Tag: Olgapuri Children’s Village
Festival Season 2022 at Olgapuri Children’s Village
A glimpse into this year’s festival season at Olgapuri
This fall, NYF celebrated Dashain (September 26th through October 5th) and Tihar (October 22nd through October 27th).
Dashain (pronounced de-SAI) is a 15-day-long lunar festival that usually occurs in September or October. It’s one of the most emotional, colorful, and enjoyable times in Nepal. The auspicious holiday blends harvest-time and fertility with the triumph of good over evil, and family members travel from far and wide to celebrate together.
Quickly following Dashain is Tihar, a five-day festival of lights. Each day is devoted to honoring different religious figures, animals, or sacred bonds. Popular activities include decorating floors or courtyards with colored rice, sand, or flower petals, playing games with each other, and participating in Deusi-Bhailo, which involves children singing songs or performing dances from house to house in exchange for small gifts.
This year, we’re excited to share a short video (in addition to the below photos!) that show what our Tihar celebration looked like. Click here to jump to the video.
Dashain – September 26 through October 5
For the first time in two years, many of the children at Olgapuri Children’s Village were able to return to their home villages to spend the festival season with their relatives. Those who stayed behind still enjoyed a beautiful celebration, which included wonderful traditions like tika blessings, seasonal games, bamboo swings, and delicious feasts.
A favorite tradition among the Olgapuri kids during the Dashain festival is the tika ceremony. At this ceremony, elders bless the younger members of a Nepali family with a tika, which is made out of red powder and rice. At the village, house parents and other staff members bless each child with a tika on their foreheads. This tradition is an annual ritual of love and belonging.
elders bless younger members of the family with tika (red powder and rice)
Another favorite during the Dashain holidays is the linge ping—a traditional swing made out of bamboo. It is said that everyone must leave the ground once a year on this special bamboo swing. Assembling it together is half the tradition!
a traditional swing constructed out of bamboo during Dashain
Tihar – October 22 through October 27
During the Tihar Festival this year, the children worked together with the house parents to prepare delicious Tihar treats. They also decorated each house with beautiful lights and flowers, representing wealth, happiness, and prosperity.
On the last day of Tihar, siblings honor each other with a special multicolored tika. This ritual follows a legend in which a goddess protects her brother from the god of death through an elaborate, loving ceremony. Performing this ceremony at Olgapuri has special significance in underscoring the bonds between the children.
a multicolored tika given between siblings on the last day of Tihar
Another beloved activity among the kids at Olgapuri during Tihar is is Deusi-Bhailo, an activity practiced in Nepal and some parts of India. Groups of children travel from house to house, singing two special songs: Bhailo sung by girls, and Deusi sung by boys. The singing is accompanied by dancing. After the performance, those in each house give snacks, sweets, and money to the children, and the children give blessings for prosperity in the coming year.
This year, the children frequented the nearby homes of NYF staff members, who were absolutely delighted (and prepared!) to open their doors to the singing children.
a beloved Tihar activity where children sing songs in exchange for small gifts
Tihar at Olgapuri – Video
Thank you so much to our staff in Nepal for not only helping to organize the celebrations during this year’s festival season, but also for capturing all of these amazing moments to share with our larger NYF Community!
We are so grateful for the global NYF Community. Your generosity ensures that the children at Olgapuri Children’s Village can celebrate Dashain and Tihar every year with lots of warmth, laughter, and love.
Happy 6th Anniversary, Olgapuri Children’s Village!
On September 25, 2016, NYF formally inaugurated Olgapuri Children’s Village—a beautiful, permanent home for children in Nepal whose family members are unable to care for them. When it opened, we were hopeful that it would be everything we dreamed of: a remarkable place full of love, empowerment, and growth.
Here we are in 2022, celebrating the start of Olgapuri’s sixth year of operation. With each year, we’ve made the village even better than it was before. It has truly become everything that we had hoped it would be. And it’s all thanks to the NYF Community. Dhanyabad!
“We have designed these facilities thoughtfully and generously to provide them [the children] with ample comfort so that they can live their lives with dignity, self-esteem, and joy.”
