The days prior to our opening ceremony, the shelter was all a buzz with excitement. Children of all ages swarmed the library to volunteer and help decorate their new space. This was by far my most favorite day yet of our summer projects, as you could feel the energy bouncing off the walls, radiating from each child. It was amazing to see how proud everyone was of the new library and to me it felt this was the day this space truly transformed into their library.
We went through so many rolls of tape to secure photos, posters, continents and our giving tree onto the white-washed, cement block walls. We nailed multi-colored rope across the wall, so that posters in English and Nepali could be hung with clothespins onto the rope. This method will make it easy for the posters to be changed or rehung as desired by the new librarians in the future. The librarians stayed busy all day too, helping to translate the library rules into Nepali, creating a reading assessment chart to categorize all the children into their respective reading levels. In the next week, the librarians will begin reading assessments in English and Nepali for all the children and assign a suggested colored reading level. This will allow children to know which type of book is best for them to read, not too easy, not too hard.
The new librarians (from left: Rama, Leeza, Chaska, Shiva Maya, Gita)
The basketball court continues to be a challenge. In good news, we have at least 10 strong Nepali workers ready to work hard and fast, however, the monsoon season has presented a true obstacle this year. It’s impossible to work on the court during the downpours, which are happening with great frequency. Despite the depressing rain, we do see positive progress on the court and keep hoping for more sunny days. At this point, it would have been impossible to have the court 100% ready by July 17th as anticipated, however, we feel positive that the children will have a high-quality court to play on within the week. This is great news after an exhaustive month spent dealing with daily issues on this front. In more good news, the basketball pole and tire swing were delivered to the shelter on Thursday and they look wonderful! Although the rain did not let up in time for them to be installed for the big day, they will be safely installed at the first dry opportunity.
The bball pole and tire swing arrive! They were delivered in a little blue tractor and then gave a fun ride to some of the children around the yard.
The tire for the tire swing.
Working hard to move sand and brick during a break in the rain.
The basketball court is starting to look like a basketball court!
Thank you from thousands of miles away!
After much anticipation and a long, busy month, shelter mothers, children, Women’s Foundation staff and Cup of Change came together to celebrate our Opening Day Ceremony on July 17, 2010 in Thali, Nepal. It was a very special day to mark the end of our summer 2010 projects, and the beginning of these wonderful resources to be enjoyed by mothers and children alike. The day began with short speeches by the Women’s Foundation and Cup of Change and a red ribbon cutting ceremony.
Next, everyone piled into the library, sitting atop the new cozy floor cushions, to enjoy three story read-a-louds. Leeza read Emma Kate, the story of an elephant and her imaginary best friend. Shiva Maya, house-mother/ librarian, read a storybook in Nepali named The Angry Shirt and Chaska read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, which is also the theme of the new library this year. After the read-a-louds, short speeches were given by a few of the children and other attending guests.
The children listen and participate during the read-a-louds.
Afterwards, we all headed outside to plant an apple tree. This is no ordinary apple tree, instead it is a tree meant to stand as a symbol for this special occasion. If you take good care of an apple tree, it can supply you with apples, shade and wood for many years to come. Just like an apple tree, if you take care of the library and books, they will supply you with knowledge and stories from around the world for many years to come. This was the moral of the story we hoped to impart to the children through our Giving Tree theme this year...and we think it worked! After our symbolic tree was planted, we passed out apples to everyone at the ceremony and officially ended our Opening Day.
Rupa stands up to give a short speech about the library.
Kamala and Renu help to plant the Giving Tree.
We brought 80 big, delicious apples to the shelter for opening day!
Thank You! We love books...is the message the children want to give to all the donors who made this library possible. Every shelter mother and child signed their name to the posters.
