Change is coming to our children’s home, but all our kids are healthy and continue to move forward through their studies and into being young adults. We’re so proud of them!
During the last 3 years, our local partner TEAM Nepal has faced so many challenges. It has not been easy. COVID has meant the disappearance of tourists, volunteers, and student groups which were an important part of sustainable, ongoing funding for the Children’s Home. Our student groups are planning to return in 2023, but overall tourism has not fully rebounded yet. At the same time, our Program Director, Neel, has had to close the Rainbow Thangka shop where thousands of people have fond memories of drinking tea with Neel. This means that even as tourism slowly recovers in Nepal, Neel no longer has a shop in the heart of Thamel that will draw in new volunteers and donors for the home…and he also no longer has income that supports his volunteer work. Many of the funding streams disappeared immediately or have gradually diminished year after year, even as health emergencies and natural disasters have struck.
Through this challenging time, we did not take new children into the home, but CLN has been committed to helping bridge funding gaps every year, care for our kids, respond to the catastrophic flooding of the Melamchi River, respond to the massive COVID spike with oxygen and medical supplies. We have also ensured that our children at the home and in the broader community are able to study by helping repair and support Terse School and also opening a hostel that continues to house and feed 48 students from the wider community, many of whom lost their homes to flood damage and some who simply live hours away from a high school.
Changes also are happening overall in the culture. With the rise of Facebook and other media platforms, young people in Nepal no longer want to remain in villages and in traditional culture. Across the country, young people are moving away after high school instead of staying close to their home villages. They want to work or study in Kathmandu, Biratnagar, or in other countries. They want freedom and independence from their families. Terse School is seeing 70-80 students completing Class 10 and then moving away, year after year now. This is a profound cultural shift that has been picking up momentum.
All of this is bringing change to our Children’s Home…plus our kids are growing up! This year we had three children pass their Grade 10 high school exam and choose to move out of the home, plus two more children who passed last year and are in Grade 11 also moved out. (In Nepal, high school officially ends after Grade 10; Grades 11 & 12 are optional extended study, and we offer our kids the option to stay or move out during Grades 11 & 12.) We also have three children who moved out 2 years ago, completed Grades 11 & 12 in Kathmandu, and are all now working.
During the past few years of uncertain and strained financial resources, health concerns, and flooding, we put a hold on taking new children to be sure that we could fully care for the ones we had. With the recent moves this summer, we now have 12 children living at the home. They are studying, playing in the yard, doing yoga in the morning, and helping in the organic garden. Neel reports, “This year everything has gone back to normal daily life, and everyone looks happy again.”
CLN and TEAM Nepal will continue to support our resident children through the remaining years of their education, yet as we all look ahead to the future, we feel the best and necessary path forward is to shift gears. TEAM Nepal is considering gradually moving towards a more self-sustaining hostel setup for girls only, in Grades 6-9. You’ll be hearing more from us as we pivot and develop next steps! In the meantime, your support is deeply needed for the children at our home and also for Terse School as they recover after several years of hard-hitting challenges.