Som Paneru, NYF President. 2016, Inauguration Ceremony at Olgapuri Children’s Village
Happy Olgapuri Day!
September 25 is known as “Olgapuri Day.” Every year, children, staff, and community members celebrate the anniversary of the opening of Olgapuri Children’s Village with delicious food, fun games, lots of dancing, and more. It’s one of the many events that the children enjoy throughout the year.
It also happens to be a great time for us to reflect on all that’s happened that year at Olgapuri. And in 2022, there’s so much to celebrate!
Special Highlights at Olgapuri in 2022*
- Ninety-two children lived at Olgapuri (but no more than 80 at a time). Among them, 14 were new children who were warmly welcomed by the Olgapuri family. Meanwhile, fourteen young adults graduated the 12th grade and moved out of Olgapuri (into dormitories or hostels for college or vocational training). Three kids were able to return to their families due to improved circumstances at home.
- Every student successfully moved forward into the next grade! Due to COVID-19, children at Olgapuri attended online classes until December 2021. They returned to in-person classes in January, and their academic calendar is now back to normal.
- Two young graduates secured the highest scores in their respective schools, ending high school as valedictorians and moving directly into their bachelor’s degree programs. One is pursuing a degree in business at the Ace Institute of Management in Kathmandu, and the other is enrolled in a five-year undergraduate program in law at Kathmandu School of Law.
- New activities were introduced to interested kids, including yoga, meditation, and self-defense classes. Many students report that these extracurriculars are not only fun but are also helping them to focus on their studies!
- Counselors and house parents worked closely with the children to ensure that their anxiety, curiosity, and other challenges (especially related to the pandemic) were addressed appropriately.
- The ‘Olgapuri Children’s Club’, run by the kids themselves, organized fun events like art exhibitions, carnivals, and music shows. At Tihar in early November 2021, they organized an incredibly successful virtual Deusi-Bhailo** event to broadcast through Facebook Live. The Children’s Club used their Deusi-Bhailo to raise money for club activities. They raised the equivalent of $600!
- The children celebrated many special days together—including Dashain, Tihar, the winter holidays, Holi, and their annual communal birthday party—with cake, presents, Tika blessings, campfires, and more.
As we move through the end of 2022, the children at Olgapuri are looking forward to celebrating Dashain and Tihar. These two Nepali holidays are full of gift-giving, loving moments of laughter, and joyful memories. They signify a time of warmth and close connection between communities and families.
Thank you so much for your support!
Generosity from friends like you are allowing the Olgapuri kids to grow up safe, nurtured, loved, and supported—part of a unique family system that will always be there when they need it. Thank you.
*Between July 2021 and June 2022.
**Deusi-Bhailo is a beloved Tihar activity practiced in Nepal and some parts of India. Groups of children travel from house to house, singing two special songs: Bhailo sung by girls, and Deusi sung by boys. The singing is accompanied by dancing. After the performance, those in each house give snacks, sweets, and money to the children, and the children give blessings for prosperity in the coming year.
A letter of gratitude from Olga
Happy Holidays from NYF’s founder Olga Murray!
A Letter of Gratitude
As I enter my 97th year, I am more and more aware of the kind of legacy I will leave behind. One of the greatest joys of my long life has been the satisfaction of working with the children in Nepal and witnessing, for over 35 years, the tremendous changes NYF has been able to make in the lives of our children.
I have been particularly close over the years to the children of Olgapuri Children’s Village (formerly J and K House), watching them transform from frightened, sometimes traumatized, little kids when they come to live with us to boisterous, funny, smart, and ambitious teenagers, to what they are now – healthy, well-adjusted, educated, gainfully employed parents of young children, and good citizens of Nepal.
Every year, when I am in Nepal, I invite dozens of former Olgapuri girls over for dinner – they range from kids who have just left Olgapuri to attend college and are a bit frightened about leaving the only home they remember – to girls who left 15 or more years ago, are pursuing careers, and are married with children. It is touching to watch them interact – the older ones providing wisdom, advice, sympathy, and support to their younger sisters, and all of them expressing so much affection and gratitude for each other, and appreciation for their upbringing.
One of the important satisfactions of parenthood, I believe, is raising children who love and support each other after they have left the nest.
