FrontPage Mission News Trip reports The children About Us Donate 2018 RajKumar Meets His Brother RajKumar with his brother
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.
I arrived in Kathmandu and as usual Rabin was waiting at the airport when I arrived. He had completed his grade 12 exams and was waiting for results before he could apply to university. Sundar still hd a few remaining exams so I planned to stay in Kathmandu for a few days and bring both with me to Khandbari. The day after I arrived I visited Sundar at his school, I did not go the first evening since he had an exam the following morning. He was happy to see me but a little upset that I did not visit immediately when I arrived. During the following days in Kathmandu I brought Rabin and Sundar to buy their clothes for the year. We also attempted their annual trip to the dentist but unfortunately it was too close to Dashain and all had closed for the festival. I had the 2 up at 5.30am on a couple of mornings to visit Swayambhu at dawn. During this time the stupa is busy with Nepali and their morning prayers. Around 8am the touts setup their stalls and the site is thronged with tourists. We also went to Bhaktapur to visit Sundar’s family. He still has an uneasy relationship with his mother but is always happy to see his brother and sister. When I brought Sundar to Kathmandu it was a jeep ride followed by a painfully long bus journey. Since he had no official documentation air travel was not possible. He now has a photo ID issued by his school and that is enough for domestic flights. This year we took the 40 minute flight to Tumlingtar rather than the 24 hour road journey. It was Sundar’s first time on an airplane. Being a remote region without much demand they use small 17 seater planes for the flight to Tumlingtar. It is typically a pretty bumpy ride but you do get a nice view of Everest on the way. We had a 3 hour delay before the plane could safely depart - they need to wait for a break in the clouds so they can land in Tumlingtar. Sundar was pretty nervous but did enjoy the experience.   When we arrived in Tumlingtar all the kids from the orphanage were waiting for us.RajKumar and Tillac managed to talk their way past the security guard and come hang out on the runway while we waited for our luggage to be unloaded. We had a jeep reserved for 5.30am the following morning to bring RajKumar to his village in eastern Nepal. I brough the game of monopoly with me so we played that evening and had an early night. RajKumar is one of the kids we took from Khandbari prison a few years ago. He was in there with his mother but it was a very rough environment with 117 inmates in a 3rd world prison build to accommodate 25. RajKumar was just a baby when he entered the prison so he had no recollection of life before. His mother was released last year but she split without collecting him and we have no idea where she is now. We did get his history from the prison guards and when we contacted his relatives we learned he had an older brother that he did not know about. It was a bumpy 5 1/2 hour jeep ride to Lasane in the Terhatum region. We brough most of the kids with us - they love any opportunity for adventure. I was amazed that none of them got sick with so many of crammed into the jeep. When we arrived we met the family that now look after RKs brother. They told us the his history and all details of how the brothers were split up. Since that trip we have sent RajKumar back to spend a number of holidays with his brother. While we were there it was a typical awkward reunion. I managed to get the brothers to sit together for a picture but RajKumars brother was extremely shy. He and some friends followed us around but always kept a safe distance - I guess it’s not unusual to be a little intimidated by a gang of orphanage kids who really have a very tight bond. Our night in Lasane was interesting. We had dinner with RajKumar’s relatives. We left him to stay with family while we found a local hotel. We were walking back to the hotel when there was a bang and all the lights went out. Wethen saw some sparks and a transformer on the one power line went up in flames. The next day we left RajKumar to spend Dashain with his family and we took the jeep back to Khandbari. It ws another early start and we got back to Khandbari around noon. After some lunch I brough the kids shopping to get their clothes for the year. I had Tejanath, Tulasa and strongman help me. I would always stay away until prices were agreed to avoid the foreigner tax. That evening I went to meet Sandhya’s brother. He had also grown up in an orphanage in Kathmandu and was now running a small teashop in Khandbari. We had another jeep reserved for another early trip the following morning. We were planning to go spend a few days in strongman’s (my guide friend) village. His son, Mausham, stays at the orphanage so that he can attend school in Khandbari. Last time I visited his village I stayed with the family in their earhquake shack. They had been renting a building and running a shop by the local schol but that school and shop were both destroyed in the earthquake in 2015. Strongman is back on his feet and has build a