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Social Endeavours Nepal

SHORT STORIES from NEPAL


August 2014

Kathmandu during the monsoon season is not the ideal time of year to visit this
intriguing city. The temperature hovers around the 35Celcius mark, with hot and
humid air. For a westerner, such as myself, this makes for hours of discomfort
through excessive perspiration. A cold shower is just a short interlude before the next
period of discomfort!

But despite the heat, humidity, air pollution, noise pollution from thousands of
motorcycles, micro-buses, trucks and a myriad other forms of transportation, life goes
on. Unless of course there is a strike (bandh) or a visit from a foreign dignitary as
happened at the weekend when the Indian Premier Morsi made the first visit to Nepal
by an Indian PM for many years. With his visit, chaos ensued with the police
banning micro-buses from some of the main thoroughfares connecting important
districts of Kathmandu, meaning that everyone was compelled to walk for kilometres
through the city in the hot weather, to reach their destinations. I am hazarding a
guess that now the Chinese PM will shortly also want to visit Nepal!!!! But despite it
all, life goes on and I have thus occupied myself with numerous Social Endeavours,
one of the first being:-

CLOTHES FOR DISADVANTAGED CHILDREN

Social Endeavours Nepal posted on its Facebook page in May, details of an appeal
for funds to buy a set of clothes for each of the 24 children in the class one of the
Tashi Waldorf School in Kathmandu. The majority of these children comes from
economically disadvantaged families who struggle to put food on the childrens
plates each day, let alone find the necessary rupees to purchase clothing beyond the
one outfit that most of them possess.

On the suggestion of the class assistant teacher Shanta, it was decided that Social
Endeavours Nepal would try to raise sufficient funds to purchase a new outfit for
each child. The appeal raised the magnificent sum of Nepal rupees 20,000 (about
US$200 - Aus$225 - Euro160 - GBP125) This was sufficient for the class teacher
Nima Sherpa and Shanta to visit the massive undercover market in Kathmandu to
haggle for a couple of hours with the market traders to get the best prices for a long-
sleeved cotton shirt, long pants, underwear and socks for each child for the cooler
autumnal weather commencing in October/November.

2.

The outfits were handed out to the children towards the end of the school day on the
Monday, amidst much excitement. It was expected that parents would safely store
the clothes for the autumn! However, much to the astonishment of Nima and
Shanta, EVERY child arrived at school the next morning wearing their new clothes,
despite the heat!!



Nima and Shanta are extremely grateful for the kindness of the donors who made
these purchases possible. Social Endeavours Nepal also expresses sincere thanks
for your kindness and generosity.




Watch the short video on YouTube: http://youtu.be/W8wEgCtFmHQ

3.

Tashi Waldorf School Healthy Eati! "ro!ra#

In the late 1990s, Israeli Steiner-Waldorf teacher Meyrav Mor spent time in
Kathmandu that resulted in her helping to establish the very first Steiner-Waldorf
inspired kindergarten at the large state orphanage known as Bal Mandir, located in
an old royal palace which had long since fallen into disrepair. From these first
humble beginnings, Mayrev was inspired to go further and was instrumental in
founding Nepals first Steiner-Waldorf school in 2000, the Tashi Waldorf School.
Both of these projects continue to thrive close to the city centre and the Tashi
Waldorf School has this year (2014) added its first class four.

I have visited the Tashi school several times over the past years, but it is only during
visits during the past 12 months that I have really become aware of the highly
commendable Social Endeavours carried out by this small school and the dedicated
team of teachers and staff. The above described Clothes for Disadvantaged
Children is one such example. A further social project is what I term the Healthy
Food Program. In school, it does not have a nameit just happens as part of the
norm!

Sitting-in on the class one Main lesson, I was really surprised when after the school
bell was rung for mid-morning recess, ladies from the school kitchen entered the
classroom bearing two large jugs of hot milk and a large bowl of mangoes!
Children hastily distributed the class drinking mugs and bowls to receive this
largesse!

Obviously, I enquired of the class teacher Nima Sherpa for clarification about this
sharing of such a healthy snack with the children. Nima explained that it was the
schools policy to ensure that all the children received not just nourishment for their
souls through the education provided, but also just as importantly they needed to
receive healthy nourishment for their physical bodies too! Thus every morning at
10:30 all children were served a beaker of hot milk and fruit (mango, banana,
applewhatever was in season). I was impressed!

Remaining at school for the remainder of the morning, I was in for another
surprised!

