A School in Nepal – Igniting Self Reliance

On March 31, 2016 I visited the village my close friend Niisha Kshetri grew up in along with one of the guests staying at Hidden Paradise with me, and now considered a good friend Kim (from Quebec). At the age of 17 Niisha was married to Manish who both work at the family run Pokhara hotel just North of Lakeside where I spend most of my days in Nepal. Niisha’s village is just a 45 minute bus ride outside of Pokhara and has a beautiful view of the city as well as the mountains just behind her home. Meeting with Niisha's FamilyMy trip there was for the sole purpose to see her Mother and get to know her family more. While we were there we walked around her village to see the local temple as well as the school she attended as a young girl. The school was a long white building followed by a shorter one just behind a large soccer field. The children were not in school as all of them had finished their exams and were on their break before starting the next year.

Niisha is a big fan of taking selfies (as most Nepali, and just about anyone, are). We proceeded to take selfies with each other around the school. The soccer field in front of the school had limited grass, but the dirt was fairly hard. The goal posts on each end were made from local wood. Selfie in front of school in NepalWe walked around the school as Niisha showed us the outside of the buildings and then headed back down a path that lead us towards a temple built for the village. The location was peaceful and the view of the city was one I had not seen before. There were children playing with a young Water Buffalo that seemed to be very affectionate as he walked up towards me after scaling a very difficult hill of rocks slipping his way up the top.

After our walk, we enjoyed a nice meal of dal bhat from Niisha’s Mother who cooked it over her wood stove from locally grown rice and vegetables.

Following my time at Niisha’s village we stayed with a cousin of the brothers that manage the Hidden Paradise Hotel. Shanti (is her name) lives deep within the city of Pokhara Nepal. She is a retired Teacher who spent the past many years teaching children at a local school. Her Husband is also an educator as a Professor at the local University and a great Historian having written many books on Nepal’s fascinating History. In fact, Shanti’s family is full of Teachers including her sister Mira is a teacher at the school we visited in Niisha’s village. Shanti’s sisters all live in the apartment building that Shanti and her Husband own. They are all very close to one another, yet still have their own places for their families.

We had a great discussion on the schools in Nepal as well as the organization (Karma Flights) that I have been working with in Pokhara. Karma Flights helps some of the schools in and around Pokhara as well as the Director of the organization Prem Kunwar’s village Arnakot. Shanti and her Husband have also helped students that do very well in their studies but struggle to be able to make their tuition payments. Our talks rolled into a discussion about a mutual friend to Niisha, Shanti and myself who was raising money to help a family she had grown to love while she stayed in Nepal. Her efforts had been so successful she raised more than the family could put to use, so she had been asking me what I felt was best to do with it all. Niisha and Shanti both mentioned that the government managed school in Niisha’s village could use some help. At this point Shanti’s Sister Mira (the school teacher at the school) had joined us in the room as we all discussed possible ways we could help the school and the children. What started as our friend using the money to help a school turned into a discussion on how we could help the school in Niisha’s village.

I myself don’t feel comfortable providing help when the Government is already supporting, as I firmly believe the Government should continue to support it’s schools and not rely on the aid of others. It interferes with the balance of the way in which the country is managing itself. However, helping families in small but impactful ways is important to me. Being a single Mom of two children I often struggled with supporting my Kids’ education. Both of my kids had always attended public school as I couldn’t afford private school like my parents, but with the government providing the education and transportation for the children I was often finding myself stuck with expenses that I wasn’t prepared for. School supplies required by the teachers was always a huge struggle. The basic paper, notebooks, pens, pencils and rulers were all expected but teachers often requested items such as baby wipes (for the younger kids), tissues, and various other items that I could not afford that supported the whole classroom. They often also asked for an extra pack of pencils to help out the families that could not afford the basic items. When I did have the money I added extra items and when I needed them the school provided. I thought that this might be a great way to support the parents of the school children in Niisha’s village since I was now in a position to provide to families that have far less than I ever did.

Niisha spoke with the teachers over the next few weeks getting a good idea of what they might need for the school. She and I talked about helping the school more during many discussions and we decided to visit the school to see where I might be able to help. With me leaving Nepal on May 18th it was best if I could visit before and then use my time in the U.S. to earn money myself and to raise money from others to help out.