Though July 17th officially marked the close of our summer 2010 projects, it does not signify the end of our partnership with the Women’s Foundation. Cup of Change is already busy planning our summer 2011 projects in Nepal. Next year, we will build a playground, volleyball court, add to the library (500 books/ paint/ fans), refurbish a playground at a WF school and plant a recovery garden! We are ecstatic to be back in Nepal next year for all these anticipated projects, but need help to complete it all! If you feel inspired, there are many ways to contribute to the cause. We are currently looking for volunteers interested in heading to Nepal with us for build week 2011 (July 2 – July 10). If you aren’t able to head overseas next year, we are always looking for donations of time. Currently, we are especially in need of people willing to host a Cup of Change fundraising party with friends and family. If you have another talent that you are willing to donate, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Finally, if you don’t have time, we are always willing to accept monetary donations as well. It’s fast, easy and secure to donate with us online.
Thanks for following along with us this past month. We will continue to update the blog with new information throughout the year about our summer 2011 projects as they get underway. If you would like to stay up-to-date, click here to sign up for our quarterly newsletter.
The last few days have been interesting. The biggest news is that yesterday we had to fire Hari Krishna, the contractor we had hired to complete the basketball and volleyball courts. First of all, he only showed up for work a few days out of the last week, even though he agreed to work everyday in order to be done in time. Secondly, he had the nerve to ask us for more money for materials after we had already given him the complete cost for materials that we had agreed upon. To top things off, the work that he and his workers had done so far was TERRIBLE. The basketball court ground was completely uneven, and it was not going to be suitable for playing basketball at all. Renu, the president of the Women’s Foundation, has been out of town but finally returned yesterday and was there to help us break the news to Hari Krishna that his services were no longer needed. She was much nicer than Leeza or I would have been if we only spoke Nepali! After Hari Krishna left, we had an emergency meeting with Renu about how to deal with the half-finished courts situation. We had an engineer present that helped come up with some figures and costs for materials, and Renu called and found some laborers that would be able to work the next few days from morning to night to try and complete the job. Although this of course is a huge additional cost for us, we decided to go ahead with this new plan in order to complete the job we started. These two courts have been a MUCH bigger pain then we ever could have imagined…and we thought they would be the easier of the projects!
Fortunately everything else seems to have been progressing really well. We spent a number of days running all around Kathmandu with Ram, running errands, picking up needed items and checking on all the projects we have going on. It’s currently monsoon season here, and most days it only rains a little, but we had a couple days of super heavy rain which slowed us down a little… we really couldn't afford to waste any time though!
As you can see, we have just litte bit of a flooding problem with the land we plan to build our playground on next year...
Our last few items of furniture were completed by the carpenter, and we had them delivered to the shelter and got them put into the library.
Here's the tractor (the typical way to transport items here) making it's way to the shelter with our furniture.
We also are having a tire swing made. The same local iron welder that is making our basketball pole made us the poles for the swing, and he also agreed to get the chain and tire attached for us if we brought them to him. We went to a used tire shop and purchased a large used tire for the swing and shopped around to find a chain that would be strong enough to hold it. Our iron guy is amazing and also agreed to paint everything for us if we bought the pain. Both the basketball pole and tire swing will be delivered to the shelter tomorrow morning, with just enough time to get them installed for our big opening ceremony on Saturday.
Ram and his friend helping us out by washing the filthy tire we bought.
Getting the chain cut to size.
We spent the last couple days picking up some final items needed for the library. We picked up organizational and cleaning supplies, some things to help decorate the walls, along with a number of other things to make sure the library is all set for opening day on Saturday.
We picked up some small straw stools for extra seating and a little shelf for shoes to be kept outside.
We also hit up a nursery for a baby apple tree. We'll plant it with the kids this Saturday at the opening ceremony after reading them The Giving Tree by Shel Silvestein.
We always have lots of help from the kids in getting things moved from the car into the library :).
Now that we have all the furniture and items needed for the library, we were able to spend the last two days making it look nice. We had a GREAT time today having all the kids help us with this. They were all so involved and were absolutely amazing.
The main decoration in the library is tree with the alll the children's names written on the leaves and photos of each of them.