Lunch-break is at 12:30, so I expected the children to go to their back-packs to fetch
their packed lunches! Instead, all children left the classroom to wash-their-hands.
On returning to the classroom, 2 or 3 children begun to distribute metal plates and
spoons to each child seated at their desks!
4.

Within a matter of minutes the kitchen staff reappeared bearing large bowls
containing steaming boiled rice, a healthy looking mix of mildly curried vegetables,
with a third bowl containing the Nepali traditional dahl (a thin gruel containing
protein-rich lentils). Lastly, there was a bowl of freshly prepared vegetable salad!

Nima and her assistant Shanta served each child with an ample portion of the hot
food, whilst a child served a small portion of salad to every child. Not one
complained at having to eat raw vegetables!!!

When I looked at what can only be described as massive helpings of food, I
wondered where the children would put it all! But within minutes, the plates were
clean and a queue formed for equal amounts of seconds! I was still struggling to eat
my modest western sized helping!! I commented to Nima about the amount of food
that the little ones were able to devour. She explained that this was for many of
them, the main meal of the day. They would not get much to eat after school. The
Tashi policy is that as long as a child was hungry, then he or she could have as many
helpings as were available!

I marvelled at this wonderful Social Endeavour. Later I enquired of the
Administrator as to the cost of the program and was informed that Nepali rupees
90,000 (Euro710) was required each month to carry this all important endeavour.
Or stating that figure another way: 30 sponsors at Euro25 per month would ensure
the programs continuance!! Its continuation is in jeopardy because of financial
restraints! See the short video on YouTube: http://youtu.be/20jLzlUNENQ


In the kitchen! May I have some more?

To donate, contact (Mr) Hem Rai at tashiwaldor@wlink.com.np or simply send
donation to my Social Endeavours Nepal PayPal account via
socialendeavoursnp@gmail.com (Please identify your gift as: Tashi Food Program)

5.

Nisha is $lessed %ith a S&osor''

Pleas for financial assistance are commonplace here in Kathmandu and it gets to the
point where one tends to close ones ears. Not because one does not wish to help, but
rather one lacks the wherewithal to do so. The perception of westerners in Nepal is
that we are all extremely wealthy and are fair game for a donation, a loan or to beg
from! Often those asking for such help are genuinely in need, such as a mother with
a young daughter. As so frequently happens in Nepal, wives are deserted by their
husbands, especially when she appears to be only capable of producing daughters
rather than a son!

But first a brief clarification of the term marriage as applied in Nepal! The Nepali
are a proud people with a strong moral culture, so co-habitation, as accepted in the
Western world, is frowned upon! If a couple desire to live together, then nothing less
than a marriage will do and thus young girls are generally married off by the age of 18
or 19 (or even younger in the remote villages!!)!

But the intriguing thing about these marriages of convenience, as I believe is the
best way (or polite way) of describing them, can be nothing more than a husband (if
he can be called such!) dabbing red tika on the girls forehead and she kneeling
before him for a blessing. There may or may not be a further ceremony. That is
optional and dependent on financial status! So the pair are husband and wife!
Well, not legally because the marriage has not been registered with the central
District Office in their particular home district!

In short, it boils down to the pair co-habiting just like westerners, but with full
societal approval!! However, if the husband leaves his wife (and child), there is
no recourse to the courts,. No maintenance payments, nothing! The deserted girl is
literally left holding-the-baby Even if the tables are turned and the wife deserts the
husband (generally for good cause such as marital violence!!), she is still left
holding-the-baby!!

Such was the case with Pushpa, an attractive 24 year old with her now, almost 4 year
old daughter Nisha and elder sister Arpana age 9. Not having attended school,
Pushpa is virtually unemployable. She is shunned in her home village because her
husband (bless his heart!) has deserted her for another woman. It must be Pushpas
fault for not being attentive to all her husbands needs, for why else would he leave
his wife? Such is the culture in Nepal, especially in the villages.


6.

Leaving her elder daughter Arpana with her parents, Pushpa travelled with her
youngest daughter Nisha to Kathmandu in the hope of a better life. Finding shelter
with her physically challenged (totally blind) aunt Sushila (who happens to be
Shantas mama!), Pushpa took up permanent residence there about 1 year ago. It
continues to be an enormous struggle, as the aunt is penniless, her only income being
from begging and what Social Endeavours Nepal (S.E.N.) can afford to give her
from time to time.

