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When I Grow Up—2015 Field Blog #3

FullSizeRender (15)The most important aspect and results of our contributions each year are the children. Not having to worry about when they are going to eat again, someone forcing them to beg for money or if they can even go to school. We are ultimately contributing to their happiness.

The children can reach for their dreams – trust me, they have big dreams!! Today they were sharing theirIMG_0754 dreams with me. One said she wanted to be a doctor, the other a painter, a writer, a politician. The children are so grateful for what they have and what they receive.

The children are inquisitive and curious. So hopeful of a future full of love and prosperity. Their education helps form their dreams and has the potential to impact FullSizeRender (17)their families. To be quite honest, many girls will choose to get married when they finish high school (class 10). This is influenced by their cultural belief to build and support a family. However, the opportunity for them to attend post-secondary is there if they choose it. The girls who choose to get married have received formal education and socialization that will assist them in expanding their awareness – passing on basic life skills leading to healthy and hopeful futures.

The older children guide and mentor the younger children. Of course the older children come up to me and sayFullSizeRender (16) “Mahadev, I have completed my board exam and I need a bike and computer to go to college and complete my studies”. Mahadev was a name I was given five years ago in India.

FullSizeRender (14)I’ll leave you with an interesting fact. The children rarely eat fruit due to the cost and availability in this region. When I asked them if I offered and they had to chose between chocolate and fruit, what would they chose, all of them said fruit. They eat the same thing everyday for every meal – rice, lentils and vegetables.

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No ordinary person—2015 Field Blog #2

FullSizeRender (11)It is my third day here and today I am buying the fabric for the children’s uniforms, a stove, shoes, and kitchen supplies. Yesterday I spent the day with the children at Jeanamitabh after they finished classes. They were very appreciative of the items Paper Kite is able to purchases due to the support of our donors. They told me that each year we’ve come and purchased food, they’ve been able to eat more and have a variety of items to choose from. Prior to that the children participated in their Morning Prayer routine. At the end Mummy Jee expressed her appreciation for our continued support and used the opportunity to provide a lesson to the children on volunteerism.

It was such a moving speech! At one point she said that I was no ordinary person and that I made the decision at a young age to help others. Yes, she told them I’m only 35 years old! The appreciation and gratitude was very nice to hear. Immediately I realized how much we have provided for the children over the past five years. I bear witness to the impact our FullSizeRender (10)support has provided. The words ‘no ordinary person’ stuck with me. It was a wonderful compliment. However, I could not accept that completely myself. Five years ago I had an idea to start a foundation that supports children who would not otherwise have received support. I called upon my friends to help with my idea. Soon we grew to include a board of directors, become a registered charity, and expanded across Canada. I translated ‘no ordinary person’ to mean ‘no ordinary group of people’. I would not have the fortunate opportunity to be here without all the Paper Kite volunteers, board of directors, and supporters (past and present). I am only the messenger and deliverer.

FullSizeRender (13)As well, the children we support are no ordinary children. They are deeply moved by our commitment to them. Their words and expressions show me that. Providing them with basic necessities help them immediately so they can focus on having adequate childhoods while reaching for their dreams. What I have to come see is that our presence in supporting them every year equally contributes to their childhood experience. Like the rippling effects of a drop of water, the children’s potential for serving others, giving back, and volunteering, is that much greater!!

FullSizeRender (9)None of us are ordinary people. We all have given what we can to help others. In choosing to support Paper Kite, you have entrusted us to provide items to the children that will shift their focus from acquiring basic necessities (through begging) to ‘giving their dreams flight’. I am here in India showing and telling you that your support is doing just that. Thank you for not being ordinary!!

Tarik Kadri, President and Founder of Paper Kite

Jeanamitabh 2015

Back Again!—2015 Field Blog #1

Yesterday I arrived in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India for the 5th time. This is where Buddha achieved enlightenment. I was greeted at the FullSizeRender (2)airport by mummy Jee, the orphanage founder and manager of Jeanamitabh. She has been living in Bodhgaya for 15 years supporting over three hundred children who would have not otherwise received shelter and education.

