Mid-April brings the official Nepali new year, just about the same time that we welcome our incoming class of children to Kailash Home. While all Nepali take this time to reflect on what lies behind and what the future might bring, these ten new Kailash Kids will make a more drastic change than most as they embark on dramatically new lives.
According to the statistics, these children faced a bleak future. The CIA World Factbook reports that a quarter of the Nepali population subsists below the poverty line. Twenty seven percent of children under the age of five are underweight. More than half of the country’s roadways are unpaved, and 6.6 million people live without electricity. With these alarming numbers in mind, the fact that access to education is challenging should come as no surprise. In 2015, only 64% of the population over age 15 could read, and upon arrival at Kailash, many of our children are even worse off than the numbers suggest. More than half of our incoming children live so remote that it takes more than a day’s walk – sometimes as many as three – to reach a passable road. Those who do have access to a primary school may find it closed for the duration of the winter or have to walk hours to get there; one child had to navigate a rickety bridge that required the assistance of an adult on his hour-long journey.
But our Kailash Kids are more than just statistics, so we want to introduce you to three of our new students:
In 2013, a year after Anis Magar was born, the now seven-year-old boy’s father abandoned the family and disappeared. Anis’s mother, Shushila, and grandmother tried to provide for him and his two older siblings, but age was creeping up on his grandmother. Shushila couldn’t earn enough to provide for her children and mother in Nepal, so four years ago she made the heartbreaking decision to seek a job in Malaysia, sending every penny home in the hope of getting her family even two meals a day.
Unlike the majority of the Kailash children, five-year-old Thupten Tsultrim Shrestha lived in Kathmandu rather than a remote mountain village. His family had moved to Nepal in 1959, seeking refuge following the Chinese occupation of Tibet. At first, Thupten’s family settled near the border, working for a Nepali farm, but after twenty years, with no resolution to the political crisis in sight and subsistence barely manageable, the family moved to Kathmandu to take advantage of the few facilities opened for Tibetan refugees by the exiled government. With their backing, Thupten’s grandmother learned carpet weaving.
Today, Thupten’s parents both work for a carpet manufacturer, but the pay is minimal and Thupten’s grandmother has recurring medical bills. As a result, the family has been certified destitute by the regional Tibetan Welfare Office. Thupten’s twelve-year-old brother attends school in India, and returns home once a year, when the family can scrape together enough money for his travel costs.
At ten years old, Samiksha Gole is older than the rest of the incoming students by at least two years, but her story is no less distressing. When Samiksha was four years old, her father, Dil Bahadur, obtained a position as a driver in Qatar, but a year into the job, he got into a road accident that damaged his spine and put him in the hospital for three months. The company paid his medical bills but released him from his position. Back in Nepal since 2014, Dil Bahadur elected not to get the operation that could restore his spine because of the 40% failure rate that could result in permanent paralysis.
With Dil Bahadur unable to handle any physical labor, the family subsists on the earnings of Samiksha’s mother, who owns a village tea shop. The income, however, barely covers their daily bread, and they find it increasingly difficult to cover the cost of Dil Bahadur’s ongoing physical therapy. While Samiksha’s teachers report she is a brilliant student, with her younger sister now old enough to attend school, too, paying the school fees are nearly impossible.
All of these new children come from challenging circumstances — they face illiteracy, dangerous labor intensive work, poor nutrition, and health crises. Thanks to their sponsors and generous donors like you, at Kailash Home, Anis, Thupten, Samiksha, and the seven other children now have a chance at a brighter future. They have a home with nutritious and nourishing food, regular health check-ups, excellent schooling, friendship, love, and laughter.