TEAM Nepal Director Neel Thakuri has been committed to children and education in his village area for more than 25 years. Together we have supported construction of a central high school, renovation of kindergarten classrooms, classroom and water tap construction at an outlying middle school, student scholarships, donation of computers and sports equipment, and construction of a Children’s Home to provide a family-style environment for 21 children. TEAM Nepal also brings dozens of volunteers to the area each year to help with education, home, and rebuilding projects.
Earlier this year CLN supported repairs of earthquake damage of the Children’s Home, the kitchens, and the volunteer quarters to make a safe environment for the children, prevent any further seismic or weather damage, and enable over 55 volunteers to come during the summer. The volunteers, including 37 high school students from National Geographic Student Expeditions, helped with building a temporary classroom structure for a nearby school that was destroyed, farming in the organic vegetable garden, planting trees in the community forest, and painting the home and compound wall. They also brought computers and water filters to nearby schools and cleared rock and debris for road repair.
With the Children’s Home repaired and running smoothly, we continue to work with surrounding schools in the TEAM Nepal area. The earthquake leveled nearly all of the schools in the region. Although classes are happening in transitional structures, 19 schools need to be rebuilt in this area alone (as well as many more homes). Neel has been working to assess local needs and coordinate with school committees. We are planning for classroom reconstruction at Gyalthum College and our hope is also to provide books and computers at a nearby school. Currently the school has temporary classroom structures made of bamboo and corrugated tin, plus 3 permanent rooms constructed by an Indian service organization. A large Swiss agency is planning to rebuild the classrooms in the coming year or two. The school want to use some of the permanent space for an immediate library. They have made furniture for the library, and our goal is to provide $3000 to purchase course books, dictionaries, and computers for the library.
What’s Happening: Maya
Many of you may also remember Maya. CLN continues to support her education and the orphanage where she lives. Maya is now 9 years old and is studying in Grade 3. She did well in Grade 2, with a score of 82% for the year–a little low compared to her usual academic achievement, but she was recovering from the trauma and upheaval of the earthquakes.
Maya was doing well at the beginning of the year, but in July a terrible accident happened at her school (due to a neighboring construction site). Many of the children were seriously injured and hospitalized, but Maya had quick reflexes and escaped the classroom unharmed. She has been receiving counseling for that and for the trauma of the earthquake. She seems to be slowly returning to herself again and just celebrated the annual holidays in Nepal with her adopted sisters and brothers. The orphanage where she lives took in 15 more children after the earthquake, so she has had many new friends and playmates.
CLN continues to send $1000-$2000 each year to the orphanage where she lives, and we welcome your support for her and for the 65 children living there!
Background on the Children’s Home
Director Neel Thakuri left his village for Kathmandu at the age 13 when his father died. He worked his way up from hawking tiny statues on the streets to building a successful Buddhist art business in the heart of the tourist quarter—but he never forgot his struggles or the people still at home in the mountains. He first built a school in his home village and then wanted to start a Children’s Home to provide a family-style environment for children who were orphaned, abandoned, or otherwise in need. CLN provided much of the seed money to get the home started, helping to rent and renovate a farmhouse, purchase bedding, build bathrooms, and provide food and school uniforms for the children. Once the home was running, Neel was able to successfully tap his network of foreign visitors and friends (through his Kathmandu-based business) to provide solar panels, school supplies, scholarships, and more. He initiated small income-generating programs like dairy cows, goats, and chickens which provided expensive food items for the children and also generated a little extra cash from the surplus.
Within 5 years, the home was sustained through other funding sources, but the lease on the farmhouse was ending. Neel wanted to be sure that these children and the children who would come after them would have a permanent home—and a place where we could invest time and energy for the long-term…like planting a fruit orchard! CLN again provided a substantial portion of the initial funds for this transition. We purchased land for the buildings, funded part of the construction, and helped create a permanent home which today has 21 children.
Next door, the volunteer quarters provide dorm-like housing for visitors, and Neel has effectively coordinated volunteers for regional health camps, school assistance, and work at the home. Given that success, CLN introduced Neel to National Geographic school groups. This year they brought 37 high school students for their first visit and helped with projects around the home. After the students returned to the US, one group has raised almost $6,000 as a donation to TEAM Nepal and is still working towards their goal of $10,000. Way to go, National Geographic student group!!
Thanks to all your support, the children now have a permanent home that just gets better every year, with improvements to the garden, orchard, and facilities. They are doing well in school and continue to grow up beautifully. The volunteer quarters make possible a range of programs and visitors that benefit the area by bringing people both with technical skills (often medical) and non-technical skills and giving the children personal experience with the broader world. Volunteers have come and taught meditation, offered English language practice, played music, taught computers, and done so much more–all of which provides the children with educational opportunities they would never otherwise have.