June 2016

June 2016

In late January Hope, Anita and I flew to America where Shriners Children’s Hospital in Boston had accepted her as a patient. Shriners would be a great model for how the planet should work. Phenomenal medical personnel, incredible attention to detail and bedside care beyond belief. Everyone on “Hope’s Team” deserves special mention, but the head of it all, Bernadette Hannigan, will never be forgotten.

This was an occasion to marvel once again at Hope, a little girl who has never once complained about her situation, who makes do with enthusiasm and smiles for every challenge before her.

For Anita and me, the thought of Hope enduring all that an operation entails flooded our thoughts with anguish as the day approached. Shriners’ staff knows a parent’s anxiety and has polished their craft to eliminating it in the way they relate to the patient. The morning of the operation filled us with dread; for Hope, she was simply enjoying her morning as we drove to the hospital with her stomach empty; she did not question her rising in the dark, why she missed her morning bottle or complain about her hunger or departure from routine. Anita had done a remarkable job of letting Hope know everything about this trip and allowing her to be free of concern.

Once in the hospital things move swiftly while surgeons and anesthesiologist, nurses and nurse practitioners all come to brief you and entertain Hope. The anesthesiologists, two of them, brought in the mask that they would use and had Hope pick out some scents she liked to cake the inside with. They explained to us their methodology to eliminate as much post-operative pain and grogginess as possible by using an ultrasound to locate a vein and induce a blocker, and, along with the surgeon’s visit, it all helped to eliminate any fear we had. But still.

We were instructed to put a gown on Hope and ourselves, along with masks, as they were allowing us to wheel Hope into the OR as we requested. Suddenly it was time and people were pulling and pushing the gurney as we walked on either side talking to Hope who was sitting quietly taking it all in.

Inside the OR the medical staff turned from what they were doing and started to entertain Hope with stuffed animals; before I knew it, the anesthesiologist from behind her gently placed the mask on Hope while we held her in a sitting position.  She did not look confused or scared, and in just a moment she slumped down and was out. The staff then became business-oriented and asked us to kiss her and leave, their smiles kind and assuring us that she would be fine.

Leaving the OR and our baby behind weighed so heavy upon us. We would be called the second she was out of the OR and be with her when she awoke in recovery. We sat together on the 9th floor overlooking a grey, wintery but bustling Boston, our quietness punctuated by our personal favorite Hope “remember when’s.”

The call came and we rushed to the recovery room; our little Angel had a massive cast to her thigh, one arm full of monitors and another with an IV needle heavily bandaged to keep it in place. Her eyes were closed. They positioned the gurney and a nursing staff began monitoring and adjusting with us on one side of the gurney. We began to call her name. We watched her eye lids flutter and soon they opened; she looked at us quizzically, then smiled weakly. In short order she asked for something to drink; the nurses listened for gurgling sounds in her and then okayed sips of juice. Maybe an hour’s time passed before they started disconnecting many monitors and prepared her to move to her room.

My brother Bob arrived minutes later and took this first photo. This is Hope, less than 2 hours out of surgery and her smile never faded despite restricted movements with her cast, fluids and monitors.

Hope’s recovery was quick.  After 5 weeks we were allowed to go to Connecticut  to be fitted for new prosthetics; we worked with NEOPS whose staff led with their hearts in wishing to produce the best possible devices for Hope. We remained in Boston with my brother Bob and drove each time the 2.5 hour journey for her visits.

One day the new prosthetics were done and we went to try them out. They brought them into one of the rooms and set them down before Hope who was quick to examine them closely. She particulary loved the feet with rubber toes.

This was a touching 10 weeks with time spent with our families. My brothers Peter and Bob and sister in law Boo, my aunt Beth, uncle George, cousin Liz, my sons Jerry and Aaron and daughter-in-law Jo and my beautiful grandchildren; Kathy Procranik who was largely responsible for bringing Hope into our lives, and her husband Tony; Anita’s brother Vinod and sister in law Alecia, her parents and grandmother, all went out of their way to welcome and care for us on this journey. None of this would have happened if not for Margaret Ikeda, a pediatrician and family friend who made the application to Shriner’s in our behalf and spent a considerable amount of time and professional courtesy over six months of paperwork between herself and Shriners which made this all possible. In addition she arranged with Devon Bell, the prosthetics craftsman at NEOPS, to take Hope on as a patient, his youngest ever, which requires a whole new set of skills to accomplish. And finally to the donors who unsolicited had contributed to Hope’s care made this journey an outstanding success. We have left America with deepened relationships and many new friends as well. Thank you all.

