Papa’s Updates

Papa’s House News and Updates

May 1, 2012

May 1, 2012

A few photos from “HOLI,” the festival of color celebrating the triumph of good over evil.


Friday April 13th was New Year’s day in Nepal, the year now 2069. 2068 was a good year for Nepal Orphans Home (NOH). Our children are growing into impressively strong young people, and twenty new children have joined the family. One of many touching moments came with the reuniting of sisters after an eight-year separation. At Skylark English Medium school our children continue to receive praise for their wonderful personalities and top academic performances. We have bid farewell to much-loved staff and welcomed new, while our family dog (now fixed) presented us with five puppies early Christmas morning. And in the interim between New Year’s and now, we have opened a new home and a small home school for accelerated studies; one child has entered the job market while another attends college. Our food support of a small orphanage near us continues after one full year and the educational support and hot lunch program of a remote Dalit village entered its fourth year. A small and heart-filled Tibetan school near the Bigu Monastery continues to receive our volunteers and periodic financial support, while back at home, as we have since our inception, we helped support the education of 35 local children in order that they attend Skylark. These are but a few of the ways in which NOH has been able to lend a helping hand due to the kindness of many.

Sherpa School (left two photos) and our program at Dumrikhaka (Dalit Village)


Anisha, September 2007 and September 2011

Let me begin this update with what occurred on the afternoon of February 26th.  Anisha, seen in the top two photos, came to our former home Lawajuni in the Dang district rescued by SWAN in late 2007 and transferred over to Dhapasi the next year. She has been a model child who has learned English quickly and made great strides at school, always finishing near the top of her class and jumping grade levels. When Anisha was 7 she was separated from her sister, who was also sold as a Kamlari (indentured servant). She has had her sister Sima in her heart and mind every day since then, but on an overcast afternoon after eight years apart, they were reunited at the NOH Imagine House in Dhapasi. After a three-month search by SWAN, we one day received word that Sima had been found, and we sent Vinod the next day to rescue her. After a brief but firm discussion with the woman with whom she had been a servant for eight years, Sima, allowed only what she was wearing at the moment to be taken, walked away from the house and into freedom.

At 4 p.m. the following day Vinod called me from a taxi and said some of the sweetest sounding words I had heard all year: “Papa, we are in Dhapasi.” With that I called Anita while tying my shoes on the run; I made it to her house just moments later. The children surrounded Anisha and anxiously stared down the road. A minute later the little white taxi appeared, our children started applauding, the door opened, and Sima rose from the back, out of a group of thirty girls her eyes immediately connected with her little sister, and she shyly folded into her embrace.

Sima and Anisha a nanosecond after arrival, and a few days later with Imagine House manager Anita.


We have reunited or ensured the togetherness of 19 sets of sisters at NOH, two sets consisting of four sisters each, one set of three and 16 sets of two.

Sisters Asha, Gita, Srijana and Bimala              Sisters Lila, Rogina, Yeshordha and Susila

Sarita, Gita and Sapana

Asmita and Asha; Minakshee and Gayatri; Anu and Anita;Juna and Kamana

Pushpa and Anita                     Muskan and Manisha          Nirmala and Sharmila

Apsara and Kabita                 Srijana and Punima               Anita and Sunita

Kamali and Lalita                  Isha and Bhumika               Sushila and Kamala

Aliza and Elina                                   (left and right) Sima and Anisha

And we have three sets of brothers and sisters:

Deepa, Cila and brother Roshen                             Ram and his sister Sushma

Saroj and his sister Sangita

And two sets of brothers:

Sandesh, Sujan and Maila (Dawn Kumari’s sons); Dhiraj, Rajan and Ashok


Our newest garden:

The last harvest before preparing the ground for our spring crop.

The ground we leased next to our cottage has responded well to the children’s efforts. Pratap, our Possibilities Boys’ House dad, has taken the lead in teaching the children how to grow crops and manage the land for future yields. The boys have moved into a new home now which has space for a small garden so the daily labors of the garden shown above will fall to Papa’s Harmony House girls under Dawn Kumari, whose skillful guidance in our old gardens have kept fresh spinach, lettuce and vegetables on our plates year round for many years.


As mentioned we have opened a new home for girls this month. We found a wonderful home for lease not far from the Skylark School. One Saturday morning Pratap and I, along with several of the children, went for a walk through the home before signing the lease. The boys fell in love with it, and, as it was large enough to accommodate their existing numbers and more, we decided to have them move into it, and the new girls would take over their home.

The boy’s new Possibilities Home                          View from the balcony


One week after we got the boys settled, we welcomed the first five new girls into their new home. Anita Mahato’s twin sister Sunita accepted our offer to manage the new home. Sunita had been handling the cooking and cleaning responsibilities at the Imagine house since we opened it. Sunita, like her sister, is adored and brings to the new home a gentle loving firmness and precise scheduling. The new children will fill the house in stages roughly two weeks apart.

