Greetings from Nepal.
If you've been following this project you already know that Orchid Garden has created an exceptional educational program for the poorest of children. The results of that education are evident in how well children are learning and how much they love to come to Orchid Garden every day. There's 170 children in regular attendance and if we had room, we could double in size tomorrow, but we are totally out of room on the rented land we now occupy.
That hasn't stopped Orchid Garden from expanding however, we've just had to find new ways to create new Orchid Gardens and this month, the first village-based education program using the OGN model opened at Her Farm (another Mountain Fund project on GlobalGiving).
We started by sending two young women from the village to Orchid Garden for three months of hands-on training with the teachers at Orchid Garden so they could learn how OGN runs the program and the innovative teaching methods they use.
Next, with a group of volunteers we set about the task of creating an Orchid Garden-like classroom in the village. The photos and attached video link tell that story. We are running 3 classes a day right now with as many as 80 children attending. Classes are geared toward different age groups with the youngest children in the morning, before regular school in the village school, then after school for somewhat older children and early evenings for the oldest youth.
We'd love to be able to replicate the success in education that Orchid Garden is providing to poor children and this is the first step in creating more "Orchids" as founder Bina Basnet calls them. I hope you will help us as we work to codify the teaching methods used at Orchid Garden and train more young women to reach out in villages with the OGN method.
We host a lot of volunteers in Nepal, in fact, about 100 of them each year. Volunteers are an important part of our mission to raise awareness of conditions in Nepal and to bring new ideas and insights to our projects there. Recently we had a number of young pre-med school students who visited Orchid Garden and spent the afternoon conducting basic and health and sanitation workshops for the children. Basic concepts of health and sanitation are not necessarily learned in the home. Nearly all of the children at Orchid Garden live in slums where such foundation learning doesn't happen. For the children to stay healthy, strong and able to learn, however, these are crucial skills. I am attaching some photos of our volunteers in action.
Thanks for your continued support of this project. Orchid Garden is one of the only options very poor, working families have for their children.
One of my favorite events each year in Nepal is the annual Parent's Day Talent Show at Orchid Garden. First, it is great to see the number of parents who attend the show. For many of the parent's who are day-laborers, it means a day off work, and hence a loss of income to attend, yet they are so proud of what their children are doing they flock to attend this talent show every year and this year was no exception.
It's great fun too to see the kids put on the show. They've spent weeks preparing costumes, developing song and dance routines, some creating original poems to share as well. The morning of the show is shear madness as the teacher's scramble to help everyone with costumes and make up. Once in a while, a line is forgotten or a dance step goes the wrong way, but what fun to watch these children and their parents. What a great production Orchid Garden puts on as well.
For a country where bleak, stark classrooms and rote memorization are the standards for schools, the energy and creativity of the staff, teachers and children at Orchid Garden demonstrate why it's such a special gift.
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**
Shari Davis & Ellen Currin are InTheField Travelers with GlobalGiving who are visiting our partners’ projects throughout Nepal. Here is their “Postcard” from their most recent visit to Orchid Garden in Nepal:
“This is my dream!” These were the words of greeting from Bina Basnet as we arrived at her school and daycare, Orchid Garden. She explained to us that the space we were seeing- the brightly colored school buildings, children at play in the yard, the classrooms full of learning- were all a part of her life dream.
Orchid Garden serves over 200 children, providing schooling, meals, daycare and housing to Nepali kids in need. Those attending the school ranged in age from 8 months to 12 years and could be seen sitting in circles with teachers, or at desks practicing writing in the many small classrooms of Orchid Garden.
Bina started our tour by showing us the art projects produced by children in the school. She explained students also attended art class, dance class, and Spanish learning class in addition to normal studies. The classrooms were clean and organized, each with a carpet and drawings outside depicting colorful hand washing messages drawn by the kids.
Bina explained much of the funding from the school came from volunteers coming to visit the school, seeing the needs of the children and sending donations back to Orchid Garden. She explains that she is lucky to afford the teacher’s salaries and rent for the land, though she has limited funding for the children’s meals and school supplies. “This is where we need money.”
We walked into the kindergarten classroom and Bina shouted “Where are we?”
“Nepal!” The students yelled enthusiastically in response.
“Who are we?”
Bina explained that much of her family was in the US waiting for her to join them. When asked about her future, she replied, “Once Orchid Garden is in a stable place, I will move out of Kathmandu to a rural village, and help those children in need. This is my dream, you see.”
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