Latest Event Updates

Sustainable developments at Birgunj!

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Our hand-made greenhouse!

It is very important to us, that our home is sustainable and self sufficient in providing food for the children. We already have chickens and buffalos providing eggs and milk in Birgunj, but are now looking to provide more fresh vegetables for the children.

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In addition to our vegetable patch, our local staff and volunteers have built a DIY greenhouse! This means we will be able to grow vegetables requiring a warm climate, even in the cold winters! We’ve also built a fence to separate the buffalos and chickens from eating our seeds and crops before they are ready for harvest!

A big thank you to all the volunteers that helped with building the green house!

Clean water in Birgunj!

With the vast mountain area in Nepal, the last issue you think the country would be facing is a lack of adequate drinking water. The Department of Water Supply & Sewerage in Nepal states the the general water supply in Nepal is not safe for consumption. The water is contaminated from a wide range of sources, such as natural and anthropogenic contaminations and largely due to national sewage system. The sewage entering the rivers and brooks of Kathmandu Valley is untreated and is equally polluted by industrial waste. It is estimated that half of Kathmandu’s waste (approximately 75 ton a day) is dumped into rivers. In rural regions, communities still rely on tube wells as a water source. Water from Nepali wells is at risk of being filled with arsenic due to the sedimentary layers of sand and gravel.

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As water is generally untreated in rural areas of Nepal, waterborne parasites and diseases are found in high numbers. Diseases such as dysentery, typhoid, gastroenteritis and cholera are very common in less developed areas of Nepal and there is no doubt that the questionable water supply is partly to blame, coupled with the unhygienic environmental situation. Children under the age of five are the most affected with an estimated 44,000 children dying every year in Nepal from waterborne diseases.

At Our Sansar we strive to provide clean and fresh water for the children in our homes. Recently in our Birgunj home, we have installed a water filter in our home. This means we have an unlimited supply of water, which we can be sure is of suitable drinking quality! Water is the drink of choice for all the boys at our Birgunj home, so we are ecstatic to provide this sustainable development to our home! Thanks again to Tobias from ASHA for his help in the installation. 

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You can help us sustainably develop our home and help with our other projects by donating at Global Giving. https://www.globalgiving.org/donate/16982/our-sansar/ You can also learn about our new projects!

Special needs education in Nepal

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Superstitions and supernatural beliefs are very common in Nepali and Hindu cultures. This superstition is very present in rural areas where education rates are low and majority of people are illiterate. Of Nepal’s population 2% are disabled and 30% of this figure are children. [1] These children often fall victim to the superstitious mindset of Nepali people. They are often seen as cast-offs, pariahs or as a punishment of karma. Due to this outlook, they are not given the chance to thrive in a community, where they are largely disregarded. 50% of disabled children are out of school and fail to integrate within Nepali society.[1]

Research completed by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Plan International has found that children with disabilities were on average 10 times less likely to go to school than children without disabilities.[2] The social stigma attached to children with disability prevents them from not only being educated, but also affects their families providing them with health services and employment in the future. The rejection from social groups, leads to them living a life of an outcast.

The improvement in treatment of disabled children in Nepal, is a cause we are very passionate about at Our Sansar. In our Birgunj home, there is a child who is unable to talk, his name is Ram. Unlike most children at the home, Ram was found by a river bed with no ability to care for himself. He was unable to clean, dress or look after himself to any capacity.  Since living at the home, Ram has transformed into a hard-working and intelligent boy. At the home you will always find him helping Deepak with the buffalos, helping Chachi in the kitchen, or playing cricket with the the other boys of the home.

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After completing a medical examination, it was found his tongue was completely  inflexible. Doctors have completed surgery to alleviate the problems with his tongue. His speech is already improving, and he is starting to say words such as “Hello!” and “Thank you!”

We are not only proud of Ram’s incredible improvement, but also the attitude the others boys living with Ram. He is always included by the boys, and as one of the older boys, is seen as a big brother figure to the boys. We believe this is a result of the education the boys the receive, not only at school but at the home as a whole. Many studies have shown education with rural environments can help develop a positive attitude towards disability, and we heavily promote this within Our Sansar.[3]

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Check out our video on Ram’s story here: https://player.vimeo.com/video/203134766?autoplay=1

You can also find out more about our latest projects and donate here: https://www.globalgiving.org/donate/16982/our-sansar/

References

1. International, S. the C. (2017) Appeal for education of children with disability. Available at: https://nepal.savethechildren.net/news/appeal-education-children-disability (Accessed: 5 March 2017).

