Nepalhilfe Beilngries e.V.

23 Jahre Nepalhilfe Beilngries e.V.
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Visiting the Child Help Education Fund (CHEF) - Anne Oschwald’s flying visit

Anne Oschwald with Silviader, the youngest of the of orphanage
Anne Oschwald with Silviader, the youngest of the of orphanage
Staying at the orphanage during holiday time: Sabin (left), Lila Devi with Liam and Himal (front)
Staying at the orphanage during holiday time: Sabin (left), Lila Devi with Liam and Himal (front)
Clothes washing is one of the chores on a Saturday
Clothes washing is one of the chores on a Saturday
Together tidying the garden and yard
Together tidying the garden and yard
Shy, friendly and cheeky: the 8-year-old Himal
Shy, friendly and cheeky: the 8-year-old Himal

Welcome to the orphanage in Dhabakel

The small white taxi weaves through the street of Kathmandu. It is a Saturday and the traffic is not too heavy. However, crossroads, where cars, motorcycle, bicycle, handcarts and sometimes even cows meet, are often very chaotic. This hurly-burly gets quickly unravelled not really elegantly but rather efficiently in a special Nepali way.

This home offers space – inside and outside

I am on my way to the CHEF orphanage, which the NHB financially supports. I am carrying a big bag full of warm winter jackets in all sizes, which I am about to deliver for the children. Lalitpur, where the orphanage is situated, has expanded into Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, whereas the living situation gets kind of rural here. The taxi driver has to ask for directions and needs to turn his car into an even smaller street. Left and right of the street there are small fields and gardens, which are lying fallow at the moment, and some houses scattered to the four winds. One of these is the orphanage in Dhabakel.

Childhood with responsibilities

Several children are playing in the garden and welcome me shyly but curiously. They introduce themselves politely to me. It doesn’t take long and some kids wave a badminton racket in front of my nose to invite me to a match. Himal, Pardip and Amit play against me one after another. After some time I swap into the role of a spectator and Sylvia, a seven-year-old girl, comes to me to chat. She looks like a little tooth-gaped princess with her dark curls and her colourful dress.

Nepali welcome culture

In the back part of the garden, the older girls are washing their clothes, which is one of their chores during their free days. Water for clothes washing is usually cold. Afterwards they put the wet clothes over the washing line. There are some vegetable beds where still some winter vegetables are growing. The 19-year-old Sapana serves tea and noodle-soup with veggies, which is part of the Nepali welcome culture.

Bright and roomy

The front yard also needs tidying. Raj Snar, who has meanwhile come home from university, leads the young helpers in their work. The children between seven and twenty come from all geographic regions of Nepal and now form a colourful family of ten children and teenagers together with their foster parents Lila Devi, Raj Sunar and their eight-months-old son Liam. The building which they have moved in recently is bright and roomy. The few games and clothes are neatly tidied up. Three or four children share one dormitory furnished with bunk beds. One room is reserved for volunteers who commit themselves preferably longer than a couple of weeks. The winter jackets are stored in some wardrobes as the temperatures in December are still warm, at least during the day.

A home even during the holidays

During my next visit a few weeks later, I finally meet Lila Devi, who was on a wedding ceremony in Phokara with her son Liam last time. The 27-year-old studied sociology and is a fulltime mother managing the orphanage. Lila plans to start working again soon as a trekking guide or as a tourist guide in Kathmandu. 

It’s holiday time and the orphanage is quiet. Most of the young occupants have returned to their parents or families. The eight-year-old Himal also spends his holiday in Dhabakel as his father doesn’t accept him being at home. The same goes for the 16-year-old Sabin. Some had to travel far and the warm winter jackets were good for their journey in the icy cold night busses. Delivering the jackets myself was a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and gain new –friends in Nepal.

text/photos: Anne Oschwald, free-lance journalist