Occasionally, we ask those who have served on a team to Nepal to reflect on their experience. Here is a taste of what a Service Team is like.
I had just finished three days of visiting local Kamiya (ex-slave) villages around the town of Dhangarhi in Nepal where I was working on assessing the health of Water Buffalo. Marian, who I had been traveling with, had left for Tikapur a day and a half earlier, and I was anxious to meet up with him again.
At 5:00 the next morning my driver and I embarked on our trek to Tikapur. Visibility that morning was about five feet. The roads that were supposed to be paved seemed more like dirt roads, and the dirt roads seemed more like dried up river beds. Needless to say, it was bumpy! I tried to catch a nap, but whenever I dozed I found myself jolted by a large bump or not wanting to fully fall asleep so I could brace myself if we had to stop suddenly if something or someone were to appear out of the dense fog in the middle of the road.
In the early light, when we passed through villages, we could begin to make out the shapes of people and farm animals moving like ghosts in the thick mist. After a couple hours of driving the road began to improve and the fog began to lift. We emerged from the woods into a small town. We had a arrived at Tikapur. We drove down what seemed to be the main road lined with many small homes. The town seemed to still be sleeping. We came to a traffic circle and went down a straight dirt road that was in the processes of being improved. The feeling of this road seemed different. Houses were in better shape, the side of the road was cleaner. There was something special about the road we were driving down. As we neared the end of the road on the right was a long brick wall with gates, and behind it hid a long square building in conjunction with a tall pink Mediterranean style house. The driver slowed and pulled in front of the gate. I got out of the car, stretched, and was reminded of how cold it was when I was able to see my yawn vaporize in the air. We went up to the gate and knocked.
We heard some rustling in the house and then footsteps approaching the gate. When the gate opened, a man with a bright yellow jacket and holding flower necklaces in his hands greeted us with a smile that melted away the stress of the last couple hours and rough nights sleep and left me with sense of peace and safety. He said hello in broken English, shook my hand with strong firm grip, told us his name, and then proceeded to place the flower necklaces over our heads.
He invited me in through the gates, while the driver stayed behind with the car, which is customary in Nepal and India. As I walked through the gates I was surprised with the meticulously care for gardens and various fruit trees. He began to name the different trees and plants on the way to his house. We strolled down a walk way and onto a porch to his front door where we took our shoes off and he invited me in to his home, still with that calming and genuine smile. I took my shoes off on the porch and stepped into a small living room with humble furnishings. The windows were open even though it was barely 50 degrees outside. I sat down on a small futon like couch, and he sat across from me. He explained to me again that this was his home, and he was the pastor of the church across from the house. He than began to ask me if I liked the road that we drove down, as he was on one of the town boards and was able to get enough funding to have the street improved. I recalled the change in the atmosphere when my driver and I turned down this road. He asked me if I would like some tea, and being desperate for a hot drink to warm me up, I gratefully said yes. A few moments later he delivered the tea for me and then sat down again and stared at me smiling. After a few moments of awkward silence, but never once breaking his contagious smile he said, “I think brother Marian must be up by now.”
You may be asking at this point, “Why the long winded story about traveling to Tikapur. I thought this post had to do with kids in need in Nepal?” It does, but I wanted to begin by providing my own story of how I met this wonderful man to hopefully paint a better picture of the kindness, gentleness, and caring that emanates from him and his household. Before we met, I had experienced the impact he is having on his community just by turning down his street. And at that time, I did not even know that was the street he lived on. Finally making it to his house and then walking through his gates into his humble gardens was like entering a safe harbor after crossing a stormy sea. Marian had told me about this kind man and his family and all the work they are doing in Tikapur and the surrounding Kamiya villages. They are doing an incredible amount of work to help the children and to make better lives for ex-slave families in their surrounding area.
I had gone to Tikapur to meet up with Marian and help with the planning of a new zip line that was being built to make easier passage across the river for local villagers, farmers, and school children, as well as to help plan for a new school in the town of PremNagar. In addition, I had been told that this family was caring for many children, all who were in his care for various reasons. Some their parents had been killed in Nepal’s recent civil wars, others their parents simply could not afford them and gave them up, knowing that this family would provide them with food, shelter, and a good education.
On my trip I sat down with all the girls at once to talk to them about their stories and ask them about their lives in an effort to raise awareness of the need to provide for these girls. Here are some of their stories, with names removed to protect their privacy.
Time at children's home: 1 year
Reason at children's home: Her father died (reasons unknown). Her mother then deserted her with grandparents. S's grandparents could not take care of her, so brought her here.
Favorite thing to do: Play rope (jump roping with other girls and other games)
S wears a constant smile. She is full of energy and loves to play. P's daughter runs a school down the street, and S attends there. Although she is seven years old, she is learning to help around the orphanage and home (when she’s not playing).
Time at children's home: 5 years
Reason at children's home: Mother and father could not take care of her, and so they brought her to the home. S came from a large family. Often the youngest girl may be given up so that the family can afford to feed the rest of the children.
Favorite thing to do: Dance
Time at children's home: 5 years
Reason at children's home: S's father died ,and her mother could not take care of her, so she gave her up to the home.
Favorite thing to do: Read
Village: Darhma Pur
Time at children's home: 4 years
Reason at children's home: R came from a large family with 4 other brothers and sisters. Her father and mother could not afford to take care of her, and they put her in the care of the home.
Favorite thing to do: Knitting, especially shawls and sweaters
Time at children's home: 4 years
Reason at children's home: J had 3 brothers and sisters. Her parents could not afford to take care of her and gave her up to the home.
Favorite thing to do: Art, especially drawing
Time at children's home: Unkown
Reason at children's home: M’s father was killed by a Maoist rebel. Her mother works but still could not afford to take care of M and all of her 4 brothers and sisters.
Favorite thing to do: Sing
Time at children's home: 11 Years
Reason at children's home: A's parents were not able to take care of and feed her as well as her 5 other siblings.
Favorite thing to do: Serving
A is very kind and has a servant heart. She helps around the house, community, and home and also enjoys cooking. She is soon to leave the home to continue school. A has a tight bond with P’s family, especially his daughter.
Throughout the days at P’s house and the home, I was able to witness the tight bond that these girls had and was able to get a sense of their serving hearts and loving personalities, as well as their ambition to succeed in life. These are just some of the girls in need.