Recently I had the opportunity to stay with the Osti family and their 22 adopted children. In 2009, Bimal and his parents established the Moonlight Children’s Home – an organization that provides a loving home for abandoned, homeless orphan girls of Nepal. It is a registered NGO that aims to not only give the essentials of food, shelter, education and clothes, but as a unit – Bimal, his wife (Kalapana), and his parents – work earnestly to ensure the girls are powerfully imbued with love!
When I arrived, I was greeted with dozens of smiles and hugs. The girls were excited and proud to show me their lovely home and its contents. I instantly became one of the sisters (known here as a ‘Dee Dee’) and it didn’t take long before I had my hair braided, was learning origami and was the centre of attention in bedroom dance parties!
The girls range in age from 20 months to 14. The most recent and youngest adoptee was accompanied by her young mother (19) who assists with the household chores and cooking. Bimal, Kalapana and his parents manage all of the girls on their own. I was truly in awe and profoundly touched by the way they choose to run their children’s home, and admired their perspective on parenting.
When I asked why MCH didn’t have a sign hanging outside the home, Bimal mentioned that they have one but they never put it up. Both he and his wife consider these girls like their children and he doesn’t want them thinking otherwise. This is why, unlike some child homes, they all live together under the same roof. When you enter their foyer, you are greeted with over 60 pairs of shoes – as Kalapana put it, “We’re just a really big family!”
Although Nepal is rich in beauty and culture, it’s one of the poorest countries in the world and poverty is one reason which leads to so many homeless children. Additionally, in this patriarchal society girls are often considered inferior to boys and are therefore not worthy of the same opportunities. Laws in India now prevent a couple from knowing the sex of a baby until birth since so many couples were aborting children if they discovered it was a girl. This law, however, ceases to exist in Nepal. Girls are constantly killed prior to birth or upon birth, girls are often thrown in dumpsters, drowned or sometimes buried alive. Since priority is given to boys in nearly every circumstance, MCH is a children’s home specifically for the protection of orphan girls.
Bimal, Kalapana and his parents resonate commitment and love, and are truly practicing these words of the Dalai Lama, “If we seek happiness for ourselves, we should practice compassion; and if we seek happiness for others, we should also practice compassion.” Having empathy for these girls wasn’t enough. Instead they decided to do something about it and really BE compassionate. But you will never hear them say that they’ve sacrificed their lives for these girls. They love what they do, and you can see the results of their compassion through the girls. Bimal says the children address him and Kalapana as ‘big brother’ and ‘big sister’. They see themselves as guides, not necessarily authoritative figures. The girls greatly respect them and this is evident through their behaviour.
Every big sister is paired with a little sister in the house and they are responsible for looking after the Other. Each assists with household chores and has a particular duty; be that cooking, cleaning, helping out with the chicken farm, etc. The entire time I was there, never once did Bimal, Kalapana or his parents have to tell the girls what to do – they manage themselves and know exactly what needs to be done and when. They are independent and responsible, yet understand the importance of cooperation and teamwork. It’s amazing to see such strong traits in a 6 year old.
As a registered NGO, MCH relies on sponsors for support; however, they continue to struggle financially. Bimal says they only take girls when they have a sponsor to support them but sometimes, they have to roll with the circumstances. For example, one time they found 3 sisters living on the street together. The eldest (6) was cooking and caring for her two younger siblings. Although they intended to only take one girl, when they saw the situation they took all three without contemplation. Recently the family started a chicken farm and now have 2000 chickens in their backyard and sell the eggs and poultry for extra money. They also have a big outdoor garden which his father manages so most of the food they eat is home-grown. This is not only cost effective and organic, but it provides an opportunity for the girls to learn about horticulture.
I think we often under estimate how little it takes to transform a life. I used to easily spend $60.00 on a blouse and that same amount would cover a girls expenses’ here for an entire month. Unlike other children homes in Nepal, Bimal and Kalapana choose to send the girls to private school. The public, government run schools in Nepal and India are really bad. Often teachers don’t show up because they don’t feel like it, and this could go on for weeks. School rates are increasing every year and as the girls age so do their expenses.
What you want for our world wants something of you! If you want a world free from war, filled with healthy children, and clean, unpolluted air then YOU have to do something about it. Your actions may transform our world and the life of the other, even if it’s small. Never doubt the results of an action done with LOVE.
I’ve included MCH’s information below for those interested in sponsoring a beautiful girl or assisting with their home library project.
Remember, caring for others involves sharing in hardships that are not our own. When we shift from narrow self-interest, it is then we discover meaning, purpose and satisfaction in life!
Moonlight Children’s Home