All posts by marinavinas

“La primera pel quinto i per tothom …” in balmandir becomes more than a game

Written by Marina Viñas, volunteer of Bhimphedi Children’s Home.

“El Quinto” – also known as “la Quina” – it’s a typical Christmas game in some catalan regions. Since September in Bhimphedi we are working to get all ready for the special annual session organized by “Amics del Nepal” and the S.C.R. El Ciervo de Sabadell that will take place on January 7th. The benefits of this special session will go directly to balmandir and our kids will make one of the games even more special.

The broadcasting team: Samir, Purnima, Raju, Manuj and Sarita.

First of all, for those who don’t know anything about “el Quinto”: How does it work? Each player has a card with 90 numbers (from 1 to 90) randomly distributed in six squares of five columns into three lines each one (so 15 numbers each square). The first player who fills one line shouts QUINTO and. later, the player who fills a square shouts PLENA. The person who says (or sings) the numbers is called Lloro (parrot).


What do we mean when we say it’s going to be an special game? As it happened in the last two years, the balmandir kids are going to be the parrots of one of the games!

We put the 90 numbers – made with paper – inside a plastic bottle. I asked the kids – one by one – to do as a parrot while I recorded them helped by Rojan. But it had to be in Catalan! It was not an easy work: “it’s so hard!”, “I don’t know how to say it”… In the home there are 26 kids so each one had to say 3 or 4 numbers. But slowly they started to enjoy doing it and at the end I got all the numbers (“at the end” means that it took me three months!).

Rojan trying to remember how to say the number 14: “Sant Magí, Sant Majà, tinc caguera i no puc cagar!”. Easy, isn’t it?
We can sing the numbers in any place,

It’s the third year that kids are asked to do this job so the questions quickly started: “Why do we do it?”. “How does this game work?” They were curious about the game and fortunately I had put some cards inside the suitcase (thanks to S.C.R. El Ciervo of Sabadell for giving them). So we started playing with the youngest kids in the “English version”, achieving to remove the mix-up between 13 and 30, 14 and 40, 15 and 50… We have a new tool for the study! Using this game we also did some maths: additions, subtractions…

First quinto sessions in balmandir

The elder kids have also played quinto but in the “Spanish version”. We’ve been doing Spanish classes for some months and we thought it would be a great idea playing “el quinto” in spanish to practice the numbers. At the beginning Ashish, Kush and Lov (who are advantaged students) translated the numbers to Nepali. But after playing, playing and playing,  even Kamal and Ramraj dared to act as Parrots singing the numbers themselves. Great!

Spanish version of quinto. Ramraj was singing the numbers that time!

“El Quinto” becomes more than a game in balmandir. You can play with us on January 7th at the S.C.R. El Ciervo (C/Viladomat 26, Sabadell). See you there!

Nor castanyada or Halloween. In Balmandir we celebrate Tihar

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.

The “Rangoli” of Balmandir
Manoj doing garlands




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.

Didi Beli preparing all under the attention of Purnima, Sarita and Susmita



PS. We can not lie to you… we didn’t miss the opportunity to eat some chestnuts to celebrate the “Castanyada” either.


“Els Atrapasomnis” in Balmandir

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.

Jordi Masferrer and Laura Mas

If you want to know more about Atrapasomnis this is our  website:

The birth of a new project: NEPCAT connection

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?

From left to right: Bishwo, Ashish, Samir and Manoj. The first group to send email.
Purnima, Raju, Ramesh and Sushil writing one of the e-mails

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…

Sixth B class from the “Col·legi Mestre Pla” (Castellar del Vallès)

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.

This is just the beginning

Dashain lagyo

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.

Maya begins the ceremony with Susmita, Sarita and Purnima
Krishna putting the tika to Samir
Belly putting the tika to the Balmandir and Awasuka volunteers
We also put the tika to the Balmandir kids

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.

Peeling the goat


Washing the intestines

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.

Ramesh Syangtan making one kite

Happy Dashain !!