We also made some posters with the library rules and how to properly handle the books, and we put up some other posters and decorations up that we bought at educational stores both in the States and here in Nepal.
This is Shiva Maya. She's the House Mother at the shelter and has been a HUGE support to us. She's sitting in front of a pocket chart that has all the kids' library cards in it.
We've had a FULL last few days, and we'll have another full day tomorrow. We'll do some reading assessments with the kids, meet with Renu, and get the swing, basketball and volleyball poles installed. Saturday will be the opening of the library and the courts, and we'll have a party to celebrate, so stay tuned!
Great news…the basketball court is a GO! Last blog we were sincerely worried that the basketball court may prove too expensive for our budget. However, luck would have it that the Nepali family, from who we rent our apartment, knew just the man who could save the day. His name is Hari Krishna. The best recommendations are word-of-mouth and Hari had just recently done some work for the Giri family. We could even see a sample of his workmanship, since he had laid the stone courtyard of our apartment building. Almost at once we took Hari Krishna to see the space at the Thali shelter. He quickly gave us a number of quotes based on using different materials and by the end of the day we made a decision. We chose to build a basketball half-court (made of brick) and a volleyball court. Bricks happen to be manufactured in the nearby town of Bhaktapur and are surprisingly more economical than concrete. We are thrilled that both projects will now fall within the budget and happy to proceed as originally planned. The very next day we were also informed that our volleyball poles should arrive to the shelter any day now, so we headed out to a store named Ekta to purchase the basketball rim and net, basketballs, volleyballs and a volleyball net!
The beginning of our basketball half-court.
Moving bricks to use for the court.
Chaska with a school principal discussing the bball pole.
In other good news, our three bookshelves have arrived to the shelter from carpenter #1. They are enormous and we are hoping we have enough books to fill the empty shelves. On Friday, we made our final purchase of Nepali children’s books for this year from the Book Palace, a store recommended to us by Room to Read. We purchased 297 Nepali books, varying from beginner readers to young adults. Add that to the 46 books purchased from Room to Read plus the 150 books we brought overseas and this brings the total number of books that will fill our new library shelves to a grand total of….493 books! Two older girls at the shelter will be the new librarians and they have had their hands full the past few days, leveling and cataloguing each of the 493 books. This is a great start for our first year and a big thank you to everyone who donated books for the new library. Next year we will definitely need to pack more in our suitcase and hopefully purchase many more Nepali books too!
The new library shelves.
As of Friday, the library was also outfitted with three reading tables from carpenter #2 and 30 sitting cushions and covers. The cushion covers were hand-made and donated to us by Maheela Cooperative, a local artisan women’s group that hand-stitches traditional Nepali dhakas. Many of the women of Maheela have been victims of violence and learned the art of weaving dhakas to ensure a livelihood for themselves and their children. To learn more about Maheela Cooperative, watch the short documentary we made about them last year. View>>
(If you have an issue viewing the video, it is also available on our website under the Media tab.)
Hari and Suraj with the newly covered cushions.
There are still a few more items we need to complete the library. We are waiting on a librarian’s desk, chair, locked cabinet and notice board that are being crafted at nearby carpenter #3. We stopped by on Friday and they ensured the items will be ready by Sunday. Conveniently, right next door to carpenter #3 is the local metal fabricator. We met with them on Friday and submitted our order for one basketball pole and a tire swing too! The tire swing was an unplanned expense, but one we feel is necessary to give the shelter toddlers something age-appropriate and fun to play with in their backyard. Both pieces should be finished in about one week. We are crossing our fingers they can be completed and installed before our grand opening. On July 17, 2010 we are planning a Grand Opening Ceremony to be held at the Thali shelter. All the shelter mothers, children, Women’s Foundation staff and friends will be present to enjoy live music, sweet treats, book readings and we will officially cut the red ribbon to open the library, basketball court and volleyball court. We are so excited for this big day, especially after all this grueling work, but the pressure is on to pull it off on time!
It's hard to wait until opening day to read the books!
Carpenter #3 making our notice board.