Time and again, Pushpa has asked S.E.N. to find a sponsor for her daughter Nisha.
Now that she is of school age, I assured Pushpa that S.E.N. would do what it could to
find a long-term sponsor, but that she not have too much hope of success. That was
on Sunday, 3 August 2014!

On Tuesday, 6 August 2014, I had an appointment with a friend in Thamel (the tourist
centre of Kathmandu). On her way to meet me, my friend happened upon a lady
from her hometown in Germany. They got talking and the outcome was that the
lady (now known as Christine.E. from Berlin) accompanied my friend to meet me!
As part of our general chit-chat, Christine asked me what I was doing in Nepal. I
explained my involvement with Waldorf education and other activities, mentioning
only very casually about Pushpa and her child Nisha!!

To cut a long story short, Christine has stepped forward as Nishas sponsor, having
met the child, her mama Pushpa and blind aunt Sushila in their very basic one-room
dwelling in Kathmandu on Sunday, 10 August 2014! I marvel how events like this
unfold. The Powers That Be DO move in mysterious ways! It took just 7 days
from S.E.N. undertaking to find a sponsor, to Christine making a firm commitment!

Nishas immediate future is thus financially secure for the immediate future with a
sponsorship of Euro35 (equivalent to NRs4500approx) per month. This will buy
food and clothing for the child, as well as going towards the room rental, with even a
little to spare for a very modest school fee in a government school!! Shanta was
present at the home visit (with Christine) and suggested that perhaps we could go
further! Wouldnt it be nice if Nisha could be enrolled in the Tashi Waldorf School
Kindergarten!! Hmmm! Now theres thought!! Lets ask!!






7.

Nishas mama was happy to visit the Tashi Waldorf School and was impressed
enough to want Nisha to be enrolled. From the sponsorship, Pushpa was able to offer
a meagre Rs300 (of the close to Rs1000 monthly fee) to the school administrator. Her
offer was graciously accepted and after due registration, arrangements were made for
Nisha to be picked-up next morning by the school bus and have her first day in the
kindergarten.

One can only imagine what an experienced this must have been for little Nisha when
one bears in mind that she lives in one room with her mama Pushpa. Pushpas blind
aunt and the aunts youngest son!

Nisha has no toys, The last doll she had was stolen by a playmate where she
previously lived. There are no young children for her to play with in the present
abode. So one can perhaps well imagine the joy that Nisha had on her first day in
the kindergarten with friends to play with, not to mention aesthetic toys and natural
materials to engage with.

In the Waldorf kindergarten there is no formal schooling, although to placate
concerned parents, the class does learn the ABC and numbers up to 20!! But there is
no ROTE learning, no Homework and definitely: No Pressure-Cooker learning!

With help, there would be many more children in Nishas situation whon could
benefit from Steiner-Waldorf education either at the Tashi Waldorf School in
Kathmandu or at the sister school Maitrya Pathshala Waldorf Inspired School on the
northern city of Pokhara (see later article).

If you wish to support either of these two wonderful social initiatives, contact Social
Endeavours Nepal at socialendeavoursnp@gmail.com for further information. To
make an immediate donation, visit Social Endeavours Nepal PayPal account via the
same email address and make your gift. Please identify your kind gift as either for
Tashi or Maitreya



8.

$lid S(shila also eeds a )id s&osor'

Like so many stories in Nepal, Sushilas is as sad as sad can be! Blinded at age 5
after a bout of typhoid. The resulting blindness could have been prevented if her
parents had sought medical assistance, but they were too poor to do so. At age 14
she was married to an older Nepali who commuted between his work in India and
his home in Lamjung, Nepal. Sushila kept house for him whilst he was away and
was available for his convenience on his return to Lamjung. At the age of 18, she
conceived her first child (Shanta), followed bi-annually by two sons.

When Shanta reached the age of 5 years, she relates that her father returned from
India accompanied by a womanhis new wife. His first action was to literally
throw Sushila and his children out of his home to fend for themselves on the dirt
tracks connecting the numerous villages. In this manner, Sushila was forced to live,
begging from village to village carrying her children with her and led by 5-year old
Shanta.

Time moves on and her plight becomes known to social workers in Kathmandu and
arrangements are made for her and the children to travel to the city where they are
afforded accommodation in a centre financed from Germany that cared for people
challenge with leprosy and other physical ailments. Life had definitely taken a turn
for the better!

Whilst at the center, Sushila met a nice man who was also challenged with blindness.
Shanta relates that he was a lovely, kind papa! Papa was a talented musician and
gained employment at a prestigious hotel in the district of Gaushala, entertaining
guests with traditional Nepali music. His success enabled the happy family (Sushila
and Papa had married) to move into their own simple one room rented
accommodation. Shanta begun to attend school for the first time. The future began
to look promising!