On this score, Olgapuri kids get an A plus. They stay in close touch, reminisce often about their times growing up, celebrate their birthdays together, and if any of them is in trouble, their Olgapuri sisters gather around like the most caring of families. Whether it is a personal or medical issue, they are there for each other. Recently, one of them contracted Covid – it was a serious case and required a long hospitalization. She could not afford the medical cost, so the former K House sisters took up a collection and helped with the payment. Another former K House girl needed extensive financial help for chemotherapy treatments, and again – her K House sisters stepped in to help.
So I have much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.
And so have a lot of children in Nepal – the hundreds NYF has trained for work in the construction trades who are now gainfully employed, the thousands of children and families we helped during the pandemic with food, education, and counseling, and the many thousands of malnourished children who have been restored to blooming good health at our Nutritional Rehabilitation Homes.
None of this would have been possible without your help. It is hard for me to put into words the gratitude I feel to all of you, our loyal and generous donors, whose generosity throughout the years has made such a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of Nepali children.
With love and gratitude,
Updates from NYF President Som Paneru
Dear NYF Community,
I hope you are all continuing to stay safe and healthy. Earlier this month, the Nepal government made an announcement to ease COVID-19 restrictions. Among other things, this included the physical re-opening of schools and public spaces. This decision has several impacts on our programs at NYF, and I am delighted to share these new updates with all of you.
COVID-19 Updates & Response Programs
NYF’s COVID Isolation Center at our flagship Nutrition Rehabilitation Home (NRH) ran until September 16, 2021. Since its opening, we’ve admitted and treated more than 240 COVID-positive patients at our facilities. Following this recent government decision to re-open public spaces, NYF suspended isolation center services on September 17th to fully resume our regular NRH programming. We are continuing to produce Lito, our homemade “super” flour, at the NRH and are still distributing them to communities in need via the Lito for Life program. For more updates and information about our COVID-19 response, visit NYF’s COVID Timeline.
Until now, schools and colleges nationwide have been closed. Out of the 643 scholarship students NYF currently supports, 70% have been attending online classes run by their schools and colleges. After this most recent decision, most NYF children will likely be able to return to in-person classes later this fall. Additionally, after a massive COVID-related delay, the long-awaited examinations for grade 12 students finally took place on September 15, 2021. About 40 NYF students took the exam.
Vocational Education & Career Counseling
As you may recall, most of our vocational training programs were put on hold earlier this year. We are happy to announce that NYF has safely resumed some training programs in the electrical, welding, carpentry and plumbing trades. Effective last week, we have 4 vocational training satellite courses currently running. NYF is also preparing to complete 2 more Sustainable Agriculture and Entrepreneurship Trainings (SAAET) by the end of the year.
Nutrition Rehabilitation Homes (NRH) & Nutrition Camps
There are currently 8 children being treated at the NRH for malnourishment. We are expecting an increase in the number of admissions as we resume our regular services and programming. Our NYF nutrition staff is also busy strategizing how to safely conduct our regular nutrition camps this year.
New Life Center (NLC)
Due to travel restrictions brought about by COVID-19, patients had a difficult time traveling to the New Life Center in Kathmandu Valley to receive treatment. In order to increase access to supportive care for children living with HIV/AIDS in rural communities, NYF has redesigned the NLC program.
The aim of this redesign is to bring New Life Center resources to a larger population of children. To do so, we’ve moved beyond the “residential-treatment only” approach to an expanded “outreach and community-based” approach. According to the new plan, the NLC will cater residential services to approximately 20 children, while all the other services will be completed in rural communities via community outreach. These community outreach programs include awareness and advocacy, food and essentials delivery, financial support for caretakers, and tele-counseling services.
While this program will still be run from the NLC office in Kathmandu, we are excited to partner with a number of grassroots organizations — all doing incredible work in the communities we plan to serve.
Olgapuri Children’s Village
First and foremost, all 71 children (and house parents!) at Olgapuri remain safe and healthy. This year, nine students will soon be moving out after graduating high school. We are so proud of each graduate, and look forward to seeing them go on to do incredible things!
Thank you for your support.
