Written by Marcel, Bhimphedi’s children home volunteer.
Last May 14th a tractor came to Balmandir to help us with the plugging of the kitchen garden. It was easier than ever!
The children were delighted by this visit and they were the whole time near the tractor looking how it was working. In fact, when it finished the work, without any hesitation, they mounted on it and began to play as if they were actually driving it.
This visit was a great help for us, because the corn that was planted has been growing and growing very much, we will have a good harvest this year, though you can not say till it’s done.
Meanwhile, the smallest of the house have prepared to the volunteers a delicious dish, they cook for us some kind of grass (“sagh” in nepali) that was growing wildly in some of the margins of the kitchen garden. The most delicious grass we have ever tasted!
Written by Joana Martínez, Bhimphedi’s children home volunteer
It´s been almost a month since I arrived to Balmandir and the kids started school after the April holidays. Here time flies! We all have started working with the new school year. With the younger ones in Balmandir (or not that young anymore…!), we have decided to go deep into the mysterious and unknown world of the dinosaurs. During few days the kids have discovered who those giant reptiles were: how they lived, what they were eating, which was their habitat, the different kinds and species that existed, the huge amount of years that have passed since they lived in our planet and why they were gone for good. We have colored masks of the scary Tyrannosaurus Rex, classified some of the best known dinosaur species, found out the meaning of several complicated concepts and recreated images of our favorite ones.
However… after bringing to an end all the activities we have an undeniable winner concerning the Jurassic world: Patchi, the adventurer triceratops who has won most of Balmandir children´s hearts over! If one walks around the kids rooms and common areas it’s hard to not to find hanging on the wall some drawing related to this friendly dinosaur, the main character of the documentary “Walking with dinosaurs”, such a hero to our explorers!
As we loved making small scientific and historical findings we decided to install a timeline in the study room in order to place all the things that children will learn: how the planets appear, which animals are the most ancient of the Earth, how the first humans were… But that’s for sure; Patchi and their companions will always hold an honorary place!
I have arrived to Nepal with the thrill of returning to a country that fascinated me. Newly arrived to Kathmandu I got some good news: I will share the trip to Bhimphedi with Dani (the coordinator of the children’s Home), Sujan (a kid who is in Katmandú for a dentist visit), Sarita, Susmita, Purnima and Samir.
Dani and Sujan already know well the way. so we follow them with our eyes and steps. The rest of us we will be in Bhimphedi for first time.
I’m happy to share the first moments with Sarita, Susmita, Purnima and Samir. waiting for the Jeep, a mango Juice, listening to them singing songs in the Jeep on the way to a beautiful but still unknown valley.
We arrived after three and a half hours, it felt short to me despite the warmth and the small space that we, 13 people, were sharing.
Just arrived to Bhimphedi, we were curious and anxious. We quickly felt the warm welcome and the joy on the air. We ate the dhalbat and went to sleep, looking forward to the coming brand new day to discover the place where we were and, the place that will be the new home and the family of the Fantastic 4.
Saturday, 6:30 AM: POM! POM! One of the best awakenings. I opened the door and I see Samir, Sarita, Susmita, Purnima with Dani giving me a Suba Prabat (Good Morning in nepali) and an invitation to go for a stroll around Balmandir… impossible to reject!
“Wooow! We are surrounded by mountains”, we strolled watching the buffaloes, the kids, the garden, the chicks… and on that ride we started knowing everyone; after just being able to sense their faces the previous night we finally could see them with the morning light.
A few days later here they are: playing in the slide and enjoying. They have already started at school, they work hard during the study time and they have their own favorite corners in the children’s home. They also help to prepare the snack on Saturday, they dance and sing in this new home with our new family here in Balmandir… and we’ll keep on walking!
The course is about to finish! On Monday, March 14th finals start in high school. And ten days later begin tests in elementary school. Sure, as the big brothers already are on holiday they will help small to prepare for exams.
This month when children finish their homework, they study. When they know a topic, they ask me to ask them to ensure they are able to repeat exactly what the book says. They are experts at memorizing, even things that have no idea they mean.
Ashish and Ramesh studying fifth course, if they pass the course they will study in public school next year. Although not entirely clear where the classes will be done because it is intended to demolish the building that was hit by the recent earthquake, to build a new school.
April 1st is the last day of exams for children, and then have a few weeks of holidays, where we’ll have big fun: celebrate the Nepalese new year, we will receive new volunteers, we’ll play new games that these volunteers will bring us, receive new brothers and we bid farewell to the older brothers who finish ESO this year.
For guys who finish ESO, Kul, Ashok, Jai and Sanu, these are very important dates as they will examine from the SLC (School Leaving Certificate) in Hetauda. These tests decide whether they can study high school or choose between vocational training or work. But these are also very important dates to them so that once completed these tests they will leave the shelter where they have grown for many years and begin a new stage in Kathmandu, Hetauda or elsewhere where they choose to study or work.
It is something that happens every year, but neither they nor we can avoid us to feel sadness when we think we leave the place and the family that has been living since childhood. But we will follow them closely, and certainly go very well.
