As you know Eric and I were in Nepal this summer. While in Kahtmandu, we had the honor of meeting Raj Kumar Pun, Uma Gurung and the children of the Saphalta HIV Shikshya Sadan School and Baby Life Home orphanage. www.babylifehome.org This place is a home, a school, and most importantly, a safe space for children from around Nepal who have been orphaned or abandoned by their families and communities because they have HIV. Unfortunately in Nepal, HIV infection still engenders enormous social stigma and descrimination, even for babies, children and adolescents.
Many of these children began their lives believing as they were told: believing they were worthless, believing they were evil, believing they should be feared, believing no one could love them, believing they were unwelcome in this world.
For some, however, there is now more than hope: there is a better life; the prospect for a better future; the awareness of their own virtue; the knowledge of their own worth; the security of earnest love.
In 2009 Raj sold his house and Uma, his co-founding partner, sold her cosmetics business to found the Baby Life Home orphanage for children living with HIV. But due to the cultural stigma of HIV, public and private schools in Kathmandu would not accept these children; this created the need to open a school on the grounds of the orphanage in 2011.
Now Baby Life Home and Saphalta HIV Shikshya Sadan School operate on the same premisis. There are approximately 20 children living in a house/school consisting of 2 bedrooms, a living/dining room, a kitchen and 4 small classrooms, distributed on 4 floors. The home and school operate on $1500 a month; HIV medication is provided by a grant from the UN to the government of Nepal.
Although operating costs are low the challenges are still plenty. Current income affords the children protein only once a week and incidental medical costs are not covered by the government grant. The home and school lack any technology or internet access and classrooms function without any furnishings; the children sit on the floor. The teachers are extremely dedicated but given the precarious economy in Nepal, a better paying job elsewhere is an inevitable possibility.
Additionally the children are mostly confined to the indoors of this home. "Daddy" and "mummy" (as Raj and Uma are affectionately called) fear the children will be verbally teased and/or physically bullied by uninformed, cruel people of the neighborhood, as they have been before. Outreach to the community is near and dear to Raj and Uma but with limited resources the opportunity is also scarce.
We would like to raise a monthly allowance that would supplement their income. We are hoping that an additional $500 a month ($6,000 a year) will provide the family with daily balanced meals and that it will cover costs for incidental doctors' visits and medications. Furthermore, we are hoping to supplement the cost of repairs and improvements to their infrastructure, to afford them access to technology, and to provide resources for the school.
Going forward we will consider addtional possibilities as the children age out of k-12 education. We will also consider the feasibility of bringing in more children to the home (although that would require more space).
For our part we are taking this on as a long-time investement in the childrens' future. We hope that you too may be willing to make a recurring donation of any amount. Alternatively a single donation would be greatly appreciated. We ask you to consider helping us to help these children. Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you for any generous gift you can contribute.
Eric and Eric
- Eric Fahrenkopf
- Susan Wilcox
- Barb & Bob Biess
- Kathry Suter
- Mark Englert
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