Robin Cappuccino is currently traveling to all of the Child Haven homes – here are some thoughts from road.
Namaste from Kathmandu where our Child Haven Home cares for 203 children, 77 of whom are enrolled in Child Haven’s Green Tara School along with 153 children from the surrounding community.
As our flight swoops down into the Kathmandu Valley, terraces built into the steep hillsides over centuries of farming call to mind the stepped contours of 3D landscape models. Stands of bamboo and yellow mustard fields reflecting the sunlight add to the surreal effect. I was able to grab a snapshot of the prayer flag bedecked Buddhist Stupa, Boudhanath, which is just a short walk from our Home. Bonniema purchases most of the treasures Child Haven sells and auctions at our Dinners, from small shops surrounding the Stupa, as well as among the massive Hindu Temples and ancient palaces of Bhaktapur, just outside Kathmandu. She has been buying from many of these vendors for decades, so they know all about Child Haven, and keep their eyes open for new discoveries she might like.
Our visit to the Home corresponded with exam week, so there was even more studying than usual going on. Most of the kids take their studies quite seriously, and are often the first in their families to attend much school. Child Haven’s Green Tara School was built to serve them as well as children in the community. Those local children from low-income families attend for free, while others pay a small fee. The school begins with a Montessori pre-school, and goes up thru Grade 8. Plans are afoot to expand through Grade 10, and also to build a third floor on the school to house a Technical/Vocational Training Program for our older kids and others in the community, when we find funding. We are discovering that our kids who graduate with training as plumbers, electricians, or mechanics, have better luck finding employment than those who study computer engineering or more academic subjects. We’re still sponsoring kids for higher education when their aptitude and marks are deserving, but for many a more technical or vocational path is more rewarding.
Green Tara’s Montessori Program is the product of years of training and support by Canadian Montessori trainers and hard work and study on the part of the teachers. One of them, Shoba, grew up in our Home and then went to study Montessori methods in Chennai. Two other Child Haven graduates also work in the school, Ragendra as a teacher and Padam as the librarian. It’s great to watch what once were adorable little kids, become conscientious role models for the next generation of adorable little kids.
As is often the case, one of our Nepal Board Members, Shyam Dhaubhadel, joined us for several meetings at the Home. Shyam and his wife Ranjana are the founders of the Siddhi Memorial Hospital in Bhaktapur, founded in memory of their 5 year-old son Siddhi who was killed in a traffic accident. Child Haven met them in 1995 when our Home was begun in a house they rented to us. Since that time, Shyam has been a guiding light, whose uplifting words of wisdom and inspiration, steeped in his deep awareness of Nepali culture and tradition, have been truly invaluable. It has been Child Haven’s good fortune to have found mentors and collaborators like Shyam at all our Homes, whose generosity with their time, insights and local knowledge make our efforts so much more effective.
Next stop New Delhi.
Until next time,
Robin Cappuccino for CHI
Stay tuned for more ‘thoughts from the road’ as Robin continues his journey through the CHI homes in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Tibet.