Front to back and left to right: Sita holding “Lucky”, Bajan, Anupa and Nirmala; Back row: Ratan and Sunita


On the evening of April 3rd Vinod boarded a plane bound for America; this has been a dream he has patiently waited to begin for several years. Our children and his family who had arrived from their village sent him off to his new life with love and happiness. I offer a reconstituted summation of the journey in which Vinod spoke of the tears he experienced going through security and waiting to board the plane in Kathmandu. In the first leg of the journey his feelings of aloneness and loss as the miles sped him away from the only life he knew and cherished so much were more painful than he had imagined.

Vinod with his sister Anita at his farewell party.

But then, several hours later in Doha’s terminal, his thoughts gently turned towards the family awaiting him in America, picturing their preparations in meeting him in Washington, and he smiled, knowing his life together with Alecia was at long last about to become no longer separable by governments, and that reality brought him comfort. Many long hours in flight and then in Germany an interminable layover finally passed with e-mails written to his future and past, his past deep in sleep while his future family awaited in late morning America. He boarded the last plane with his thoughts having lost their tether, like tumbleweed blown across a barren desert, and settled anxiously to pass another twelve hours. 

At last, dazed but wide eyed, his plane touched down in Washington; he queued properly and with exhausted, fearful reticence he handed over a thick stack of documents to the immigration officer, whose serious demeanor kept Vinod’s breath at bay for many minutes. Then the officer’s stern face softened into a smile as he looked at Vinod and said, “Welcome to America, Son.”

Vinod found his cuffed-up suitcase in the carousel, and with his heart pounding walked through the last set of doors separating him from his Alecia. Finally being in America he did not want to bring any attention to himself lest he feel that long umbrella handle of fate come around his neck and yank him back from where he came, but his legs did not listen when Alecia appeared in the distance and he broke into a trot, oblivious to the stares around him, and finally into Alecia’s powerful embrace; he was home.


We are fortunate to be joined in the Volunteer House by Yem (the “Y” is silent) Mahato, Vinod’s cousin. Yem had come with Vinod’s parents and sister to say goodbye and I saw a remarkable similarity to Vinod, Anita and Sunita in him; he has a wonderful work ethic, he places integrity and character above all else, and he smiles from the heart. Yem will be taking on the vacated role of Volunteer House Manager for Sam, who has asked for up to a year’s leave.

Yem, the new volunteer Nepal house manager, and Sam teaching some basketball moves.

And Hari, shown above, a young family man with Dhapasi roots for several generations
and a friend of mine for eight years, will be taking Vinod’s pivotal role as coordinator under Christina.


At the beginning of this update I mentioned that we have started a new school here at home. The school came into being to serve new children who have previously been deprived an education; the idea is to accelerate their ability to communicate in English and get their math and other matriculating subjects up to par all in one year. At the end of the year they will have the option of joining the others at Skylark or continue to work with the new school’s superb staff and further catch up or leap ahead of their peers, as the case might be. My belief is that with concentrated lessons taught individually by wonderful and compassionate teachers most all children will show incredible results. At this writing there are only eight students in the program, but that will increase a little bit over the next month.

We have one excellent full-time teacher in Mrs. Sunita Pandey, and with her a teacher’s helper in our own Kabita Karki, who has a three-month wait for the results of her School Leaving Exam before she can begin college. Volunteers come from our Volunteer Nepal department, some of whom have teacher training, and they offer one-on-one help to the children.


Meanwhile at the Skylark School...

Mina, Principal Sangita Rai, Chiaya and Srijana; and Asha, Anisha and Gita

The end of the school year’s results and awards ceremony was held on April 12th at the Skylark School. The children of Nepal Orphans Home were well represented there, receiving First, Second and Third in their classes above.

Pinky, above left, was 100% all year; Saraswati above was #2 in her class;
Apsara, Yeshorda (missing) and Sangita Kumari received 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in their class.

Asha, Srijana and Kushbu 3rd, 1st and 2nd; Ishwor, far right, was 2nd place in his class

And below, honored at our own ceremony for maintaining over 90% through the year, are:
















Our five #1 ranked at Skylark for the year


Today is May 1st, a holiday here to celebrate Labor Day. As I write this it is 5 p.m. and we are all inside; the electricity, which should be on for another hour, has been lost to a tremendous wind storm. Looking out my window debris fills the air; a tin roof over part of our cottage has become partially unfastened and yawns wide towards the neighbors with each gust. The NOH banner on our house took flight while some girls and I watched from their window, its 6’ by 8’ canvas cart-wheeled taut through the sky until sheered down by headwinds. Gusts come and make the curtains breathe and dance ghost-like, while the pressure against the glass is as tense as the girls’ expressions. I ran into our yard to retrieve the banner under the pensive eyes of our children, who then smiled at my pretending to take flight myself in pursuit of the skittering banner.

