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Archive for January, 2014


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How would you decide what to purchase?—Field Blog #4

We have started the purchasing of approved items – food for one month, medicine and school supplies, materials to fix the drainage of waste water, and railing materials for the rooftop of the orphanage. Having volunteers here to count, price, and pay for the items really does ensure that everything we purchase is at a fair price and directly benefits the children.

Volunteers are here to see the complete transaction of purchasing and delivering the items. Every year we return and see the items that we have purchased the previous years.

The following pictures show us buying the items, the delivery of them to the orphanage, the installation, and use.

Mummy Jee, the founder of Jeanamitabh told Tarik that Paper Kite’s purchases are like receiving presents on Christmas day.

We learned on this trip that not only do the children appreciate the purchases we make; the kitchen staff does as well. They barely get by with minimal coal for the clay stove to cook food for the children.

The food we buy allows the children to be given full portions of food and prevents them from going hungry.

The orphanages here are left to make decisions with the minimal funds they have. Imagine trying to decide what is more important – housing, food, water, or education. As well, imagine how hard it would be to make decisions if you didn’t have all of those basic necessities.

Buying food, but having no means to prepare it. Paying for a student’s tuition, but no way to get them to school. Renting a home, but having no right to ask the home owner to repair the home. Even making decisions on what health conditions are more important.

Tarik Kadri, President and Founder of Paper Kite

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Hey, do you have any ‘dood’?—Field Blog #3

During the night I awoke finding myself thinking of the many new impressions of the day. The main one being the welcoming celebration atJeanamitabh orphanage and my reaction to the events that took place. The wonderful warm welcome I was shown – the many delightful smiling faces and the smallness of the guiding hands. Love freely being poured out to a stranger who had come to help. After breakfast in a local restaurant (that after two visits already feels like a comfortable place of familiarity). The mushroom omelet and tea hit the spot perfectly to start the day. Just having to go to the kitchen to ask several of the staff for milk in Hindi – dood – made Tarik laugh because he told me milk is ‘dood’ in Hindi and I said to the staff “Hey, do you have any dood”. Tarik explained that he laugh because the majority of my sentence was in English. I couldn’t see the humour in this because I was having visions of having to round up a cow and milk it myself. Alas, the warmed milk for my tea arrived. I was relieved – order returned to my universe.

At Jeanamitabh, all was ready for morning prayers, for which Tarik and I were seated in the guest seats. After much singing and chanting, some of the children came to the microphone to give a speech, just like a pastor might do at a church. They were practical stories for life – ‘How to have a positive mental outlook, when life is

hard’. With a strong healthy outlook, all can be overcome and conquered. Some students read from their own text books and articles from the newspaper to become familiar with public speaking. Following they sang the Indian and French national anthem, since Mummy Jee, the founder, is French.


Mummy Jee added her words of wisdom before all were dismissed and dispersed into the classrooms. I followed to take pictures of each class in session. Three of the classes had to be held together in the centre hall space since there is a shortage of separate rooms. So the only division between these classes was to sit back to back. One of the older girls waved a green handkerchief at me and as I got close to her, she asked if I could sponsor her to which I responded— not at this time. I have recently learned that children can be sponsored at Jeanamitabh.

On the roof of the building, I found a group of senior students studying on their own. They were preparing for their nat

ional exams to pass high school – students who have already taken the exam were assisting them – ‘one helping another.’ One of the students brought a chair for me to sit on and they wanted me to tell them about Canada, which I gladly did. When I was ready to leave they asked to hear more, however, but Tarik, Mummy Jee and I were off to buy shoes for the eight girls who did not receive shoes the day before. The disappointed looks from the girls who did not receive shoes the previous day had vanished when Tarik purchased the shoes. Their disappointment turned to smiling, thankful faces.