Friends, we are deeply grateful for your continued love and support for the children, young adults, and families in our care. Thank you, also, to our staff on the ground in Nepal and for their incredible work. As always, if you have any questions about these updates or would like more information about our programs in general, please don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.
Olga Inspires on CBS Evening News: Still Sharing Her Life’s Mission
Olga inspires just about everyone she meets, so the NYF team was delighted when CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell asked to feature her recently.
Viewers who tuned in for the spot’s original airing on the night of July 5th, 2021 learned a bit about Olga’s mission: extending educational opportunities to Nepal’s children, as well as providing health, freedom, and shelter.
We are so grateful to CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas for helping Olga inspire new audiences with her story of personal impact in a world that often downplays “women of a certain age”. With support and solidarity from friends around the world, Olga and NYF are helping Nepali children chase their dreams and build brighter futures for themselves, their families, and their communities.
“I don’t think about stopping,” Olga says. And neither does the global NYF team. Thank you all for being part of this incredible continuing journey!
You can watch the full segment on YouTube or Facebook. CBS Evening News also tweeted about this special segment, which can be viewed here.
Keeping our Promises – An Overview of NYF Programming During a COVID Surge
Keeping our promises to the children already in our care is of the utmost importance to NYF in ordinary times. But in these extraordinary times, we’re proving our commitment in ways that build trust, enhance lives, and ensure that the NYF community’s #LoveWorks.
As a follow up to Som’s interviews with the BBC on May 6th and May 24th, our US Team spoke to Som, NYF’s president, on Monday evening (May 24th, 2021), to get a broad update on our programs during Nepal’s unprecedented second COVID wave.
Here’s what we learned:
When the pandemic first hit in March 2020, NYF pivoted quickly – but those first few months in lockdown weren’t easy! (Click here for our COVID timeline.) Like people throughout the world, our staff members and the children we serve had to think creatively to find necessary equipment, develop safety systems, and share information.
Fortunately, after a year of COVID safety measures, this new lockdown in Nepal is easier for our regular programs to navigate. Som says it was very simple for staff members to “switch gears” back into lockdown-mode.
Olgapuri Children’s Village – After a brief safe window of returning to school outside of Olgapuri campus, the village is now in strict lockdown again. Olgapuri (below) continues to be one of the safest places in Nepal during the pandemic. You may read more about Olgapuri in lockdown by clicking here.
Ankur Counseling Center – Our counselors at Ankur are continuing to work hard from their home offices, providing regular mental health care to the children in our care, staff members, and others within the community. They have been providing extra support during the second wave to individuals in our COVID Isolation Center as well. (Click here for more Ankur stories!)
Olgapuri Vocational School – Most of the courses planned for this time period have had to be postponed for the safety of staff and students, but one vocational course is actually ongoing!
This group of 20 Freed Kamlaris at Olgapuri Vocational School was nearly through their mandatory quarantine period when the government shutdown began. Since Olgapuri is a completely locked down campus, the young women and NYF staff all agreed that they were safer here than they would be if they travelled home to the Western Terai. Their vocational training program is proceeding almost as normal.
A second program was recently completed in a very remote, isolated village in northwest Kathmandu Valley. The program was well underway when this second surge began, and because the trainer was already in the village with all of the necessary equipment, and because the village is so remote that locking it down was simple, students and NYF staff agreed that this, too, was a safe option for continuing as usual. The new program graduates will be able to put their vocational skills to work once the economy reopens.
As the situation evolves in Nepal, programs like these will be decided on a case-by-case basis, with special care taken to protect staff members and students alike.
Scholarships & Kinship Care – NYF’s team has stayed in regular touch with scholarship recipients and families receiving Kinship Care stipends to ensure they are safe, well-fed, and continuing their education as best they can.
Schools around Kathmandu Valley are now able to provide online learning. The main disruption being experienced by our students is exam scheduling, which has been out of sync for over a year. Final exams across the country will be postponed until it is safe for groups to gather again. This may extend the length of some students’ studies.
Nutrition – NYF’s regular Nutrition staff – those who run the Nutritional Rehabilitation Home in Kathmandu – are currently working completely on COVID response, including Lito for Life and the COVID Isolation Center.