The steady gale is slowing now, and in between loud gusts pushing the storm away, we relax. Our dogs frolic in the yard, chasing large flying rice sacks. My desk and computer are covered in a fine powder of dirt as dust now settles in the calm. This is spring in the Kathmandu Valley; we live on the very precipice of a large valley and we are the first line of defense for the rest of the city against these winds blowing in from Sagamartha. It is the least we can do.

I hear the children now laughingly recounting the storm and their fear; it is the way of our children, as I have learned in listening to them talk among themselves and laugh away the storms in their earlier lives.

Thank you to all of you who have helped us to allow these children the opportunity to have a good life.

All my best;

February 16, 2012

On Christmas Eve this year the children received their 2nd term final exam scores. The exam period is a highly competitive time when grades in the 90’s may not be good enough to finish in the top three of your class.  Skylark English School has 78 children as boarders; many of these children have exemplary academic abilities and have been sent to board at Skylark by parents wanting the best for their children, so it is quite exceptional to have our children -- with the many interruptions to their education prior to joining us -- achieve the rankings that they have.

With great pride in all our children’s effort I present here those who distinguished themselves by ranking in the top three of their class in an English medium school of over 600 children.

Coming in first in their respective classes, left to right from top are:

Rupa, Khusbu and Samjhana and below Kanchi, Apsara, Saraswati and Srijana

Coming in second in their respective classes, left to right:
Anu, Sangita Kumari, Sunita and Anisha

And coming in third in their respective classes, left to right: 
Ishwor, Gita Yogi, Yeshordha and Gita KC.

The averaging together of the 2nd term scores of these 15 students resulted in a 93.26% score. Congratulations to them all.


Christmas this year was magical.  On Christmas Eve we had a caroling in our yard, by candlelight,  and not a person present was untouched by an air charged with so much love.   Every eye you met seemed to possess a deeper spiritual understanding under the phosphorescent twinkling.  I felt that angels had descended upon us.  The feeling was unlike any I have ever experienced.

Many  former volunteers made an effort to be here for Christmas, flying in from four continents.  Bob Linscott, my little brother, arrived with 120 school bags donated from Samsonite Luggage, and Kylie Penneck from Australia with Christmas caps for all.

Along with the volunteers already present, they helped make the pretty large production of Christmas easy.  During the day we formed the Nepal Orphans Home Logo on the ground with bricks and placed upon it candles and after that the children who from this arrangement sang the carols.

I feel that this holiday season has exceeded all others in a sense of real magic and of inexplicable occurrences.  After it was over the children, friends, volunteers and staff assembled shook their heads and stated their belief that there was something pretty powerful in the air.  After the caroling and hot chocolate, the children not living in Harmony House prepared to walk back to their respective homes, their candles still alive. They formed a long line with staff and volunteers and as they walked through the dark streets they spontaneously started singing Christmas Carols again which brought our Hindu and Buddhist neighbors to the street to watch.  The angelic voices and candle glow brought the very best out of each heart watching, who called out to them “Merry Christmas”, the pronunciation of which is strange to their tongues and a phrase they learned, I think, in our honor.

The line of almost 90 children took a while to pass and as it did these children transformed our little village of Dhapasi in yet another way; they again have nudged people to understand and see from their hearts and souls.  It is readily apparent that more people than not truly care about others and wish nothing but peace and happiness for all.

Christmas Day was a long and joyous occasion with gifts to be opened, programs the children had created to perform and a special meal together.  When the day came to an end, the children retired to their rooms and spoke softly and lovingly of the many blessings they have found in their lives, while close to 30 volunteers and friends went out to eat together and raise a glass to the amazing children of NOH which had brought them all together.


At 5:00 am on Christmas morning. Papa’s House Doggy Lama, Sweetie, delivered 6 beautiful puppies.  Sweetie was a Christmas gift to Dawn Kumari last year.  As of today, all the puppies have been distributed among the four homes where they eagerly see the children off to school and welcome them home each day.


For six years now, six days a week, Milan Bhandari, a 1st Dan Tai Kwon Do Master, has been instructing our children.  Unfortunately Nepal has limited opportunities for young people and Milan was forced to join the over 800 Nepalese who leave Nepal every single day of the week for work in other countries.  For Milan it is Malaysia. Milan is one of the finest young men I know; soft spoken and unerringly polite, Milan was always here on time to teach regardless of the weather or his own health.  He loves his country and family, but on December 18th Milan came to offer a last lesson and introduce his replacements just hours before boarding a plane. We will miss him and keep him always in our hearts.