The sands of Daytona Beach

Waving hello to Minnie Mouse

With Anita and Paxtyn, my newest granddaughter

Building Snowmen


Arriving home and in the embrace of our children made the previous 10 weeks surreal. Hope had sharply increased her communication much to the astonishment of her brothers and sisters. She got swept up in a tide of attention and love.

Our managers had done a splendid job of keeping the children safe and on schedule. They all proved their mettle, especially Sam who was in charge and whose hair was turning grey quicker than a new president’s.

We missed many important occasions beginning with Valentine’s Day, produced once again by the staff of Volunteer Nepal with funding by Toni Thomson and her Possible Worlds of Canada NGO. 

Our children were voted by the school as the recipients of many of the superlatives. 


Also missed was the first time our Taekwondo children participated in competition. Twelve of the 30 children learning Taekwondo have been practicing every other day for 5-7 years in all types of weather and never with complaint. The other eighteen are in their second year. From the thirty, fifteen children were chosen for the competition. They did well, as a team they came in 2nd and as individuals as follows:

Deepa unavailable for photo in uniform, 1st place and Chiya 1st place, both undefeated

Alicia and Sumitra both second place

Suman, Hematha, Ram and Tilak bottom all third in a day long in fighting

The NOH team achieving second place; one of their coaches in the middle


On May 17th Panos Karan and Fumiko Tanaka arrived after a few months of e-mail exchange.

“Keys of Change” www.keysofchange.org is an NGO they started to bring classical music to underserved countries. Assembled on a dark and thundering day were 30 of our most musically interested children to listen to Panos play lots of Beethoven, and a Franz Liszt piece that commands all 88 keys.

Panos has performed in over 50 countries in, as he said, “serious venues for serious people,” and decided it was time to have fun with his music and inspire children. During his 40 minute recital he instructed the children by telling stories in a very compelling way and asking them questions as he would finish a piece. There are many videos of Panos performing on YouTube, one recent one from April at Boston Symphony Hall with a youth orchestra from Japan that he has worked with since the tsunami and arranged for their trip to perform in Boston. It is a moving performance.

Panos and Fumiko returned to our home two Saturdays after to visit with our kids. They helped to serve lunch and clean up after. This is an amazing and highly accomplished young man who has and could continue to dazzle the musical world, but has chosen time out to inspire children.

Please check out his website.

May 17th concert with our spell bound children and below serving lunch to the children


Nepal Orphans Home’s newest daughter Ranjana arrived in the middle of board member Carola Drosdeck’s 6 week presence. House manager Anita Chaudhary and I welcomed Ranjana at the gate to our home and then Carola and Anita took over, cleaned her up, made her comfortable in her room, helped her pick out new clothes and walked her to school to meet her brothers and sisters for lunch. Carola spent the day with her and enabled the softest of landings for Ranjana’s new life.


One of the finest endeavors begun by NOH has been the Chelsea Education and Community Center opening its doors to the adult women of the area. At this writing over two hundred women are on a schedule for classes 6 days a week; others come hoping to audit classes until room becomes available for them. Space is limited. Our teachers for the adult women include four of our own children who are in college and have become excellent teachers. Their college is out at 10 each morning, allowing them full days of teaching. They join 13 other graduate students that we have hired from Thames College to round out the faculty. They refer to themselves as “Team Chelsea.”

The students are learning English, Math, Computer and Nepali from 10am till 3pm all for free. From 4pm until 6pm our own children are at the Chelsea Center where the grad students work closely with them emphasizing math and computer.

An incredible young woman, Manon Pruvost, has joined NOH and has been restructuring the CECC with a more systematic and structured curriculum that enables the student population to expand and the teaching to be more effective. 

Manon Proust in the green Chelsea shirt as the busses rolled in

She also has fun and helped to organize a field trip to the National Gardens. This was a joyous occasion which had 200 women groaning at day’s end when told it was time to board the busses for home.

Some of the assembled before the busses arrived. Carola with our oldest student, so eager to learn and grateful for this opportunity, she helps give confidence and inspiration to all the other women.