Tarik and I found ourselves with a few hours to walk around after he finalized a project to build the metal railing on top of the orphanage roof for the safety of the children. In these hours, Tarik took me to the tree where Buddha achieved enlightenment. On our way there, Tarik and I ran into a couple young men that Tarik met last year – they wanted to practice their English with Tarik last year. They offered to be our guides. As a thank you, we offered them lunch. The Buddha tree grounds rose high up to the trees, Buddhist monks, both the red and orange robed male monks and the white robed female monks were all around praying, meditation and giving their offerings. I learned that the offerings (up and down movement of placing their head on the ground and coming up to the prayer position) is done 1000 or more times. I felt a spiritual presence around the spot where Buddha sat to achieve enlightenment.

Tarik has received the final approval from Paper Kite’s board to purchase items and the work has begun. Stay tuned.

-Jeff

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Please Help PK Purchase Bicycles for the Children- Donations Needed ASAP!

I’m sending this message to Paper Kite supporters with the hope that you could make a donation while I’m in India so I can purchase 12 bicycles for the students who are attending college. I learned that a group of them currently take a taxi when they have money and some of them hitchhike. Their college is in the neighbouring city, 18 kms away. Students typically go to college by bicycle, which takes about one hour.

What motivated me to humbly ask for donations to purchase bicycles is that I learned that the students do not go to college on days they do not have transportation. In the five years I have been coming (remove this word) here, I have realized that difficult decisions around the allocation of donations must be made. The orphanage has found funds to pay for the student’s college tuition; however, there still is a barrier for them to attend college. Being here and seeing the students miss school because they do not have transportation is heartbreaking. The students look forward to attending school – they have told me they know education is the only way to advance in life. When they miss school because they had no way of getting there, they study their text books. They take every opportunity to learn.
Paper Kite allocates the funds they receive to benefit all the children. The items we purchased this year will have both short and long term benefits for all the children.


12 bicycles would cost $900 Canadian dollars. As I mentioned, these bicycles would make a world of difference in their lives, contributing to their health and breaking down the barrier to attend school. If Paper Kite receives these donations in the next four days, I will personally purchase the bicycles and deliver them to the students on the donor(s) behalf. I will record their responses and comments and post them. This is an opportunity for you to directly respond to an immediate need and observe a barrier being broken down by contributing to the higher education of children who typically would not have this opportunity.

Thank you very much,

Tarik Kadri

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A Warm Welcome to Jeanamitabh!—Field Blog #2

The flight from Delhi to Gaya was turbulent but a snack and tea was served nevertheless. At the airport I was greeted by not only Tarik, but also Mummy Jee – the founder of Jeanamitabh and Muna, her driver. I was welcomed with two wreaths of orange flowers around my neck from Tarik and Mummy Jee and she gave me the French welcome of two kisses on my cheeks. I felt welcomed right from the start! Tarik looked very relaxed in his local Indian garment. We drove to our guest house to drop off my luggage – it was a brightly painted 4 story walk up. Muna carried my luggage over head like it was a light paper ball. This made me happy because it was a very heavy bag. This will be our home for the next several days. Tarik warned me that they may be power failures and no hot water – but with me here, all should run smoothly.

Right away we set out for Jeanamitabh, the larger of the two orphanages that Paper Kite supports. There are about 350 children at this location. I expected to be there in 5-10 minutes, but with the street very narrow, shops on both sides, cars, motorcycles, heavily loaded carts, rickshaws, people, animals and a large bus approaching, the wait for the bus to clear the narrow road was 1 hour. Our driver pulled over to the side of the road to make room for the bus. But he was not able to get through because of all the traffic that piled up. Muna got out of the car to direct traffic and plead with the multitudes to make way.

