Decisions, Decisions

November 24, 2011

in Nepal, Philanthropy

Maya by Tara

Maya. photo credit: Tara Bider

Thanks to our donors, Changing Lives Nepal raised enough money this summer to send Maya to school for a year, perhaps two. In Nepal, however, money is just the beginning of a solution. I started considering how we could best ensure Maya’s future.

Maya is about 5 years old now. The family at Sunrise Lodge wanted to send her to a boarding school in Kathmandu (which is not uncommon, even at a young age), but I was concerned that she was too young to be placed in a hostel. She needed love and a family as much as an education. I was also worried about what would happen when her scholarship ran out. Could we raise more money every year? Not just for two or three years, but for 10+ years? I’m already committed to the future of 13 children at our Children’s Home. Could I guarantee that I’d be able to support Maya to maturity also? It seemed better to find a permanent placement for her. Our own orphanage just took 3 new children and is full, plus I knew the Sunrise family would never send her off to a rural area unknown to them. They wanted her to have a Kathmandu education or else they’d keep her at their home.

Maybe their home was the best option? It was possible, but the Sunrise family were preoccupied with the new child they were adopting as their own. The public government primary school 30 minutes away wasn’t going to offer much in the way of education, plus they had not enrolled her for this year. I was concerned Maya wasn’t getting the attention that she needed, and that was later confirmed as she hugged me and clung to me this fall.

Maybe an orphanage in Kathmandu? That could be difficult. In Nepal, the word “orphanage” conjures up notions of children in dark, cramped rooms, eating poor food, and directors who pocket funds. Too many orphanages in Nepal are run like a business, cutting costs and taking out profits.

I started looking for an organization I could trust and finally found one through friends. Ama Ghar is a modern orphanage just outside Kathmandu. It is run by an American woman who lives there and has a good ratio of staff to kids. If they took Maya, she would have a beautiful village-type environment, good house mothers, good nutrition, and a private education. I contacted them, told them all about Maya, and they accepted her.

The Sunrise family, however, wasn’t so excited. When I mentioned an orphanage on the phone this summer, I’m sure they envisioned the poor conditions I’ve described. It wasn’t until I reached Phakding this fall with my trek group that I was able to see Maya and the family and explain the situation to see if they would really accept the placement and send her to Kathmandu.

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