Each year The Mountain Fund, through our program, The Mountain Volunteer hosts approx. 100 volunteers in Nepal. Orchid Garden Nepal is the most loved of all our volunteer placement locations. This past fall a volunteer from the USA, Alexandra, traveled to Nepal and spent two weeks working at Orchid Garden and caring for the children there. She recently sent us the following, along with a photograph she created.
At first glance Orchid Garden is just a name painted on a brick wall. After spending my first day there I could not wait to go back. The children, although they do not have much (anything),are sooo happy. They may not come from the same homes but they all share and play as if they did. Sisters, Teachers, and Staff, genuinely care for each and every child as if they were their own. I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to spend the majority of my stay in Nepal at Orchid Garden! **Alexandra**
Driving school is now underway in Nepal with the first class of women. The women are learning auto mechanics, how to drive safely, the rules of the road and personal self defense. This is the first ever program of its kind to be offered in Nepal and the goal is to teach 1000 women to be taxi drivers, an occupation from which they can earn money and support themselves. Studies of traffic accidents in Nepal have shown that women are safer drivers than men but in the past they've not had an opportunity to drive as an occupation due to a lack of training for women drivers. We're creating history by training them to drive, to fix a car and to defend themselves.
The first class, consisting of 36 women, is now underway.
Happy to report that thanks to our Global Giving donors we're making great progress on the farm. First, we've hired a caretaker, a husband and wife we've known for several years. The husband is skilled in the building trades and is engaged right now in building an out building on the farm for livestock so we'll soon be able to move our animals to the farm. We are buying a pair of oxen to use for plowing the fields. In Nepal, people use a team of oxen and a wooden plow for their fields. With the sometimes-steep, terraced farming that's practiced and the lack of mechanized equipment in the company, oxen are the most popular choice for plow animals. We will also be adding a cow for milk and some goats as soon as the livestock building is complete, which should be by the end of December.
Another woman and her children have moved in at the farm. She's an experienced farmer, escaping a very abusive marriage and we're so happy to be able to provide her with a good home to live in and prime farmland to grow food on.
A volunteer is arriving at the farm this week to start putting a foundation in for another house on the farm. He will be there for three weeks and is optimistic he can complete the footings in that time. Then, in March our school group from Canada will return and begin construction of another house. We'll be using earth bag building for this as it's inexpensive, earthquake resistant and provides warmth in winter and cool in summer. It's also an easy material to work with for volunteers. Instead of bricks or cement blocks, rice bags are filled with compacted dirt and stacked atop each other with barbed wire in between the bags that acts as a mortar. Once finished the interior and exterior can be plastered with mud, after the local fashion, or cement, a style more popular in the cities of Nepal.The house will have 4 rooms, about 18 feet by 18 feet each. We are building a common kitchen and toilet/bath next to the house. I'll have photos of the kitchen/bath soon as it is under construction now.