Much excitement and confusion went on in the land of Enlightenment as Bodhgaya has become a very hot touristy spot. At Jeanamitabh, I was greeted with singing and a welcoming ceremony where another wreath of colourful flowers was bestowed on to me and a bindi placed on my forehead by a young girl. Mummy Jee lead me to the children who grabbed me by the hand to bring me in front of all the children while three girls were singing a welcoming song. They had seats of honour at the front for us to sit. While the girls were singing, a young man played the piano. I was overwhelmed and became emotional to the point of tears of joy. I was so touched with this love and smiling faces. This jubilant celebration just for us?? I could hardly fathom what was going on – I had to take a deep breath to collect myself. Boys were coming over to me to ask my name and tell me theirs, to touch or shake my hands. I was totally moved. I will never forget this moment – never.

Tarik, Paper Kite’s president, brought 80 pairs of shoes for the girls from Canada. They were now being distributed. Next year, the boys will get shoes again, like the previous year. I have noticed that almost everyone was

walking around bare foot on cold concrete floors. Shoes are a luxury to the children and they celebrated getting them – like kids seeing candy. At one point, it felt like it was Christmas. We were treated to a welcoming tea and coffee. Then the boys took my hand and showed me around the building and classrooms. Most of the classrooms were not larger than 9×9 and also served as sleeping quarters. The boys pointed out the kitchen where the staff was preparing dinner. Tarik recently purchased coal for the clay stoves and the kitchen staff were cooking up a storm. As we went up each level, the stairs were dangerously dark with no lighting. The kids pulled me along and gave no mind to the darkness. It was difficult for me to maneuver; however, the kids had no problem. On the roof, evening sport activities take place – yoga, massage class, karate, ping pong, and dance. I took the opportunity to catch a breath of fresh air and observed the colourful red sky at dusk. The children pointed out the landmarks and temples, the big Buddha statue, and the tree where Buddha achieved enlightenment. The children were saying the fields are full with green and yellow flowers and I deduced that they are flax seeds.

I ended my day reflecting on this joyful experience over dinner with Tarik before heading back to our guesthouse. At dinner, I was re-envisioning the welcome ceremony with the children. This beautiful welcoming was very unexpected and I have never experienced anything like this before.

– Jeff, Paper Kite volunteer

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Here we go again!—Field Blog #1

I arrived in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India at 3:00pm two days ago with a very happy smile. It’s my 5th time here – four of my trips have been specifically to volunteer for Paper Kite. I’ve become somewhat of an expert in purchasing items here, knowing the prices and where to buy things. As well, people are beginning to recognize me and the work that Paper Kite is doing here. It is customary to not see the children on the day I arrive. The children at Jeanamitabh are preparing a grand entrance for the Paper Kite team and enjoy welcoming guests in a traditional manner.

Soon after I arrived the children commenced their group morning routine, including prays, listening to daily news and singing. One of the older boys talked about equality among women and men and how equality is necessary for their advancement. This year, I brought shoes for all the girls. Most of the children do not wear shoes due to the high cost. This evening, the girls will get to pick the shoes they want. The children are very happy, always smiling and humble with what they have. While I am here, I will write blogs and show pictures of their facilities. Although the children are happy and they have workable facilities, there is much more to be done, especially projects that will guarantee their long-term sustainability.

I am here for 10 days to make purchases that will benefit the children. In Canada, purchasing the items for both Jeanamitabh and Sunway orphanages could simply be done in one day. Here in Bodhgaya, it will take the full 10 days. Nothing is purchased ready-made, like chairs and beds, simply because it’s not available. There is definitely nothing like Ikea or Wal-Mart here! However, since my first trip to Bodhgaya in December 2008, there have been a lot of technological advancements. There are many little restaurants and guesthouses offering international meals and wifi. I woke up this morning at 4am and posted a facebook update on Paper Kite’s fan page: https://www.facebook.com/PaperKiteFoundation?ref=hl

Another new thing I am doing this year is having the children or I answer any questions from our supporters. If the power is not out and wifi isavailable, I will film the answers and upload them to facebook. So please start asking any questions you have :)

Tarik Kadri, President and Founder of Paper Kite

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