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Tuesday
Jan282014

late night journal

A little snapshot at school lunch

It's late and I'm sleepy eyed but I want to write before today slips away. It was one of those days that started early and seemed to come and go in a flash.  I set out on an early morning hunt for crutches for Sagar who broke his foot playing soccer :(  We've had a few too many runs to the hospital these past two weeks. Fingers crossed we're done with the orthopedic and the hospital for a while.  

What started as a quick shopping trip at 7 this morning turned into an hour or so of running around in my slippers and pajamas with bedhead that seems to be permanent these days. I was able to cross a few things off my shopping list and came home to Namraj in the midst of a serious tantrum because he hadn't done his homework and he didn't want to go to school. I held his hand and pencil in my hand and pretty much copied the letter F and the number 8 ten times while he bawled his eyes out. When he continued to scream and not let go of my neck, I decided to go with the little ones on the bus to pre-school and drop them off, still in my slippers and pajamas.  The rest of the day was a blurr, running over to the new school site, doing paperwork, accounting, contracts, more accounting, more paperwork, excel spreadsheets, and a lot of me wishing I had paid more attention in highschool when they were teaching excel.  

I ran over to the school for DHAL BAHT lunch, and took a sneak peak at Becky's incredible progress with Mental Health and suicide awareness month. When I see the work Becky is doing all I can do is let out a huge sigh of relief.  Our students are soaking it up. In the afternoon, I checked in with some of our teachers and kitchen staff, and had a productive meeting the school fellows on grading and curriculum.  Everyone is working SO HARD around here.  At 5pm I jumped in the car with Magdalena and Rachna (our women's center teacher) for the most inspiring evening I've had in a long long time.  Our visit to Shambhat Center has been on Magdalena's and my calendar for a couple months but I still had no idea of the treat I was in for and this is the main reason I'm staying up to be sure I post this.

Our mission was to distribute 25 maxi kits to the girls of Shambhat Center.  The Kopila Women's Center and MiaAmicas worked together to produce 250 sanitary kits for 250 girls and women and we are at just about the tail end of distribution.  The girls were soooo thankful and excited to receive the kits and believe-it-or-not were pretty amped to talk and learn more about menstruation. They were all ages 13-19 and were mostly forced to drop out of school  They are all victims of extreme poverty, some of child marriage. The meeting took place in a dark mud hut that you had to duck down to walk into, pretty much the size of a walk in closet back home Magdalena and I sat in on the most incredibly inspiring discussion group, addressing social issues, and finding solutions through singing, conversations, acting out skits, and drawing. The girls were incredibly bright, insightful, funny, and had the most amazing ideas.  I've never left a session talking about something that should be depressing and sad feeling so happy and hopeful. Magdalena and I talked about how awesome it was the entire way home and well into dinner.  I gushed to the kids at satsung about how these girls were taking a bad situation into their hands and working together to find solutions. I want to be a part of more of these discussion groups and find a way to make them more commonplace in our community.  I've never seen a more effective way to address social issues right then and there at the most critical time period, girl effect style.  It was especially cool because we thought we were just going to distrubute maxi pads and ended up with so much more. I'm so impressed with these girls and I'm going back!

What's in a MAXI KIT you ask?!

Saturday
Jan252014

A blog from Shova

An Introduction by Maggie:  The bad part about the kids getting older is that it feels like it all happens too fast. The upside is that they can start blogging for me :)  Shova surprised me with this blog post today. Time for them to start taking this place over!
There are many members in our family. We the kids call ourselves the KOPILA KIDS!  You want to know something about us?  We (The Kopila Kids) are: special, funny, loving, chuck-chuckee (active), clever, playful, kind and alot of the other stuff too. The oldest kid in our family is Keshav and the youngest is Manisha. In a big family like us people might think, how does this family live happily?  Well let me tell you, in our family we are really nice to everyone else. In our family we respect privacy. We listen to what aunties, uncles, volunteers, and our big brothers and sisters too!!!
Every morning when we wake up and brush our teethe, the breakfast bell rings so we go down and sit quietly around the table and count how many are so nobody is missing. We sing the gratitude prayer and eat together. We do the same for dinner too.  We haves rule that we have to follow because we have a big family. The kids make the rules they think are good to make everyone happy!!

At night around 8pm we do satsung. It’s a time for our whole family to get together and talk about what the schedule is for the next day. We sing prayer songs and fun songs and makes wishes to God. We think about how we are thankful for all the things that are given to us. We give compliments to those whose are being awesome and we share what needs to be done for some problems. In every family there are always problems.  Sometimes we have problems too. Talking together makes them disappear. At satsung we feel peaceful. 

