I have so many articles to write about as a consequence of my Asian journey to date and the backlog builds daily. But the trip itself has not just been a self centred pleasure affair even though I have certainly gained so much from it. Di, my partner, and I have been searching for deserving causes to provide some long term support to; both in the country of origin and remotely from the UK.
This has taken us to two countries with massive need of support; India and Nepal who are both developing countries but have almost insurmountable problems in their poorer rural regions.
We have identified numerous deserving causes in both countries and reported on the volunteering aspects of some of these causes in the “Volunteer Work for Free” post but daily there is a new equally deserving charity or cause around the corner every time I step out into the traffic of Kathmandu.
Deciding to focus upon one cause has not been easy. We have visited and been welcomed in numerous schools and orphanages (IGWR, Nepally Dream, Thulopatal School to name but a few) and have absolutely understood each individual plight … you get very close to these people very quickly and this is difficult to deal with.
On top of this since Diane really loves children and has worked extensively with them, it would have been so easy to attach ourselves to one of the many child charities or orphanages who still desperately need support.
However; after visiting the residents of Khagendra New Life Disabled Centre; it was starkly apparent that these folks had already suffered so much and had so little to look forward to…unlike the children now getting real loving care from the generosity of so many people….it was here that we needed to focus our attention.
This establishment has been doing such a wonderful job for many years but it is now suffering severely… sorry … the residents are suffering even more through lack of funding to address issues which are in themselves not so major.
Although Khagendra touches the hearts and consciousness of those who visit, there appeared to be no absolute champion for the cause (unlike most of the other charities and causes we visited)…maybe we can be part of a group of champions to help move things along.
I should say at this point that Rudra, the centre manager, and Michael McGowan who is very active with the disabled children’s charity Nepal Childrens Trust have shown incredible commitment to make things change for the better here….we just want to help.
All the other schools, orphanages, safe homes and establishments are not far from our thoughts but for now…one thing at a time.
Disability in Nepal
Disability is given so little support here in Nepal and for the already poverty stricken families it is virtually impossible for them to look after disabled children, youths, adults or even the main bread winner for the family if he is involved in an accident.
The context of Spinal injury in Nepal – From the Spinal Injuries Unit website
“the poorer you are, the harder the fall” (Kanak Dixit, founder of the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre)
There is a Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre at Sanga, Kavre on the outskirts of Kathmandu, but for most of the residents of Khagendra NLC who have suffered spinal injury, rehabilitation is no longer an option and they are now subjected to long term care with little hope of improvement in their diagnosis.
Continued physiotherapy helps to prevent further deterioration of their conditions and gives encouragement for the future. The physiotherapy does, however, have to be paid for but the centre does fortunately benefit from additional volunteer services of some overseas physiotherapists who have made a huge impact in the past year.
A huge thank you to them all from everyone but most of all the residents.
The residents of this centre range from little Kali who was left on the steps as a baby and has only known this centre as home, she has various disabilities and cannot speak properly, to Krishna, a young bright man who is now quadriplegic through a weightlifting accident and has no use of his body from the neck down….but his smile wins through every time!!
There are 32 residents and each have different disabilities which require bespoke treatments.
To give a further indication of the different cases in Khagendra there are reviews on four of the residents here.
To understand more about what the centre caters for go here
Khagendra NLC has seen much better days….
It was founded in on a £1000 donation by Captain Cheshire and after marriage to Lady Sue Ryder this became one of the many Sue Ryder and Cheshire Foundation homes worldwide looking after the needs of the less fortunate.
Tika, one of the English speaking residents at the centre informed me and I have yet to substantiate this, that Princess Lady Diana had visited the centre during her Nepal visit and had promised to make improvements which sadly have not transpired due to her own untimely death. It is an interesting point of debate but sadly we can only now look to an improved future.
On top of this the Cheshire Foundation removed funding for the centre in 2003 and this has massively impacted the running of this non profit making yet essential residential centre.
It is unclear why this funding was removed since there are still Cheshire homes operating in both India and Nepal but the fact remains that without the correct funding and especially for the disabled, the future is grim …… for this reason we have decided to see what can be done to help redress the situation at this ESSENTIAL establishment.
Since then the home has struggled to support and care for it’s long term residents who have disabilities too severe to be managed at home and, in some cases, no home or family at all. These are the truly needy people who would otherwise have nowhere to go.
Some of our residents come from a very poor family background and will need support for their whole life. Living in a poor, rural house, they may be confined to a single room without the medical care they need, their condition becomes worse and they often become isolated.
From the Khagendra website:
“Our residents suffer from a wide variety of conditions. Some have suffered from genetic conditions or problems during childbirth, such as cerebral palsy. Others have been disabled by accidents or suffered from diseases like polio. In many cases the patients were not able to afford treatment or other rehabilitative measures before coming to Khagendra.”
Donate and be done?
It would be simple to plough a little money into the centre through fund raising or personal contribution and walk away feeling good….but what happens some months later when the money has been used for more dressings or food? The impact of our donation would likely pale into insignificance. A long term commitment to say sponsor one of the residents will of course be a fantastic contribution and one off lump sums of money simply need to be handled in a different way.
If now is a good time for you and you want to contribute directly then go to the website page for details..very simple...but shortly we will be instigating an account to separately deal with the NON day to day management of the centre.
We wish to make a LASTING contribution and hope you can help in any small (or large) way.
A special thank you from Keshev
Me in the tilt table….! Thank you so much all are the volunteer who donated this table for our centre. Which one really needed for the exercise. — with Joe Wayte,Holly Barwick, Matthew Sealby, Rudra Dahal, Heather Waring, Subas Amgain, Paula Lama Morris, Zoe Smithard, Louise Sawilejskij and Kathy Davies
These residents and others who will ultimately be admitted to Khagendra have a lifelong dependency on this facility…for most of them, any hope for rehabilitation to a normal (though still disable restricted) life in the community is simply not realistic.
