My family and I have supported Ama Foundation for years, and while I never doubted the merits of Ama Ghar as a charity, I have often been skeptical about supporting overseas programs due to the frequency of fraudulent and corrupt charities in the poorest regions of the world. I certainly trusted those who knew first-hand about Ama Ghar, but I still felt the need to see it for myself.
This last year I canceled the usual family vacation and decided that it was time, along with my wife and three sons (Ages 10, 8 and 5), to jump into the world and visit Ama Ghar. I have always wanted to visit Nepal, to stand under the tallest mountains in the world, to visit Pashupatinath temple along the Bagmati river, to trek into the Himalayan mountains and to visit the jungles of Chitwan. While I was excited for all these things, I was also aware of the devastating impact the 2015 earthquake had on the region, so I went with an open mind.
I arrived expecting the hullabaloo of Kathmandu, but what I saw was more than simply a commotion. While it’s been over three years since the big earthquake, the evidence of it is still everywhere and very few people within the country have had a chance to rebuild, with most people still living in makeshift housing. While I was expecting a desperately poor country, I didn’t realize it was as bad as it is.
Nepal is a beautiful country, but it did take me a better part of a week before I was able to see it that way. While my family and I had a blast doing all the things on our bucket list, I don’t think any of us anticipated the experience we would have when we arrived at Ama Ghar.
Since visiting Ama Ghar was our primary purpose for visiting Nepal, we decided to spend nine days near the home. They were the most rewarding days of our trip. When we first hiked over the ridge we realized that Ama Ghar is not simply a children’s home; it stands out like a beacon in the community. As we hiked down through the houses that have sprung up in the region since the earthquake, you cross the bridge and immediately feel the change in atmosphere. The compound is very well maintained and there is a clear sense of order that is lacking in the surrounding areas. It was built to be as self-sufficient as possible using modern renewable technology and built to withstand the tests of time. Considering the Earthquake had little to no effect on the building, I would say they succeeded. We were greeted by Bonnie and the staff at the home and warmly welcomed by the children. So began our integration into the daily lives of the people that make this place special.
Our kids fit right in with the children at the home as if they lived there and after the initial excitement of “new visitors” wore off, we got the opportunity to observe the children in their daily lives and get to know them on a personal level. Once you have had a chance to learn about them individually, what you’ll discover will change how you look at the world. You’ll quickly realize that the staff are not simply employees. They are family to these kids and the children in turn function as one large family, helping to care for each other. The amount of support and compassion the children receive from the staff is immense. This is not something just anyone could do and I have a deep respect for the work that I witnessed while there.
After seeing and hearing how life is for those outside the home, we understood that many of these children have been through some of the worst humanity has to offer. However, you would never know it to look at them. All I could see were talented artists, musicians, athletes, intelligent minds. Kids wanting nothing more than a chance to pursue a dream. A chance that Ama Ghar not only provides, but nourishes. We went in with the mind of “What can we bring to these Children?”, but I feel like we got more from them. I want to thank all of you at Ama Ghar for everything you’ve given to us. I’ve realized that while we may offer support to your cause, we are simply footnotes in the incredible work you all have done. I have seen the lives you are saving and I will happily contribute to your cause for many years to come.
Thank you and best of wishes,