Dashain is coming

Written by Marina Viñas volunteer at the Children’s Home

Since the beginning of the month all is being prepared for the most important festival held in Nepal, Dashain. The translation would be “10 days”. Two weeks ago the older kids of Balmandir wanted to go to the tree to catch some leaves. Going to the tree to catch some leaves? It seems like an excuse just to go doing a tour. The next day we understood why they wanted to go to the tree. From Balmandir we can see a beautiful tree in the opposite mountain, on the other side of the river. It is a majestic tree from which there are magnificent views of Bhimphedi. There they managed to collect some leaves that Didi Maya needed to make the dish / tray where some seeds are germinated for 10 days. On the eleventh day germinated is used to put the Dashain’s “tica”.

Didi Maya preparing the “tica” dishes
Dishes already finished
Didi Maya prepares the tica’s germinate while Som looks attentively

The smallest of the house have spent the last week doing greating cards. With colored paper, scissors, glue and imagination they have made beautiful postcards with his best wishes to the teachers of the school.

Preparing the grating cards

On Thursday morning …. all the kids woke up with a smile on his face. “Today is the last school day!!!”. The classes ended at noon and holiday began. This morning we prepared a night game with the help of the oldest boys of Balmandir (they already finished the school). In the evening we wanted to give yogurt for dessert to celebrate the beginning of the holidays. But …. monkeys have stolen the Maya’s keys and we can’t open the fridge !!! We can’t take yogurt !!! This was the beginning of the story. After winning several games, we got a map with the key location. We went into the darkness of the night to recover it and be able to eat the yogurt. Mmm!!! A great holiday’s beginning.

Ramesh drawing the map
Rojan and Ashish preparing one of the games
Ramseh Thami and Manoj trying to win one of the games
Ramesh Thami is the winner
Can we untangle?
Deciphering the mapa

On Saturday morning … well, morning, morning … rather we should say the early morning from Friday to Saturday. At 3 o’clock in the morning we were prepared for the traditional tour to the temple, the tour that they usually do every early morning in the 10 prior days to the “tica’s day”. With some of the BAlmandir kids and Krishna (the director) we went up. Up, up, up … we didn’t think it was so much above. After almost an hour of walking and coming across groups of people who already returned, we reached the temple. Once there, three rounds to the temple, a bell ringing and a hot tea to regain strength before returning to Balmandir.

The temple
The morning people

And today, three days before the “tica’s day” (the most important day of Dashain), they have reached gifts. Like Christmas at home. All the kids in Balmandir have new pants or shoes. Like it is said: a picture is better than thousand words.

Happy Dashain !!

The gifts
Everybody is ready to recived the gifts
Krishna giving the gift to Kiran
The new shoes of Bishwo
The new jeans of Sarita
Manisha drawing a hena tatoo to Sarita
And that’s the result

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!




Celebrating the Children’s Day

Written by Marina Viñas and Joana Alsina, volunteers at the Children’s Home

14th of September was the Children’s Day. A general knowledge quiz was prepared in the primary school and the Ramesh Thami team was the winner. It was a nice present for his birthday.




Ramesh team, winner of the general knowledge quiz

A gymkhana prepared by Krishna – the Balmandir’s director – was prepared for the return of the children from the school. There were different kind of games depending on the age. The first one was “hit the pot”: one stick was in the middle of the football field with an iron pot upside. Each blindfolder player had to touch the pot using a stick. There were some players that just went along, others went far from the pot and few of them get it easily. Even  Ram (the cook) and Maya (didi) tried it.

Hit the pot

After that, it was the time for the younger children. They were ready for the bag race, ready to start with the whistle signal. Some fell halfway but others continued jumping until finish the race.

The next game was the apple ones: children must eat the apple without using their hands.  The last game was the spoon-bowls race that Purnima won.

Ready for the bag race

When the gynkhana had finished, the party continued with the football final and the Ramesh birthday celebration. After dinner, we prepared good desserts and presents for the gymkhana winners, and Ramesh also had his birthday’s present. A good ending to celebrate Children’s Day.

Football winner team: Sujan, Prabhat, Sushil, Kamal, Krishna and Santa.