Had there been a chance of rehabilitation then the excellent staff here would have made every effort to make this happen….indeed they still look for new ways and additional physiotherapy techniques to make this possible; sadly in most instances the only respite is for an improved quality of life.
I have travelled extensively in my lifetime and I am immensely grateful to have been healthy enough to do so…today I stand among these wonderful residents and realise why I should be truly grateful.
To imagine the life they have day in day out compared to me gallivanting all over the world….it simply is not fair…but not one of them has a begrudging bone in their body none of them look at me with distaste, those who can, all have a smile, they all have unique wonderful qualities regardless of their disability, they all acknowledge me and welcome me.
It is beyond doubt the most humbling thing I have ever experienced and for this reason we will take time to improve conditions for Goma, Krishna, Amrit, Rakesh, Tika, Suranjan, Tej, Keshev, Aite Bhadur, Bassanta, Sabina, Dinesh and the others whose names I have sadly not managed to bring to mind.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” (James Arthur Baldwin 1924-1987)
This is our challenge to try to make a difference to the lives of those at Khagendra
How are we going to do it?
Firstly … perhaps we can engage you to play on your heart strings too?…then it really is a WE effort.
Secondly … I have already had fantastic support from some great, enthusiastic, young Nepali guys who are 100% behind anything that can be done to make improvements at Khagendra….but the key is that it must be long term improvements…sustainable improvement and the funding should be raised not just through international support but through local and national Nepali involvement.
I am committed to raising some funds internationally (but I have no track record in this field so it is a massive challenge) and the compact team of Nepali’s are going to orchestrate the main Nepali fundraising and manpower effort.
Many of the charitable efforts we have encountered so far have relied almost wholly upon the outside, foreign funding, support and administration and we seek to do things slightly differently where possible and practical to hand over control to the Nepali themselves with help and assistance only coming when needed from foreigners. This does not mean ANY aid will be turned away; we just wish to ensure that it is correctly utilised by the Nepali folks to help their own.
What is needed?
- Nothing can be done without money so of course we need to raise money, but use it correctly.
- Currently the roof in the centre leaks like a sieve and this results in the residents having to be moved into temporary accommodation during the 3 months of the monsoon…god…as if they did not have a big enough cross to bear!! This will be the highest priority.
Lets put a roof over their heads !!!!!
- The centre has to change dressings and tend to the medical needs of the residents and it currently does not have a dispensary; or the pharmaceuticals to go in it. There is room to do this so we need to generate funding or a sponsor for this requirement.
- If you visit the centre you will see that due to the long running roofing issue the state of decoration is very poor and borders on depressing. For residents who have virtually no privacy and are very much confined to this building there is much that can and should be done to improve things and make a much better living environment. Lighting can be improved, furniture can be improved (there is very little at best) and the grounds can be made pleasant for their relaxation and meditation.
- We have spoken with Rudra the complex manager, a care nurse himself, and have also engaged with the residents to determine that one of the key issues is that of mobility. The provision of electric wheelchairs would make the lives of many here so so much better.
- Rudra has explained that he has to turn away people, who would benefit greatly from living here, purely on the fact that there is insufficient room. He would like to extend the facility up one storey to provide almost double the capacity to 50. This is a major project of course but the numbers of disabled through spinal injuries in Nepal increases every single year and so the requirement for additional support SHOULD increase in line with this rise.
- There are many additional things that can be done for the residents but of course we should never lose sight of the fact that the residents rely upon us for their continued existence. Each of the residents must have a monthly sponsor in order to pay for food, accommodation and staff….this is an ongoing requirement.
A good start
At this point I cannot go into the details further but the progress by way of commitment and planning is very promising. As a small team we intend to meet to agree the discreet projects in hand and decide upon the strategy to bring the improvements to fruition.
Nepal Disabled Association
Just a little background: The Nepal Disabled Association (NDA), was originally the Nepal Disabled and Blind Association. It was formed in 1969 as a voluntary organization for the handicapped in Nepal.
Disabled himself, Mr. Khagendra Bahadur Basnet, founded this organization and the property was donated by the founder chairman. Khagendra NLC was named after the founder.
The Cheshire home was developed in the NDA grounds where it exists today.
You can find more about the NDA and Khagendra by following the links above to their individual websites.
Interestingly, whilst doing a little research into the Cheshire Homes I discovered a story about a young girl being rescued from prostitution in India and brought to the Cheshire home at Khagendra (book: Rape for Profit: Trafficking of Nepali Girls and Women to India’s Brothels). This issue still exists to this day.
The Khagendra NLC has no funding from the NDA and is self sufficient and reliant upon donations and family contributions.
Another way to help?
If you are not in a position to support financially then perhaps consider how you might help (maybe you or someone you know has the skills needed here and could get involved) and if it is only by way of a letter written to the residents this would bring about untold pleasure. Letters, parcels, clothing, books or materials would be very welcome and could be addressed to:
Rudra Prasad Dahal
Khagendra New Life Home, Jorpati, Kathmandu, Nepal GPO Box No. 2001 Tel 977-1-4911935
If you have not been touched by this article then just take a brief couple of minutes to watch this short interview with Krishna…go onto youtube after and read what Paula has to say about him…
Check out what another blogger had to say about Paula here.
Finally…other images from the Centre can be found here
There will be more on this subject so please use the social bookmarking buttons and follow the post…indeed share it with all your friends and family…please.
thank you….. Gary