One of the ways we measure how good a project is, is the amount of help and support that the local community gives it. When you see local people donating time, money, goods and services that's a pretty clear indication that the local community sees great value in a project. Orchid Garden is a project where locals are contributing many things, perhaps not so much hard currency as people in Nepal don't have a lot of that. But, we do see blankets, food, school supplies and even furniture being donated by the local community to Orchid Garden which , as I said, tells me that this place has great value. I'm uploading some photos of donations that have come in from the local community so you can see for yourself the kind of committment that Nepali's have to the wonderful programs at Orchid Garden. The quality of these photos isn't great, but the heartfelt and unselfish giving they display sure is.
Orchid Garden Nepal sits on rented land. One huge problem that results from that is we can't control much about that land. A year ago the landlord, who also owns the land directly behind Orchid Garden decided to bring in a bunch of fill dirt and raise the level of that land higher in preperation to build something on it. That left Orchid Garden sitting about one foot lower than the property behind it. When the monsoon came, the impact of that became obvious, and painful. We were flooded, as in FLOODED completely. Classes were closed for days as Orchid Garden staff struggled to drain the water, then dry everything out. Carpets were taken up off the floor and hung out dry, all the furniture and classroom tables and chairs had to be moved outside to dry. Putting it all back together again once the water level went down was no small undertaking either. Some at Orchid Garden believe this was intentional. The landlord would love to see Orchid Garden move as land values have risen steeply and he can develop this land. There will come a day when we will have no choice but to relocate which will be a massive undertaking and an expensive one. It may be the straw that breaks the camels back or in our case the event that causes the founder, Bina, to give up after seven years of educational excellence for the children of poor working families. Certainly this disaster has been a large financial burden for Orchid Garden to bear. We've been able to provide some funds from our own general operating fund, but I know it's only made a dent in this. Take a look at the photos and then see if you can't give a hand here to help Orchid Garden recover.
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.
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