FrontPage Mission News Trip reports The children About Us Donate 2013 Mum In Khandbari Visiting Rabinís Family in Chewa Rabin with his uncle in Chewa
Important Note:  It is important to understand that all trips to Nepal are self funded and no money donated to help the children will be used for travel expenses incurred by organization staff. This is explicitly specified in the bylaws of the organization.
In 2013 I returned to Khandbari to visit the children. On this trip I brought my mother, a retired psychotherapist. Although her specialty area was not working with children I figured she would be better equipped than I am to assess the general state of the children and recognize any problem signs. As my mother had recently undergone knee surgery a homestay with typical Nepali squatty potty wasn’t really an option. The Arati hotel in Khandbari upgraded two of their rooms to western toilets. The stay at the Arati was great - the couple that run it were extremely friendly and really looked after us well. In the year since my last trip I had been in regular contact with Rabin. I had learned during the first year that he had a younger sister and I had inquired regularly about her whereabouts. I was told she was with an uncle in Chewa, Rabin’s home village. I was very concerned as I knew Rabin was from a small village where boys would be required to work the land. It didn’t make sense to me that a boy would be sent to an orphanage while his sister would be kept at home. I told Tejanath I wanted to visit Rabin’s sister in Chewa and make sure she was ok. A while before the trip I was told she was no longer in Chewa but now in Biratnagar with a family there. This made me even more worried but I stuck with the plan to visit Chewa so as to meet Rabin’s family and have a clearer picture of what was truth and what was not. Myself, Tejanath and the eldest 9 kids from the orphanage walked out to Chewa one morning. I was very surprised to find that it was only a few hours walk away yet Rabin had not been back since being sent to the orphanage some 6 to 7 years earlier. The house where he lived is no longer standing but he was very happy to see his Aunt, Uncle and cousins. They were also very happy to see Rabin. HE has been back there (as have I) a number of times since. One of the greatest pleasures for me is watching the children change and become more confident as they are connected with family. I think creating bonds between the kids and their relatives is key to protecting them from exploitation in the future. The kids who came along to Chewa that day all really enjoyed the day. It was not a problem for them walking a few hours each direction and it was just a fun day. Back in Khandbari we decided to bring the kids clothes shopping. We gave them each a budget and sent the elder kids to shop alone. I figured that if I was in the shops with them then prices would inflate. I didn’t know what they had bought till a few days later. The boys each got a complete outfit - jeans, jumper or shirt, belt and shoes. They also each got a complete soccer kit which I only learned about later in the week. Each of the older girls got a dress to wear while dancing which they put to good use on our last night in Khandbari. Before going to Nepal I was asked by a Slovenian lady to check on a number of children that herself and friends sponsor through Tejanath’s SESF organization. We too a jeep to Arunthan and visited the Arun View School where we were greeted by all of the students and presented with flower garlands. After spending some time at the school we then visited a number of the SESF kids in their homes. Most of the kids were living in very basic dwellings in a village called Gairi Pangma. One evening in Khandbari it was raining and a bit too miserable to do anything outside. I went over to the orphanage and brought a couple of games of Jenga that my mother had brought from Ireland. It was during this visit that I realized the kids were usually in their best clothes when I saw them. They all now know me well enough that when at home they wore their regular clothes. I was shocked at the filth and basically rags some of the kids were wearing. They are responsible for washing their own clothes and some of the boys have the view that older clothes aren’t worth washing. We spent a few days just hanging out with the kids in Khandbari. On one of these days I played football with the boys while mum was entertained by the girls and the two little guys. I’ll not post pictures of the football game to save myself some embarrassment. The kids, particularly Santosh, were very good. After the game I laughed when I saw Sammer washing his new kit after just one use. Whilst they don’t believe in washing old clothes that are dirty anyway they were taking care of their new stuff. Another day in Khandbari I decided making kites would be a good way to pass the time. We were there during the Dashain festival and I had read that it was customary for kids to fly kites at that time of year. I bought a big sheet of plastic, some string and some tape. I wasn’t sure how much interest there would be but it ended up being an amazingly fun day. All 12 got really involved and each of them made a kite. By the end of the afternoon they were all running around like lunatics trying to get the kites flying. It was unfortunate there was zero wind but still watching them run laps around the house was very entertaining. The day we had visited Chewa we saw they were building a Charke Ping, a handmade, human powered wooden ferris wheel. These ferris wheels are built for the Dashain festival and are only used for a couple of weeks in the year. Every village will build a Linge Ping, a bamboo swing but the Charke Ping is much harder to find. From the moment I saw them building it I wanted to have a go. We got word from Chewa that construction was complete so early on one of my last days myself, Rabin and Santosh went racing to Chewa for a spin on the wheel. We got there about 8am and it was not yet running for the day. The local shop keeper recognized us from the previous day we had visited. He whistled and folks came from a few surrounding houses and got the wheel running for us. It was quite the experience as the wheel creaked and moved all over as it spun. On the last day we had in Khandbari we took all 12 kids on a short hike to the Gumba (monastery) in ManeBhanjyang. This was about an hours walk from Khandbari so my mother could join us also. Again it was obvious how much the kids enjoyed the walk and the change from their regular routine. As we returned from ManeBhanjyang Sundar came alongside and held my hand. He looked up looking concerned and asked if I would be leaving soon. I told him it was my last day and that I would return to Kathmandu the next morning. He looked very sad and said “please come back quickly” then there was a big pause followed by “and bring chocolate”. The last night we were in Khandbari we had a farewell party at the orphanage. I bought a goat so the kids could have a good nutritious meal while I was there. It is customary to slaughter a goat during Dashain to appease the goddess Durga. Following the meal the kids played music on a small stereo and the girls danced. This was the first time I saw the dresses the girls bought on the day of clothes shopping. It was really tough saying goodbye that night knowing Iwouldn’t see them all agin for another year.
Mum at the Arati Hotel in Khandbari Rabin's cousins in Chewa on the porch of his Uncles house. Rabins family in Chewa The nine kids who came to Chewa as Rabin met his family Nabin choosing clothes Children sponsored by folks in Slovenia Children at Arun View school in Arunthan Suju with her grandmother Sundar and Nabin playing Jenga The boys in their new soccer kits Mum entertained by the girls and little guys while I played football Kinari and Shova flying their kites Myself, Rabin and Santosh on the Charke Ping All 12 kids at the Gumba at ManeBhanjyang Last night party - Kids eating goat and beaten rice Sangita, Sandhya and Shova dancing
All Photographs (c) Michael Fingleton