However, one evening on his way home from the hotel, Papa was attacked, robbed
of his earnings and brutally murdered. Initially Sushila thought that he had lost his
way, but by the following morning when he had still not returned home, the police
were informed. Two days later his body was found. Formal identification by a
relative was necessary. Sushila was blind, thus young 8 year old Shanta had to attend
the morgue and identify her loved Papa!


9.

The bereft family continued to live in their room until the meagre savings were
exhausted, forcing them back onto the mean streets once again, begging from tourists
and passers-by. Fortunately, the German NGO stepped in once again and offered
Sushila menial work in one of the workshops. This lasted for a couple of years
before changes at the NGO resulted in Sushila being informed that there was no
further work or support for her. This was in early 2012. Since then, Sushila has
survived on hand-outs, from begging and from the irregular support of Social
Endeavours Nepal.

Sushila, now aged about 39, lives in her one room (approx 3.5 metres x 7 metres)
which triples as living room/kitchen/bedroom for herself, her youngest son Deepesh,
niece Pushpa and her 4 year old daughter Nisha. Life is a struggle. There is no
regular income to the household, apart from the recent sponsorship of little Nisha.
Sushila desperately needs regular sponsorship to brighten her life. S.E.N. cannot
contemplate such regular sponsorship from its meagre resources as there are other
pre-existing commitments to be honoured. Room rent alone is Rs4500, electric extra.

A small sponsorship on a regular monthly basis of just Euro35 (Rs4500) would make
an enormous difference to Sushilas life. It would at least pay the rent on the one
room accommodation, but food remains a problem.. An average family of 4 requires
a very minimum of Nrs10,000 for basic living expenses per month (inclusive of rent).

If you would like to support Sushila, please contact S.E.N. at
socialendeavoursnp@gmail.com for details.

Or alternatively send sponsorship or donation direct to S.E.N through the PayPal
account via: socialendeavoursnp@gmail.com (identify as Sushila)


Sushila


10.

Ria ho#e i the $o(dha Shac) Villa!e



Hard-times come to many of us. But they come more frequently to those whose
circumstances are already at rock-bottom. Such is the plight of 22 year old Rina, wife
to Dipu and mother to 2.5 year old Rama and his small brother Lachsman.

If life is not bad enough having a husband who gives little, if any support financial or
otherwise, Rina has to cope with caring for her two lovely little boys as well as beg on
the streets around Boudhanath for alms from passers-by so that she can feed, clothe
and shelter her small family.

Even in a beggar village such as the Boudha Shack Village (see Facebook entry of
that name) rents still have to be paid for the ground space, electricity and water. This
is costings Rina NRs2000 per month. Not much when converted into US$20 or Euro
16. But it is a huge amount when it has to be found from begging income! She has
been helped periodically by Social Endeavours Nepal over the past 4 years as and
when finances permitted, which was not often!

Perhaps someone would like to help Rina on a regular basis via a sponsorship?
This can be done through the S.E.N. PayPal account via
socialendeavoursnp@gmail.com (Identify as Rina)


Rina and boys

11.

*aitreya "athshal Waldorf Is&ired School (&date

The first few months of the school year have been good for Maitreya Pathshala.

One monthly sponsor has stepped forward (Carole Davidson (NC/USA) and
donations have been received from the UK and elsewhere.

S.E.N. had an article published in the UK journal NEW VIEW outlining the birth
and progress of Steiuner-Waldorf education in Nepal with special emphasis on the
newest venture: Maitreya Pathshala Waldorf Inspired School in Pokhara, Nepal.
See: http://www.scribd.com/doc/237846103/Article-Waldorf-in-Nepal-April-2014

The teachers were most grateful for the wonderful assistance given them by Katrijn
Debroey from the Netherlands for her mentoring of teachers. Ritman Gurung writes
.Her guidance, help and mentoring to our school are really good for us and which
is on the right time. She helps us in developing classroom, creating different crafts,
class observations, teachers observation and specially the student observation are
really helpful. She visited to us for home visit as well. She has experience of
kindergarten for nine years and now she is grade third teacher in the Netherlands.

Sarah Patrick from NZ/UK, also spent time at the school and working on the bio-
dynamic farm as a volunteer. She reported that it was a wonderful experience for
her. She was made most welcome by everyone and only wishes that she was in a
position whereby she could givce more heklp to the infant school. It was Sarahs
first experience of Steiner-Waldorf education and she went on to visit the tashi
waldorf School in Kathmandu!

