PicturePassing our construction supplies
By Katie Hilborn

I never quite imagined myself as a foreman. Engineering, buying construction material, gathering workers, making measurements... It feels good to build something, starting from nothing.

"Thank God for Krish!" I found myself saying. 

My trusty Nepalese field manager! He's confident, assertive, caring, and gets things done! Not to mention, we share the same vision for our project. I rarely have to tell him what I want or how I see things going. It's truly synchronicity. 

My eyes wander back to the digging. Organized piles of stone and dirt are in an outline of an L-shaped structure. Krish is yelling at one man as he digs. It looks heated; something is up. Their voices, in a language I cannot comprehend rise up over the top of each other at a rapid pace.

"Krish? Everything okay?" I ask apprehensively.

He looks at me quizzically.

"So you're not angry?" I chime in after a moments stare-off.

"No of course not!" Krish replies nonchalantly.

Ah the Nepali. I'm laughing on the inside for my mistake. I will never quite understand their tone. I frequently find myself wondering why everyone sounds like they are Kung Fuing a cinder block when they converse!  It causes great confusion.

"No worry, I manage everything," he adds as my worry wrinkle on my forehead fades away.

PictureTea break with the workers
It's been a busy few days. I've been tirelessly trying to sort out our banking woes - transferring money into Nepal by avoiding the exuberant fees and exchange rate commissions!  Nepal government laws forbid money departing Nepal; though will gladly allow it to flow in. 

To further the headache, American laws make it egregious as well. 

There is a perpetual fear of money laundering. Thus, opening a business account here is a long and tedious process involving a lawyer and authorizing a local Nepalese as a grantor to our holdings. Humph. 

In the end, we've sorted a bank-to-bank transfer, but I'm convinced Wells Fargo should donate their wire fees to nonprofits. Come on Capitalism! 

Tea has just arrived. 

Brought down from the cliff-top from a shop next to the school. The men take their drink and cookies and sit fervently in a circle, sweaty from their labors. We exchange smiles and they share their tea with me. 

We're paying them a fair-trade wage, but my mind starts to wander to the national average. Factory workers, for example, earn a meager $2/day in this country. 

I often think about how hard people work in this country and it still saddens me. I wish I could ease their back pains, assuming they have one. Having just trekked into the high himalaya to visit some schools, back disintegrating under the weight of my pack, and knees swelling to a balloon from the 6,000+ steps daily, I can sympathise with their hard labor. 

I think I will buy them lunch and bring some coca-cola for them tomorrow. Not that I'd ever support people drinking this, but it is a luxury here. Besides, I hear the best way to men's hearts are through their bellies :)

After tea, the men get back to work. Two are digging a ditch in the outline of the shed while another is hacking a round white stone brought up from the gorge bed. The tool of choice, similar to an axe, is swung high above his small frame then allowing gravity to take care of the rest, slams down onto the stone.

Only a small piece of rock breaks away. He laboriously begins the process again.

Once broken into smaller bits, the rock will be used to fill the ditch, then hand-tossed cement will be poured into the cravasses to form the foundation.

Seems like it should hold. 

But then again, when you live in country where most concrete construction is done my hand, one hopes for the best. Luckily they are skilled in cow shed construction.

Left: Our tractor from the bluff, stuck in the bush. 
Right: Seeming like clouds in the distance, the mighty Annapurna peeks out from amongst the haze.
The high sun is now beginning to fade in the distance. My Mac is about to crash because electricity is scarce up on this bluff overlooking the river. Internet has been slower than a turtle and is sometimes out for days. Loading a picture could take more or less 20 minutes each go.

I take this as my cue to head home and stop yelling at the computer. Besides, who could be frustrated when the mighty Annapurna decided to show her face amongst the haze? It allows one to take a moment's pause to be present and mindful. 

Tomorrow will be another day on the construction site afterall.

Poor parents routinely duped into sending children to homes 
where owners use them to extract money from foreign visitors

A child is driven away after being rescued by police from the Happy Home orphanage in Kathmandu. Photograph: Peter Pattisson
By Pete Pattisson 

Like an increasing number of tourists visiting Nepal's mountain peaks, colourful markets and lush national parks, Marina Argeisa wanted to experience the latest must-do activity on the tourist trail: a volunteering stint at an orphanage.

What the 26-year-old Spaniard did not know was that her good intentions were unwittingly feeding an industry that dupes poor parents into sending their children to bogus orphanages in order to extract money from well-meaning foreigners.

It is a business model built on a double deception: the exploitation of poor families in rural Nepal and the manipulation of wealthy foreigners. In the worst cases, tourists may be unwittingly complicit in child trafficking.

Nepal's tourist sector comprises nearly 3% of its gross domestic product, and in 2012 more than 600,000 foreigners visited the tiny country.

Volunteering, or voluntourism as it is sometimes known, is a rapidly expanding industry. There are dozens of agencies offering the chance to spend weeks, or months, working at some of the country's 800 orphanages.