Getting to Know the School and Teachers

On Friday May 6, 2016 Niisha and I made plans to head to her village, have lunch at her Parent’s, visit the school again and spend some time talking with the teachers to see if/where I could help.Selfie with Niisha and Mother

Niisha and I had stopped to visit with her Mother at first. Niisha had just gotten a new selfie stick and took pictures with it including herself and her Mother and I in the background. That day Niisha and I had just hopped on the bus in town and off to her village for the day, so I did not bring my larger camera and just had my purse with my cheap Samsung phone I bought in Nepal and my coin purse with a few rupees. Because the plan was to meet with the teachers, I focused on the task at hand.

After we talked with Niisha’s Mother and family for a bit we walked up to the school to meet with the Teachers there. As we approached the school, kids were popping their heads out of the classrooms and a few of the women that were dressed in pink waved at us. A young, tall and slender man saw us and walked up as well. The Teachers poked their heads into the other classrooms and spoke in Nepali drawing the remaining Teachers to come out to meet with us. Placing their hands together and saying “Namaste” then followed with a “Hello. How are you?”. Covering both of our languages we greeted each other with smiles abound. Niisha spoke with the women and the one man for a bit and would then speak to me. I asked Niisha how many kids were at the school, and she looked at me for a moment and said “You can speak with them, they know some English.” They all laughed, spoke in Nepali and pointed to one woman. Then Nissha said “She is the English Teacher.” as she pointed to the woman as well. I then laughed and asked her, “How many children attend the school?” She answered with 16 but then said something about 14. Niisha followed with telling me that sometimes there are 14 children and sometimes 16. It depends on if their families let them go or if there is work to do at home they don’t make it to school.

I asked a few more questions including asking them how many classrooms and teachers and what are some of the ways I could get people to help the school, the children and their families. They told me that this was a Public School with all of the funding provided by the government. There are many more children in the village, but most of them attend the various Private Schools in the area. The children attending this school are from the families that can’t afford Private School which is about 2000 NPR to 5000 NPR ($20 to $50) per month. I asked her what the difference was between this school and Private Schools, she talked to the teachers in Nepali for a bit and then said “More English” I replied “More English at the Private School?” She replied “aaaa” (which is “yes” in Nepali).

The children were popping their heads in and out of the classrooms distracting me from the conversation. I grabbed my little cell phone and took a few pictures of the children. Then took a shot of the teachers talking among each other with Niisha. As they spoke to one another they waved in a way that appeared like they were gathering for a picture of all of them. Then lined up and looked at me very seriously so I could get a picture. I took a quick photo of them all and then was summoned to walk over to the other building. As I walked by the classrooms I peered in and saw a very empty room with a table and benches with one little boy. Niisha said “You can take photos of the rooms.” So I quickly snapped a shot of a little boy working on his school work alone in one of the rooms. With so few children attending the school the class sizes are very small.

They summoned me inside to their teacher’s lounge type of room that was located in the adjacent building. IMG_0455As I walked towards the building one of the teachers took a hold of a metal bar and banged it on what looked like some type of machine part that was hanging from the rafters of the roof making a ringing sound like a school bell. The children all ran out of the rooms screaming and began to play. As I walked into the teacher’s lounge room a couple of children filed in behind me asking questions. One of the teachers pulled out a game board for them with some poker chips and handed it to them before they turned around and high tailed it out of there.

We sat for a while and talked. I asked more questions to get a good understanding of how the school works and to see if I could really get into what the school, and the children needed. One teacher went into a cabinet in the room and pulled out some crackers that were in individually wrapped packages. We opened them up and munched on the cookies inside while they all talked to each other in Nepali. My Nepali wasn’t quite good enough to catch everything they were saying, just the occasional “matte” which means “up” and other simple words I have learned. Nepal Soccer Ball
I looked around the room and thought of anything more I should ask since this was going to be my last opportunity to get everything in before flying home in a few weeks. I asked Niisha “Do they need a football?” (to American’s it’s “soccer” but they know it as “football”). One of the teachers said “No” but then Nisha spoke to another teacher who walked to the corner of the room, bent over and brought a beat up old soccer ball. Niisha grabbed it and said “Yes, Nepali always need new things.” and tugged at a piece of leather falling from the ball. I said to her that I could buy one now before we leave and she could bring it to them the next time she visits her Mother and Father. She spoke to the teachers in Nepali and she said “aaaa” (yes).

