McDonald’s lovin’ Maya

Saturday 2nd February 2008

Hello everyone,
I know after my epic Meditation novellas that most of you won’t have the energy for any more, but I had lots of positive responses, which have spurred me on!
Last Friday after my release, I went out, drank FAR too much, and spent Saturday feeling more hungover than I’ve ever felt.

However going back to the orphanage was lovely – I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed all the kids, but seeing them after almost 2 weeks away really made me all emotional and teary-eyed! Aamaa insisted I have a lie-in on Sunday after my gruelling 4am starts, so I had a blissful morning off from cooking, and was woken very gently at 7.30 by lovely Martin, my kitchen helper (he’s 12 and helps me cook every morning) knocking quietly on my door with a nice cup of tea!
God these kids are awesome!

We also have another volunteer, also from Finland, who’s joined us for 6 months, so now there are three of us, which is lovely. The two Finnish girls have taken over the teaching everyday, which leaves me free after the cooking to work on a little project I’ve started for the orphanage.

I’m writing them a financial statement/grant proposal/general information booklet to help them find some more permanent funding. It includes a detailed outline of the orphanage’s incoming and outgoing financial situation (where the money comes from, what we spend it on, how much is rice per month etc), as well as some background information to the project and individual profiles of the children.
It’s involved a lot more maths than I’d thought, and has taken me quite a while, but it will hopefully make our situation more clear and encourage people to help us in the future.

In short, we have enough funding to cover our rent, food and bills every month, but we don’t have any money for education (hence my little fundraising exercise). Our future goals also include providing milk and fruit for the kids every day, as at the moment we can only afford fruit and milk once or twice a month.

So, with a more specific goal I intend (once this is finished) to approach lots of big huge moneybags companies/corporations who give money to charities and hopefully some of them will help.
I am currently applying for a Mcdonalds grant, as they have a whole division for children’s charities and a couple of grand is nothing to them.
Fingers crossed on that one! (This despite the fact that Nepal is one of the very few countries in the world that doesn’t have a single Mcdonald’s outlet!)
I also tried Starbucks and National Lottery, but Starbucks only work with fairtrade coffee companies – fair enough I suppose, and National Lottery is almost completely for UK-based projects only, so no luck there.

Karla and I are going to approach as many NGO’s here in Kathmandu as we can too, and I have already contacted the World Food Program and other organisations like that.
Any other suggestions would be great.

I also went with Aamaa to the school to get a breakdown of costs to see if we have enough money to send all the kids back to school soon (the new school year begins in mid-April).
Thanks to all of you lovely people, I now have 905 quid raised on my website and a previous volunteer at this orphanage, Renata has 350 quid raised, so we have a total of 1250 quid.

The school we looked at is the one the children were previously at, and is a private school. The costs the Headmaster gave me were quite a bit over what we have so far, (3,125 quid for all 26 kids for a year), however the 6 babies don’t need to go just yet, so for only 20 kids, it’s 2,407 quid.
(sorry about all the “quids” but there isn’t a pound sign on this keyboard!).

Anyway, I’m going back in to see the headmaster again next week, and am hoping to get some more discounts – he’s giving us “buy three get one free” on the tuition fees, but the school bus alone is 575 quid for the year – that seems extreme to me, but it’s too far to walk there.

I am also going to see our local government school, as we can walk there and the fees should be much cheaper. – To be honest, the private school looked pretty crappy – bare concrete walls and no resources, so I really can’t imagine the government school will be that much worse, however you never know!
(One of my friends volunteers at an orphanage in Balaju. Her kids go to a government school, but they don’t have any teachers! There’s only a headmaster who goes from class to class setting assignments and checking on them once in a while!).

There are other pros and cons, like the fact that we already have uniforms for the private school in question, but would need to buy completely new ones if we move them to another, cheaper school.
(And none of the kids have shoes, which they’ll need, so there’s all sorts of hidden extra costs to figure out!).

However, it’s actually quite exciting to have something administrative to do, and you all know how much I enjoy writing, so I’m really loving this break from teaching!
I’m feeling all galvanised into action by having a specific goal and job to achieve now, which is a nice feeling.

I will hopefully have finished it by the next time I email you all, so I will try to attach it for you to read and peruse at your leisure. (Although it currently exceeds 10mb and refuses to be attached at all – any suggestions on how I can make it smaller from techno-philes would be welcome).

Also anyone who happens to work at a big fancypants company would be very welcome to pass it on too!
In other news, my friend Penny is arriving from Korea tomorrow for a week’s holiday here, so we’re going to spend the week doing nice touristy-sightseeing things, which will be lovely!

I keep meaning to update you all on lots of other things like the situation at Alan’s orphanage, which was getting much better, but now might be getting worse again, and the political situation, which remains interesting to say the least.

However, there’s never enough time and always so much to say, so I’ll have to save those things for a slow news day!

tons of love

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