Saturday, November 16, 2013

Elinor's Diary Part 3 - Final installment!

9th October 
Hi everyone,

The last few days have been eventful to say the least.  As you know, on Monday we had a new boy arrive at the street kids centre.  He was picked up by some tourists who have agreed to sponsor him (pay for food, clothes, school equipment etc) however, this all depends if we can actually keep him from running away!  He is a nightmare!  His name is Dinesh.  He looks about 5 but apparently he is 9 and he is a proper handful.  The other boys have not really warmed to him and he is causing some friction at the moment.  If he doesn't get what he wants he cries or screams.  When he does get what he wants he won't share and he doesn't really know how to interact with others or 'play' in any real sense.  We gave him some old paints yesterday and he just mixed them all together using one brush and then daubed big lines on a piece of paper and then wanted us to stick it on the wall :-)

Today, we went to the big park with the younger ones so there were 7 in total.  We had a lovely time playing on the swings and the slide, and then we took the group over to the lake to look at the people fishing. On the way home, I had walked ahead with one of the lads and I got a call to say that Dinesh had sat down on the side of the road and wouldn't move and kept saying that he wanted gum (this means glue here and we know that he did sniff glue when he was on the street, so unsurprisingly he is suffering from withdrawal) so I dropped my boy off and went back to where everyone else was.  Now you know me and I'm not for any messing around so I picked him up and started walking!  I just wanted to get him home, but he wouldn't move so I put him down and again, he refused to move, so a local taxi driver, who was watching the spectacle, offered to drive us home.  I've never been so relieved!  We put him in the taxi with us and he shut up instantly and was too busy looking out of the window watching the world go by to make a fuss.  What a cheeky monkey!  I feel battered and bruised and I'm hoping for a less eventful day tomorrow, although, that could be hoping for too much as we're going out on the peddle boats!!!

Other than that, I've had a gorgeous pizza for my dinner and brought some home for the dog, Rex.

I hear from my mum and dad that it's starting to get cold in the UK.  I'm really going to feel that difference when I get back.  At the moment it's about 25-30 degrees here and absolutely roasting.  I have got a 'Nepali' tan, which basically consists of a tanned face and neck and arms.  Everything else is still as white as anything!

I'll let you know how tomorrow goes, wish me luck!!!

Elinor xxx

11th October.

So who bet that Dinesh would run away?  Well, if you did, you were right!

We had a great day on the peddle boats on the lake yesterday and on the way back we stopped for momo's and Chrissy's partner Maila, who is Nepali, came in to say hello and to speak to Dinesh about why it is a good thing for him to be at the street kids centre and whilst he was trying to chat to him, he scarpered!  We tried to find him but he was gone.  Ama (the mum) was a little bit beside herself and Chrissy was not happy with Maila as he was supposed to help, not make things worse!

Not to worry though, later on that day Chrissy found him down by the lake and took him back to the centre, so we have Dinesh back and Maila has redeemed himself somewhat :-)

Today is a relatively easy day for us.  We go up into the mountain orphanage this afternoon (Asha) for a couple of hours and some of the children will be gone for the festival so we're expecting a quiet couple of days.

Elinor xxx

14th October.

Hi everyone,

Well, since I last checked in with you, it has been an eventful few days (when is it not?!) 

Dinesh was found again, ran away again and was found again.  I think we have all agreed that we're not going to force him to come back if he doesn't want to, so if he does run away again and we see him, we'll only take him back if he wants to go.  He was there on Saturday night when we went for our Dashain meal of goat soup and BBQ goat with rice, and he seemed to be relatively happy, so we'll see.  He's still very gropey and loves to try and suck on your neck or your arm which is very off putting!