Niisha then looked at me and said “jam” which is “let’s go” in Nepali. I said “ok” and stood up to walk out of the door. The children ran in to put their games back as their break was coming to an end. The one male teacher turned to me and said “come” and walked out through the door. Niisha nodded to me as we walked outside and around the back corner of the building we were in. We walked past a small building that looked like bathrooms as I said to Niisha “Those are the bathrooms?”, she responded “aaaa” (yes). The male teacher spoke to her in Nepali and she said “There is no water so the children cannot use them.” Shocked at the casualness of her telling me there is no water I repeated what she had said “There’s no water?”. “No” she responded. We continued down a small path into the pine forest that surrounds the school. At one point I was hit in the head with a branch that the other shorter Nepalis were able to avoid. The path opened up to a view of Pokhara from the hilltop that I have never seen before. We were on the opposite side of Phewa Lake and far away from where any tourist ever goes for any reason. I took out my phone to grab a photo and Niisha summoned me to take one of her (as she often does). Then the teachers that joined us (the man and Mira, Niisha’s cousin) in taking photos of each other with the view of the city in the background. My head was still spinning from the announcement that there was no water for the school children. So many questions were coming up, but my focus was on what we were doing at the moment and could question later as I figured out what the children needed and to start thinking about where I could help.

We walked back to the school and said our goodbyes. Knowing I would be back in September to see the children and have some help with me I said “Pheri bhetaula” as we waved and walked down the path to Niisha’s Family’s home. Niisha corrected my “pheri bhetaula” telling me that it wasn’t the right timing to use those words. Oops…

Niisha’s Mother greeted us and talked with Niisha for a while in Nepali. From what I could make out Niisha’s Mother was asking about how the visit went and Niisha was simply filling her in. Niisha told her about the soccer ball and some of the other ways I mentioned I could help and then said something in Nepali to Niisha and hit her on the arm with a laugh. Niisha turned to me and said “Mother says she wants you to bring her a mobile.” I repeated in shock “You want a cell phone?” Niisha responded “aaaa” (yes) then followed up by telling me she has a flip phone but it doesn’t work very well and she wants to be able to talk to Niisha and other family members. I told her there wasn’t much I could do really, most of the phones in America are sim locked and won’t work in Nepal and I didn’t have the money to buy her one in Nepal. I felt bad that this was my response, though I can’t provide everyone with what they ask for all of the time. Sadly I need to pick and choose what I am capable of doing, what is attainable and in the order of what I see is a priority. To me, a soccer ball for the kids was what I could afford at the time, was easily doable and would make a small impact on the children.

Niisha’s Mother handed Niisha a sack as Niisha said to me “Mother send more potatoes.” I grimaced at the thought of having walk down the road from the village, on the bus to Pokhara, through the city, then on another bus to Lakeside and then walk along Phewa Lake, up to Sedi and to the hotel with 20+ pounds of potatoes. I said to her “We get a taxi in Pokhara to the hotel?” She said “You want?” I replied “Yes, I’ll pay for it.” To me it was worth the 500 rupees ($5.00) to not have to haul those potatoes from the city to the hotel.

Niisha’s Mother asked if I wanted water before I left as she pointed at my empty water container. I responded with “aaaa” (yes) and handed it to her. She summoned me to follow her as we walked around to the side of the house. There was a retaining wall that kept the hillside from sliding into the home with a short black hose poking out of it. She pulled the stick out that was plugging up the hose and washed out a wash cloth in the water while it spilled out. She then tightened the cloth over the hose as a sort of filter and filled my water bottle. I thought to myself “Well, I guess it’s filtered at least.” and said “Danyabad” (thank you) as she handed me my bottle. I was very reluctant to drink the water, but knowing I had been drinking the water she gave me before in her Sprite bottles and this was most likely the same way she had gotten that water I would probably be ok. It was Nepali mountain spring water, right? So, I drank it… and yes, I was ok (though I do not recommend anyone drink the water in a village like this as it can be very, very harmful).

We headed down the village road back to the bus stop on the main street that connects to Pokhara. 13124753_977260009024540_7936446045431230309_n (1)Niisha was carrying the potatoes and her Mother followed us with a sack of food for the Water Buffalo that needed to be processed at the bottom of the hill (just next to the bus stop where we were headed). Her Mother was carrying the large heavy sack in the traditional way of setting a band on her head with the weight on her back. The Nepali carry just about everything from children to wood for cooking this way. You can see the women on the side of the roads everywhere you go with these head pieces and large bushels of leaves, wood or whatever else they might have on them. Niisha’s Mother turned to her and muttered in Nepali gesturing towards the potatoes. Niisha then placed the potatoes on top of the sack on her Mother’s back. So now her Mother was carrying the sack of Buffalo food and the heavy potatoes. I was willing to pay a taxi for those potatoes so I didn’t have to carry them, and she was carrying even more. I turned to Niisha and said “Your Mother is a badass.” She didn’t know what that meant, but I’ll spare you the conversation of trying to explain what a “badass” is to a Nepali.

