"I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult." E. B. White

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Every Child Deserves an Education

The kids in the orphanage were surprisingly well behaved today! Most days they have more energy than Anna and I can ever try to control, but today they were all together in one room and wanted to learn songs and play games.

Little Rajip rarely smiles, but I heard him laugh for the first time yesterday
and it was the cutest little giggle imaginable
There is a large whiteboard in the room, so we wrote the lyrics to a children’s song about a frog and then taught them the tune and hand motions. They’ve already conquered Itsy Bitsy Spider, so the frog song seemed like the logical next step. All of the kids stood up and sang along, except sweet little Rajip, who sat quietly in the corner with a small pencil and notebook.

After we had exhausted the song, we started a game similar to “hang man,” where we put dashes on the board and the kids had to guess letters spell out various English words. They seemed to really enjoy the challenge and started volunteering to give us the next word, coming up with “altogether” and “relationship.” Big words for little kids!

All the while, little Rajip sat in the corner with his pencil and paper. 

When I eventually walked over to see what he was doing, I discovered that this adorable little boy was copying the words to the song from the whiteboard, letter by letter, into his notebook. He wrote slowly to make sure that every word was correct. When he had finished, he proudly showed me the fruits of his hour-long labor. An hour is a very long time for a 6 year old to pay attention to anything, let alone a writing exercise while all the children around are dancing and playing.

Rajip and his big brother. These boys stick together
and the older one always watches out for his baby brother
After he showed me the song, I wrote down several sentences for him, which he read aloud back to me and then carefully copied. He clearly loves to learn and is so bright - he absolutely deserves to be in school, but is one of the youngest in the orphanage, and therefore is one of only five kids (out of 20) that the orphanage can’t afford to provide a public or private education.

Rajip’s older brother, whom I’m guessing is about 11 years old, told me today that Rajip cries every morning when the other kids leave because he desperately wants to go to school. I can’t tell you how crushed I was when I heard that - I was literally fighting back tears. I love this little boy and was heartbroken to hear that he so badly wants to go school but doesn’t have the option.

If you haven’t already figured it out, I have decided to sponsor Rajip beginning with the next school year in April (Gene, if you’re reading this, you’ll be his co-sponsor come July :) ).

We never see Dipak without a book and a giant smile
Anna will be sponsoring a little boy, too, Dipak, who is one of the smartest kids in the house. He is 7 years old and can read, write, and speak in English as well or better than most of the kids who attend school every day. We regularly find him borrowing workbooks from the school kids to practice the puzzles and fill in the question/answer portions of stories. He is always one of the first to greet us when we show up each day and has so much potential to succeed academically - all he’s been missing is the opportunity.

There are three other smart, happy, enthusiastic boys who don’t go to school yet, and my friends Roxi and Francios have already e-mailed me about possibly sponsoring one.  Several other people have asked me what they can do to contribute - so maybe this is something to consider?

Volunteering for a month in Nepal, I realize that the impact will be much greater on me than on any of the kid we meet. Maybe we’ll teach them a few words or give them a few hugs that they otherwise wouldn’t receive, but I know that I will be leaving here with much more than I leave behind.

With that said, I love that we have found a way to make a lasting impact on a few of these children. For $280 a year (that’s only slightly more than $20 a month), we can empower these wonderful kids with an education - a gift that will serve them for the rest of their lives. I’m so excited to be part of that.

Bharat has finally come out of his shell and showed us his cuddly, warm personality.
He loves to draw and color, and is quite the artist for 7 years old. While the other kids rush through drawings, he meticulously chooses his colors and spends hours on a single picture.  He takes so much pride in his work.

Diwash (pronounced Dibas) is one of the youngest in the home and craves attention and affection. He is gentle and sweet and always greets us with a hug. He constantly wants to hold hands or be near us. He likes to play with the big kids, but is still a baby at heart and needs lots of love and affirmations. 

Saurav is full of energy and will thrive when he finally gets to go to school. He loves to play, loves to show off, and loves to help Anna and me.  I found a large, rusty nail in the courtyard the other afternoon, and Saurav spent the next 30 minutes searching for nails and sharp wires (he found so many!) to help me clean up the yard to protect the other kids. He is a little boy with the spirit of a protective older brother. 

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