On Saturday, Sinead and I went paragliding!!!  Yes, that's right, we got in a jeep, went up to the top of the nearest very big hill, strapped ourselves in to a harness and jumped off!  Fortunately, we were doing a tandem paraglide, so there was someone else in control of the chute.  I have to say, I really loved it.  It was very exciting to run down the side of the hill and then before you knew it, your feet were off the ground and you were flying through the air, with Pokhara and the lake below you and the mountains beside you.  The views on the way up in the jeep were phenomenal and it was a really clear day, so we got to see all the mountains that we never normally see because there are hills in the way and it is quite cloudy on most days.  Sinead wasn't quite so much of a fan of the whole jumping off the side of a hill malarkey and apparently her language was quite colourful as she hurled herself down the hill

Yesterday was a day for spiders!  The spiders here which are the equivalent of house spiders in the UK are huge and quite hairy.  To date, we haven't really encountered any at close range, however, Sinead got up to go to the loo at 4am on Sunday morning and went to turn the light switch on.  As she looked to the left of the light switch, very close to where her hand had just been, there was a rather large, hairy spider!!!  She bravely went back to bed, rather than getting me out of bed which apparently did cross her mind, and in the morning, she ushered me into her room, whilst standing behind me, and said 'kill it'.  Now Sinead seems to think I'm quite brave, little does she know that spiders freak me out as much as they do her, however, not wanting to appear weak, I stepped up to the plate and squished it.  We looked at it to see if it was dead - it was behind her dresser at this point and I had just pushed the dresser onto it - and it dropped down onto the floor.  You should have seen us, I've never known two people to run away as fast as we did, Sinead heading for her bed (she ended up standing on top of her bed) and me down the corridor, both of us screaming like little girls!!! We have since encountered another one, but have been unsuccessful in killing it, so it remains in the communal room, taunting us with its hairy legs and fast run.

Today is the main festival day so all the shops and restaurants are shut and it's raining so it's quite dull and boring, hence the very long e-mail!  We only have 4 boys at street kids so we need to go home and decide what we're going to do with them for 3 hours this afternoon.

Happy Dashain everyone!

Elinor (and Sinead!)

17th October 2013-10-17

Hi everyone,

This will probably be my last e-mail from Nepal, as I head back to Kathmandu tomorrow morning.

Yet again, we have had an eventful few days.  No more spiders thankfully, however, major challenges with another of the boys attempting to run away.  His name is Pawan and he had been home for Dashain to visit his extended family in a village several hours way from Pokhara.  PoD really encourage the children to keep in contact with heir families however, this can cause as many issues as it brings rewards. Pawan is approx 9 years old and he hasn't seen his family for two years, having been at the street kids centre for nearly 4 years.  It is clear he really enjoyed seeing his family and he was very cuddly when I saw him the day before yesterday and quiet, even for him.

Saying goodbye
Yesterday, we only had the 4 small ones again and the rain had stopped so we decided to take them to the small park.  Within 10 minutes of us being there, Ravesh, who is normally really good, had started a fight with Pawan and pushed him to the ground. It's possible that there is some jealousy from the boys who didn't go home towards those who did.  Pawan ran off and we let him have a sulk for a bit.  Then he came back and it was ok for a few minutes and then they started fighting again.  Pawan got really peeved off this time and headed off down the road.  Me, Sinead and Asmita (the daughter of the lady who runs the centre) tried to get him to come home (Lottie and Anna had taken the others back by this point) but he wasn't having any of it.  I honestly thought he was going to bolt and I wouldn't be able to catch him.  He was so upset and sad, it really broke my heart.  I sent Sinead to go and get Ama (the house mum) and then fortunately, we had an absolute stroke of luck.  Sinead got back to the house, and as she was telling Ama, the oldest boy, BJ, arrived back from visiting his family.  As soon as he heard that Pawan as trying to run, he dashed out of the house and reached us within about 5 minutes.  Sinead was left in his dust trying to keep up, which isn't easy in 30 degree heat!

As soon as Pawan saw 'Big BJ' as he's known, he stopped trying to fight me and Asmita and after a few minutes of 'boy chat', BJ took his hand and led him home.  Phew!

We had a back up activity of making picture frames, so we got everyone settled and it was good to have Big BJ back as he calms everything down and he is very creative, so everyone follows his led.  Except....Dinesh!!!

