Our great friend and Sunsar Maya supporter, Alice McGowan, her sister Emma, and grandmother Jackie decided to go on a different kind of trip this summer. They laid out the possibilities and, among many different countries, they (well, grandma really) chose the last one on the list, Nepal! They had all heard a great deal about the children of Sunsar Maya, and now it was time to see it for themselves. Here is her account of their experience
"Since my grandfather passed away last year, my 78-year-old grandmother has caught the travel bug. I suggested that we do a trip, knowing that this probably meant we would end up in some European city for a brief, budget-friendly week of museum trips and sightseeing. I sent her a list of places I would be interested in going that I thought she would also enjoy except for, at the end of the list, I slyly added Nepal. To my surprise grandma’s reply was, without hesitation, we are going to Nepal! My younger sister Emma jumped on board too. It was decided that we would spend a few weeks on a multigenerational family trip volunteering and sightseeing in Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world.
After over 48 hours of standby travel, we arrived in Kathmandu with all our luggage accounted for. During the next few weeks we spent time in several different orphanages, including Sahayogi Samaj Nepal and the Nepal Orphans Home houses, and also the government-run Bal Mandir orphanage.
At Sahayogi Samaj Nepal we spent time with the 14 children living there, whose education is now fully supported by Sunsar Maya. We had a great time playing and spending time with the children. One Saturday, we brought the children new crayons and paper and watched them draw contentedly for hours. Although appalling, it was also very interesting to learn about their past and the terrible conditions in which some of them were found as babies. Many were left abandoned by rivers, some of them wounded, starving and freezing to death. It is impossible to imagine that these confident, energetic children with grins that stretch from ear to ear were once abandoned to die."
Let me pause Alice's story for a second. Sunar Maya core belief is that providing a good quality education for all children (let alone orphans) is fundamental to make this a better world. We know most of you would agree. Alice, Emma and Jackie visited Emile Academy in Khathmandu, the new school that Sahayogi Samaj Nepal children are attending. Our country manager, Raja, and all of us are certain that the change of school has greatly benefited all of the children and that the education and care provided at Emile Academy is far superior than their old school. This is Alice’s experience after visiting the Emile Academy.
"We were quite impressed by Emile Academy, the new school that the children are attending. The principal gave us a warm welcome and a tour of the classrooms and the entire school grounds. We were shown an elaborate student-run green house and garden, which supplies much of the produce used for the hot lunch program. The thing that made this school so appealing was the engagement of the children and the care and skill of the teachers. As the principal Shree Krishna Thapa explained, EmileAcademy prides itself on being a warm and friendly community where the children can strive to reach their full potential. Their staff is trained to use the methods of Montessori and focus on the different talents and strengths of each individual child. The principal also boasted about the schools placement in the first division for the Nepal Excellence Examination last year. Before leaving, we were each given a gift of a beautiful notebook handcrafted by the children in one of their various extra-curricular programs.
Unlike so many less fortunate children in Nepal and around the world, these orphans are getting a gift that can never be taken from them, something that has the power to change their lives and the world around them for generations, the only hope for a better life: EDUCATION. It is sad to think such a powerful tool of change is so unobtainable for so many. Less than half of Nepali children complete school through grade 10 simply due to the fact that their families don’t have the money to pay tuition or buy uniforms. But the children of Nepal Orphans Home and Sahayogi Samaj Nepal are able to finish school with the required uniforms and school tuition as a result of the generosity of supporters around the world.
In this way, Sunsar Maya and its warm-hearted supporters are making the world a better place, as they all work to help enable the underprivileged future generations reach their potential and obtain the skills and background necessary to strive in life. This will empower each generation to grow stronger, becoming more self-reliant and capable of independence. In any case, my multigenerational family is very grateful that we got a chance to see and contribute to something much bigger than ourselves."
We, at Sunsar Maya, are grateful too. Alice, Emma and Jackie, you rock!