The buses start to roll in

One of the English classes

NOH began their vocational school many years before now; the first two years we focused on teaching the trades as well as music and basic computer skills. Then, Glenn Detrick came into our lives. Glenn visited NOH one rainy day to deliver his daughter Chelsea’s large Beanie Baby collection to our children. Chelsea had fought cancer for a few years and had succumbed to it in the previous year. In her honor Glenn had established the Chelsea Center in St. Louis at Webster Groves High School. It flourishes today. Glenn was swept up in the atmosphere of our homes, the incredible children and their dedication to learning and said he would like to help.

Glenn Detrick, alone and with his friends, has enabled the humble vocational center we began to develop into a large, robust, community, and personal life changing center. Very soon NOH will break ground on building a new Chelsea Educational and Community Center for which we will have a dedication ceremony early next spring.

This is Chelsea, by numerous accounts and from her father’s insightful and emotionally thought-provoking book about her life, I have learned what an exceptional person she was, gracing the earth for such a short while.

We recently posted a large photo of Chelsea in the CECC. The women asked about her and in pure Nepali fashion, unprompted, in an act of the highest respect, kissed their fingers and touched Chelsea’s forehead and said a prayer.

A father’s tribute to the inspiration he received by his daughter has made life easier and better, through education, for hundreds. People like this are, to me, saintly.


NOH stays very busy trying to make a difference for people in need. We listen, we see, we learn and act without hesitation to find a way to remove burdens from people’s lives.

One program in its earliest stages is working with children who are terminally ill and in the final stages of their lives. We have started small, being a presence in the ward two times a week, bringing fruits and sweets, organizing birthday parties and being ready to help poor families with the cost of medicine or other care. We hope to develop this further into a program modeled after the “Make A Wish Foundation”. We had tried before the earthquake with a young boy who wished to meet his favorite actor. We did everything we could think of to get the actor to come for an hour or two, but he said he couldn’t spare the time. The boy died a little while after that. This failed at that time as I had not established enough of what was needed before offering a wish to this child.  Sunita Pandey who co-manages our Volunteer Nepal arm has taken on the work at Kanti Children’s Hospital and serves it well.

Unless you have a galvanized heart you may wish to not look at these photos. Such beautiful children. Saroj, my first son, is in the first photo far left; Mrs. Pandey can be found feeding the little girl with the thousand yard stare. The birthday party was for the little boy with the red shirt in the second photo. Such beautiful and courageous little people.

Sometimes you really do not know a person until you see them interacting in a situation like this, they then become deeply human, transformed before your eyes. Volunteers and staff alike never leave this ward with dry eyes. 


All photos from the ward by Carola Drosdeck

We have helped a Dalit (untouchables by the arcane practice of religious hierarchy) village in the hills of Ramechhap for many years. We primarily support the school with a hot lunch program, teacher salaries and other educational support when needed. The school was destroyed in the second earthquake. We helped then to get a temporary school put together and since have been working to build a new school. Numerous hurdles have kept that from happening and many natural hurdles remain; the area is hard to reach and water in very anemic supply. Yet we have been able to recently begin the construction. NOH received donations for earthquake relief from donors who knew we would use every penny of it properly. We hired an engineer who designed a school and gave an estimate of its construction.  NOH has agreed to pay for the complete job. We hope, barring the seasonal rains inhibiting things too much, to have the school completed by the end of the year.

Laying out the foundation

A “Puja” ceremonial blessing


 On April 30th Hope Angel turned three years old!

A year makes a big difference. Last year we celebrated 5 days after the earthquake as a means to forget for a few hours, and though we are still receiving aftershocks in the mid four range, we have this year moved on and are no longer weighed down with anxiety.

Hope’s beautiful cake

Some of the girls in attendance

The other day the girls were working in the yard, and Hope was hanging with them. I with my camera came around the corner and saw this. Hope had picked up a long drain plunger and did a series of moves that had pretty accurate precision. In a letter to a friend I shared these photos with the idea that Hope had been a Ninja warrior in a past life. Then, with a moments further reflection I remembered she had just watched the Ninja Turtles. I still admire the form.


NOH has at this time 24 of our children in College or University. We have 20 more who will join them next spring. Next year our college transition houses may have more children in them than some of our regular houses. Fortunately, we still have many young ones among us. Watching these younger children, some who have been with us since 4 years old, will be fascinating; they will undoubtedly set new academic standards few others will approach.