At NYF, we are so grateful for the hard work and dedication that allows these critical programs to continue. Thank you for helping us keep our promises to the children already in our care!
Lito for Life – Lito for Life is ongoing. (Click here to learn about this program.) Due to the current surge, no “super flour” is currently being produced, but our stock of already-prepared and packaged Lito is still being distributed, along with other staples like rice and potatoes. To ensure safety, our team members are not making deliveries door-to-door, but we are providing packages to orphanages, children’s hospitals, long-term care facilities, food banks, and other locations where individuals can access this critical resource.
COVID Isolation Center – Our Kathmandu Valley Nutritional Rehabilitation Home and the adjacent New Life Center are being used as a COVID Isolation Center for individuals who have tested positive for the virus and are asymptomatic or experiencing mild to moderate symptoms. The resource is designed to allow individuals to isolate away from their families, to slow the spread. Our patients are coming mainly from orphanages, college dormitories and hostels, boarding schools, and housing shared by multiple generations and families within a tight space.
Most of our patients are children and youth, but we serve adults as well. Our youngest patient so far was an 8-year-old girl from a local orphanage, who was isolating with us to protect her 50 friends at home. Our oldest patient so far was a 73-year-old man. He has recovered and returned home to his family.
Many individuals who are isolating at home do not recognize when their symptoms have become too dangerous – and by the time they reach the hospital, it is too late to save them. At our COVID Isolation Center, patients are under the observation of trained medical professionals who know when an individual needs care in a hospital setting. The ambulance ride to the hospital is provided free of charge.
This week, our staff members received special training from a local doctor and his team to ensure that these patients stand the best chance possible as they wait for an available hospital bed to be located. Four beds at the COVID Isolation Center are being set aside for a “High-Dependency Unit” or HDU (above). Patients in need of hospital intervention will be moved to this area and held here, under stabilizing, high-level care and using special equipment, until NYF is certain a hospital ICU bed has been found for them.
We are looking forward to sharing more about this work soon!
What Comes Next?
The situation in Nepal is evolving quickly, and NYF is working to develop solutions as part of the broader Nepalese community. Som is working with government health officials in Kathmandu Valley on ways to support families who are isolating at home. We hope to share more about this soon!
Here is some good news: Som tells us that, thanks to awareness of the oxygen shortage in India, hospitals in Nepal have received a generous outpouring of oxygen resources from around the world. More vaccines are on the way. And aid is arriving from multiple governments, as well as from the UN.
Experts are warning that a third COVID wave may be coming for Nepal in October and November – just in time for the beloved family-centered festivals of Dashain and Tihar. With younger people being impacted by this second wave (most COVID deaths in Nepal are between ages 20 and 50), the concern is that children may be next. NYF’s global team is preparing for this, continuing to develop plans and expertise to meet this moment (and the next) with strength and agility. We are so proud of our team members who are continuing to learn new skills as this crisis continues to unfold.
And we are also proud of our team members in Nepal – house parents, nurses, tutors, instructors, cooks, drivers, counselors, administrators, and more – who are working so hard to continue keeping our promises to the children in our care.
We at NYF are so grateful for every single thoughtful gift we receive, whether for a specific program, a sponsored student, a piece of equipment, or “our greatest need.” Dhanyabad to everyone who has given! Your generosity is a true inspiration.
In times like these, even if COVID has provided the inspiration for your gift, the most effective way to give is to provide unrestricted funding. Unrestricted funding allows us to aim each dollar with the maximum flexibility, allowing the needs on the ground to drive our responses as the situation evolves. Unrestricted funding also allows us to continue keeping our promises to the children in our care by ensuring that each of our programs is fully funded and can continue as best as possible throughout the pandemic – and beyond.
To make your generous gift, please click here. Thank you so much for ensuring your #LoveWorks for the children of Nepal!
Purposeful Living & Olga Murray: A Celebration and an Invitation
Purposeful living is the focus of a new Washington Post article about our very own founder, Olga Murray (click the link to open the article in a new tab – it is a beautiful tribute by Pulitzer-Prize winner Katherine Ellison!). Our beloved Olga, on the cusp of her 96th birthday, has been an inspiration during the past year of lockdowns and uncertainty.
