Newsletter – December 2011

Thanks to Bonnie and Dave Cunningham, ANSWER has a new format for newsletters using Constant Contact. Below is a reposting of the one sent out in email.

ANSWER Newsletter – First Edition
Brought to You by Volunteers Who Believe in Answer!

Our trip to Nepal this past falI was the EXPERIENCE of a lifetime!  We trekked in the Annapurna Mountains, swam with elephants on Island Jungle and soaked up the exotic and intoxicating culture of NepalBut the part of our trip that changed our lives forever was our experience touring with Earle Canfield (Answer co-founder along with partner Mary Jane Schmidt), three Nepali Staffers and three other ANSWER sponsors. During our trip we visited many schools throughout Nepal, delivered letters from sponsors, helped students brainstorm their return letters, observed Social Welfare Club (next issue) and watched the interview process for prospective Answer students. Best of all was our heartwarming experience with our student, Pabitra and her mother! We are witnesses to the compelling mission of Answer, bringing hope and purpose to the lives of these lower caste children, and the future of Nepal!  This newsletter is a testament to our belief in ANSWER.  Stay tuned to learn more in future newsletters!

Bonnie and Dave Cunningham, Phoenix, Arizona 

September 2011: ONE SPONSOR’S STORY
Jim Reay Travels to Nepal to Meet His Students

My meeting with 15-year old Dipesh Paudel could not have been sweeter. The long, 4-wheel drive overland journey to Itihari was worth every pothole, delay, and sweaty hour of travel in the tropical Himalaya lowlands. Dipesh & I spent three precious hours together. Following a traditional Nepalese restaurant lunch of Samosas (not to be confused with Mimosas!) I accompanied Dipesh to his small home on a very rural grass lane in the countryside with fields of rice, lentils (daal), and other crops surrounding his quaint neighborhood.

Removing my shoes on the tiny front porch, I entered his clean and humble home. The parents’ bedroom serves as the center of the home. I was offered a preferential seat on the hard bed as we visited. I met Dipesh’s mother, sister, and grandmother, and a minute later, his father arrived on bicycle from his small shop in the nearby village square. Dipesh is very proud of his home. There was a fan in the bedroom, and a gas (propane) tank in the kitchen for cooking, but I didn’t see a bathroom, computer, telephone, or most of the accoutrements we associate with a standard American home.

The cement floors are clean and mostly bare, except for a small worn piece of linoleum or tattered rug. There are no screens on the windows. The metal roof is good protection from rain, but is not attached to the walls. There are a few bare light bulbs and scattered wall decorations. Artwork is a collection of academic awards that Dipesh has received. He is an excelling student, after all. Dipesh takes my hand and leads me to his tiny bedroom to show me a few prized possessions. This boy is proud and happy-never showing a sense of shame for lack of material comforts. I am dazed. I want to shout for joy and at the same time cry in overwhelming disbelief that this Third World Country teenager is happy in his seemingly simple life. I reflect on my “little” Sun City home-1,600 square feet for two people-small by American standards. I wonder if my hardwood, carpet, and stainless steel appliances make me happier. Am I happy because of what I have or who I am? Dipesh could easily survive in my world, but could I survive in his?

Once again, Dipesh grabs my hand and leads me to the front stoop to don our footwear. He is eager to show me his neighborhood. As we walk the pathway to the end of his short street, he calls out to each home. His best friend comes out to meet me. His uncle and other relatives living on the street invite me into their homes. I wish I could stay for a week, but the minutes pass quickly, and long before I am ready, it is time to travel on. Before leaving, Dipesh opens my gifts from America as his family beams. I believe he will make good use of the dictionary and atlas, as well as the binoculars, because he once shared in a letter that he is “a lover of nature”.

Witnessing firsthand the pervasive poverty and shabby schools in more than twenty towns throughout Nepal, I felt compelled to adopt another student during my last week in Kathmandu. Nikesh Bhandari is a 12 year old seventh grader, academically first in his class! Nikesh plans to become a doctor, to serve poor people in remote areas of Nepal. He likes to read the newspaper and watch television news every day. His father is a taxi driver. His family stays in a rented room in Kathmandu. It was my privilege to share dinner with Nikesh’s family. He appreciated my gifts of dictionary and colorful book on astronomy-one of his strong interests. Nevertheless, Nikesh realizes, even at age 12, that his biggest gift is education. A mere $300 per school year provides tuition, books, and uniform. Nikesh will obtain a good education at a private school. His schooling will provide life choices. Driving a taxi is honorable, but Nikesh will have choices. Education is what Nepal needs most.

As the young son of a carpenter, I shared a small bedroom with three brothers, but education was free and opportunities were limitless. I am humbled to have a part in giving a chance to these two boys to choose their own destinies. I cannot imagine anything more important than education. In Nepal, education is not taken for granted.

Jim Reay, Phoenix, Arizona

Jim purchased and brought to Nepal 5 new computers to donate to ANSWER.  Now we have a resource room (Cyber Cafe) in our new office. We  invite our college graduates to visit and use the computers to email their sponsors.  THANK YOU, JIM!