Negotiating

Over dinner we discussed the purchases Paper Kite is able to make based on the money raised over the past year and Paper Kite’s Board review of our four programs and approval. The orphanage managers submit their request for items in advance. I am very happy that this year we are able to purchase all the requested items for the two orphanages we support! Items such as food, medicine, school uniforms, school supplies, shoes, socks, stoves, kitchen supplies, and a bed. I directly purchase FullSizeRender (5)these items myself and overlook their delivery to the children. Additionally, I review the items we have purchased in previous years to ensure they continue to support the children. Unique elements of Paper Kite include being 100% volunteer based, directly purchasing local items ourselves, and interacting with the children.

Welcome 2015This morning I received the traditional welcome where all the children greeted me before they started classes for the day. For the
past five years I have been able to see the children grow and progress through school. Seeing the children and spending time with them is always the most exciting part of my trip. They are so curious about the western world and friendly to visitors. 

I didn’t waste anytime today and started purchasing items for the orphanages. As a volunteer, IPaper Kite Welcome
go to the shops, count the items, pay for them and oversee their delivery to the children. This
may sound easy but it takes a lot of time. Some items are not pre-made and we purchase them and must assemble them afterward. For example, we buy the fabric for school uniforms and then have it tailored. For beds and tables we buy the wood and hire a carpenter to assemble them. And you thought ikea items were hard to assemble!! 
Tomorrow I will continue to purchase items. Stay tuned!!

Tarik Kadri, President and Founder of Paper Kite

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A Message from Tarik Kadri, President and Founder

Hello everyone,

I want to thank you all for your support over the past year and ensuring that our field work in India was possible this year. Our donors, volunteers, and supporters helped us reach our fundraising goals, and for that I am grateful. We even succeeded when asking for immediate support for the purchase of the bicycles. I was so humbled by the outpouring of donations—such an event speaks to the trust that our donors have in Paper Kite.

Over the past four years, we have proudly helped over 350 children grow, learn and succeed to ensure they have a prosperous future. I bear witness to the children’s personal grown with the support we have provided each year.

This year has been the best year for me personally. Everything went smoothly and I have connected with all the children. This was quite evident during our departure ceremony. Words cannot describe the appreciation I felt from the children for all that Paper Kite has provided to them over the years.

As we grow and continue to succeed, it’s important that we continue our hard work to ensure that no barriers exist for these children to succeed and live lives of their choosing. I firmly believe that although the children at Jeanamitabh are succeeding and growing, they need to move from their current facilities. It is deteriorating and very unhygienic. There is a plan to move the children to the new facility once it is completed.

As we move forward, I will propose our biggest challenge yet – finding the funds to complete the final wing of their new facility so the children can move.

Rest assured, the children we help each year are happy and are changing the face of poverty within their generation – all thanks to your hard work. I will forever be thankful to you for allowing my dream to help these children become a reality. None of this would have been possible without you!! Thank you.

Sincerely,

Tarik Kadri

President and Founder

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Last full day in Bodhgaya—Field Blog #6

Wonderful warm breakfast in our local café. Find an ATM machine for some currency and walk the usual 2 or so kilometers to Jeanamitabh orphanage for the 10 am morning prayers. I take my two Godsons, Raju – 15 and Sufit – 10, who been excused from class, shopping for pants, shirts and suitcases.  Raju knows the best clothing stall to get a good deal. He will do the negotiations and I am offered a seat so that I can give my opinions on the suitability of what each boy chooses. When it comes time for the bill, each boy checks it over and tries to get the best possible price. Since Tarik had other business to deal with he had told me in advance how much I should be paying, so I negotiated and got the price down to what Tarik would have deemed acceptable.

