We've made some progress with the orphan fund. As I mentioned in the last blog, we have joined forces with a local NGO to make it possible. There are no government welfare programs of any kind here in Nepal, so help is 100% reliant on charities and donors. This is why there are so many street kids -- they have no where to go, or anyone willing to help. Or perhaps there are good-natured locals that want to offer assistance, but financially this is not possible.
After many meetings with the director, we concluded that a family at one of the villages outside of Pokhara desperately needed our help. We made the adventure by first traveling via bus for 2 hours, then trekking 2 hours by foot up into the hills. The trek was long, but amusing as the villagers would emerge from their little shacks to stare in wonderment. Some would giggle, others would blush. But all couldn't keep their eyes off us.
On our journey, we were joined by two female case workers who made the trek in flip flops. Very commendable! Even on my Himalayan trek early in the month, it wouldn't be uncommon to see men carrying large drums or even refrigerators on their backs, all the while barefoot.
Upon our arrival, we found that the father had died, leaving behind 6 children all under the age of 13, and one mother with a Learning Disability. Because of her disability, she is unable to earn money for her family due to her lack of understanding how to.
Together we decided to buy them 4 goats, we will built them 1 shed, and are purchasing a 6 month's supply of food for the goats until they can become self-sustaining. This will cost $500.
The mother already knows how to farm and care for animals. She currently cares for 2 buffalo, but is unpaid. The agreement is, if she works for free for 1.5 years, the owner of the buffalo will donate a calf. However, there is no guarantee that the buffalo will produce a calf. If this is the case, the mother receives no compensation for her labor. This is why it is important that we make her self-sustaining. The profits from these animals will allow the family to pay for their own education and buy their own uniforms.
So now, you ask... what does this have to do with the orphan fund? In reality, 62% percent of orphans in 3rd world countries still have parents that are alive. Just ask Madonna. This is a huge problem on a global scale. The parents, who are poor, end of sending them away. Hope for Himalayan Kids set out to shut down unnecessary orphanages and place the children back into the care of their families.
If we can keep 6 children in a nearby village from sharing this same fate, then I believe this is how we should spend some of the donations. I want to take my fund in the direction of sustainability. I won't be around forever, and neither will NGO's... so perhaps starting at the root of the problem will be the solution we've all been looking for to end the epidemic of unwanted children.
**Update: Shortly, after this expedition... I met with the director in his office and we signed all the paperwork for this upcoming project. Their organization is required to obtain confirmation of donations from the government. They were very happy that we decided to support their cause, and the project will start early next week with the construction of a goat shed.