2. Include us in education (2014) Available at: https://plan-international.org/publications/include-us-disability-inclusion-education (Accessed: 5 March 2017)

3. Women, S. (2013) Attitude towards disability in Nepal. Available at: https://sevenwomenngo.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/attitude-towards-disability-in-nepal/ (Accessed: 5 March 2017).

 

A poem from an Our Sansar volunteer

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We hope you all had a lovely Christmas and your New Years is just as great! One of our volunteers, Belinda, has been creatively inspired by the work she and other volunteers in Nepal are doing in Nepal. We wanted to show you the poem as we really believe it represents Our Sansar’s values and gives you an insight into what volunteering in an Our Sansar home actually entails:

Our Sansar
a home for you and me
Sarita’s in the kitchen
making sweet chai tea
A game of inside outside
keeps us entertained
noise and personality
not contained
Strength and bravery
a regular sight
There’s plenty of rice
no need to fight
Today we dig the veg patch
expecting greens to hatch
Paint the walls with words
And make origami birds
Children will come and go
as the staff retain their flow
Emotions run high
when it’s time to say goodbye
Connections with each other
Powerful to one another
Our Sansar
expect no less
The idea is
that each child will progress
They will go to school
and know that school is cool
They will be with their families wherever possible
From adult to child
there is a lot to learn
From child to adult
in return
Forgive and forget
don’t regret
Think big, aim high
and don’t be shy.

We all love Belinda’s poem and believe it really embodies the hope we have for all the children within the home.

Don’t forget to check out and donate our Winter Woolies campaign! We’re hoping to raise money for coats and other winter supplies to help keep our kids warm! Find out more here: https://www.globalgiving.co.uk/projects/winter-woolies-keep-street-kids-cosy/

We would like to thank everyone for their help and donations and hope everyone has a happy holiday season!

Winter Woolies

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2015 has been a challenging year for the whole of Nepal. The devastating earthquakes, the new constitution, aggressive protests and the blockade at the border of Nepal has left the country in a vulnerable position. The entire nation has a lack of supplies being delivered, and with winters getting colder (the lowest temperature at higher altitudes being -2°C in December 2014)* the people of Nepal are completely unprepared.

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Petrol stations are closed nationally, creating a black market for the product with un-affordable prices. Gas supplies are no longer available and electric cuts are far more frequent than usual. This means that gas heaters and cooking appliances are no longer available and electrical items are less reliable for their users. The lack of gas has resulted in an increase in wood fires for both cooking and heating purposes, making even this resource very difficult to obtain.

We are therefore determined to assist the children in any way that we can. We have already bought an insulating foam for the walls and are making curtains to cover the walls in order to provide an extra layer for warmth. Daylight provides sufficient warmth for the children, however the days are becoming very short and the days becoming colder and colder. The lack of heating options available means we are reliant on warm clothing. The children wear their winter jackets all day and put on even more layers to stay warm.

The children need as many warm clothing as they can. We are therefore determined to provide more coats, trousers and warm pyjamas for the children! We are also aiming to get electrical heaters, which are able to use and store electrical energy. So when power-cuts occur, rooms can still be heated using the stored energy. We will ensure that all the children we are helping stay warm and healthy during this winter. We also need to buy carpets to keep the floors warm in order for the children to be able to study in comfortable conditions. And, of course, there are many more street children in need – we want to provide blankets and warm clothes through our outreach support.

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Our Winter Woolies campaign is committed to help the children keep warm this winter! Please support our Winter Woolies campaign and help us keep the kids who have already been through a lot, warm this December and January.

From December 1st to December 31st, GlobalGiving will be matching ALL monthly donations! For every new monthly donation that is set up on the GlobalGiving.co.uk website, we will receive an equal donation from GlobalGiving! Please visit our winter campaign page here: http://www.globalgiving.co.uk/projects/winter-woolies-keep-street-kids-cosy/

From all of us at Our Sansar, a massive thank you in advance for all your help!

