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At the top of Everest - ahem, Everest Children's Home

By 5 years ago
Categories Pokhara
Our hands are slippery with sweat and it would probably be easier to let go, but we don’t.  I just met up with Ruth and Bindi after school and we are now walking uphill to the Everest Children’s Home where they live. No one told me about the hill.
Actually, I feel like no one told me about the humidity. In every photo I looked at of Pokhara, I could see the snow covered Himelayas in the background. Sure, I know my guidebook told me summer would be hot, a good 90ºF (30ºC) but I didn’t believe it. Pictures don’t lie and I saw snow.  But just now, I’m currently covered in a sheen of sweat that tells me pictures are deceiving. The Annapurna mountain range is giant and far away and I’m in the foothills. Some very hot and humid foothills. My feet slip and I should be paying more attention to where my foot falls because the path we’re on is rocky and uneven. I think I look up and sigh at the steep path before us, one of the girls start to giggle and it sets off a chain reaction with all of us snickeringand sighing the rest of the way up the hill.
Cat take colour consultant deliberates with Rajou over reds.
The girls speed up as we near the top. I slow down. Ten children live at this home and there’s a flurry of clothes as school uniforms come off and play clothes – well the play clothes just go askew. One of the boys, Santosh has his head and one arm through a shirt and he’s waving me over. I start to adjust his clothing so he can fit his second arm in the second sleeve, but he’s busy pushing a kitten into my belly. The cat, it turns out is Surri. She’s meowing, bemoaning the heat, the flurry of kids and I think the end of the school day, which subsequently means her lack of peace. Being a kitten means she’s the best toy at the home and passed around constantly. She’s impressively patient and passive, and I think I hear her sigh with relief as a drumbeat starts up.
The kids scream with excitement and clamber for the doorway.  David, the house brother, has a Mandal (okay, just a drum. But a cool one that looks classically Nepali or at least like all the other drums I’ve seen in Nepal and nowhere else).  The girls all stand in front and dance. One girl is shy and stands just in front of my legs. So I place my arms under her armpits and mimic the arm movements of the other girls.
The girls get serious as book bags spillover with homework.
It’s just a typical day after school and nothing really points out that these kids don’t live in a nuclear family. At a rough glance, this makeshift home is a good one. These children are safe, they have shelter and they are given regular meals. However, GVI identified this location as a needy home because, as with most things, there’s more that can be done. GVI’s goals for the home include simple construction upgrades, support for the local management team and extracurricular activities with the kids. Which is where the volunteers come in; these kids are motivated by the extra attention. There’s a great exchange that goes on between the volunteers and children as Nepali and English words are traded through everyday activities, homework help and simply playing games.
Right now, the children are singing a nepali rendition of ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ and I join singing in English. Some of the boys wander in to the room, drawn by the singing and dancing and drumbeats but they act like wallflowers, smiling with their backs to walls. It’s a pretty great afternoon at Everest.
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Noel Dunn is a GVI staff member currently living and working in Pokhara, Nepal. She has a masters in wildlife conservation. So far her favourite thing in Nepal, aside from the children, are the water buffalo that stroll through the streets like they own them.