What Started as a Soccer Ball Turned Into More

We spent the next few days of talking about the school, what they needed and what I could do to get them help. I focused a lot on the water at the school and asked Niisha a lot of questions. The children were using the pine forest that surrounded the school for their bathroom, and water was brought in with them provided by their parents in old Sprite containers. I tried to get out of her the level of work it would take to get them water, but she didn’t know what I was asking. I wanted to go back to America and use my few months to plan and execute a fundraiser to provide water for the school, but didn’t know how much money that would take or what all needed to be done to make it happen. I was growing increasingly frustrated.

I posted to my Facebook account “Today I visited a village about 45 minutes outside of Pokhara Nepal. My friend Niisha grew up here so we visited with her family. After an amazing lunch of dal baht (lentils and rice) we walked up to her former school. Here’s where my life and my goals change for good…” I followed with a list of  issues I had derived from our conversations that included the soccer ball I was planning on buying before I left. I added school supplies for the children that I could raise money for when I got back home since that is something Niisha and Shanti recommended. I added the water and that the school didn’t have any electricity. I had visions of going back to Seattle and putting together a fund raiser of some sort then having money for school supplies for the kids to last them a while, a plan to put in water so they could use their bathrooms again, and power to the school with solar panels the same way Orphans to Ambassadors did for the computer lab in Arnakot.

My friend Josh Burker, who I went to High School with, replied with wanting to help so I commented with my PayPal email for him to send something. From there the money came in, not just from Josh but fro others as well. It was just $60, but it was enough to not only buy one soccer ball but two soccer balls and some supplies before I left for America.

Niisha and I talked over the school’s water issue quite a bit. I talked with my friend Tim who was staying at Hidden Paradise for the few months I was there as well. He was very good at planning out the solar panels, wiring and battery system for the Arnakot computer lab, and he planned the Earthbag House they built down to the last detail ensuring it would be safe during any future earthquakes. I figured he could help with the water at the school so I talked to him about it in length. I asked him to come to the school with me when we take the school supplies to the children, but he was unable to make it since he would be out of town. Laxman was my second choice since he had spent money on a water system for his hotel several years back. I talked to him about the water at the school and he educated me a bit more on how the Public Schools work in Nepal. Niisha then said to me that the school was at risk of being shut down since there weren’t many students attending. The children would then be redirected to schools in the neighboring villages. It wouldn’t be wise to spend the time and money it would take to put in a water system for the school the Government supports that was going to shut down anyways. Niisha also added that with the rainy season coming the water should be back at the school. There is a water system in place, but it isn’t working because the source is too low to get the water to the school. She recommended that we hire some people in the village to bring water to the school. When we added up the cost of that, I didn’t have enough money to pay them through the days the rainy season would kick in, so I curbed my desire to get the water system fixed for the children and focused on what I could do for the children and their families to help out in the two weeks before I left.

Getting School Supplies to the Children

Two days before my flight out from Kathmandu (a 7 hour bus ride from Pokhara where I was staying) Niisha and I planned a day to the city to buy the school supplies and then into her village to get them to the children. Niisha has a way of planning to leave early enough in the morning that we catch her daughter Nishima’s school bus that takes us from Sedi Bagar through Lakeside and drops us off at the bus depot. I grabbed my large camera (Canon 7D) with my orange backpack to take pictures of the entire day to share on my Facebook page. We caught the early morning school bus with Nishima and rode that into town with the rest of the school children and a couple of Mom’s that were hitching a ride into town as well. Niisha and I hopped off at Lakeside at the bus depot and then hopped onto the bus going into the heart of Pokhara. When we got off in Pokhara we walked down to a shop that had a few soccer balls hanging from the ceiling in front. Shopping in PokharaNiisha spoke with the woman for a bit and then asked me if I thought the white one, or colored one looked best. The colored one had sticking holding the ball together where the white one appeared to just be glued. I figured the stitching would hold up longer with the kids than the glue, so I chose the colored ball. I asked her how much, and asked for two balls so that they had a backup for when the one would start to fall apart. We looked at the notebooks the woman had available as well as pencils so that we could get everything we needed in one place. The total for 32 book (2 for each kid) and a couple of boxes of pencils and the soccer balls ran us just over $37. With $60 in my hand I had more to spend and asked about games for the children, or something else. Niisha and the woman talked for a while and chose a few games that the children would enjoy and that would help with their counting skills. The total brought us to $47 for everything we needed with the addition of the games. I paid the woman after photographing Niisha and her negotiating and took a photo of the receipt with my phone for my records (in case it was lost). The books, pencils, and games were wrapped in newspaper and tied up with string to hold them all together. Niisha was handed the two balls in netting to carry them and we walked off.

