Today we drove to RST Orphanage Nepal, an amazing eco-friendly orphanage on the outskirts of Kathmandu, neighboring a brick factory. They welcomed us with beautiful handmade signs and ushered us into their courtyard area where, once we had a tarp up for shade, we dove straight into a PLAYshop. As we found our way through the ending moments, calmed and open, full of “thank you,” and “you’re welcome,” full of gratitude and reflection, we moved the circle closer, shoulder to shoulder, and breathed slowly and deeply together. The second we opened our eyes and completed the circle, the sky opened up and it rained as hard as I’ve ever seen. As we scurried into the classroom/dining room/playroom, a few children grabbed buckets, barrels, and pots and placed them outside to catch clean water as it came off the tarp. Amazing, we thought.
Inside, we ate biscuits and drank tea and soda. After getting settled and nourished, Jonah went for a walk with Suresh and got a tour of the facilities. The roof and water catchment set-ups were a highlight; with solar water heaters on the roof, water management from the roof all the way down through the fields, and tons of smart planting, not a drop goes to waste. Meanwhile, Deneen and Jennifer played more games with the kids in the courtyard, including lots of stomping and splashing, now that the rain had stopped, and Anju enjoyed a full concert with guitar and singing!
Jonah here: on the roof, I got to know my new Nepalese brother, Suresh a little more. We are the same age and he has been the father figure of this place since he was 21 years old. He was heading for a degree in Microbiology when the need arose back at this orphanage, where he grew up with his mother. He returned and took over; but he still loves science.
We looked down from the roof at the kids and he told me each of their stories, when they got there, what they were like. He pointed to one girl, telling me how she had only been there a few months and hadn’t smiled since the earthquake. She was laughing and splashing in the water as it cascaded off the roof where 4 inches had accumulated in the rain and was funneling out one spot into a well spot on the edge of the courtyard. He told me he thought what we are doing is “emotional medicine.” It was humbling, to say the least. I looked at him and said, “Suresh, you’re a hero.” Mutual respect feels good. Back on the ground, I found the team learning some new magic tricks with scraps of crumpled up paper. Yes, their magic show consists of crumpled up pieces of paper. It’s awesome. These kids are incredible. I actually went back to my hotel room and practiced a trick I learned. For real.
Jennifer here: being at RST orphanage was a game changer for me. overused term, but really fits. when we moved out of the heavy rain indoors, I was lovingly adopted by several teen girls. I had so much fun with them; they danced for me, they sang for me, I danced for them. They braided my hair, we al fell in love. It was all so simple and so lovely. My heart was so full, I could not speak when we had our final circle goodbye ( for those who know me, quite unusual!) I was crying so hard and trying not to. One of the teen girls, who held my hand most of the afternoon, repeatedly told me not to cry. When I retrieved my voice and stopped “leaking,” I explained that my tears were not of sadness but of deep joy and gratitude. It was an amazing afternoon and it was extremely difficult to leave. I am inspired to sponsor some of the girls.
Anju here: I grew up around a lot of children. Some had moms and dads some didn’t so my house was like a home for those who needed it. I had so many brothers and sisters. And going to RST brought back a lot of memories.I saw a lot of smiles and I saw hope in the children eyes. Those children individually had different talents and i enjoyed how they connected with each other. We got there, conducted our playshop. After the playshop, we played with the children and they were very welcoming. Suresh called me his daughter so at RST it felt like home. I have beautiful memories now, brothers and sisters. And I am definitely going back.
Deneen here: a place like no other, the orphanage sat high on the hillside overlooking the valley of Kathmandu. Aside from the big brick-making smoke stack, the valley was lush and green and richly care-taken, noticeably contrasting the dense, dusty streets of Kathmandu. I was in awe of the sense of peace here amidst the many joyful, busy children. There was so much love in this large home. I felt it in the children and how they looked after one another, in how their home and how it was respectfully resourceful and efficient and with the abundance of generosity and love shared with each of us, their new family. I will never forget sharing songs with the boys and girls as we waited for the rain to stop and later stomp splashing in the water drenched courtyard until the children and I were fully soaked with joy. Unforgettable!