School’s back! In Nepal at least

It’s been two months since the Remarkable Year in Sri Lanka fundraiser raised C$5,000 to benefit children with spinal cord injuries (SCI) in Nepal.  A mix of countries I know but the story I had to tell was about my time in northern Sri Lanka working with small, family-run businesses in the Tamil community.  Nepal continues to be my soul-home though, I have a strong connection to the resilience of Nepalis and in particular with people living with SCI, hence raising funds for the kids with SCI in Nepal.

The hostel is run by the Spinal Cord Injured Network Nepal, an organization created in 2016 by Rishi Dhakal and friends, in response to the increasing need for kids with SCI, to have a safe place to stay while attending school.

I’ve been to visit the hostel in Jorpati  in the outskirts of Kathmandu a few times and wrote about it way back in 2016.   Check out that blog post here.  The hostel has basic accommodation, spotlessly clean and well cared for by a hired Didi – a local lady who cooks and cleans for the children, and gets them off to school in the morning.    Didi actually means Older Sister in the Nepali language.  I think it is fitting that the lady that cares for them is indeed like their older sister in their home away from home.

Didi preparing lunch

The Spinal Cord Injured Network Nepal board members are also very active at the hostel, helping the kids with homework and projects, enhancing their English language skills, public speaking skills (Nepal’s future advocates for SCI!) and bringing them along to a variety of sports activities:  swimming, table tennis, basketball, cricket and wheelchair road racing.  They lead very active and stimulating lives, don’t they?

It’s not hard to believe there is a wait list of about 11 kids who want to attend school.  The hostel needs to be expanded to accommodate more children … but that’s a whole other story!

Out of many deserving kids, Sumit (15), Sidhant (12), Subash (15) and Bandana (10) are the ones who are benefiting from the donations of Bowen Islanders (C$5,000) in combination with a contribution towards expenses (C$1,800) from their respective families.  Money sure stretches far in Nepal.

This is Sumit, Sidhant and Subash’s second year living at the hostel.  Easy to tell they are happy and healthy in this photo below, ready for the new school year.

Fresh uniforms and ready for school Sumit (l), Sidhant (m) and Subash (r)

And then there is Bandana from Mugu in Western Nepal who only arrived at the hostel this week.  She had a long way to travel and needed a hospital stay to manage a pressure sore before being healthy enough to attend school.  Look how happy she is upon arrival at the hostel!

Bandana upon arrival at the Hostel earlier this week.  Nicely painted nails too!

Keshav Thapa who is the Program Coordinator of Spinal Cord Injured Network Nepal, sent me some background on the children and how they have ended up at the hostel.   These are the children’s stories (unedited).

Thank you Bowen Island, for your continued support in all the volunteer work I do, and the support you provide me  time and time again.  In particular I would like to thank Ann Ramsey and a cadre of Anonymous donors (you know who you are!) for your generous donations.  Thank you too to those who contributed in many ways at the fundraiser.

Your generosity has given hope to the possibility of a bright future for Sumit, Sidhant, Subash and Bandana.

Dhanybhad!

Budget detailing how the money is being spent is below:

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In the past two years, my work in Nepal has expanded to the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation www.bomkarlsson.com and the Spinal Cord Injured Network Nepal. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in the north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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