Yesterday, in order to build up excitement for opening day, we worked with the children on a project making books about themselves. We used construction paper and ribbon to make the books and gave each child a photo of themselves to glue to the book cover. On each page, the children could write something such as likes and dislikes, poems, favorite foods, best friends and draw pictures. All 65 children’s books will be kept in a special basket in the library so that they can read them, or friends and volunteers visiting the library can get to know the children through their books. Everyone had a fun time and it was great to see their creativity sparked.
The children making their books.
Maikal with his finished book.
Our last seven days are bound to be full of activity, getting ready for our big day. We hope you will continue to follow our blog and share in the excitement…
We have now been in Nepal for 13 days, which officially marks our half-way point. It has been a busy two weeks, but we have made some definite progress. We are happy to report that the electrician has finished outfitting the library with electricity and ceiling fans! Both the children and Women's Foundation staff alike were relieved to feel the cool breeze of the new fans in our library space. They will make a huge difference during the scorching Nepali summers.
As of today weve been here for a week! The library is coming along well, but we're a little worried about the basketball and volleyball courts. After the last update, we met with a couple people who were supposed to help us out with these projects. First we met with a couple of guys that WF put us in contact with. We met them at the shelter and they were completely GQ'd out dressed in fancy clothes, shiny shoes, and shades...not the best attire to be stomping through muddy fields :). They weren't much help at all, and we all decided that they weren't what we needed. Next we were put in contact with Kupila. Kupila is a woman who plays on the national volleyball team and is currently working as a PE teacher at a local elementary school. We met with her yesterday, and she was really nice and helpful. She's going to meet us at the shelter on Saturday to take measurements and has promised to have quotes on prices and timelines for completion of the two courts. For some reason it has been REALLY difficult to get any actual quotes on pricing and timing for these, which is kind of a worry to us. We're keeping our fingers crossed that Kupila will be able to help us get things sorted out! Here's a picture of a group of boys sitting on the bricks that will soon be used to build the new residence hall at the shelter. These boys have been so exicited for the new bball and vball courts and are always close by whenever we're discussing plans for them, wanting to help in any way they can. They're adorable :).
Fortunately progress with the library is moving along a lot more smoothly (although much more expensively than planned!) The electrician and plumber are busy working on the building, the carpet has been delivered and is ready to be installed, the carpenter has started on the shelves and tables, and the cushions and covers are also in the process of being made. We have spent the last couple of days focusig on the most important part of the library...the books! We both brought over a duffle bag full of English children's books that were either donated or purchased very cheaply in the States before coming over. We've had mounds of these books covering our apartment since we arrived, so we spent one evening a couple nights ago sorting through and leveling the books for the library. We are using a color coded system to categorize the books by reading level. Here are our newly "organzed" piles of leveled books in our living room :).
Today we went and visited the Room to Read office located just outside of Kathmandu. Room to Read is an organization whose mission is literacy in the developing world. They started in Nepal and are based in San Francisco and have been a great resource for us in developing our library. Room to Read started a local language publishing company that produces quality children's books in Nepali. They are non-profit and sell the books for just the printing costs, which means they are very inexpensive. Most books are less than a dollar. We had arranged a meeting with one of the local officers today and were able to take a look at many of their books. We ended up purchasing a set of all the books they currently have in stock, which is about 118 books. They also provided us with a list of books they typically purchase from other local book vendors to stock their own libraries. This will be a great resource, and we'll use this list to purchase more Nepali language books for the library. Here are some photos from our visit to Room to Read today.
Today we also spent much of the day running errands in preparation for library related activities that we have planned to do with the kids. We'll do our first activity with them this Saturday. We're going to have them make books about themselves that will go in the library. We purchased materials for this and other activities we have planned. This Saturday we'll also meet with two older girls that live at the shelter and will act as the resident librarians. We picked up some supplies and materials for them as well today.