small teashop / local hotel. His village is on the far side of the Arun river in the hills beyond the roads. There was a lot of commotion the night before the trip as Tejanath told me none of the girls were allowed come with us. After some time I learned that Kinari had left the orphanage one night and spent the night with a boy. I made the decision to leave Kinari home as punishment but bring the others with us. After taking a jeep to Num it is a tough walk from there to Seduwa. You drop over 3000ft to the Arun river down a ver steep hillside and then clim back the same elevation on the far side. It took us nearly 5 hours of walking but as always the kids enjoyed every minute. We spent 2 nights in Seduwa and really enjoyed the break from jeeps and early mornings. Strongman killed a couple of chickens and gave us a feast each night. There was a ping (swing) being constructed in Seduwa for the upcoming festival but unfortunately it wasn’t finished till the afternoon we were leaving. We returned to Khandbari but as usual we didn’t sit still for long. We got up the next morning and took all the kids on a hike out to Rabin’s village to visit his aunt and cousins. It is 2-3 hours walk away. You would think the kids would want to stay home after just completing 2 other trips but not a chance - they love any opportunity to get out. We did find a few different swings on the way to Chewa and also a caroom board outside one house. We stopped to play for a while. It was our typical day of many delays and having to walk home in the dark. In Chewa we visited Rabin’s aunt who was widowed a few years ago. They are a very poor family that live off what they can grow. The last time I had visited this family was 2013 when I was figuring out Rabin’s history and trying to locate his sister. We also went to visit my maoist friend who is the defacto mayor of Chewa. He was commander of the maoist insurgents for the entire region during the uprising but has now left the maoist party. He runs a small shop in the village and every time I visit he feeds all the kids and gives them 7up and mountain dew. Chewa was our last trip before the Dashain festival. The following day we killed a goat at the orphanage per tradition. Kinari was looking after the goat but left it unattended for a few minutes and it ran away. It was quite entertaining running around the hills searching for a goat. Even more entertaining when I asked a local policeman if he’d seen a goat but he didn’t speak any english. He assumed I wanted a guide and went about organizing one for me. On the second day of the festival I met a couple from Switzerland in town. Sundar went to spend the day with his old school friends but the rest of the kids joined me on a walk to the Gumba (temple) in Manebhanjyang (1 hour away) to show the swiss couple some local sights. At Manebhanjyang I suggested we walk another hour or two to see the more impressive Gumba in Sekaha. Unusually most of the kids were not interested - they had already walked enough this week. Nabin and Sangita did want to go so a few of us carried on. The main day of Dashain is Tika day where children receive a tika from their elders. As with last year I had the honour of giving all the kids Tikas. It was a very happy day with music and dancing at the orphanage and the kids getting to eat goat. I t was also our last day in Khandbari so we all hung out at the orphanage late into the night. The next morning myself, Rabin and Sundar were flying back to Kathmandu. All the kids came down to the airport at Tumlingtar. We were delayed there for a few hours waiting for weather to clear. A few of the kids slept the entire time we were there - I guess the big week they’d had was finally catching up with them. I had a few days in Kathmandu. It was a busy few days visiting Rabin’s school director, Sundar’s principal and multiple other people who have been helping me over the years. WE also spent an evening with Rabin’s cousins who look after his sister. Each evening I brought the boys to try different types of food. Thai one evening, Indian curry the next and Vietnamese pho on my last night. All they’ve ever really known is rice and lentils so it’s interesting seeing them try new things. We organized everything they needed for the coming year. We also managed to see a few of the touristy sites and visit a few of the temples that were still being reconstructed after the earthquake. On my last day the two boys brought me to the airport and said goodbye. Sundar then returned to his school and Rabin to his hostel.
All Photographs (c) Michael Fingleton
Sundar with his school friends Morning Visit to Swayambhu Sundar with his brother and sister, James and Ruth A nervous first flight Mt Everest RajKumar and Tillac waiting at Tumlingtar Our jeep ride to Lasane Dinner on the road Hanging out in Lasane RajKumar with his older brother RajKumer with his family During our hike to Seduwa Taking a break on the way to Chewa Strongman and his family The road to Chewa Kids playing caroom Sangita playing caroom Giving the kids Tikas for Dashain Sangita Sandhya, Kinari and Shova Rabin and Sundar on my last day in Kathmandu Tillac playing caroom Nabin, Tillac, Sundar and Sangita