I volunteered with Hands with Hands at the Nandumaya Orphans Home, which is hour north of Katmandu and consists of 18 playful children between the ages of 3-13 years. Ramesh and Serala are the couple who live with the children and run the place. At night Ramesh sleeps with the 12 boys and Serala with the 5 girls. I was touched by their simplicity. No big ideals, no great philosophy - they just saw a problem and decided to be part of the solution.
There are many orphans home in Nepal but many are led by business minded people who see the children as an investment. The children are somewhat exploited in this way, that they try to get the attention of the tourists to donate money. Nandumaya is a different place. It is a self sustaining home. This means they are independent from the tourist support. Their motto is "give the net, not the fish". I helped them set up a mushroom house with the knowledge of the people in their area. This way they are able to generate income from selling the mushrooms to help provide for the children. A combination of help from the local rotary and some fundraising from me helped them setup three solar panels, so they now have warm water in the winter.
The children are just lovely. They play, share, laugh and above all... don't complain. Also, Ramesh and Serala never complained about their very basic situation - the lack of funding, food and clothing. They just do their best and stay loving. At present 70% of the children have individual sponsors who pay for their schooling and medical support. It would be great when all the children get the opportunity to develop themselves, and as the children become independent that they will remain connected to the home and support the younger children through their development.
Ramesh has lots of ideas on how to improve their home, so when you are in the area or when you are ready to connect - let them know - you will be most welcome.
Coen writes about his time at the Kathmandu Self Sustaining Childrens Home (in 2006).