The handyman of Balmandir

Written by Marina Viñas volunteer at the Children’s Home

The last three weeks we have been lucky to have in Balmandir our own “sparks”, Josep Maria. He has not stopped working even a second for the time he has been with us. He and his anti-mosquitoes uniform – green overalls and red hat – were always ready to work. Here there is always something to do. Often there are unexpected events that delay the easiest works and make them challenging and almost impossible. But with patience and persistence finally everything can be solved here, most of the times with the help of a hammer.

Some of the Balmandir doors did not close very well, because the door closers were damaged. After repairing them and add some news on the rear doors (without the help of any assembly instructions), now all doors open and close perfectly.

There were also some mosquito nets to fix or exchange. Mosquitoes also love to live in Balmandir, there are plenty of them. We do not know how to get rid of them, but at least we can prevent them to come inside the buildings. We are more than grateful, since we don’t love to be mosquito food.

As perhaps you remember, three weeks ago two new computers arrived in Balmandir. But… how to plug them? Our handyman made an extension of the plugs of the computer room. Now we can work five people at once, each with their own computer.

We also needed to extend the drainage of the water coming from the baths, kitchen and cleaning clothes because now the water ended up next to the toilets where lots of mosquitoes liked to stay. With the help of some collaborators Josep Maria extended the channel to take the water till the kitchen garden where the water can be useful.

Josep and Joana working on the water drainage extention


Water drainage extention


But water is needed for many things, and very often the tanks are empty. Why? Because the pump-motor has been spoiled. Balmandir water comes directly from the village network and is stored in a large underground reservoir. This water is distributed to other stores located above each of the modules using this pump-motor. Without this engine, children have to climb up the modules to connect the small deposits with the large underground reservoir using a small borrowed pump.

Josep incoming to the underground reservoir
Suction valve, in the underground reservoir


Ramesh Thami and Kiran connecting the small deposit of the kitchen with the large underground reservoir

To repair the pump-motor was one of the most resisted tasks for our own “sparks”. One piece was burned and had to be changed so he had to go to Hetauda. Once he got one new, and after installed it… the suction valve didn’t work!! Some moments of despair so the job done looked like it had been done for nothing. But finally the pump works again. We finally have water! But we have to be careful not to destroy the machine again (it cannot work more than half an hour). That’s why Josep Maria has made a wooden box that is closed with a lock that protects and controls the access to only a couple of people.


But when Josep Maria was fixing the machine he is totally astonished of seeing the electrical installation of the Children’s Home! In this country they do not know what a differential device is? nor even an earth connection??!! It seems incredible but true: nowhere are installed and it’s so difficult to find a store to buy them. But after spending a many hours we get them. Our sparks installed the differential and two holes were digged thanks to the help of some kids and volunteers. These holes were made to install the earth connection, one for the water pump-motor and another for the Balmandir electric installation. Here we learn many things. Do you know how an earth connection is made? Well, I didn’t know until now.

Earth connection of the water pump-motor
Earth connection of Balmandir electric installation

But this is not all. There was a project that excited Josep Maria more than others: repairing the swing. The legs were completely crooked, with a wrong inclination (that caused more than one accident) and the bearings were broken for long time. Ramon Coderch, member of Amics del Nepal, provided us with top quality bearings from Barcelona, so we were well prepared for the task. Two new holes were digged to straighten the left legs of the swing. Like everything, easy tasks don’t exist here. While digging one hole we found a metal pipe. We must take care to avoid a new problem. But finally we got it, the left legs were straightened legs and “sparks” have already installed the supports. Now we just need to put the swings and we can swing safely.

Previous to the reparation



Once repaired

Three intense weeks. Now we just have said goodbye to Josep Maria. We will miss him, to him, his green uniform and his hat. And his energy, that has made possible all this work. Thank you very much, Josep!