"The beginning is the most important part of the work, for it contains the seeds of the ending." -- Plato
Helping people is the most natural thing in the world. Working for lasting change is possibly the most challenging work in the world. The seeds of the ending of our story were sown 1996 here in Nepal.
Here's our story
It all began on the other side of the world, with childhood dreams of mystics and miracles. In the mid 90-ies my normal career ended and another part of destiny started. I embarked on a pursuit of happiness with the idea of capturing Nepal's religious depths together with a friend. The mysticism, the holy men, ascetics, Buddha, monks and religious rituals, spirituality, the radiant colors - all on our little camera and in my heart. I got a whole lot more than I bargained for, in every way imaginable.
You see, the thing is, children's dreams here are quite different to the ones I had. Here they dream of a handful of plain white rice to put in their mouth and try to imagine how wonderful it would smell and taste.
Nepal was as enchanting and very much more.
My entire life changed fundamentally in a blink of an eye. Amidst all the vibrant colors, sounds and smells in this beautiful but one of the poorest countries, there's also an undercurrent of desperate misery and poverty. You simply can't overlook it and remain true to yourself at the same time.
Like most tourists here, I tried to ignore it, to look away, but there comes a time when the pain and suffering that can clearly be seen in people's faces just overwhelms your soul, and just cannot be overlooked anymore. Then it becomes a personal matter and suddenly the misery even gets a name. For us, it got three names: Ashik 7 years old, Ashok 5 years old, and Abinash
1 year old.
Near the slums in Kathmandu I found these 3 little boys. Hundreds of people were passing by. Nobody even cared to look at them. They were clearly outcasts.
And then the next day, the moments - returning to that same spot,
I saw the youngest one lying on the street - not moving at all. My heart skipped a beat. Was he dead? Did his short life come to an end only because I didn't do more than just feed them? Because I didn't do anything?
Then my soul gave me no other choice. There was no more hesitation. I wanted to give these children a chance!
"Somebody, who doesn't believe in miracles, is not a realist"
The reality today is: 2 children's homes with 200 children and many more who get support outside the homes.
I had lost my heart to this country and its children. I love it despite the poverty and despite the despair of so many. I love these children, because no one else did.
As a backpacker searching for her own happiness and sense in life, I was not planning on starting any social project to care for the children at all.
People often ask "why are you doing this? Is this normal? To give up everything you've ever worked for, dreamed of and to just live for these children? Don't you have sleepless nights because of all that responsibility?"
And the answer is that of course this isn't the "normal" thing to do and yes, I have many sleepless nights worrying about the future of the children. But I have to do what I have to do!
It's very simple - It just makes me happy to see these children happy!
The boys were lying on the street in the blazing heat. Their big sad eyes in their stony faces were begging for a drop of water and some rice. These boys caught my attention even though they were just three out of many children on the street.
Everywhere I went, small children with even smaller ones on their backs were begging for handouts. But these three little boys did nothing. They were lying listlessly on the ground, almost naked, each only covered by a small vest. They were completely undernourished and extremely arrested in their development. They could hardly move and it was impossible to guess their actual age. Maybe the people could justify their misery and despair simply with the word 'Karma', but I couldn't.
There is a point where you know that you must do something. But you still hesitate because you don't know exactly WHAT to do. Then suddenly something gives way, and you know that something must be done and the question of WHAT just gives way to Action, whatever it is, as long as it begins.
I brought them water and food that day - and left. But I couldn't forget them. I saw their suffering and the fear in their little faces. I was suffering for them. Somehow there was a bond between us. Somehow they weren't just any three little boys in despair in this big Kathmandu. I felt connected to these particular children somehow.
As flowers bloom their thoughts
A hundred every day -
let it all bloom, let it all run
Do not ask for any return!
Let us be play and innocence
and flowers overflowing
otherwise our earth is much too small
and life no pleasure at all .
- Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte