Helping Nepal’s Disabled Children

I need to say a little something about the noble effort behind “Heart of Bhaktapur” guest house.

Heart of Bhaktapur guest house was started in 2012 by the founders of the Suvadra foundation Nepal, a non-profit organization which provides for help and care for physically handicapped children. Care is given through several social programs and in two children’s homes named Swarga I and Swarga II, with the latter located on the ground floor of the guest house.

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A unique aspect is that the guest house’s profit is reinvested directly in the children’s homes and other social programs organized by Suvadra. By staying with HoB you directly support children who need it most. Here’s one story from a young man aged 21 with whom I spoke after visiting Swarga II.

His home is in the Far East of Nepal, some 3 days walk from the nearest bus line and medical clinic. When he was an infant 9 months old, a kerosene lamp placed beside his bed tipped over and set the blankets on fire. As a result, he was badly burned on his upper torso, arms, and face. The family took him to the clinic and the doctor positioned his burned arm so that it was bent at the elbow, thinking this would protect the damaged skin. Instead, when the family returned to the clinic two and a half weeks later, the arm had atrophied, the skin had become infected, and it was amputated above the elbow.

This young man endured terrible hardships growing up in a rural area, coming to Bhaktapur when he was 15 in hopes of being admitted to the HoB clinic-program. He received a skin-graft for his face (which helped a little) but just as importantly, he started a rigorous educational program. In the six years he’s been in the program, he skipped two grades and will take his final exams in March, completing a 10 year curriculum in 6 years. He wants to be a manager of a hotel “if people can accept my disabilities.”

One of the problems these children with mental and physical handicaps face (several had cerebral palsy) is the traditional Hindu belief in karma and reincarnation. If you have disabilities or even sickness in this lifetime, it’s because you created bad karma in the last lifetime and are being punished. A Hindu priest with education would explain it in a more sophisticated way, but that is the bottom line that prevents social services from having a greater impact on Nepali society.

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Another problem facing the directors is the sudden reduction in funding (by 50%) by its sole sponsor, an organization in Holland. The director wants to seek additional sources and partners but the main sponsor wants to remain its sole benefactor. Clearly, this is not a sustainable model for development and helping children. When we spoke, the director indicated a desire to seek independence and work twice as hard to achieve his vision. We promised to stay in touch so that I can stay peripherally involved in helping him find sponsors in California or N. America.

 

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