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Friday
Mar282014

Ganga's feet

You may remember from 6 months or so back when we told the story of our dear little friend Ganga who needed surgery for her feet.  She was struggling to walk due to a birth defect.  It's funny how you really can take the little things for granted.  I think it's rare that we think to ourselves, "Man, I'm really grateful for my feet."  

Some really happy news came today.  Ganga is back :) After multiple surgeries, casted molds, and a 6 month stay in the hospital, Ganga is well on her way to having functional walking feet and well on the road to recovery.  I can't imagine being in a hospital for 6 months with my feet in plaster and having to be carried absolutely everywhere.  The way Ganga takes it all with such ease and a smile is so inspiring and admirable to me.  This is a really special kid and today I found myself feeling like I would do absolutely anything for her.  She still has a long way to go.  Her brother and mom told me today that Ganga will have to wear special shoes and braces until she is 35 and for the next few years probably have to go back to the hospital every 2-3 months on an 18 hour bus-ride.  She'll also most likely require another surgery or two.  But today, when she took off her heavy shoes I was startled to see that she has real actual functioning feet and she was smiling ear to ear.  

Donor support and the generosity of H.R.D.C. hospital made this possible for Ganga and we are so thankful.  I think the picture really says it all.  When I say that "together we can change the world," I really mean it. 

Ganga (before surgery)Ganga (after surgery) Modern medicine and surgical procedures are truly a miracle!Thank you for supporting this brave little girl!

Friday
Mar282014

Tattly fun!  

My friend Tina a.k.a. SwissMiss sent us a bunch of her Tattly tattoos (because she's awesome like that) and the kids and volunteers and I had so much fun this morning in our make-shift temporary tattoo parlor.  Who ever knew tattoos could be such a great family-fun activity?

Bishal tattoo time. Of course he wanted the snake.

Shannon and Maya modeling bubble man

 

Thursday
Mar272014

Sherry Sutton Photography

Sherry Sutton has been here visiting for the last couple weeks and captured some stunning images of our project.  Having Sherry capturing these photos of the children and life here meant the world to me.  It's like she was able to freeze frame moments in time.  Enjoy the images below.  Sherry's visit was a dream come true.  Please learn more about Sherry's work on her website!  And big thanks to Sherry for trekking all this way with her gear and 50+ caselogic backpacks for our highschoolers.  These definitely put my instragram pics to shame.  

Wednesday
Mar262014

The day we took on corporal punishment


Becky in the zone!
Our Superintendent of Police, Mr. Prakash Adhikary

Yesterday was a proud day for the Kopila crew and BlinkNow family! Led by our incredible social worker and Mental Health Fellow, Becky Day and an amazing team of teachers and volunteers, Kopila Valley hosted our first ever training and conference to put an end to corporal punishment.  

This has been an issue near and dear to my heart, really since the day that I made the decision to move to Nepal and work in the education sector. Anyone who talks to me for at least 5 minutes about education, knows my stance on this issue and how hard I've been working to change things. For the last four years our primary focus has been working within Kopila to set an example. Our team of teachers and administrators believes that having a school without corporal punishment is not only possible but also contributes to measurable success.  

When I visited schools and sent my own children to a school where teachers walked around holding a stick and slapping students across the face and the back of the head, twisting ears, pinching, and making kids squat like a chicken for extended lengths of time, it really bothered me. What really made me cringe was when the teachers nominated a "class captain" who was in charge of holding the stick and beating their classmates on the teacher's behalf. I tried really hard to work within the system and change things, but sooner or later I became angry and frustrated and I was driven to to start a school of my own. At first when we opened Kopila I noticed that many of the children would flinch every time we came near them or they did something wrong.

I did a lot of reading, visited high performing schools, and talked to my friends and education gurus Matt and Renee who run the Blue School. All research pointed to the fact that children needed to feel safe, inspired, and positively encouraged in order to learn and that putdowns and physical punishment actually had the reverse affect. According to top neurologists, the learning center in the brain shuts off like a light switch when it feels scared or threatened.    

In the last couple years and especially in the past few months corporal punishment and severe abuse of children has been a topic discussed in Nepal and around the world brought up regularly in the news. With the shift in perspective and opening of dialog, we decided to turn up the momentum and bring education leaders together to take action. I realized I've done a ton of complaining and alot of "talking" about the issue but I hadn't really attempted to bring people together on a local level in my community. Then a few months ago while talking about the issue over lunch with Becky, we came up with an idea for a training and focus group discussion.  I asked Becky to take this on rather flippantly having no idea the amount of work that it would actually entail. Over the past few months, Becky researched, studied, gained insight from teachers, and worked on putting an incredible training together. I took a step back and let Becky take the reigns and getting to be a witness and a participant yesterday absolutely blew me away.

She has an incredible talent for this. I get to have a taste of her magic watching her work individually with the kids, and during Mental Health month, but seeing her leading a training amongst teachers and the way she had them think about the issue was really off the charts.  Perspectives were changed. Debate and discussion was had. Techniques were modeled and practiced and even our superintendent of police and the head and women and children's welfare for our district stood up and gave a speech and promised to help us take this on. At the end of the day everybody was happy and feeling uplifted and it is with great pride and joy that we announce that representatives from 25 different school signed a pledge to end corporal punishment in their schools. To think of the thousands of kids who will be impacted in our district makes me so unbelievably proud.

More from Becky herself, coming up next. Enjoy some photos from our amazing day.

certificatesAmy, Shannon and Rajesh Sir (incredible team of ours)

Our Superintendent of Police, Mr. Prakash Adhikary

Monday
Mar242014

the famous fleece

I have so many things to post about but it's late so I made a list and will chip away at all those other entries in the days to come.  Just a quick post about Namraj. He is a full on four-year-old! He has broken away from his "no, no, no" phase and his sleep deprivation phase and his tantrum phase and is really loving life right now. As his mama, I'd like to take all the credit but I think most of it should go to his big sister Kalpana who is one of the best big sisters in the world and of course the aunties. It took a village for this one and boy is he the love of my life.    

Namraj literally DOES NOT take this fleece off and on our walk yesterday morning I snapped this adorable photo. The jacket he's wearing is kind of famous around here. Mainly because it's been passed down to every single kid in this household, starting with Shova. The kids love this jacket because each of them has a memory of wearing it every single day for an extended period of time and passing it on to the next kid as they outgrew it. The craziest part about this little jacket, is that it was already heavily worn when it was donated to us, many many years ago. I seriously think it could go in a world record book as the most worn and passed down fleece jacket of all time. Bauju laughs everytime she sees the jacket and talks about how she's probably washed that thing 10,000 times and she can't believe it's still kicking. It's funny because the kids are kids and they lose or tear absolutely everything at some point or another but some way, some how this jacket has made it through thick and thin. I would advertise, but the tags are gone so I don't even know who made it.  

I'm dying to know whose it was before it came to Kopila!

That's all :)  Over and out.  Good night!