I was purusing the pages of the Orchid Garden on facebook and the wordpress site today and was struck by how much we owe a debt of gratitude to all the volunteers who come and work at Orchid Garden. Orchid Garden is a huge undertaking and gets no government funding and has no institutional sources of funds either. Orchid Garden takes care of ovr 130 children each day from the token user fees the parents pay, from donations at Global Giving and from supplies and materials that volunteers bring. It's a shoe-string budget and yet miraculously, it works and in fact will expand next year and add third grade classes to the existing nursery, kindergarten, first and second grade classes.
But, back to the impact of volunteers. I was looking at how many posts our various pages and sites have where the topic involves gifts from volunteers. Sometimes is books or school materials, sometimes it's rice and other food products which we really need to feed all the children daily. Sometimes it is the gift of education such as the recent workshops conducted on health and nutrition which was given for the parents of the children to help them stretch their meager weekly wages into a better, more balance diet for the children. We had 52 parents attend this workshop which is a great turnout for these hardworking families.
Some volunteer activities are perhaps more whimsical, such as the recent performance of Cinderella that the children practiced for and then performed. Art is an important teaching tool at Orchid Garden though, and few things build confidence as much as performing arts.
I'm adding some photos to this update of the nutrition class, donated books and Cinderella too. Your financial support is critical in keeping Orchid Garden in operation, but you may also want to consider coming yourself to Orchid Garden and contributing whatever your passions are, music, art, math, you name it. Hope to one day see you here.
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**
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