Yes, that' right folks, he had been ok at the park.  Lottie and Anna had been double teaming him, but when we got back and were doing the picture frames he got bored and started playing with a kite.  We must all have got distracted for one minute and looked round and he'd gone!!!  We went to see if we could see him but he must have done the run in Olympic record time.  When we left to come home 20 minutes later, we saw him on the main road heading down to the tourist section and tried to make him go back to Ama, but he wasn't having any of it, so we left him to do whatever he decides to do.  We updated Chrissy later and agreed that it is up to him now, and actually we don't think he will come back permanently.  Sooner or later Ama will tell him it's either 'go or stay' and at that point, he'll more than likely go.

Other than that, the rain has stopped, the sun is out, I've been souvenir shopping, I've semi packed my bag and me and Sinead are going to play pool before taking the boys for pizza this afternoon.

The bus leaves for Kathmandu at 7am tomorrow and that will be my volunteer experience over.  I've had an absolute blast, made a very special friend in Sinead which I will treasure and met some wonderful people that I hope I will continue to support and be involved with for many years to come.

I hope you've enjoyed my little updates and if you ever get the chance, visit Nepal, it's a very special place.

Elinor xxx

If you would like to have a similar experience to Elinor and join the PoD Nepal team, please email Gemma on for further information.

Big thanks to Elinor for letting us share her updates.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Scary faces, dressing up dogs, festival of lights and Bahini cookies!

As per usual it's been an eventful few weeks. It's still the holidays here, well at least for the Government schools. Most private schools went back for at least a week during Dashain and Tihar festivals, but for our schools, they are still on break. So that means we've been spending most of our time with the Street Kids and Asha Foundation.

The other day we celebrated Halloween with the StreetChildren's Center, although it is not celebrated here we though it would be a great opportunity to get the kids dressed up, plays some games and have some fun. You can see from these photos how much they got into it all! We then spent the evening with some friends having our own Halloween party!

The Bahini Cafe has finally re-opened and we are SO happy about it. They shut in August for the off season and then due to problems with the rent and staffing (the manage had a baby!!) they had not been able to re-open until now. Since the opening we've been in there most lunches snacking on their club sandwiches and cookies. It's a great little cafe, and it's so nice to be able to give something back to SOSBahini. They use the cafe as a source of income, but also a place to provide training to the girls so they can they go on to get jobs in other restaurants or hotels in Lakeside which provides a good future for them ;-)

We are currently in the midst of Tihar festival (Dipawali). So far we've worshiped Dogs, Laxmi & Cows and tomorrow is Bhai Tikka, the main day where we worship our brothers. On Kukur Tikka (Dog day!) we gave Buttons a lovely flower garland and a tikka on her head for a blessing, she then got fed plenty of meat from many families in lakeside. On Laxmi Tikka the whole town was beautifully decorated with twinkly lights to welcome the Goddess Laxmi into their houses in the hope for a prosperous year ahead. Bands also set up all over the place with dancers showing us their best routines...there's a real party/holiday feel about town at the moment. Tomorrow for Bhai Tikka we are hoping to go to the Street Kids Center so we can give all our little brothers a blessing.

In sadder news, it looks like Dinesh has left us for good. I wrote a few weeks ago about how Dinesh had come to the center and was finding it tough to settle in, well after many attempts to run away and people bringing him back every body has decided it is now up to him. We gave him all the support we could, talked to him about his future, gave him one on one care, etc but during the tourist season when people are handing out money and sweets all the time, there was just too much temptation for Dinesh to run away again. We hope when the season ends (and it gets colder) he will come back. He knows he is welcome anytime, but it is still sad when we fail to keep them with us.

That's it for now, the schools are finally open again on Monday so we'll all be back on placement then and we're looking forward to some new volunteers arriving in the next few weeks!

For those of you that have been enjoying it, don't worry, more updates from Elinor will be posted soon!