*Information taken from: http://www.visitnepal.com/travelers_guide/when_to_come.php

 

6 Months on from NepalQuake

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We are now past the 6 months mark from the second earthquake to devastate Nepal earlier this year and our Dhading transit home has been running for nearly 6months! We have seen the children and the area in Dhading come a long way since the heat from the summer months. Our project started by building our bamboo houses and arranging all the mattresses inside them – we enlisted carpenters, handymen and several volunteers to assist with the project, as well as members from the Our Sansar home in Birgunj. The governmental authorities were very encouraging to and were very keen for us to start helping children affected by the earthquake. From our initial understanding, around 90 children had lost at least one parent from the earthquake, and at least 10 had lost both. Some of the children lived in remote areas that are not accessible by car. Our staff had to travel up to three days (sometimes by foot) in order to reach the children and assist with the recovery from the earthquake.

Suraj (pictured) was one of the young boys affected by the earthquake that we were able to help very early on. After Nepalquake, Suraj’s mother could not be found and his father was unable to look after him. The governmental authorities had tried placing him at another children’s home in Dhading, but he escaped due to not being happy there. When we first met Suraj he was a very cheeky and seemed very happy to be in our transit home, but he needed to start attending school again. At the time this was not possible in Dhading. Suraj is one of the many children we met who had behavioural issues.

Since the earthquake, our Dhading transit home has become a remarkable project. All of the staff work very hard to create a happy atmosphere and to keep the mood high at all times. We have many volunteers that are completing many activities with the children, such as singing and dancing – there is always music playing! The environment around the home has also drastically changed – we now grow our vegetables, have benches and there is even a hammock for the kids to relax in. The homes now have proper plumbing, with a fully functional shower and lighting has been placed in crucial parts of the home.  

The kids are wonderful and much better behaved than before. We have had clothes donated for the winter months and we have also took the children shopping to buy more winter clothes for them. The temperatures during winter tends to plummet in Northern Nepal and villagers are constantly worrying about the lack of thick blankets and winter clothes to fight against the cold of the winter. Suraj is still in our Dhading home and is enrolled in a school in the area. Since the earthquake we have helped countless children find family they can live with again or place them in a suitable home within the district. Our staff always make sure the home the children are going back to is safe and efficient enough to help the child with their development and recovery. The number of children in our transit home varies on a daily basis, due to both children coming into the home and being placed.

We are also happy to announce that our project in Dhading has been extended! We hope the project can last a long time, in order to assist all the children affected by earthquake or street children within the area.

Dashain: Let’s celebrate the largest and longest festival in Nepal

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Happy Dashain
Happy Dashain: Image taken from: http://www.ashesh.com.np/dashain-2013-festivals/

Dashain (aka Bada Dashain or Vijaya Dashami) is the largest and longest Hindu festival, celebrated mainly in Nepal. The Dashain festival lasts for fifteen days and begins on the day of Ghatasthapana  and finishes in the day of Kojagrat Purnima. Throughout the fifteen days, the Nepalese Hindus carry out many ceremonies and traditions as a community. The Dashain festival usually begins in October (Ashoj or Kartik in the Nepalese calendar) and is the longest public holiday in Nepal, All schools, offices and governmental offices are closed throughout the 15-day period of the festival!

Goddess Durga: Original image by Tanmoy Bhaduri


The festival celebrates the various victories of Hindu Gods over Demons, such as lord Ram defeating Ravan in a duel and Goddess Durga defeating the buffalo-demon Mahisasur, as well as many other demons. The festival as a whole is the celebration of the triumph of good over evil and the stories are told throughout the ceremony to provide moral examples to the community. 

Some of the activities throughout Dashain are having fiesta-style parties, enjoying home-cooked meals and flying kites, to represent freedom. The festival usually ties in with the end of the Monsoon season, and some natives believe flying kites will communicate to God to end the rainfall season! People sacrifice a lot of animals in this festival, most of which are the goats, sheep, chicken or buffaloes. The trend of sacrificing animals however, is changing towards fruits and vegetables, as the animals slaughter is nowhere mentioned in the Hindu scriptures and the animal right activists strongly condemn it. Some of they key days during Dashain are:

Day 1 (Ghatasthapana)
Ghatasthapana is the first day of Bada Dashain.  A male family member will plant jamara (usually barley seeds) in moist sand. By the tenth day of the festival, the seeds will have grown to yellow grass, which is used with tika to bless people with prosperity and happiness.

