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.”
Valeska, a volunteer at Mountain Fund recently visited Orchid Garden and shared her experience in an article she submitted to The Reporter. The article entitled " A day care that changes lives" ran as a full page piece with 2 photos in May. The reporter is a weekly news publication in Nepal. The copy of the article we received as an attachment to an email is, I'm afraid, nearly unreadable unless you have extraordinary vision. However, if you work on a Mac, as I do, you can open it with preview, then under the tools menu select "show magnifier" and you will be able to read it just fine. I'm sorry I have no idea what the comparable actions might be on a p.c.
This month we had a volunteer team of twelve from Rocky Vista Medical College in Colorado visit Orchid Garden. These third and fourth year students, along with their professors gave full physical exams to each and every child, all 140 of them, over the course of two days. I was really impressed with how complete the exams were and the fact that we now have a medical record for each child so that we can monitor their growth and health in the coming years. We are sure to be back with another group like Rocky Vista and the next group will have the advantage of a history to compare to current health. That sounds like a typical thing for us in the west, but it's unheard of in Nepal. There are a few, very few, of the children who are going to need some follow up with a hospital and we are asking one of the nearby community hospitals (in Nepal the term community hospital means nonprofit) if they'd be willing to run some tests and conduct further exams for no cost, or a reduced cost. I'll update you on that when I know the results.
It's a great way for us to start out 2012 though, knowing that for the majority of the children the care and good meals they get at Orchid Garden has paid off in the form of a clean bill of health from the Rocky Vista medical team.
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