For those of you who know me for years, you will remember I climbed the littlest of the Himalayan mountains back in Fall 2011 with my friend Peter and his son Connery. It was thanks to Jangbu and Mingmar of Peak Freaks who got us safely to the summit and home in one piece. Check out the photos from our summit day here.
As part motivation to ensure I dragged myself to the summit of Island Peak and not give up, I set myself a goal and raised over $12,000 for Child Haven – a Canadian based charity that runs children’s homes in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Tibet as well as a bunch of other meaningful projects. Not a penny is wasted on that great big black hole called ‘Admin Costs’ at Child Haven.
I was introduced to Child Haven by my friend Katherine Doyle, who has spent many a time caring for the children in the Kathmandu home, as well as being one of the organizers of the very successful annual Child Haven fundraiser that’s been running for years in Vancouver. I later had the honour to meet Bonniema (of Fred & Bonnie Cappuccino fame – the couple who founded the charity way back in 1985). Bonniema shared her wisdom with me on the Dos and Don’ts of working in developing countries and I live by those principles to this day.
As Fred & Bonnie grow in years (but not in energy or zest for life!), their son Robin now shares the responsibility for the charity and ensuring the children’s homes are well run and the money raised is spent wisely and only for the benefit of the children and women the charity supports.
Today Robin posted a rather lovely update that made my heart melt, and with his kind permission, I am sharing it along with some photos, with you.
So from one coffee to another ….. Enjoy!
Child Haven update – Robin Cappuccino May 18 2017
Bonniema and I arrived at Child Haven’s Home for 203 formerly destitute children in Kathmandu just in time for Buddha’s Birthday. We meet Suraj’s 84-year-old grandfather, Resham, who walked 8 hours and then took a bus from his remote village to get here for the celebration. Resham explains that the body is like a machine, you have to keep using it or it will stop working. His grandson Suraj grew up in the Home and is now a much-liked Supervisor. Suraj’s aunt, Sushila, is a girl’s care-giver. This afternoon, they and many of the children from the Home will join thousands of other celebrants at the huge Buddhist stupa, Boudhanath, a short walk from the Home. They will circle the stupa three times, spinning the prayer wheels along the path as they go.
Arrangements have been made for a Buddhist lama to come do a Pooja or Blessing at the Home in honor of the occasion. The Home’s Buddhist children and many others gather in the Dining Hall and throw small handfuls of rice as the lama chants blessings punctuated by the chiming of his ceremonial bell and flourishes of his thunderbolt dorje. A tall pole with prayer flags is laid out before him which will later be hoisted from the roof, joining many others in the valley.
Efforts are made to support the religions of all of the children in our Homes. This is especially easy in Nepal where Hindu, Buddhist and Bon religious practices and holidays are all widely embraced. One of the temples in Bhaktapur, where our Home was earlier located, houses statues of both Hindu and Buddhist deities.
Another young man who grew up in the Home with Suraj, Dhruba, has also begun working as a Supervisor for the Home. They both recently graduated from University with degrees in Computer Engineering. Bonniema says if they find a better job she will let them go. In the meantime, their experience in the Home has prepared them well to facilitate the loving upbringing of the children now in their care.
Among the children we spend time with is a 10 year old girl who was brought here from another home that was closed by the Government for unscrupulous practices. Apparently, no one knows where she came from, or who her parents might be. Ads with her picture have been placed in newspapers, but so far no information has been found.
Another 9 year boy was brought to the Home several years ago after a nurse visiting a remote village discovered that he was an orphan with no one there to care for him. Yet another was brought to the Home by his mother after they were abandoned by her second husband. She was at a loss as to how to make a living for herself let alone care for her son.
The bright smiles and ready laughter of these children attest to the remarkable resilience of children surrounded by love, understanding and as the Buddha might say, compassion.
If you would like to learning about Child Haven, feel free to visit their website www.childhaven.ca. And if there is a fundraising event happening near you, I would highly recommend going – they are a ton of fun with an array of entertainment and the food is always, I mean always delicious. And, it’s also for a great cause.