Our children now fill about half of our 43 staff positions. Others are managing their own business under our watchful eye. Two that deserve their own space now are below.

Our new Shoe Shop on the ground floor of the Sanctuary House. The children make all our school shoes as well as sell them to other students’ parents.

Our new Tailoring Shop on the ground floor of the Chelsea Center. Here three of our girls manage the shop during the day and teach sewing between 4 and 6 pm. Since opening the shop they have been kept busy with many new orders. They have long been making our uniforms as well as the uniforms for Gholadunga, a home for the blind that we support. There is still painting to do and signs to be made and hung.


Around two weeks ago I read a newspaper article which spoke of a remote village of 29 families surviving on nettle soup. The community there is Chepang, formerly a nomadic people who lived in the forest and did quite well in their own way.

A few years ago the government decided that they were hurting the forest and made them settle in villages together and learn to be farmers or tradesmen.

The article said that these 29 families were slowly starving; their crops were insufficient to feed them for more than 4 months and had earlier run out. We were curious to learn more about them and how to address their inability to be self-sustaining, but most importantly we wished to feed them.

I called two of our older boys who were on their college break; both these boys are immensely capable in remote travel; Chham has a government earned trekking license and Rabindra is from one of the harshest and most unforgiving areas of Nepal and well-seasoned in hard work and innovation.

We met at 9:30 and I proposed that they take a bus to Dhading Besi, the district seat of the land where the village is and hire a 4-wheel truck, load it with rice, dhal, oil, salt, and flour and try and deliver it to the village. We have two good friends in Dhading, honorary uncles of Hope and I called them to meet Chham and Rabindra in Dhading Besi and help them secure a truck and guide them to where to buy the goods.

By 11am Chham and Rabindra were on their way and by late afternoon they had found a truck and driver, had it loaded with 2000lbs of food and set off for the village which lay at the top of a mountain range a good 5 hours distance.

The “road” up was loosened by rains and barely supportive. After a few hours it was dark and dangerous to continue and so they stopped at a house they had passed and asked for shelter for the night. They slept in the cow shed, received a hot meal of rice in the morning and continued.

The rains came, the truck repeatedly got stuck and slid precariously close to sheer drop offs. A few people walking up to villages were given rides and used to push the truck each time it was stuck. The driver wished to stop after the progress was so utterly slow, but Chham and Rabindra were able to coax out the best in him and shared their enthusiasm for not quitting on these people starving up ahead.  They continued for hours more and finally reached an impasse. One of the riders said the village lay another 3 hours hike up the mountain.

Chham and Rabindra paid him to go to the village and let the people know to come down and collect the goods and then waited.

After 5 hours they saw a trail of people making their way down the steep incline on switchbacks. Soon they were surrounded by the villagers. Chham had the newspaper article with him which had a photo of one of the villagers and his son; he used this to find the boy.

It was late in the day now, but the rain had stopped. The food was unloaded and the villagers made ready to carry it home, they were deeply thankful; they felt witness to a miracle that Chham and Rabindra should show up with so much food for them.

Truck getting stuck in the lower elevation

A school passed along the way

The son featured in the newspaper article

Curious women looking at Chham

Rice distribution, man in the dress shirt from a lower village agreed to come and help. He spoke Chepang and knew the villagers

Chham with the son

Dividing the dhal

On their way up the mountain to home

Mission accomplished, Rabindra and Chham breathe in the beauty and serenity before starting down towards home. They arrived late the next day, exhausted, but pleased to have helped people.

"Our children do not talk so much about life, they just live it; they do not talk about giving a gift to a friend, they just do it; they don’t think about carrying the school bag of another who isn’t feeling well, they simply take it; there is no pretense, no calculations. They simply choose to engage everything straight from the heart.

“We have choices in life and each and every one of us has so much power.  If you choose to live a positive, optimistic life, to help others, to love your family and friends, to think ‘How can I make a difference in someone’s life every day?’ then you will make that difference; not only in their lives but in the quality of your own. It does not take a special person or a rich person; it just takes a caring person."

I wrote the above some years ago. I was reminded of it when the boys returned triumphant and proud. Most people would have quit on this task, but our children will never quit, they will see the joy where others see vexation, they will dig deeper when others throw in the towel. They are, like all our children, first and foremost, “caring people.”

Thank you for the time you have spent reading this.