Kalaish Children’s Home – Himalayan Youth Foundation
You can read this article translated by Fernanda Maciel into Spanish HERE
Thirty minutes, that is all it took to depart from Lukla, the trails and mountains of the Himalayas replaced by the noise and frantic activity of Kathmandu. To say that the Everest Trail Race had been an experience would be an underestimation. I have been extremely fortunate to travel to some beautiful places and follow some incredible races in the past couple of years, but the ETR, Nepal and the visual splendor of Everest and its sister peaks was a joy to behold.
As a photographer (amongst other things), Nepal was always going to tick several boxes on so many levels. I love to see culture, people and the life of a place unfold before my eyes and if I get things right, I hope to capture that in images. The diversity of the region; noise, congestion, and the buzz of Kathmandu, to the open trails and the simple pleasures of the Khumbu region was an experience that I will take with me forever. I will return to Nepal but it will be different next time. It will never be like the first time, the first time is unique.
As we landed in Kathmandu, runners and staff from the ETR started to say, ‘it’s over’. I couldn’t disagree more. We had a day and a half before our respective journey’s home and in that time I wanted to make the most of what was on offer.
A trip down Tamil Street to experience the banter, buzz and shopping experiences of a Bazaar is always a great experience. Here in Kathmandu it was no different. Like a step back in time, I bantered and bargained for the ‘best’ price on presents and souvenirs for loved ones at home.
The final day arrived. It’s a very definite thing the word ‘final’. I wanted to ensure that my final day was the start of something else and to that end I was elated to be involved in White Flow Nepal.
Fernanda Maciel, ladies winner of the Everest Trail Race and second placed finisher overall had asked me several months ago would I be involved in this project. It all came about in a pre-race interview for the ETR (here).
Fernanda, following on from her White Flow Brazil project decided to utilize her free time in Nepal and in conjunction with the *‘Mountaineers for Himalayas Foundation’ (www.mount4him.org), Fernanda created White Flow Nepal with a primary aim to help the children at Kalaish Children’s Home.
The Kailash Hostel (www.hfy-us.org) is operated by the Himalayan Children’s Foundation. The ‘HCF’ is a Nepali charity organization who provides education and care to underprivileged children. Currently, 92-children are homed at Kalaish.
Evicted from three rental buildings, the children at Kalaish have been provided with a home due to donations and charitable endeavors. These donations allowed HCF to build a completely new hostel consisting of three buildings, a dining/administration room, boy’s dorm and girls dorm. Located in the quiet valley of Gorkarna just outside the center of Kathmandu, they have created a secure and stable environment for the children. The buildings were inaugurated by the US Ambassador to Nepal in 2007.
Education, healthcare, extra-curricular activities, a vegetable garden, music, dance, swimming, and mountaineering all provided to the children who come from the remotest parts of mountain villages in Nepal with an emphasis placed on children from the Tibetan border region. The main reason for this has been the lack of facilities on offer for the children in these remote areas. For example, the nearest school was a three to four hours walk away. Children are accepted from 5-7 years old and are cared for until they graduate. It’s an incredibly warm, welcoming and happy environment.
Fernanda wanted to provide some assistance, no matter how small. So armed with bags of clothes and with assistance from Overstims, Compressport and The North Face, Fernanda provided essential items to help facilitate the day-to day experiences of the children of Kalaish Children’s Home.
Our experience started at Hotel Shanker, we were picked up by staff from the school and joined by several of the older students. Departing from the center of Kathmandu we ran through the chaotic streets to the hostel in Gorkarna. Weaving in and around the traffic, passing homes, shops and farmland, we progressed along the 7km route and children from the school joined us at different stages. The closer we were to our arrival, the younger the children became until the final 200m when we where joined by the youngest!
It was quite an experience! The joy, the laughter, the cheers and most importantly, the smiles, made every step of this run a wonderful step to something more positive. I could see a bigger picture and after all I had experienced in the past 12 to 13 days I could see it all making sense in this final journey. We were doing something very small that was making and creating a massive impact.
At the school, Fernanda was welcomed like a queen. A banner had been placed on an external school wall congratulating her on her ETR victory. On the school playing field the children formed a large circle and then under the instruction of the ETR ladies champion, they all performed some simple stretches.
Inside the dining/ community room a surprise awaited. Once a month, birthdays are celebrated and today an extra cake had been made, one for Fernanda. Joining the ‘top table’, Fernanda blended in perfectly. Grinning like a small child, Fernanda embraced the celebrations and when it came to celebrating, she followed tradition by smearing some cake on the children’s faces. In a place were food is such a precious commodity, it was wonderful to see the children, irrespective of age, allowed to be children.
The whole experience was rewarding, uplifting and reassuring. Nepal and its people are special. Amongst the beauty and diversity I witnessed great extremes. Poverty on a scale I have not witnessed before and this was contrasted by some of the most dramatic and beautiful scenery I have had the pleasure to witness. The Kalaish Children’s Home and other places like this are the very very tip of the iceberg. They don’t even make a dent in the very apparent social issues that are so clearly present within the whole of Nepal. But, every little helps. In spite of this, I have the found the people, irrespective of wealth or social standing, the most welcoming, generous and friendly of all I have met. I leave Nepal not with something coming to an end, but with a beginning. I witnessed on the face of each and every child that our ‘disposable’ items could generate happiness, warmth and pleasure. It’s time to look within and think, ‘what can I do to help?’ Believe me, the donation of clothes, toys, books, writing materials or a donation of say £10 literally can make a huge difference.
I sincerely thank Fernanda Maciel, the staff and the children from Kalaish Children’s Home for providing me with the opportunity to experience something that will allow me the opportunity to look within and find a way to help in the future.
Would you like to help? Why not donate to one of the faces Kalaish HERE make a payment to Paypal account: firstname.lastname@example.org all proceeds will go to the Kalaish Children’s Home.
Fernanda Maciel – Here
*Mountaineers for the Himalaya’s Foundation is a private, non-political, non-profit making, non-religious and non-governmental organization created by Mountaineers to help and assist children in remote and mountainous regions of Nepal, Pakistan, Tibet, India and Bhutan.
Himalayan Youth Foundation – UK
18 Holeyn Hall Roade
Tel 0044 1661 852278