Our only goal is to accompany these children (and those who may join on the way) during their childhood, adolescence and youth, while preparing them for the difficulties of adult life. In that journey, we offer them all the tools and skills to be able to develop a healthy, happy and educated life, exactly with the same chances any Nepali child may have on a family. That is our goal, our vision and our reality. Our dream is to be able to give huge hugs to our beloved Santosh (15), or Sima (14) or Sumitra (14), as college graduates or as professionals prepared for their adult life with open doors in their Nepali environment or abroad.
Our contribution has provided them with healthy food, decent clothing, medical cares and education at private English boarding schools. Since 2013, our kids have significantly improved their food habits. They no longer eat the poor dal bhat (the typical Nepali food made of rice, lentil soup and vegetables) they used to eat, but a richer and more nutritive variety of food, including an improved version of dal bhat together with meat, fruit, yogurt and eggs three times a week and milk and a variety of healthy snacks every day. We have reached agreements with different local providers to supply our Balabalika Home with fresh products, under the supervision of our local coordinator, Narayan.
Balabalika Pokhara Foundation care about tangible or material needs. And also we care about providing our kids with love and affection, what we understand is the real must for all children to grow healthy and happy. This is key to our action, as from scratch we committed ourselves to make up a family house and not an institution. Our lovely didis Deena and Maya (didi is the Nepali for older sister) live with the children and are aces at building the family-oriented atmosphere we once envisioned.
We can start with a negative clause as it is very meaningful to us… Our future projects do not include taking new children at Balabalika Home. Actually, it never was our intention to host children but to support them within their families. We took on the responsibility to create a family home for them only after it was proved that our children could not stay with their families for different reasons. But it is not our ideal course of action. All children should grow up in their families, as obvious as it may seem it is not always possible based on our understanding of the situation in rural Nepal. Our future plan is to grow through what we call our ‘Balabalika in-family programme’. We are providing families in need with an economic contribution on the condition that they send their children to school. Balabalika monitors their progress at school directly with the principals in the private English boarding school we have agreements with. The economic contribution is significant to facilitate their life but does not amount to a standard Nepali salary. We understand we cannot fully supply all necessary incomes: families should take on their own responsibility to work and earn their own lives. Our main target in this programme are abandoned women and young widows, as unfortunately there are many in Nepal. Currently five families with seven children are benefiting from this programme. As network requirements are lighter for this in-family programme than for keeping our own house, we are willing and ready to accept on our Balabalika in-family programme as many children as our economic resources can afford. And that is our future… raising contributions and funds to extend our action to hopefully a thousand kids? We are enthusiastic enough to not set limits to our mission.