi