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Orphanage Manager Interviews

Interviews with the orphanage managers and carers from 3 of our volunteer placement orphanages
1. Gelu Sherpa: Manager of The Everest Foundation Children’s Home

2. Kalpana Rai: Manager of The Disabled Liberation Service Center Orphanage, located in Kathmandu

3. Dr. Purushottam Shrestha: Manager of the Nepal Women and Children Service Society Orphanage

1. Interview with Gelu Sherpa; manager of The Everest Foundation Children’s Home.

Where is the orphanage? It is on two stories of a large house in the Pepsi-cola development, 20 minutes from the center of Kathmandu. It is a quiet residential area with great views of the Himalayas and plenty of green space.

How many children are there? There are 12 children in this home. We believe that the number of children in each home should remain small to give them a family feel and avoid the impression of an ‘institution’.

How old are the children?

Our youngest child is Bikesh Shrestha. He is 3 years old and came to the home 10 months ago. Bikesh has an older brother who also lives with us. Jyoti is the oldest child in the home and is 14 years old. She is the daughter of one of caregivers, Shusma Rai. She is studying in grade 9 and often helps the younger chidren’s studies.

Why are the children there?

These children were some of the most vulnerable in Nepal who were forced to live as street children, risked getting into the hands of child-traffickers and never got to go to school. Many of them have endured more suffering at a young age than some of us experience in a lifetime, but have found ways to triumph over their difficulties. Thus, we established this home with the objective of providing such children with fundamental needs; education, food, care and shelter.

How does the orphanage help?

The Foundation believes that love, security and education are essential rights, as well as key components of a child’s ability to thrive in, and contribute to, the world. We are dedicated to the welfare of orphaned, abandoned and destitute children by providing these kids with not only all living, educational, and medical expenses, but love and personal attention—just as a good parent would do. We commit to them for the long term, from childhood through to college until they find independence, and provide them with the only real sense of security in their lives.

Who set up the orphanage and who runs it on a daily basis? I am the orphanage manager and am originally from Solukhumbu. Before this I was an Orphanage manager in Bhaktapur for about one year. Since January 2009, I have been the manager of this orphanage. I also run a trekking business and have 14 years trekking and tour leader experience in Nepal and Tibet.

Care giver: Shusma has been working with our home since it’s establishment. She has a daughter Jyoti. Her daughter also stays at the home. She is most loving mother (aamaa) of all the children at the children’s home.

Care giver: Archana has been working at our home for about a year. She has a daughter named Sumina who also stays at the home. She is very much the loving lady at the the home.

What do volunteers do when they work at the orphanage?

We have just had a volunteer with us for 2 weeks from Japan. She was great with the children and provided them with lots of love and entertainment in the mornings and the afternoons, once they are home from school. It is great when volunteers bring with them ideas for creative sessions and games for the children. It can really lift the children’s spirits to see new, bright and happy faces caring for them. Volunteers are also sometimes a great help to our carers, getting the groceries, helping with cleaning and generally getting stuck in.

What does the orphanage spend money raised on?

We have to pay for the building rent, the children’s examination fees, buy them clothes and medicines when needed and buy their food. These are the main expenses for the children. Obviously the running of the organisation and staff costs are also considerable.

Where does the majority of their funding currently come from? This home is run by The Everest Foundation, established by the same people that run VSN. Their long term plan is that their small private school will fund the orphanage. However at the moment we receive very generous donations from a Dutch couple who were volunteers here many years ago. They now run fund raising programs in Holland to pay for the rent of the building, food and all other needs of the children. To see more about this organisation go to http://www.everestfoundationnepal.org.np or http://www.weeshuisnepal.com

What would they do with more funding? The long term aim of the orphanage is to raise enough money to buy its own land and building. This would be our next largest fundraising project besides day to day needs of food, outings for the children, school examination fees etc.

2. Interview with Kalpana Rai; manager of The Disabled Liberation Service Center Orphanage, located in Kathmandu

Where is the orphanage? Our orphanage is located in a residential area called Bagmati in Kathmandu. We are situated on the banks of the River Bagmati, only a couple of miles from the famous Pashupatinath Hindu Temple.

How many children are there? There are currently 15 children here. 8 boys and 7 girls. 3 of the children are disabled.

How old are the children? Our oldest is 15 years old and the youngest 4. The elder children share a bedroom with only 2 others, whilst the younger children share with up to 7 other children.

Why are the children there? There are a variety of reasons why children may become parentless so young. There has been a 10 year civil conflict in Nepal that caused many deaths or disappearances of parents. On top of this many poor people flock to the city to find work and better opportunities. On getting here many of them find themselves landless and penniless and sadly the result of this is often to abandon their children.

Who set up the orphanage and who runs it on a daily basis? A committee of nine people set up this orphanage. Some of them, including the manager of the orphanage, used to work in social services and wanted to do something to directly help some of the children. There are 4 staff that work in the orphanage. Two are at the orphanage 24 hours a day and the other two concentrate on raising funds.

What do volunteers do when they come to the orphanage? Volunteers work with the children in the mornings and the evenings, helping with school work, dressing, eating and providing entertainment! During the daytime, when the children are at school, the volunteers may help make the orphanage a nice environment by keeping it clean and doing repairs, or they can have free time.

What does the orphanage spend money raised on? The two main costs are rent, for the building to house the orphans, staff and school examination and admission fees. Whilst the orphans are able to go to local private schools for free they still have to pay a one off admission fee and examination fee.

Where does the majority of their funding currently come from? Some of our staff knock on doors in Kathmandu asking for donations and we also have some monthly donors here in Nepal.

What would they do with more funding? The orphanage manager would like to set up a potato growing cooperative to directly fund the orphanage. This would mean they have a regular and reliable income to help contribute to the rent of their building.

3. Interview with Dr. Purushottam Shrestha; manager of the Nepal Women and Children Service Society Orphanage

Where is the orphanage? This orphanage is tucked away in a quite part of Jorpati, which is the largest Buddhist area in Kathmandu, containing a total of 75 monasteries.

How many children are there? There are 25 children at this orphanage, 14 girls and 11 boys.

How old are the children? The youngest child is only 2 years old, the oldest is 15.

Why are the children there? The children are here for a mixture of reasons. Some are parentless as the result of the civil war, others have parents that are not fit to care for them and some have parents who abandoned them at a young age due to health or financial reasons.

Who set up the orphanage and who runs it now?

The orphanage started as a very small project providing basic facilities for the children by some local women selling rice. Over the last 4 years, since VSN became involved in the project, the orphanage has improved a lot. Sugunda’s sister and her husband are now managing the orphanage whilst 7 women work there on a full time basis.

What do volunteers do when they work at the orphanage?

Volunteers care for the children through helping them dress, eat meals and with their school work. They also provide a great source of entertainment for the children and with the right attitude can become a very positive international influence. Previously we have had volunteers that have been very helpful in caring for sick orphans, cleaning the orphanage and helping improve our facilities.

What does the orphanage spend funds on?

Rent and school examination fees are our largest costs. But beyond this, we have just built new bathrooms for the children, which are supplied with warm showers from a water tank on the roof of the house. New solar panels also mean that we now have electricity 24 hours a day. We have been very lucky in receiving the funds to do these things!

Where does the majority of your funding currently come from?

6 of the women working in the orphanage have set up a co-operative to raise money for the orphanage. The women make clothes in return for money that goes directly to the orphanage. This is very sustainable way for the orphanage to fund itself.

What would you do with more funding? We are currently thinking about what happens to the children once they finish school at 16. One option is setting up a skill training center to help the orphans financially support themselves from this age onwards. We will need to raise a lot of money to do this!