When the GiveYourGap Travel Team ventured to Nepal, a country filled with winding dusty roads and breathtaking views of the Himalayas, we were not prepared for the impact the country would have on all of us. Many of the people that live in this uniquely beautiful landscape also live in extreme poverty and face great struggles everyday. Due to the years of political instability and civil war, families have been torn apart leaving many children orphaned. With an increasing number of broken families and a lack of resources, these children are often left to fend for themselves on the streets or are placed in overcrowded orphanages.
GYG visited the Asna Orphanage, which is located in the Kathmandu Valley. To our surprise, Asna was not overcrowded at all. The children shared rooms and slept in bunk beds, but there seemed to be plenty of both personal and play space. The children at Asna are looked after by the warmest mother and father figures, who make sure all the children get enough food, clothes, education. The “parents,” Mr. and Mrs. Ghimire cook vegetarian meals for the whole group using mostly food that comes right from their own garden. The children are a big help both cultivating the garden and prepping in the kitchen.
One unique aspect of this orphanage is the emphasis on ensuring that the children are provided with a quality education. They all attend their respective local schools during the day, and in the afternoons do their homework and receive extra tutoring back at Asna. Thanks to The Kendra Fallon Tutoring Program, in memory of the 18-year-old Asna volunteer who was killed in a plane crash just outside the Kathmandu Valley in 2010, Asna has hired a full time tutor, Sagar. In addition, they are able to provide the kids with essential school supplies such as books, paper, and pens.
Volunteers at Asna live in private rooms in the orphanage. They spend their mornings preparing the children for school and the afternoons tutoring and playing with the children. They can also help working in the garden and cooking meals. Kathmandu is a bustling and exciting city where no visitor will be bored. The serene and happy atmosphere of Asna provides the volunteers with a calm living environment, close to the city, and hands on opportunities to really help the children.
Overall, the impression Asna left on us was one of hope. Seeing these children with such hard pasts so happy, made us wish we could spend more time with them there. We are confident that gapper volunteers would be cared for at Asna. More importantly, they can contribute their positive energy, creative ideas, and are also passionate about working with children and learning about Nepali culture.