Here at Kopila, Fridays and Saturdays are the favorite days for the kids. On friday we only have half day of school. When we come home we wash our clothes, bathe, rest, do homework, and play lots of games!! At night we have a short satsung and we watch MOVIE! On Saturdays we deep clean our room and rest that whole day and get ready for the next week. We sleep early. We are sometimes busy too!! Especially at exams time!!!

So, this is how our family works.
Because of these things I love my family very much. I think that I have the happiest and kind family in the whole world.
                                                     I LOVE MY FAMILY!!!!!

Thursday
Jan232014

a few things about today

Today was an awesome Kopila day!  Our women's center ran it's first parenting course.  I got to sit in on part of the afternoon class and it was really amazing to watch the mothers share and learn together.  I really do feel like a better world could be as simple as raising our children.  We are partnering with Aawaaj for this training and the facilitators were incredibly insightful and engaging.  I think it means so much that the discussion and course is being led by real Nepali mothers and women who understand the difficulties and cultural context of raising children in Nepal.  It was a genius move on Magdalena's part to put this together.  I'm excited for the sessions to come.  

Kelly, Meelan and Srijana organized and arranged for two doctors to come in so that every single kid could have a medical check-up today at Kopila today.  They set up height and weight stations, thermometers and a registration area that was entirely student run!  Thanks to you all for supporting health and wellness and Kopila Valley and making this possible.  Next up, we have a dentist coming in.

The foundation is in for building number one!  We are just about finished with the huge restoration gabion wall in the back and bricks are being laid for a boundary and phase one of building.  We have a dream team working with us.  I can't wait to tell you more. 

Were you wondering about our puppies!?  They are not so much puppies anymore.  They are huge.  I'm not sure what in me thought that this was a good idea– on top of a school construction project, and a women's center, hundreds of children, and a million other things.  You can find me around here yelling "NICKI, NACHO!!!! NO!!!!  STOP THAT!!!"  at the top of my lungs.  Nacho loves to put my favorite shoes in his mouth and make me chase him around.  Nikki loves to dig up the garden.  Taking them for a walk is fun except you're the one being walked and dragged everywhere and if we leave the gate open for even a second they go for a rampage around the neighborhood.  It's been hard.  I haven't been the best good dog owner.  I mean, deep down I love them and I know they're good dogs but I don't know how to bring out the best in them they are really driving me crazy and stressing me out right now.

I have loads more pictures but my disk drive is full.  Ughhh.  Need to deal with it!    

Tuesday
Jan212014

Meet our Bus Driver:  Ganesh

Ganesh is our bus driver at Kopila Valley.  He does one route in the morning and two routes in the evenings and helps in his spare time around the new construction site and serving school lunch.  He also does a lot of running around in our Scorpio.  He is an adoring father of two children, ages two and four.  He started driving when he was 16 years old and over the past twenty years has driven truck routes all over India and Nepal.  Driving in this region of the world is no easy feat.  Ganesh has driven jeep, bus and truck routes  through the remote Himalayas, all the way up to Jumla and Kalikot, the world's most treacherous road.  He is happy and proud to be the first person to greet the children each morning and the last to drop them off safe at their homes in the evening. 

In his words, "I hope I get to do this bus route forever."

More on the story of our magic school bus here!! 

***Kopila Valley has 50 employees, each of whom, as you can tell, I am incredibly proud of.  I hope to continue to introduce them in posts to come.

Tuesday
Jan212014

wedding and a birthday

Today was our Science teacher Man Kumari's wedding!  We've been counting down the days all week.  I hired Man Kumari as a teacher when she was just 17, right out of high school.  There were older, more qualified and much more experienced teachers who applied for the job but for whatever reason she just blew me away and I knew she was a good fit for us.  I remember I kept throwing "gotcha" questions at her in the interview.  I even made her teach me a lesson on photosynthesis!  

I've probably interviewed about 500 teachers for prospective teachings positions and Man Kumari's interview was by far the most memorable.  At the end of the day I went with my gut and it was one of my decisions I'm most proud of.  Seeing her all dolled up as a bride today, made me tear up multiple times.  I kept having to remind myself that we weren't losing her and she is just getting married.  Deepak, you take good care of my science teacher!!!  She's worth her weight in gold.   

Today was a double wammy with Sagar's 14th birthday.  I told him I thought I was wayyy too young to have a 14-year-old and he said "No you're not!!!"  I love Sagar so much.  We all do.  This is a boy filled to the brim with CHARM.   He's witty and sweet and kind and he has a magical way of making everyone around him feel special.  Happy Birthday Sagar!!!

I have five children born in January!!! This week it will be one after another after another.  We're going to have a blast.  We're having a January Birthday momo party tomorrow for everyone.