Saturday 3rd November 2007
… the story continues…
We talked to an American guy named Mark, who volunteered at the orphanage years ago and has stayed in touch with Ram. Mark is studying the effects of voluntourism in developing countries and has done lots of research at orphanages, so we asked him if he could help us place some of the children with his contacts at other orphanages.
Then we talked again about the options. Ram has now realised that there’s no way he’s going to be allowed to be involved at all in anything to do with the orphans, and Alan has insisted that their Aamaa leave immediately, as she seems to be the immediate threat.
Daniel was very upset about closing the orphanage, as although he’s willing to do it if it means the children ultimately have a better quality of life, but he can’t bear to split them up, and trying to decide which 5 would come to us and how to split up the other 6 kids was proving terribly hard on him, as he’s so attached to all of them.
Daniel is still very keen to keep them all together and run the orphanage himself, but he’s only 18 and has no job or income to support 11 children, pay rent and bills etc.
Alan and Daniel have talked to a legal advisor, who said it would be possible to hand over the orphanage to Daniel and ensure that he would have complete control, and Ram wouldn’t be able to interfere at all.
Alan has decided to become the primary sponsor, and thinks he can raise enough money to get the orphanage up and running for at least two years (because obviously it’s all very well us helping out now while we’re here but we have to think about the longer term issues about how Daniel can sustain and support the orphanage when we’re gone).
Alan is planning to remain a sponsor essentially for the rest of his life, sending money every month from his paycheck once he gets home, but if Daniel is going to make this work he needs more than cash.
Priya and Aamaa have sat down with Daniel to explain some of the ins and outs of running an orphanage, and have been very sweet and offered lots of support and advice.
Priya at this point still feels he’s too young to cope, especially as he doesn’t have a support network or really any friends who can help him out.
However, she suggested that if he does take over, he should relocate to our area of Kathmandu, so that he’ll be close by. That way Aamaa and Priya can check up on him, and if any of the kids get sick he can send them to Aamaa to recover, and they can send over old clothes etc.
It’s amazing to think that these two women are willing to offer so much when they already run an orphanage themselves!
So, at the moment the kids are still in the same situation, and Alan is going with Daniel every day to talk with Ram and various legal and financial advisors to see if they can pull it all off successfully.
I have been to visit another orphanage that Priya recommended to see if they had any space available for children (because if this all falls apart we’ll still need to find suitable homes for these children as quickly as possible). They didn’t have space, but are one of five exceptionally well run orphanages under a group called the Umbrella Foundation. They have serious funding and do a lot of good here in Nepal. I’ve set up a meeting with their director tomorrow, so I can outline the situation and see if they can help.
I’m sure they could take the extra kids very easily if needed, but Daniel really wants to try and run things himself if possible to avoid splitting the kids up, so hopefully the Umbrella foundation can provide some practical advice about running a good orphanage, and maybe help Daniel with some of the paperwork.
Also Alan and I are trying to get as many people involved as possible to provide Daniel with a support network after we leave – the more people who know about the situation the more help he can probably get. Also, as the Umbrella Foundation are a very large group with proper funding they might be able to suggest who we can apply to for sponsors/donors or maybe send some of their funding our way.
So, although the situation keeps changing, and we may still end up having to close the orphanage and split the kids up, we are currently trying to find a new house to rent, in my district, somewhere near enough for Aamaa and Priya to keep an eye on him and help out, and to organise the financing of the orphanage.
Alan is meeting Ram again tomorrow with a legal advisor to draw up some contracts. Ram has agreed to provide enough money for food every month for at least a year, (although even with a legal contract we aren’t convinced he’ll stick to it), and Alan is going to work out how much he can afford to give each month for the next two years and put it on paper, so Daniel will have some proof of income when he applies to the CDO to run the orphanage.
Now, while I have been receiving lovely donations from some fantastic people since I’ve come here to help support my orphanage, I am also aware that my orphanage is very well organised and has enough funding for now without my help. Daniel on the other hand, needs every penny he can get to do this properly, and so I am going to be doing a bit of fundraising myself on his behalf.
I’m going to set up another Justgiving page to try and raise around 900 pounds, which would pay their orphanage rent for a year with a bit left over for emergencies. Unlike Ram, Daniel can be trusted implicitly with the money, and in any case what Alan and I would like to do is to take the money directly to the landlord and get a signed lease/contract that the rent has been paid and they can’t be evicted for two years or so. If we can secure them a decent home, then providing enough money for food each month and clothes etc will be a lot easier to do.
So, I am well aware that so many of you donated INCREDIBLY generously to help send me here in the first place, and I feel awful asking for more, so I thought I ought to do something to earn my donations this time around.
I’m going to book myself in for Vipassana meditation course in January and do the ten days of meditation there as a sponsored silence. I will not speak, read, watch tv, write anything, listen to music or in any way communicate for ten days straight in order to help raise this money. I’ll try and set up the website soon and hopefully I’ll have enough money by the beginning of January.
Also, what with Christmas coming up I would like to request that no one send me anything, but rather make a donation in lieu of a present.
If we really can find a way to make this work, then there will be one two-year old in the world who will never be beaten again, and you can all help to make that happen, which would be a pretty amazing thing.
We will also be looking for some slightly more permanent funding, so if anyone knows of any corporations or charities or groups that would be interested in sponsoring a child there and making a regular monthly donation over a longer period of time then we’d love to hear about it – anything at all at this point could make a really huge difference to these kids’ lives.
I will let you all know when I have set up the website for donations, and I’ll probably make a group on facebook too, so feel free to spread the word as far as you can.
I know this email is beginning to sound like one massive plea for money, so I’ll stop there and let it all sink in.
Part three a bit later.