The Maitreya school of course requires on-going support too. So S.E.N. would be
pleased to advise interested individuals or parties wishing to offer financial support.
Contact S.E.N. at socialendeavoursnp@gmail.com Direct donations can also be
received on behalf of the Maitreya school through the S.E.N. PayPal account via
socialendeavoursnp@gmail.com (Identify as Maitreya)


Maitreya Team
12.

"a&a+s Ho#e , (&date

At the request of friends and sponsors, I include an update on progress or otherwise at
Papas Home. Papas Home FB gives regular reports on the positives!

The new library the result of the hard work and financing by a volunteer, is a
wonderful addition to Papas Home. Such volunteers are indispensable and without
whom Lalit and Dhanusha would be in dire straits! The commendable newsletters
were produced by a paid employee!

However, the all important report is that the children are very happy and well cared
for by the tutor Kamal Bhattarai and the frequent volunteers that come and go during
the year. One such volunteer observed that the prime carers of the younger children
(other than the tutor) are in fact the older children. Sadly, the improved diet
incorporating regular milk and fruit is not in keeping with the hyped posting given
recently on Facebook. It is understood that milk is only served on Saturday and the
fruit diet is non-existent, unless supplied by volunteers!

Worryingly, Kamal has been given notice and will be leaving at the end of the month.
It is reported that no volunteers are due until October, the smaller children will
therefore rely solely on their older friends for love and direct personal attention. It is
further reported that the position of tutor will not be filled after Kamal departs,
leaving the running of Papas Home solely to Lalit and Dhanusha (with one domestic
staff member) who actually to date, participate abysmally with regards to daily
interaction in the lives of the children. I believe there is cause for concern if they are
the only carers! However, they have assured volunteers that they will participate to a
greater extent and last reports indicate that this is beginning to happen!

A shock in store for future volunteers is the almost 60% increase in volunteers fees
from Euro5 per day (Euro150 per month) to a staggering US$300 (Euro233up by
almost Euro3 per day), this in addition to doing most of the work with the children,
apart from that done by the tutor. To any sponsors who are planning a volunteer
trip to Papas Home, be aware that the policy of recognising a childs sponsorship as
being full and adequate contribution to Papas Home as has been the case until
recently (Trish J - Queensland, Aus could confirm that as a sponsor-volunteer, she
was not charged the normal volunteer fee on 2 volunteer visits), is no longer the case
and sponsor-volunteers are required to pay the full whack!!! Double-dipping!


13.

There has been additional expense with the renting of separate accommodation for
volunteers, but this accommodation had for some months previously been utilised
from time to time as guest accommodation for visiting friends and family of Lalit and
Dhanusha who are (to my recent knowledge) not charged any fee for food and
accommodation. With the addition of one extra room, it is now classified as
volunteer accommodation who are charged accordingly, although family and friends
continue to use the 2
nd
room!! The total cost is obviously recouped from volunteer
fees.

Unfortunately, not all volunteer arrangements are successful. Sarah Partrick from
NZ/UK who had arranged several weeks of volunteering at Papas Home into her
schedule (and budgeted accordingly) was disappointed on two occasions. Firstly
when she was informed that her time at the home was re-scheduled for a month later
and then secondly, when she contacted the home to confirm her new scheduled time a
few days prior to going to Papas, she was informed that the volunteer fee had been
virtually doubled! The home refused to honour the original agreement, despite it
being in writing! Sarah contacted me on both occasions and I was able to find
alternatives for her that proved successful.

I had hoped that with the absence of my constructive criticism in PH, the management
would out of their own impulse, have used the opportunity to improve their
management skills, including their personal involvement with the wonderful children
rather than continue to leave such important interaction almost solely to the tutor or
total strangers in the form of volunteers. Lets hope that this will change as has been
rumoured will be the case. Miracles do happenon occasions! However, I sadly
feel that I cant endorse Papas Home as a morally ethical organisation worthy of
support at this juncture. It should be noted that volunteers contact me, not vice
versa!

The only verification I have for the above account, is that I have been told these alleged facts by a trusted
recent volunteer to Papas Home who has no axe to grind and a disgruntled potential volunteer. The
volunteer read what I wrote (apart from Sarah Patricks experiences) and I corrected errors that were
brought to my attention.

Shanta engaging with class one Morning Circle time