Written by Isabel Valero, Bhimphedi Children Home volunteer
The big ones are the first to begin the exams in less than one week. To study it takes a lot of energy, so we came to mind to make a special meal. We know that children love eating, and if it is the food that they have cooked, better!
So, on Wednesday was holiday because of the Sherpa New Year Eve, and to make the most of the day we proposed the smallest to cook for everyone! One of the kids, Som, had cooked a very good pie for volunteers, and we encourage them to repeat the experience this time for all the children and staff.
A second after the proposal, children were already discussing which specialty prepare and telling us what ingredients we should buy.
So Dani and me with the two most excited children (Som and Santa) went to buy the ingredients that we hadn’t in the shelter:
3kg of meat
1 kg of eggplant
We called this dish as “homemade pasty” as Balmandir style.
Here you have the video explaining step by step the procedure:
Mix the flour with water and salt; and mix them together.
When they were preparing the dough they came to mind that they could accompanied the pasty with a tasty tomato sauce! So we had to return to the shop to buy three kilos of tomatoes.
Chopped tomatoes, a little cabbage, spices, chicken bones; all cooked in the fire to make a delicious sauce. And at two o’clock in the afternoon it was all ready to serve and eat!
ENJOY YOUR MEAL!
And after the meal, and again have energy to study for exams; come on! making the last effort of the year!
Written by Isabel Valero, Bhimphedi Children Home volunteer
Shivaratri or Maha Shivaratri means the great night of Shiva or the night of Shiva: it is a festival to celebrate the Hindu deity Lord Shiva. Shivaratri is celebrated on the 6th night of the dark Falgun (March) every year.
Mahashivaratri marks the night when Lord Shiva performed the ′Tandava′, a traditional dance. It is also believed that on this day Lord Shiva was married to Parvati Ma. On this day Shiva devotees observe fast and offer fruits, flowers and leaves on Shiva Linga.
At night, like the Sant Joan night, they lit big bonfires. So for two days the children and volunteers have gone to look for firewood for the bonfire to make in the shelter.
To make the party more memorable, the girls of the house decided that all girls, Didi and me wore the “sari” (the traditional gown). And so, while the boys prepared the logs and lit the bonfire we got the “saris” and it is not an easy task! All we had one in a different color. What joy!
Once all preparations were ready, everyone gathered around the bonfire to dance and sing while Didis or any of the guys made sound with “madal”, the percussion instrument typical of Nepal.
But it seems that was not enough in Bhimphedi these fires, they also wanted to coincide the “controlled” burning of the undergrowth. You can often see lines of fire in the mountains (which fail to burn the trees), but this time it is oute of control…
There is no festival in Nepal without a special meal for the occasion. For Shivaratri Didis prepared “halwa“, a type of mash meal, granulated sugar, milk, ghee (a type of butter), cashews, raisins and cardamom. Everyone went through the kitchen to go to eat some pieces, until Didis decided it was time to distribute it, and all had a binge of it!
Now there are two more days holidays: Women’s day and Gyalpo Lhosar or Sherpa New Year Eve (men of the east), a caste that is mainly in the eastern Himalayan Nepal. Children will use these days to study a little and especially be ready for final exams.
Written by Isabel Valero, Bhimphedi Children Home volunteer.
Children in Balmandir had already been warning some days ago that sports days approached, they went to play volleyball or jogging in the evenings when they returned from school, but I never thought this sport event was in the most stylish Olympics.
The last Friday and Saturday there was only a feeling of sport competitions. It was an annual event organized by the Sport district council. It was the first qualifying round of this event among the various institutes across the country. Bhimphedi was one of its four district in Makawampur. 10 different schools participated in Bhimphedi (24 possible schools that are located in 10 different towns).
On Friday there were no classes, and everyone was preparing to go for a run, jump, throw the javelin or playing volleyball. You were on the main street and all you saw was a lot of young people dressed in sports equipment ready and waiting for the moment they had to compete.
The event began on Friday at 11 am with a parade of all schools with their representative flags. They were competing until six in the afternoon. They started with the 100m and 1200m races, after the long jump, relay race, shot put, javelin and volleyball matches.
Some children in the shelter are qualified for the next phase: Saran was first in the 100m race, Love in the shot put and Sita and Aarati were classified in relay race . Now they have to wait 10 days to go and compete the final in Hetauda. That exciting! If they won in Hetauda, they should go to the regional competition in Chitwan, and then to the national competition in Kathmandu, but there’s high level and has been classified now is a great prize!
On Friday afternoon and Saturday morning there was only volleyball matches. The place chosen was the excellent sports field in Balmandir! So around noon everything was already finished, and as a gift for the shelter to cede space, gave us the sticks, volleyball net and ball for practice for next year.
After a half day of sport, everything returned to normal and the streets and Balmandir already returned to be with the family environment again.
Here you never know what will happen the next day, what will be the next thing happens in Bhipmhedi?
Written by Isabel Valero, a volunteer at the shelter in Bhimphedi
Everyday life here, as I think I said in an earlier post, is never the same. You seem to have only two things to do and suddenly you realize that you have been invited to celebrate the Sonam Losar, as the new year of the Tamang caste, you have to collect loose stone for the new outdoor kitchen being built or have to prepare a magic show, as happened with Rojan birthday.
