I have a confession to make. I have always been treated as a VIP whenever I come to Kathmandu . It is especially so this year. I did offer to help in the preparation of the lunch, but was continuously told that its OK, the girls can manage. Admittedly the 3 older girls and Rajesh are so much more grown up this time round. Apart from being the cashier for all the shopping trips , I have not been allowed to lift a finger since my arrival on Monday. I did not even get a chance to peel one potato, not that I am complaining........
The day started early @ 8am. I sat in the English class to watch the children ( Uma's and the Neel Barahi school children ) doing a 5 minutes presentation (15 in total ) in front of the class.It was most encouraging to hear the school children actually speaking English clearly and confidently, apart from one. This shows the skills of the English teacher, comparing to what I managed to get out of them yesterday. I videoed the session for the sponsors' tea in October. It will give the sponsors an opportunity to see the progress of the child s/he sponsors.
Having met all the mums last year, coupled with recent home visits, every one was more relaxed and chatty from the word go.Uma had a volunteer cook whose son we helped earlier on in the year. It was the youngster who lost his father and we raised over 300 pounds at Chinese New Year towards his school fees.We had a most fabulous Nepali lunch. I have to say my jeans are getting tighter by the day!
With the first arrival at 10am, I have ample time to talk to some of the young adults we are sponsoring. I was able to check out the progress of Madhusudan, a 17 year old who has started his year 11 ( 6th form), as well as Nischall Karki, the boy who lost his father early on in the year. He is 15 and doing his year 10 ( 5th form). Madhu talked about the pressure of having to find his fares to college (@600r =over a fiver) a month. With 150 pounds in credit from his sponsor, I was able to help him out. Uma suggested that the money is given to his grandmother, whom he lives with, to manage. This was done. I made a big mistake in not doing it more discreetly. Reflecting back, it must have given some parents the impression that I can help them with anything (financially) if they only ask.
The jackets/tracksuits/t-shirts/socks were given out to every child. This was achieved by Uma's children taking turn to give them out.The children and the mums went on to enjoy a good lunch We had chicken, dhal, potato& vegetable and a soya protein in tomato sauce, with chilli and tomato salsa on the menu. It was yum.
There were @ 40 people in all . Some mums brought younger children along whom we have not met. I asked Uma to reinforce the message that the sponsors are still very committed to helping their children in their education. However they must do their bit as parents to encourage their children to grasp that opportunity to make something of their lives. It will help them to get good jobs to support themselves and their families when they grow up. Hopefully to break the cycle of deprivation. Uma and I share the same vision. She does not beat around the bush. If anything, she is probably more brutal in getting the honest message across. A little of finger wagging would not come amiss here, I have discovered.
I was waylaid during the lunch by one of the mums. She asked if I could help with some medical expenses for her child (one of our sponsored children). It would seem that the child has something wrong with her throat? tonsilitiss? whatever, and needed to see a specialist which the family cannot afford. It was a moral dilemma.Its about setting a boundary in my work here. I feel for the family. However, the charity's effort is focused on education and self improvement. I do not have the budget nor the trustees' agreement to spend on anything else. I talked to Uma about my difficulty. Uma explained to the mum the reason I was unable to help. I felt really bad, but had to accept that this is life. I cannot save the world, nor do I want to ,really. That has made me reflect on how I have done things which led to this .I have to take some responsibility for allowing this to happen.
All things being equal, it has been a very fulfilling and positive day ,albeit that it was long drawn out and exhausting.Some of the tasks for this trip have been achieved. Thank you all, sponsors , donors and Friends of KIKN for making it happen.