Day 7 (Fulpati)
The special essence of festival gets from this day. On this auspicious day, a military parade is organized at Hanuman Dhoka. The Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Civil Service, Band Music and Panchebaja also join the fulpati parade. People clean their houses and decorate their houses with flowers. Today (19th of Oct) is Fulpati, and most of the festivities in our homes we will be taking places today! In our Dhading home, the kids will be flying kites, playing on the traditional swing and finishing the day off with a barbeque and a trip to the cinema! The children from our Birgunj home will be starting the day with Puja (prayers), followed by kite flying and a trip to the Parwanipur market, where there will be a huge fair! 

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Swinging and Kite flying: Image taken from: http://www.travelmadeasier.com/dashain/

Day 8 (Maha Ashtami)
The festive will be continued as Maha Ashtami. Thousands of goats, sheep, buffaloes, ducks and hens are sacrificed in Goddess Temple almost from every home. In Newar Community, Kuchi Bhoe is prepared in which ritually people should eat two pathi of beaten rice including various types of dishes in a banana leaf.

Day 9 (Maha Nawami)
The ninth day of the festival is known as Maha Nawami. On this day, the Taleju Temple gates of Basantapur are accessible to the general public. Thousands of devotees go and pay respect to the goddess all along the day. This day is also known as Viswakarma day. 

Day 10 (Tika/Vijaya Dashami)
The tenth day of festival is known as Vijaya Dashami or “Tika”. On this auspisous day, tika and jamara (which is sewn in day 1) are taken from elders and blessing is received including “Dakshin” (money). These festivities continue for four days till the rising of the full moon. During that period, family and relatives, who are live apart, meet each other and take blessings from the elders. 

The first 10 days of Dashain celebrates the battles fought by the Gods/Goddesses. The following 5 days celebrates the victories and more fiesta-style parties are held during this period! We look forward to see how our kids in the home will be celebrating Dashain and we will be sure to show you all!

Sources used throughout this blog post include:
http://www.ashesh.com.np/
http://www.drikpanchang.com/
kathmandupost.ekantipur.com

For more information on Dashain please see the links above. Thank you for reading this blog post and continuing to support Our Sansar!

Nepal Constitution: Violence & shortages affect our work

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Fuel shortages and political violence following a two-week blockade on the Indian border are making providing aid and charitable support to local communities increasingly difficult for our team in Nepal.

In the southern Terai region, necessities such as medicine are not making their way into Nepal and there is widespread worry about possible food shortages as trucks sit stationary, choking supplies.

 

Birgunj5The recent adoption of a new constitution by Nepal’s Government has led to violence around the country and at least 40 people have been killed in clashes during the past month, while thousands of protesters have blocked the border.

Many border regions have become too violent to work in, preventing help from reaching the area’s most vulnerable, while there are reports of street children being used in clashes with police and others seeking refuge in India.

Street children in Birgunj, where the Our Sansar children’s home is situated, are being used by Madhesi parties to throw stones and attack vehicles.

“We can’t even reach out to them to try and help them due to safety reasons,” Our Sansar director Julia Krepska said.

“People in Raxaul – a town in India on the border – are providing food to the protesters as they are supporting the protests against the constitution, and now many street children from Nepal are going across the border and get fed there.”

The situation has become critical.

Birgunj4“We are still provided with some supplies – we just need to call the shop owners and then they provide us with food – but we don’t know how long this will last for, and the supplies will end at some point,” Julia said.

“We cannot visit our projects easily, children don’t go to school, many shops are closed.”

Strikes and protests have also affected public services and children have been out of school for nearly two months – while around the country, all non-emergency transport has been halted.

“The schools have been now closed for about 50 days, before then they were closed due to the earthquake, then summer holidays – so children in the Birgunj area this year have hardly had any classes,” Julia said.

“Our project manager, Ayush, can’t even refill his motorbike to visit and reach out to children in more remote villages, which is an essential part of our work.”

Nepal is still reeling from a devastating earthquake which killed more than 8,700 people in April and the unrest is now pushing up prices for necessities for those who could least afford them.

Birgunj6“Because of the fuel shortage, people can’t get to work, factories are shut, there is no milk,” Julia said.

The situation in the border towns is also affecting Our Sansar’s work for child survivors of the earthquakes in Dhading.

“We can’t send some of the Dhading children to their families due to the lack of transport – we’re all pretty much stuck where we are,” Julia said.