A Nepali Family

SDC occupies the first three stories and other families live upstairs.
SDC occupies the first three stories and other families live upstairs. (photo by Dipesh)

“Have good dreams, brother.”  This is what I hear over and over every evening as I leave the Social Development Center, a home for 15 children in Kathmandu.  In the morning, I am greeted with “Namaste” (palms together, fingers pointing upwards in front of chest) and “Did you sleep well, brother?”  The children at SDC are a family, though they have arrived at this special home under varying circumstances.  Some came in sibling groups while others came alone.  Most have lived here for ten years or more.  They range in age from “about 8” to late teens.

I have only spent about two days at the home as of this post, but have already noticed a lot that sets this home and the children apart from others I have visited.  I remember visiting orphanages in South America and having children literally crawl over me and cling to me, begging to be held at every moment.  It’s easy to enjoy these moments and the affection given by the children, but it’s also a sign of how desperate they are for attention.  Through no fault of their caretakers, they just do not receive the kind of attention most children need.

Rupak and Sudarshan are excited about the jackfruit.
Rupak and Sudarshan are excited about the jackfruit. (photo by Dipesh)
The jackfruit was delicious.
The jackfruit was delicious.

At SDC, there is no crawling or clinging.  The children were very much interested in me, asked hundreds of questions, were extremely polite, and would even grab my arm or, in the case of the eight-year-old, sit on my lap.  But they were never clingy.  They were just as interested in what their brothers and sisters were doing.  In short, they are a family.  If it’s snack time, Sugrit jumps off my lap for his boiled egg. When dinner is served, Dipesh will hand me my camera and head towards the kitchen to get his plate.  Chek loses all interest in my iPod if his brothers start a soccer game outside, even if the ball is a pingpong ball.  No one is attached to outside influences, they are attached to each other.

My "mobile" is a big hit, but only allowed after homework is complete.
My “mobile” is a big hit, but only allowed after homework is complete. (photo by Chek)
Bikram is teaching himself how to play the guitar.
Bikram is teaching himself to play the guitar. (photo by Dipesh)
Chek loves selfies, and making faces.
Chek loves selfies, and making faces.
Sugrit takes a selfie with the iPod.
Sugrit takes a selfie with the iPod.
Nisham is the self-taught family barber.
Nishan is the self-taught family barber. (photo by Dipesh)
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Nishan and Chek.
Dipesh, the photographer, and teacher of Nepali.
Dipesh, the photographer, and teacher of Nepali.

It is amazing for me to see 15 children sitting on the floor around two low tables, focused intently on their homework.  After spending the day in school and having a snack at home, they will work for two-three hours more on homework.  Some are studying chemistry and physics, others are doing algebra, and Sugrit is reading stories in English and answering questions.  All of them have a list of assignments for each subject and move from one to the next with barely any complaints.  I have rarely seen students in my class maintain such focus for an extended period of time.  I’ll plan on visiting some schools this week and am sure to have a lot more to say about it.

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Sugrit checking photos after two hours of homework.
Sugrit checking photos after two hours of homework. (photo by Dipesh)

Time to study my Nepali numbers, which Dipesh is so patiently trying to teach me.  (I’ve only mastered one, two, and three.)  I am sure I’ll have good dreams tonight.

My cheat sheet
My cheat sheet
I'm becoming addicted to the black tea prepared by the house  mother. (photo by Dipesh)
I’m becoming addicted to the black tea prepared by the house mother. (photo by Dipesh)
Chek's drawing of the Dharahara Tower which collapsed in the earthquake.
Chek’s drawing of the Dharahara Tower which collapsed in the earthquake.

11 Comments on “A Nepali Family

  1. I love Chek’s drawing, it is beautiful and haunting! I agree, you look at home in this place. Have you booked your next flight yet 🙂 You even look relaxed, enjoy your last week. Looking forward to seeing you.

    1. Yeah, they like me, but they really like my iPod and camera. It has been fun, for sure. I love walking home at night and feeling like I live here, even though I’ll be leaving soon.

      1. Tim,
        We, SDC Family are proud to meet up An extra ordinary/professional Teacher like you.
        Who care and share to children carefully. your smile toward the kids are appreciated. Your children books chosen are impressive and gaming materials make them FIT.
        Thank you so much

        1. It was my pleasure! I hope to be back again. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to support the mission of the SDC. I stopped by your office (can’t believe I found it) before I left, but you weren’t there. Brought the kids to school on Tuesday morning. I’ll be in touch. Thanks for the great hike!

  2. Tim! It looks like you are having an incredible time. I am thoroughly enjoying reading your blog while I’m back. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

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