If you would like to join the team here in Nepal, then please email Gemma on

Elinor's Diary, Part 2

Here's part 2 for Elinor's Diary. I've tried not to cut out too much as I think it's great to see the highs and lows the volunteers go through and Elinor gives a real insight as to what volunteering in Nepal is really like!

3 October

Hi all,

It's been a very frustrating couple of days in lots of different ways, some real highs and lows.  It's a 50/50 situation, 50% of the time, you really feel like you're getting into the swing of things and then the next moment, everything is thrown into chaos!!

On Monday, we took a class from the Shree Krishna school to the Gurkha museum, which was very interesting and again, they all seemed to be really interested in the information and enjoyed the experience.  Then the children decided that they wanted to go and see the local hospital, which turned out to be an hours walk away, through the town, over the extremely large and slightly terrifying suspension bridge (I thought Sinead was going to have a nervous breakdown halfway over), through a few local villages, up a ravine, down a ravine, over a river, up a hill, down a hill, through rice fields, to the hospital, which looked like an inner city slum block.  There was mould growing down the side of the building, it looked filthy and like it should be knocked down due to being a health hazard - how ironic!  The children wanted to go inside and have a look around, and some of them wanted to go in the lift as they had never been in one before, so inside we went.  No-one looked twice at us as we wandered around the different wards. 

In the afternoon, we went to the street kids, and it is here that I do feel like I'm contributing and making an impact.  The lads did their homework and then we went to the park and threw frisbees and balls around and did some skipping.  Before we knew it, all the local kids had joined us so we ended up playing with about 30 kids!

Yesterday was the most frustrating day yet.  We were going to Shree Krishna and we had planned an outdoor activity for 3 groups of 25 each for an hour each.  When we woke up in the morning it was throwing it down with rain, so we had to quickly re-plan and come up with an indoor activity.  My kiddie repping experience has never come in so handy. We arrived and we were told we would have 3 classes of 8-10 year olds.  What we ended up with was a class of 5-6 year olds first with about 20 in the class so they were really too young for what we had planned, the second class were 8-10 but there were 30 of them, maybe more, so too many, and the third class didn't show up and we were kicked out of the library we were supposed to be using!  They tried to get us to take over the older class and teach them English but we refused and then we eventually agreed to take a class that didn't have a teacher outside for some games.  Again, it was fine for about 20 minutes and then all the other children in the school seemed to join us so it descended into chaos.  The teachers here don't care and will do anything to get out of doing any work.  INFURIATING!!!

Last night we had dinner with the family who own the guesthouse where we stay - veg and cheese momo's - which were lovely, but looked cr*p cos we'd made them!

Overall, I am still enjoying my time here, however, I have to have a word with myself daily to tell myself to accept things for the way they are and not to let things get to me.  I do miss my home comforts and I will massively appreciate everything when I get home, even more than I do already!

Thanks for all your responses, take care, and catch up soon.

Elinor xxx

5 October.

Hi everyone,

So, officially the Volunteer Experience is over.  My two weeks of visiting all the different placements has come to an end and I have been lucky enough to go to all but one of the different schools, orphanages and the street kids home.   I didn't go to Bahini, which is the abused women's school, as only long term volunteers are allowed to go there. It's been hard work, testing physically and mentally at times as you know, but overall, I'm very glad with how it has all gone.

The next two weeks will be very different because it is the Dashian Festival for the next week, followed by another festival for two weeks, so many of the families, and therefore the children, have gone to visit family in other areas.  The town of Pokhara is much quieter and many of the schools are now closed for a month!!!  God love the Nepali education system :-)  One interesting fact for you - during Dashian, 100,000 goats and buffaloes will be slaughtered (apologies to my vegetarian friends for this) as it is considered to be a great gift to give your family.  PoD are paying for a goat to be given to the mum at the street kids home, so she can cook a big meal for them all.  This is a very big deal and will be very exciting for them.

Luke has finished his placement so he is off trekking on Monday though the Annapurna mountain range, so it's just me, Sinead and Kay. Over the next two weeks, we will spend the majority of our time with the street kids and up at Asha, which is the orphanage in the mountains about 40 minutes away.  

