We heard them coming before we could see them. The eternal chill inside MountainChild's concrete guest house and office center in Kathmandu was immediately warmed when the children came rushing in, flashing smiles and curious glances. Each one threw their hands together and bowed their head slightly to touch the tips of their fingers as they rushed by. "Jaymasee!" (Victory in Christ.) The children, ranging from 5 to 16 years old, all finally made their way into the meeting room where they grabbed thick mats hand-stuffed with cotton and placed them on the floor next to two of the walls in the room. They all sat next to one another on the mats, giggling and staring, interested in these strangers that were sitting opposite them.
After we introduced ourselves one by one, they went down the row, introducing themselves and telling us their age. The younger ones were shy and spoke to quickly to be heard, anxious to be finished with their turn. The older ones spoke clearly and smiled, unabashed. After a worship service, in which they prayed and fervently for their families, friends, and homeland of Nupri (a mountainous area of ethnically Tibetian people in Western Nepal), they stood in four rows and sung a Tibetian song that had been passed down from their parents, their parent's parents, and beyond. The 18 month old son of two of the caregivers danced in front of them as they sang.
These children each had a story. Every one has a name. They have hopes and dreams of going back to their villages to make a difference once their education is finished. Each one has a past, too. 50% of the children in the mountains where these children are from die before they are 8 years old. Parents don't even name their children until they are five because of the loss. 80% of the children at the MountainChild ranch (and every girl) has been through a program to help them heal from the trauma of sexual abuse. They were found tied in barns, on the verge of starvation, or in terribly abusive situations. They were truly rescued. Today, you can see the hope in their eyes.
MountainChild (MC) is doing even more to help back at the villages. It takes 3-5 days of 12-14 hours per day of hiking to reach their homeland of Nupri. MC currently has nine donkeys which they use several times monthly to take water, medical supplies, and food to this region. They are working to build and staff schools, medical outposts, and water purification systems in specific areas where they will be most effective. A lot of research, time, preparation, planning, effort and love has been spent in this region by the MC staff and those who partner with them. But there's a lot more to do. I'm so glad to have had the honor of working with them, and I look forward to doing it a lot more in the future.