Milan on left with his handpicked successors (brother and sister) who alternate days.


On New Year’s Day the Skylark School held its Sports Day Competition at the Kathmandu Police Academy.  This is an event that takes place every three years with months of preparation and excitedly anticipated by all the school.  It was a very fun day with over 35 events drawing from work the parents of participants. In the company of several friends and volunteers not yet departed after Christmas, our children walked the two and a half miles from our homes to the playing fields. The children of NOH stay in good shape.  In each house a number of the children run every morning in the dark and cold, repelling whatever the weather might be. So it was not surprising when Sumitra Devkota was named the athlete of the day having won every event she was placed in.

Sumitra on left edging out her competition, and on the right Kabita, Lalita and Deepa taking 1st 2nd and 3rd in their divisions:

Sapana Chaudhary left winning the 800 meter and Puja Sapkota winning the 400 meter:

And Chham Gurung in a come from behind finish in his 3rd consecutive race: 


Our children are born into a few different religions and in a country that recognizes the primary holy days of each religion, eastern and western, we encourage the children to learn about and participate  in or observe the rituals of each.  On January 28th the Hindu God Saraswati is celebrated. Saraswati is the Goddess of education and on this day all students, teachers and administrators offer a “puja” for her.  Anita Mahato, the Imagine House manager, likes to have our Puja at her house. She and her girls spend the evening before the holiday in the kitchen making breads and other foods from scratch to feed all the children wishing to attend.


With many thanks to Possible Worlds, the Canadian NGO founded by Toni Thomson, who is also a member of the NOH board of directors, we were able to celebrate Valentine’s Day again this year by inviting the teachers of Skylark School and their 78 boarders.  Pratap Chettri, the Possibility Homes boys’ house Dad, Gita Lama, the Sanctuary House manager, Anita Mahato, the Imagine House manager, spent the better part of three weeks planning and preparing for the event, while the children in each house worked on dance and singing performances each Saturday.

Each child attending was to make a minimum of 5 Valentine’s cards -- three for friends and two unnamed which would have names added once we saw which Valentine’s Day bags were a little light. Our children are prodigious card makers; amazing drawings and scissor art goes into each painstakingly created work of art, usually after their homework is finished at night and by the fading illumination of rechargeable lights.  Often, many evenings would be spent on a single card.

The program schedule had school being dismissed at 12:15 and all the students, teachers and guest arriving at 1 pm, each wearing an article of red.  On the 10th of February all the cards were collected and personal bags made up by our staff were filled with the cards, chocolates and cloth roses. Also on the tenth we collected a Superlatives voting list of 15 categories including one for the “Teacher who most inspires you.”

A photo booth was set up for “Valentines” photos while the performing programs went on.

A spectacular meal was prepared by the house managers and their staff on Monday evening and on Tuesday morning our wonderful didis joined Dawn Kumari in our kitchen to cook.  Close to 500 handmade rotis were produced that morning in our 12’ by 12 ‘ kitchen by six of our didis, while also cooking the food created the night before, and at precisely one o’clock they had everything outside on serving tables for the arriving crowd.  Unlike today (February 16th) the day was full of sun and warmth.  On the 13th we had a windy and bitter cold, rain-filled day and the 15th was like today -- windy, dark and very cold.  If you think the power of positive thinking among our family can’t change the weather I offer this as pretty compelling evidence to the contrary.

The serving begins and on right Gita, Ramila, Sita and Anita eating their tiffin:

There was a pretty even distribution of Superlative awards handed out to robust applause for each; and also judging for the dance and singing performances shown below. 

Our senior girls in a traditional Nepalese dance (Lalita and Asha in front) and some of our boys in a modern dance; both choreographed by our Saturday dance instructor and the children themselves:

Little Gita and Juna in our smallest girls dance:

Pushpa on left and Samjhana peeking out at the crowd while awaiting their turn:

Sunita Khadka, whom I have suggested to be the reincarnation of Edith Piaf; Chham and Kamali:

And voted top singer of the day, Sunita Thapa, accompanied by our boys:
Lalita on left and Srijana on right who was voted the individual dancer of the day:

Winners in the Superlative awards presented by Anita and Gita were:

Smartest Female Student, Sapana Chaudhary        Smartest Male Student, Ishwor Shrestha

Female Most Likely to Succeed, Binita Chaudhary; Most Helpful Male, Saroj Nepali

Best Female Athlete, Sumitra Devkota                   Best Male Athlete, Chham Gurung

Most Inspirational Student, Susila Khadka (on right);      School Princess for 2012, Shila Regmi

And from the photo booth I leave you these:


Our children are dedicated to their education and can be found studying or reading all the time, even while squeezing in a little play.  My mother, who was a librarian and instilled in her children the love of reading, would be very proud of the children of NOH.

Thank you,