We stopped in another shop and looked at ribbons. Since this is what the teachers asked for specifically it was very important we purchased ribbons for the girls’ hair. Niisha picked out several spools of red ribbon to give to the girls and I paid the man. At this point we were just about out of money, so our shopping was complete. We hopped on another bus that took us into the village. The bus wasn’t nearly as packed as it tends to be when heading into the city, or when we go into the village in the afternoon, which made the ride a bit more enjoyable. We met Mira just as we were getting on the bus and she took the two heavy blocks of notebooks and games wrapped in newspaper from me.

When we arrived at the bottom of the hill where the bus let’s us off, we were greeted by a couple more of the teachers who helped us carry the supplies up the hill to the village. This time, we passed by Niisha’s parent’s house and headed straight up to the school where we were greeted by the remaining teachers and school children. The children were all waving at me and clasping their hands, bowing their heads and saying “Namaste”.  We walked into the teacher’s lounge room where we had sat and talked last time and Niisha spoke with the teachers for some time. Then one of the teachers rang the machine part that acted as the school bell and Niisha summoned me back outside. The children all lined up as the teachers herded them into some sort of organized fashion. There was one little boy that was in front looking up at me with his big eyes and not knowing whether to smile of be serious. I set my orange pack down and pulled out my large camera to take some photos of the children. Niisha looked at me and said “Come Jenny.” I told her to hand the supplies out and I will take photos. He and the one male teacher gathered the supplies and proceeded to hand them out to the kids. The smiles on their faces to me were priceless. This is the moment my heart warms as each child is handed the much needed paper and pencils they use to do their school work. What is just pennies to me and the people that donated is so much for the children receiving them. All but 2 of the students had not gotten supplies from the Government because they weren’t doing well in school. Now these children all have an opportunity to get their homework done and do better in school so that next time the Government will provide for them.

Niisha pulled out the ribbons we purchased from the bag and handed them to the girls that needed them. Their faces lit up again as they received brand new ribbons. I noticed that some of the girls ribbons they were wearing with their uniforms were very dirty and tattered from  lot of use. The new ribbons will brighten up their uniforms and, hopefully, boost their confidence. The children all said “Thank You” to me and we took photos with them. I handed the male teacher my camera and she shot photos of me with the kids, Niisha and myself with the kids, and then I took photos of the teachers all in combination with the children. We had a good photo shoot session and even added photos of us in front of the school sign. Niisha, of course, posed with her peace sign fingers in front of the school. During our photo shoot an older man walked up from the village with a big smile on his face. Niisha looked at me and said “That is the headmaster of the school.” I said “aaaa” and walked over to greet him. He introduced himself as I shook his hand and thanked me for helping the children. He spoke a little bit of English, enough to get a short conversation of out me. He spoke with the teachers for some time as I took more photos of the children. I also grabbed the older soccer ball and took photos of it to show how tattered and torn apart it was. One of the teachers picked up the new soccer balls and held them in front of her to take a photo. I couldn’t help but giggle at the pose she gave me, but refrained and took the photo.