Rojan loves the magic, always leaves us speechless with his card tricks and hands tricks! Friday was her birthday and Tonyo came to mind to do a magic show for all children in Balmandir. And so it was!
We spent a few days looking for easy magic tricks so he could do a part from those he had already knew and we were preparing them a few days earlier.
On Friday we rehearsed everything and secretly! We found him a magic kit, prepare all the material, and Rojan was getting more and more nervous! He had to make handkerchiefs, coins and people disappear! How we would be in front of everyone?
And how was it? It was perfect! Rojan has the amazing ability to improvise, disguise the nervousness, leave us speechless with his tricks and especially make us laugh, and a lot!
Here I leave a video with the tricks which he blow us away:
In Bhimphedi there is a public school that offers classes from first grade to tenth. And there is also a small community school that offers from kinder-garden till fifth grade.
We take the kids of the children’s home to the community school until it is possible, because the number of students per class is lower, and they make more classes in English and mainly because classes are much more regular.
Each year, the community school organizes at the end of the term a trip for children in fifth class, and therefore their last term in the community school. The day before, all children in fifth class and teachers prepared everything for the trip: they bought food and cooked everything can be prepared the day before and put the sound system to charge, nothing else needed.
The program was simple: the bus reserved for the occasion, go to Hetauda and visited three different places: first a temple (Kusmanda Sarobar), then another temple used as picnic place (Banaskhandi) and finally a children’s park (Puspalal Park)! Everyone is very excited!
In the morning the two kids from the children’s home who study in fifth grade woke up very early and got ready to go to town! At 07:40 they were already in school. But teachers send them back home and tell them to return once they have eaten dalbhat. Finally at 9:30 we left to Hetauda!
The first stop, Kusmanda Sarobar, is a curious temple in the middle of the river bed. Around the temple there are 108 cow heads shaped fountains. 108 is an auspicious number in Hinduism and Buddhism. Then we put them all a “tica”. And everybody made a wish to the ear of a small metal cow. And ready, we return to the bus to go to the next stop!
How easy! how simple! A small temple surrounded by a lot of fountains. An old man placing a colored dot on the forehead. A small metall figure and all students and teachers, delighted and happy! On the countrary spanish children can be bored visiting even the Alahambra…
But then things get interesting. To go to the next stop, we have to cross the river, and the bridge is under construction, so the driver without hesitation went through the river! The water enters through the door of the bus, but no problem, we move forward. This really has been exciting, and without planning, as the best things in Nepal.
The next place to visit, Banaskhandi, is a forest where there are several temples and some shelters for picnic. We spent there five hours. Eating, dancing, singing and taking pictures next to the temples. Many other groups of children and not so young also where doing the same.
When I say picnic, do not think of snacks of bread, no! They make a fire on the ground for rice, another for preparing fried vegetables and other to prepare the chicken (which in many cases chop in that moment. Change the environment, but not the menu.
When it’s 4 o’clock, and I think it’s time to go home, then in a flash, they pick up everything and return to the bus to go to the children’s park. The bus driver, who had also thought we were about to go back home, complains that the bus was only booked till 4pm. But despite complaining, he smiles and drives to the Puspalal Park.
When we arrived at the “children’s park” I understand why we go so late. It’s just a garden where there is a huge “pool” maybe it was built as fish hatchery. And there is now a boat. We pay the tickets, and they take us on a round on the boat by the pool. Everyone is very happy. It seems that I am the only one who has found it a little bit ridiculous as a children’s park… but I hide it and finally I also have fun!
Written by Isabel Valero, Bhimphedi Children Home volunteer
One thing I like to celebrate birthdays here is that we never held in the same way. And this month we have had a lot of them!
You can start the day with a “happy birthday!” and making tickled early in the morning to wake them up, or maybe you have to pursue some of the teens because they are ashamed of you go shouting “Happy birthday,” but it is a thing which makes you happy to any age!
Or maybe you have to say double happy birthday as twins Kush and Love, that drop a smile even bigger than they have, which is nota little thing!
And then there are the special and risky birthdays activities, as we did on the birthday of the smallest in Balmandir, Manuj.
Dani came to mind that we could make a treasure hunt throughout the shelter to find gifts that he had prepared (such as crayons, balloons, a little cap and gloves for the cold and a wood crocodile). But in the end we inspired and the treasure hunt was extended to the whole town!
We did a treasure map with marked places where he had to go. The mission was complicated when reaching places, he had to say “Hoy es mi cumpleaños” (in Spanish!) And if he said well, he got the present.
We picked up Manuj at 16h at the exit of the school and after telling him how the game worked we started to search.
Here in Nepal it is not very common doing a gymkhana, so it was quite fun to watch Manuj embarrassed going from one place to another, saying the sentence in Spanish. After spending over an hour and a half walking around the village in search of “treasures”, making a stop to make a tea at each house and eating all sweets offered us finally got them all the presents!
The birthday ended, without a doubt with Manuj offering candy to all the other children Balmandir!