Aside from from meetings and running all over town for errands, we've been spending quite a bit of time doing research related to our big playground project planned for next summer. Thanks to wi-fi and cell phones, we can do this just about anywhere. A favorite spot we've found is a cafe located at Boudhanath Stupa. This is the largest stupa (Buddhist place of worship) in Nepal. It's located just outside of Kathmandu, not too far from the shelter. It's so peaceful and beautiful there and a perfect escape from crazy Kathmandu.
We're on Day 5 and have been super busy getting our projects started. After arriving on Thursday (not Wednesday like I said in the last post,) we jumped right in and started preparations for all of our projects. We visited the shelter on Saturday and were able to see for the first time the space that has been set aside for our library project and were also able to identify a plot of land to put in the basketball and volleyball courts. Best of all though we got to see the the kids and play with them. They are SO excited for their new library and play spaces!
The library will be in a space that was being used for training women how to weave and sew in preparation for joining the Maheela Scarf Cooperative that the Women's Foundation sponors. WF is giving us half of the structure to create our children's library and will move all training operations into the other half of the structure. The space given to us is much larger than we thought, which is awesome-- about 30ft by 26ft. The walls and floor are cement and it has a tin roof. The structure doesn't have electricity currently, and we noticed evidence of rain leakage in part of the structure, which of course is a huge concern! That same day we got a quote on the cost to install electricity and also looked into creating a better drainage system for rain, and we made the decision that we want to do both. The electrician will start today (yay!) and we are waiting to hear back from the plumber about the drainage system. Both of these are costs we weren't anticipating, but we think they're important to have a nice and secure library space for the kids.
WF is expanding the shelter and is building another full residence hall that will double the size of the current shelter. This will also allow them of course to double the amount of women and children they can house. Construction will start any day now and the structure should be complete by this time next year. Fortunately, the land we originally planned to use for the playground is still set aside for us, but we have some issues we have to deal with before we can start building or installing anything. The space that we originally planned to put the basketball and volleyball court recently flooded extensively... not good. There is still tons of water in the space, and it's obvious that we're going to need to do something to the land before we can build anything there. We have decided to put the basketball and volleyball courts on a plot of higher land that won't flood, and we'll look into how we can solve the fooding problem on the other piece of land for next year. The new space we decided to put the courts is currently covered in a crop of corn :), but we've been told they'll harvest it and clear the land within the next few days. The plot of raised land isn't quite large enough for both the courts too, so we are going to have to have a truck come in with soil to fill in the remaining needed space (another cost we didn't anticipate!) We're waiting to meet with someone that will give us quotes on this process, as well as waiting to get quotes on cement, iron, etc. to build the courts. We should have all this info by today and hopefully can get started within the next few days on these projects.
Yesterday we spent most of the day preparing for the inside of the library, which of course is much more fun than dealing with all the structural stuff :). We purchased carpet for the room and did some furniture shopping. We were hoping to find some good prices on pre-made furniture, but it turns out it's much cheaper to have a carpenter make us our bookshelves and tables. We've decided to take that route. We've been told they can get them done within about 8 days...lets hope! We're going to have low tables made and then have cushions as seats instead of chairs (big cost saver and is comfy for the kids. :) We purchased the cushions and Maheela is donating their time to sew covers for them. We had a very productive day yesterday!
Today we're going back out to the shelter to do some follow up on the the library plumbing and the volleyball and basketball court stuff. Later this week, we'll go out to meet with a local language publisher of children's books. They are a publishing company started by the organization Room to Read, which is based in San Francisco and has been a HUGE support to us in preparing for our library.
We are really happy with the progress we've made so far, but we have tons more to do in order to get our projects complete in the short time we have here! Stay tuned for more updates in the next couple days!
