October 18, 2014 | 11:48 am
I know the title sounds ominous but that’s how I felt when I first made my decision to go to Nepal to the Our Sansar children’s home. I was off alone into unchartered territory to spend time with children from a homeless or uncertain background. Then excitement set in and I researched and derived as much information as possible from previous visitors and staff, online articles etc. I wanted to give something of myself to these children that would make them happy…things they had not been exposed too much, arts and crafts,books, fun and ME!
My friend – Manisha decided to join me on my endeavors. Together we gathered items of clothing, football boots, toys and games, books, colouring books and pencils, pens, stationery, chocolates etc, and set up a donation page each. In one month we have raised over £2250 between us, thanks to generous hearts and loving souls who could foresee the difference this would make to the lives of these children.
The first night spent in Kathmandu, filled us with an exhilarated feeling of “yes we have arrived!!” The colours, smells and heat engulfed us. The next morning after a quick breakfast in a local café, we set off for Birgunj in a 4WDdriven by a young driver who spoke not a word of English or Hindi, but smiled at everything. Five hours of a very bumpy car journey saw us arrive in Birgunj at the Our Sansar home, where the children surrounded us and shouted “Namaste aunty”. Some hung back in their shyness whilst others talked away. The staff too, got to know us and made us feel at home.
On the first night and many others after, we helped with homework, and I asked them to show me how they played kabaadi and they obliged. That night we had difficulty sleeping. Just as shut eye seemed to arrive, the children awoke …5am …get ready, breakfast, school!! Shouts of “aunty” and chatter vibrated in my ears and then finally subsided into a calm. The children returned at 12.00 changed, ate and became a bit less coy around us.
We lay the table out with all our gifts and supplies and called them. The excitement, sense of curiosity and gratefulness for the items placed before them was a sight to see. Little hands clawed, clasped items feverously. Manisha excited, and I, myself clicking madly away with my camera eager to capture their excited faces. We watched them munching on sweets and playing with balloons, we could never envisage in the U.K that this could offer so much fun.
Julia the charity founder had bought the children an inflatable pool, which they splashed in for the remainder of the evening. It even enticed the buffalo to have a drink, but it was shooed away by the children. The pool at some stage converted into a tub, with soapsuds everywhere!! We were never short of entertainment.
On many occasions dinner would be served, and then Mina would indulge us with the children in a spurt of Bollywood dancing. The children were practicing for their forthcoming Children’s day event, where the home played host to other children, VIP’s , MP’s etc.
On one day, we arranged as a treat for the children to go to “Shahid Smarak Memorial Park” in Hetauda. A Day trip…. 9 children and 4 adults piled into one 4WD, singing, talking and laughing all the way to the park. Lucky the pets didn’t join in. Ayush (the home manager) and two of the boys came on a moped with frequent stops, as Karan was consistently travelsick. Sickness ensued after the rides on an antiquated big wheel and carousel, and on the way home, as the children were not used to either.
We were on one occasion lucky enough (at Julia’s suggestion), to be involved with “the Rice Bucket challenge”. We were able to give a bucket of rice to the two poorest families in the village. The first a family whose crops had failed and the second, where the mother lay ill, feverish, unable to come out to meet us. I did not anticipate that this situation might be a fusion of embarrassment, happiness and shyness for the people involved, as they fell under the eyes of curious onlookers. who in turn wondered why they had not been chosen. When we left our mood was subdued, but we were happy to have contributed in some small way, towards the plight of these families. How many such families exist I pondered?