‘ “I’m not a doctor,” ‘ the article quotes Olga during a recent interview, ‘ “but I do know that when I get out of bed every morning and think that I might help a little kid in Nepal, I’m not focused on my body… My main focus is on the kids.”
In her interview, Olga is characteristically modest. So much of Olga’s work is driven by her belief in others. She believes in those she partners with at NYF, like President Som Paneru. She believes in her friends, her connections – all those generous donors who make her work possible. Most of all, she believes in the children of Nepal, and in the incredible things they can accomplish if given the proper opportunities. (Bishnu Chaudhary, the young woman freed from domestic slavery who recently passed the Nepalese bar exam, is just one example!)
Even with purposeful living fueling her longevity, “I’m not going to be around forever,” Olga says pragmatically. “And the thing I want most in the world is for this program to go on.”
The NYF community is determined to make that wish come true.
If you’d like to learn more (and to see Olga Murray live over Zoom!), click here to register for our upcoming virtual Founder’s Day celebration! Join NYF’s email list here.
To support NYF’s mission during this challenging time – bringing Education, Health, Shelter, and Freedom to Nepali children – please donate here. For more powerful impact, consider making yours a monthly donation!
The Olgapuri Farm
NYF President Som Paneru grew up on a family farm in Nepal’s Gorkha District. Every member of the family had to work very hard ensuring the crops grew well and the livestock were cared for. Hard work was a matter of survival. When his schooling began at age seven, Som would wake early enough to do farm chores, then hurry for an hour on foot to attend classes. At the end of the school day, he would hurry home, eat a quick snack, and return to the fields until dusk.
When he talks about his upbringing, Som does not shy away from discussing the hardships. But farm life taught him valuable life lessons, too. Lessons about personal responsibility, teamwork, motor skills, decision-making, risk-taking, and resourcefulness.
Olgapuri Children’s Village was designed with these lessons in mind. After all, for most of Nepal’s population, agriculture is still an integral part of family life. Som wanted our family-style oasis to share these opportunities with the children in our care.
The Olgapuri farm is home to 19 cows, 129 chickens, and ten dogs, so the milk and eggs consumed on the enclosed campus are all produced on-site. Nutritious vegetables are grown here, too, using organic farming methods, and a brand-new row of greenhouses are helping to significantly expand growing options. Food not used by the children and staff can be sold at local markets.
Olgapuri children are not required to work on the farm, but they are certainly encouraged to connect with nature by doing so. Some children prefer not to participate, but others really enjoy working with growing things! A small group of them have even created a child-led gardening club. The remaining work is done by staff members.
Som hopes that one day Olgapuri Children’s Village will be entirely self-sufficient, and the farm is part of that dream.
Tihar Celebration with Olgapuri, A Children’s Shelter in Nepal
Tihar with Olgapuri House Parents Hem Prasad Shrestha & Binu Shrestha
Tihar, a Nepal celebration comes just one month after the festival of Dashain. Nepalese children love Tihar, especially because it offers special opportunities for siblings to honor one another!
Almost as soon as Olgapuri’s Dashain feasting ended, our four sets of loving house parents set to work planning a beautiful Tihar for the 80 children currently living on the locked-down campus. Tihar festivities began on November 13th and concluded on the 16th—to the enjoyment of all.
So far this year, we’ve spotlighted Dipak & Samana in the junior boys’ house, Bhim & Shreemaya in the senior girls’ house, and Bishnu & Pushpa in the junior girls’ house. As we share Olgapuri’s special Tihar celebration with you, we’re so pleased to introduce you to the fourth set of house parents: Hem & Binu Shrestha!
Hem and Binu are parenting the 20 senior boys living at Olgapuri Children’s Village. These boys range in age from about 13 to 18—a time of incredible growth, both physical and emotional, when long-term patterns are developed and critical lessons are learned in preparation for adulthood.
The married couple joined the Olgapuri Children’s Village team in March 2020, just as the campus was entering lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, they are the newest team members, but they bring many years of valuable experience to the work they’re doing.