Leeza and I arrived in Kathmandu Wednesday around noon after a marathon journey. Leeza flew from Nashville to San Francisco on Monday night and then we had long layovers in Teipei, Taiwan and Bangkok, Thailand before finally arriving in Nepal. We made it here safe and sound though and have been going non-stop ever since! Ram, our good friend and taxi driver, zipped us around the city to run errands and help us get settled all day Wednesday, and we stopped by the Women's Foundation office to say hello to everyone. As usual they gave us a wonderful welcome complete with tikas, maheela scarves, and Nepali treats! It was so great to see all our old friends again and to meet some new staff members as well. Yesterday morning we had a meeting with Renu, president of the Women's Foundation and our dear friend. We were able to come up with a plan of action for our month here and set up some important meetings and plans for the projects we will work on this summer. Our three main projects at the WF shelter this summer are a children's library, a recovery garden and a basket ball and volley ball court. We will also be working on lots of preparations for our playgrounds next summer. SO much to do in such a short time (we will be here for just under a month,) but we are so glad to be here and are already having a great time. We are now on our way to the shelter to meet with the children and women and meet with a support team. Can't wait to see all the kids again and get started on our projects!
This was the official launch event for Worthwhile Wednesdays, sponsored by Cup Of Change! We were happy to see 92 people came out to welcome Worthwhile Wednesdays to Nashville with open arms. The evening was all about raising money for a Cool People Care Premium Partner Scholarship Fund to help needy non-profits.
Through the support of a most gracious and generous host, Red Rooster Bar & Music Hall, $200 will be added to the scholarship fund. This will provide free trainings for staff and access to a wealth of non-profit know how for one-year to two lucky Tennessee nonprofits. (To be announced soon!) A very special thanks to our event co-hosts, Nashville Network for Youth & Civic Engagement (NYCE) and Peabody Graduate Student Association (PGSA)!
Our next event is coming soon, so stay tuned. If you would like to follow us in the interim, suggest a venue, nominate a non-profit or anything in between, be sure to fan us or follow us and give us your feedback.
Cup Of Change proudly announces the launch of Worthwhile Wednesdays!
What is Worthwhile Wednesdays? What if you could drink a cocktail and save the world? Sound too good to be true? Well, it's not! Come explore the Nashville scene with us, helping out charities here, there and everywhere just by doing what you would be doing anyway. We will be meeting up on Wednesdays for good times and good causes. Don't worry, we won't hassle you for donations. All you need to do is bring yourself, some friends and show up to the featured venue for some delicious cocktails and conversation. "Drink a cocktail. Save the world." It's really that easy!
Who: Come find out!
What: Worthwhile Wednesdays
When: April 14, 2010 (7:00-9:00pm)
Where: Red Rooster Bar & Music Hall (1530 Demonbreun)
Why: Drink a cocktail. Save the world.
Note: Be sure to check in with us at the Worthwhile Wednesdays table at the front door, so we can count your support!
Click here to join our mailing list.
Click here to email us.
Follow us on twitter.
Fan us on Facebook.
"Respected Mrs. Obama,
I am Rama Budhatokhi. I was in the Women's Foundation at the age of five and now I am sixteen years old. I have just finished the school level exam and passed it too. I am in 11th grade now, and I have just joined 10 + 2 recently. There is a dreamer inside every person because dreams are a reflection of what we want or what we wish to achieve in our life. My home, Women's Foundation, have gave me the suggestion to dare to dream because dreams provide the extra motivation to reach our destination of success and develop in us the willingness to work hard even when our path seems full of obstacles. Because of this, I have made up my mind to be a good social worker in my future.
For me, Women's Foundation is a powerful place that gives me a glimpse of hope and makes me see light at the end of a dark tunnel. So, all of us children are greatly thankful to our creator for making us capable to bring majestic charm on our face through their love and heartfelt words to us and I am sure that Women's Foundation has made me capable of facing what is in store for me.
I felt very excited when I hear about making the playgrounds and quite emotional too. I am most excited about the badminton court. Now I want to ask you some questions, but please don't feel sad reading this. I have heard that you love your daughters very much. Can we get a chance to be your daughters and receive a visit to our destination please? Can you support Women's Foundation so that it can help thousands of more poor people like us?
Anyway, my ideas are that you read my letter and feel very proud too and I am in hope of reply."