As we finished up we waved goodbye and Niisha and I set off towards the village and her Mother’s house. I asked her if she felt like a celebrity in her village now and she smiled at me. I said “Your village is now going to recognize you for all of the effort you made to help the children. This is a very good thing.” I also asked her if she wants to do this some more and she responded with “aaaa” (yes). She mentioned that there are some other children she wants to help. She told me about a boy that needs help with his schooling, and another girl that is almost ready to go to the University and her family cannot afford is since her Father is deaf and mute and her Grandparent’s are unable to help financially since they don’t have much money either. As we walked up to Niisha’s Parent’s house her Mother greeted me and grabbed my arm pulling me towards the front of the house. She told me “Vaasnus” (sit) and pushed me to the bench behind the table facing the beautiful view of the valley, mountains and their patch of land. As I sat down Niisha and I talked about her Sister Manisha, who is close to graduating as well. Niisha’s Family doesn’t have a lot of money and would struggle to send Manisha to University. If her Father can’t afford to send her, she would most likely be married off to alleviate that burden, just as Niisha was. I told Niisha to let me worry about Manisha and she worry about other children. I told her that the work she does in helping others will come back to help her and her family, but that was my job to make happen. The more she does for others without the desire or want to help herself, her Daughter, Husband, Father and Mother, Sister and Brother then the more I will want to do for her, and the people that give me money to help the people of Nepal will want to do for her and the people around her as well.

Mother brought over dal bhat as usual, but this time it was different. She had added curry vegetables and chicken to the meal this time. The chicken was chopped into bite size pieces as I had eaten before, but the way in which she cooked it was different. It tasted like tender slow cooked barbecue chicken that I would expect to find at a fancy restaurant back home. I saw a couple of chickens running past me as I ate and I said to Niisha “How many chickens does your family have?” She replied “Two.” I responded “Mother had 3 this morning and now 2?” She said “aaaa” (yes). I felt horrible that they used up one of their chickens on me when they had so few left. I wanted to give Niisha money to buy them another one to replace the one they sacrificed for the amazing meal, but then remembered that in Nepal guest is God. I had done something the village and Niisha’s family was very appreciative of. These little things I do always escape the impact I bring since it is always such a small gesture and I enjoy it so much. I wrote down a few things to remember to bring Niisha’s Mother when I come back in September including the cell phone she asked for, nail polish (she loves to paint her nails) and chocolate.

Niisha and I finished up our meal and sat for a while with her Mother and Sister talking. Her Mother and I have gotten better about communicating with each other. I actually knew what she was scoffing at with my hat when she took it off and then spoke to Niisha. I realized she didn’t like my hat so I asked Niisha to confirm my suspicions. Niisha said “Aaaa, it make you look old.” Then her Mother took my hat off, grabbed a hair scrunchie she had hanging in her room and pulled my hair up into a pony tail. Niisha handed me my hat and I put it in my bag. Niisha said “Much better Jenny.”, “Thanks Niisha.” I replied.

Niisha looked at me and said “Jam” (let’s go) and I turned to her Mother and said “Goodbye.” I gave her a hug and Niisha and I walked out of the village and down the hill to the bus stop.

That evening Niisha and I stayed at Shanti’s house again. Shanti made an amazing meal for us all including her Husband. We sat at the table in the kitchen that night and had a good conversation as Shanti and her Husband’s English was getting really good. Later in the evening we went to Mira’s place for tea and watch some “India’s Got Talent” which (as you can probably tell by the name) is the India version of one of my favorite shows “America’s Got Talent”. Sitting around the television with the family reminded me so much of my own family when I was a kid. My brothers and I would sit on the floor and next to my parents on the couch as we would watch our favorite shows together. The occasional conversation during commercials, and the reactions as the contestants either embarrassed themselves or were phenomenally talented. It was a nice family setting in a comfortable living room in a home in the city. Until the power went out, and I was reminded once again that we were in Nepal with loadshedding.

We went to bed that evening in Shanti’s room on her floor with mattresses to provide us with some comfort. Niisha had picked Niishima up from school and she spent the night with us in the room as well. It was a real old fashioned slumber party with all of us girls. We talked until late at night about the school and just about everything else under the sun. It was a great last couple of days and nights before I left Nepal. Shanti joined Niisha and I the next day in the city at my favorite hole in the wall restaurant. After we ate, I gave Shanti a big hug and goodbye with a tear in my eye after we hopped on the bus. I would surely miss the women I have come to know as my sisters and the children I helped while I was in Nepal.

I am now working to put together a non-profit in the US and then set up an established non-profit in Nepal to support the children in the same way Niisha and I did that day. Niisha and I have talked extensively about setting up a scholarship program for girls like her sister and the students she mentioned to me that day. We are also going to help other schools by providing supplies to all of the children where it is needed. With the addition of games, books and whatever else the children and the schools might need. This is just the beginning as there is so much more we can do, and so many of my friends that want to help. I am truly grateful that I get the opportunity to make this all happen for them.