Yesterday, I went on a bit of a shopping spree and I brought the lads a new t-shirt each.  They only really seem to have their school uniform and one set of 'casual' clothes which they change into when they get home from school, so I thought a new t-shirt each would be good.  The only two things I'm worried about - them fighting over the different colours I got (and boy, when they fight, do they fight?!) and them keeping the clothes for 'best' which they have a tendency to do, unless you specifically tell them the clothes are for everyday wear.  I think I will have to get them to line up in height order and hand out the t-shirts one by one, otherwise it will turn into a brawl!

We're going to take them to the park and perhaps set them a project to do for the week, and of course, help them with their homework, of which they have quite a lot.

Happy weekend everyone, and catch up with you all next week.

Elinor xxxx

8th October.

Hi everyone,

After a very relaxing weekend of getting my clothes washed properly at a laundrette (luxury - smelt of lemons) a trip into the city to buy loads of new toys, games (Twister, Scrabble, 3 new frisbees...) and a steam bath followed by an all over body massage, I decided it would be good to put a plan together of what we were going to do for the next two weeks.  You know how I love to be in charge and boss people about right?!!!  So we sat down and looked at all the equipment and games that we have and now we have an indoor / outdoor list of things we can do up until next Thursday which is my last day.  Can you believe I've only got 10 days left?  The time has flown by that's for sure.

So, with our plan in hand, we arrived at the street kids centre yesterday, the lads were just having lunch and then we sat them all down and explained the activity planner.  They seemed very excited, however, my favourite bit was when we told them that we had some new clothes for them to wear when they were doing their activities and that it was a present to celebrate the Dashain festival.  They couldn't line up in height order quick enough!! We handed out the t-shirts and despite my fears, there was only limited swapping of colours :-)  The smallest boy, Nissan, did look so very cute with his oversized t-shirt which looked more like a dress.  Then, they were even more excited when we handed out the shorts that Kay had brought.  Having a whole new outfit was just brilliant.  Now here's the funniest thing, despite us saying that they were not for best and that they were to wear them every day, about half the group went and got changed, came out of their bedrooms, showed us their outfit and then went back inside and got changed into their old clothes again!!  It took several tries before we got all of them to agree to put on their new outfits as they didn't want to spoil them.  So funny seeing them going in and out of their bedrooms, asking each other if it was ok to keep the clothes on and taking their lead from the older boys as to what was acceptable.

Then we took them to the park and played frisbee and ball throwing and we had also brought a big washing line to use as a skipping rope, however, boys being boys, this quickly became a high jump, a limbo line, tug of war and a thing to wrap around your brother's neck and playfully try to garote them!  Then the play descended into play fighting and so Sinead and I got stuck in and soon enough, I was the person to go to if you wanted to be hung upside down or spun around until you were dizzy and fell over.   Anyway, it's fair to say by the end of it that their clothes were well and truly worn in and they weren't worried about getting them dirty anymore.

Later in the afternoon, I took 5 of the older kids to the internet cafe so they could play games on the computer and when we got back to the house, a new boy had arrived!  Seemingly, he had been picked up by some tourists who, along with some locals, had brought him to street kids, hoping that there was space for him.  Ama signed some forms and took him in.  We still have space for one more boy if needed.  This one looks like he will bolt at any minute though, and it is often the case that when they first come, it takes a few tries before they decide to stay and they realise they're on to a good thing.  It's whether they can accept the routine, the fact that they go to school and do homework and whether they fit in with the other boys.  It'll be interesting to see if he's there today.  Some run away and never come back, particularly during tourist season like it is as the moment, as they can make lots of money on the street and get given ice cream and chocolate.  Bloody tourists!!!

Today is painting and drawing, followed by Badminton, Skittles and Blind Man's Bluff!  Happy Days :-)

Thanks for all your lovely messages of support and news of home, I really do look forward to logging on and reading about what you're all up to.

Take care, y'all and chat soon.


If you would like to join the PoD team in Nepal, then please email Gemma on