Nepal Day 4 at Ama Ghar: Where Hope and Home are One
Today, Thursday, is day 4 at Ama Ghar, the “Motherly Home” for Children in Taukhel, Godavari (about 11 miles south of downtown Kathmandu). It was founded by Shrawan Nepali, himself raised in an orphanage. Later, with the help of two Peace Corps volunteers he met in Nepal, he came to the US to get an MBA and pursue a successful business career.
Eight years ago, he started work on his greatest dream: to create a “motherly home” (“Ama” means mother and “ghar” is house) where children always “have the keys to come home.” He then convinced old friend Bonnie Ellison, who grew up in Nepal as the daughter of a U.S. State Department official, to take an early retirement from her work as an advertising executive and become the managing director of the home.
The first group of 14 children came soon thereafter and a dream became a home. Now, eight years later, some of the children have graduated into college and beyond (still returning “home” whenever possible) while others are still here, going to school, learning new skills, and finding hope.
Most of the children are not here; they are celebrating Dashain with their extended families. Lasting for two weeks, Dashain is the biggest festival of the year. Schools close, homes get painted, clothes and new furnishings are bought, and Nepalis basically think of nothing else. The holiday focuses on family reunions, exchanging gifts and blessings, and devotions. Those children who remain (about a dozen) are here because they have no home or, in at least one case, because the home is unsafe. So Bonnie and her able staff of “parents” try to engage the children in fun activities during their vacation time. We’re doing our best to help out.
In addition to the dancing and singing on our first night (just before most of the children left), we’ve been having a relaxed time with those who are still here. This means playing games, teaching them how to ride a bicycle, going on short treks to see Hindu and Buddhist temples, constructing a makeshift basketball hoop, and the like. Later today, one of the children has promised to teach us a Nepali folk song, and I’ve promised to teach them how to play the comb. (Bonnie and her staff may never forgive me, but what the heck…)
The pictures give a brief glimpse of some of our activities.