POKHARA, NEPAL -- We are pleased to announce the launch of a new campaign to create a more sustainable world. In November of this year, we are building farms for low-caste schools in Nepal. This will help generate income to support continuing educational advances and progress.

The Challenge
  • Low-caste (Dalit) children endure harsh discrimination:  To be a Dalit means that you are "lower than livestock" in the eyes of others. Landlords won't rent to you, employers won't hire you, and the very little money families earn will not buy adequate education for their children.
  • Low-caste (Dalit) children are denied equal access to education: Dalits have a 33% literacy rate while high-castes have between 60-83% ("Comparative Study of Dalit Education in Nepal"), meaning they can never rise up from their social class.
  • Low-caste schools need a better system to fund themselves: Government funding is minimal and outside charity is not sustainable.

The Plan

Each farm requires a 1-time initial investment of $13,000 USD to get it up and running, and generating income! That means, that for only 13K, you can make an entire school self-sustained. Our long-term goal is to replicate this program for 10 schools in 5 years. Imagine the possibilities!

Have you ever wanted to "Change the World" but didn't know how? Global Orphan Prevention's founder Katie Hilborn is a snowboarder turned philanthropist who one day realized she could do just this, and that it's easier than you think! In this inspirational speech, Katie explains why it's in our own best interest to take care of others, citing that the natural self-confidence which develops allows us to achieve great things.

Chronicling her own story and pathway to 'changing the world' affirms that anything is possible. Katie now runs her non-profit, Global Orphan Prevention. Her humanitarian work extends to Nepal, Vietnam, and various other developing nations.

First visit to Shree Shriva Puri Primary School in Nepal. Here, we are fact finding and researching our next project; to make the schools themselves sustained via income generation! What kind of income generation can Global Orphan Prevention provide so that this low-caste school can thrive independently from charity?
Katie and her team finally arrive at their school site in Koshi Tappu; the jungle lowlands of Nepal on the Indian border. In episode 1, they trudged through two barricades and roadblocks as the country was in a nationwide strike. Now in the conclusion, they meet with villagers to check up on the school project, deliver educational material, and work with the village advisers to create a future action plan.
Five-minute movie asking the viewers of Give TV to help a Nepalese child that has been abandoned by his father.

Aunil is being supported by his Grandfather and Uncle, but they are running out of money to continue helping him. Nepalese children in these situations are often sent to the orphan homes. Grandfather has been in the hospital while the Uncle has his own family to support - including recent hospital fees for his sick wife and daughter.

The family buffalo has also just died, which resulted in ten-month's loss of income. The family is in risk of losing everything.
While driving to her school site in Nepal, Katie encounters a Banda (strike). Assassination attempts on political leaders occurred this morning. The leaders might not survive. Unaware of the reasons for protest, Katie faces several mob barricades, and pleas with the locals to let her pass.
The  problem with orphan homes in Nepal is that they all have children with living parents.  Volunteerism is the biggest money-making scheme in Nepal.

Right, so let's get down to the nit-and-gritty.  There are two pressing issues why children are being placed into orphan homes.
  1. The widowed or abandoned mothers are forced to give them up.
  2. The children are being taken from their families and trafficked into the orphan homes.

We are aware of the situation surrounding widowed and abandoned mothers.  However, child trafficking is a whole new can of worms.

Following two leads, I contacted two organizations that are involved.  But just like the Embassy, they too cannot get involved on a personal level.  It would jeopardize their current projects going on in the country.

The situation is much deeper than any of us could imagine.  People in power convince small villages to trust them with their children.  The families pay 20,000 Rs (US$233) to send their child to a private boarding school in Kathmandu.  However, once the trafficker and the child reach Kathmandu, the girls are sold to India for prostitution while the boys are taken to Orphan Homes.  The orphan home directors on 'in' on this operation.  They gladly accept the child (even though they fully have knowledge of their living parents).  They accept the children because they can make money off the volunteers who come to Nepal.  They over-charge the Westerner money to volunteer claiming this is for rent, food, and utilities.  This amount is sometimes double or triple the actual cost to run one of these homes.

In other cases, the boys (particularly around the age of 12) are also sold to India, but in this case it's for their organs.

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Barricade on the way to village.
We arrived in Bhagalpur late last Monday night, nearly past midnight.  It took much longer to get there than any of us had imagined.  16 hours to be exact, about six more than what was projected.We had the usual mishaps along the way!  And by usual, I mean in the Nepalese sense.  Possibly for any other country, what we encountered would be quite unusual.

Assassinations, Strikes and Roadblocks:
Shortly after our departure, a Banda was called in response to an assignation attempt on three leaders of the Maoists Party.  If you recall, the Maoists were responsible for the overthrow of the King in 2006.  They rebelled for the decade prior seeking political and social change.  The Maoists were the peasants who saw a change in leadership ideal for their voice as commoners.  Through propaganda (some believe), the rest of society was convinced of the need for this revolution.

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