With parcels in hand and satisfied smiles on our faces we met Tarik at a designated location to go for some lunch. Chicken Fried Rice, Vegetable pasta dish, Chicken-Egg-Drop Soup- everyone was happy with their choices. And nothing was too spicy- the day was going well. After lunch Tarik had appointments to keep and Raju wanted to spend time preparing a departing gift for me. After these activities were complete my two Godsons and I walked back to their home. Darting through traffic of rickshaws, motorbikes, bicycles, pedestrians, cows and other obstacles seemed to be of no consequence to the two boys, and I must admit after a week here I am almost getting used to it as well.

By the time we got back home – school was over – and the boys would have to catch up on what they missed.  They tried on their new ‘duds’ and were admired for their good tastes.  We then hung out on the roof deck chatting to the other boys, mostly discussing their futures.  Some of the aspirations were to be a teacher, accountant, tour guide, and even a doctor. Wow! I was impressed with their hopes and dreams. It is Mummy Jee’s vision, drive and dedication that makes these dreams possible, not to mention the hard work and energy that Tarik devotes to this project, and the whole team at Paper Kite Children’s Foundation.

I feel so privileged to have been able to come on this volunteer adventure.  So much love has been shown to me here. Words can not even come close to expressing what I have seen and experienced.  A farewell party was thrown for Tarik and I, with at least 12 or more boys and girls getting up in front of the microphone to sing a solo – I saw amazing courage here. Even one of the physically challenged boys made an amazing contribution, which resulted in thunderous applause and cheering.

We were bestowed with ceremony and gifts beyond expectation, including a paper dove of peace and my very own spiritual name: “BRAHMDEV” given to me by my older Godson, Raju.

And then came the good bye’s.

(Jeff) BRAHMDEV

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Why choose when you can have both?—Field Blog #5

On this day Tarik and I visited the smaller orphanage; SUNWAY, which houses about 50 students. I was glad to be given a ride as it is about 5 kilometers from town. We met Ravi’s wife who had one of her twin sons along side. I was introduced to the other staff, of about 10, as I toured through the building. It seemed to be relatively new with lots of raw, unfinished areas. Workmen were busy toiling to resolve a drainage problem and to place a culvert pipe under the driveway, so that water could flow away from the property. Tarik had set this work into action upon his arrival, since it had to be completed before our departure. Work progresses very slowly here as it is done by manual labour only. In a shop elsewhere railings were being built for another project.

SUNWAY was in need of a great many items—uniforms that had to be tailor-made, lamps, bowls, socks and undergarments, the list went on and on. A rickshaw was hired to carry all the goods. The driver would wait at each stall and help load the items. A person on each side of the rickshaw was needed to keep the load secure.

While the goods were being delivered to SUNWAY, Tarik and I took a break to recap the activities of the day, before walking back to Jeanamitabh orphanage to hang out with the children. I found out that one could sponsor a child. I immediately became interested and looked around for possibilities. Two boys stood out for me; Raju who had given a speech at the morning ceremony, which had greatly impressed me. Another, younger boy, who kept smiling at me and stayed close by my side. I asked Raju, who speaks very good English to walk with me, so that we could get to know one another. We headed for the Studio playground of an Indian movie star and sat in the sand of a dried up river. The connection between us became closer and closer. He has such an amazing insight into life. He is what some call: ‘an old soul’ – perhaps a Guru from a previous reincarnation. Raju has won speaking competitions and he is very proud of his achievements. He wanted a sponsor who is interested in his life, not some one he had no interaction with.

By the end of our walk I had decided to sponsor Raju; his face lit up with the widest smile imaginable.

I immediately told Mummy Jee of my intentions.  She at first tried to dissuade me since he already has a sponsor and because of Sujit, who had been wooing me, so to speak. I could not decide between the two; so the only other solution was to choose both, which I did. I am so proud of Raju –15 and Sujit-10 as they both plan to share me as their new Godfather.

Jeff, Paper Kite volunteer

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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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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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