Hem-Uncle and Binu-Aunty have experienced incredible changes in Nepal during their lifetimes, including multiple dramatic shifts in government, the long Nepali Civil War, cultural shifts regarding caste and other minority rights, economic changes, and growth in areas like healthcare, education, and technology. Through it all, they have always prioritized the children around them. New generations will continue building their country towards the future. Love and opportunity ripple outward as children become adults.
They’ve already seen it happen. Hem has worked with NYF since 1996, both directly and indirectly. He even spent many years in leadership positions overseeing NYF’s growth on the ground. The two have worked in several children’s homes over the course of their careers, but they have always especially admired NYF’s loving, long-term, family-style approach.
Even as a very young man, Hem observed practices that made him wary of the way power can feed into corruption. Time and time again, he returned to NYF, because he knew that the resources went directly to the children being served. He recognized NYF’s deep, sincere commitment to each individual child’s wellbeing and long-term success. NYF staff members are truly focused on the children first, and it makes all the difference.
Hem and Binu are thrilled to bring their history in children’s homes to Olgapuri Children’s Village, where staff and children alike live together and cooperate like a large family. They have already earned the trust of the children in the senior boys’ house. Like the other house parents, Hem-Uncle and Binu-Aunty have spent the lockdown managing online classes for 20 students, organizing outdoor activities, and leading meal preparations. They also value the quieter moments, when the children come to them with concerns, troubles—and happiness as well.
As these 20 boys quickly approach the beginning of adulthood, Hem and Binu are happy to share wisdom and guidance from their own lives. Each child at Olgapuri has a unique story, personality, and set of skills and struggles—like children everywhere. At NYF, we are so grateful to have wise and loving house parents like Hem and Binu to help each of these boys along their journeys of becoming.
And we are grateful for the ways all four sets of house parents ensure moments of celebration, even during lockdown conditions!
During the Tihar Festival, the children worked together with the house parents to prepare delicious Tihar treats, like selroti (a rice flour-based deep-fried sweet bread), anarasa (a deep-fried sweet pastry puff), arsa (a simple syrupy donut-like treat), and fini roti (a colorful, buttery, flaky sweet pastry).
They decorated each house with beautiful lights and flowers, representing wealth, happiness, and prosperity.
And throughout the holiday, the children played special Tihar games like tass (a card game) and langurburja (a dice game).
The fourth day of Tihar usually includes a celebration called Deusi-Bhailo, after traditional songs children and teenagers perform in their communities on this day. Similar to the trick-or-treating and caroling familiar to Americans, Deusi-Bhailo performers go door-to-door to people’s homes, singing and dancing and giving blessings for prosperity. In return, they collect money, sweets, and snacks.
To everyone’s disappointment, this tradition is not pandemic-proof. But at Olgapuri, the children and house parents created a virtual version of the event, streaming their performances to neighbors and friends in the Kathmandu Valley!
On the final day of Tihar, brothers and sisters show their appreciation for one another, placing special colorful tika on each other’s foreheads and exchanging small gifts and blessings.
Love and devotion between siblings is an important part of life at Olgapuri, where the family-style approach has always been the foundation of the work. In the 1990s, when Olga first started her work sheltering children at J House and K House, she recognized that the children she was serving needed stable family relationships as much as they needed housing security, healthcare, and educational opportunities.
All children need a sense of belonging. All children need to know that they are loved.
Hem-Uncle and Binu-Aunty believe in Olga’s vision of a children’s home that meets the emotional and cultural needs of its residents. So do the rest of the house parents at Olgapuri Children’s Village. Our house parents’ devotion to the children in NYF’s care is an incredible gift. Their loving attention—especially during the lockdown conditions they’ve been living under for the past nine months!—ensures that each child receives the healthiest, most nurturing personalized care NYF can offer.
Hem and Binu know that their #LoveWorks—and so does yours.
As households throughout the world prepare for a nontraditional, socially distanced holiday season in 2020, we’re all working hard to find ways to make meaning and build connection from the safety of home. If you believe in the work Hem and Binu are doing at Olgapuri, please help them by sharing their story on social media with the hashtag #LoveWorks!