In December, 2012 I fulfilled a 30 year dream of visiting Nepal. I had not been back to Asia since I lived in Sri Lanka in 1983. I was thrilled to also be able to fulfill a shorter-term dream – to visit Ama Ghar Children’s Home. I met Shrawan Nepali in San Francisco three years earlier when my friend Kushal Basnyat brought him to see my play about Sri Lanka, and then again when I volunteered one day at Curry without Worry. He told me about Ama Ghar and invited me to visit. I was very inspired by what he told me, and dearly wanted to visit, but at that time, I had no idea when I would be able to. What wonderful synchronicity that my invitation to work with adolescent girls in Nepal (teaching drama therapy, girls’empowerment and relaxation/mindfulness skills through RUWON Nepal and That Takes Ovaries) coincided with Shrawan being there.
Shrawan picked me up at the family’s house where I was staying in Kathmandu and we traveled out to Ama Ghar together. I was greeted there with such warmth and friendliness and loved being called “Auntie” immediately by the children. I was introduced to Pratima, who toured me through the beautiful new building and introduced me to the other children. Pratima told me of her dream of becoming a therapist and working with children with similar upbringings to hers. After spending some time with her, I’m sure she will be an excellent therapist if she decides to do that! When I asked Pratima how she liked living at Ama Ghar, she said she couldn’t imagine a better place to grow up — “sure, we argue and disagree, but I always have so many brothers and sisters around to play and talk with and I’m surrounded by all these aunties and uncles!”
Before dinner I was recruited to play a board game with the four youngest children, and had a blast doing so. After a delicious dinner, I met with a group of older children, who were getting ready for exams. I guided them through a relaxation and visualization meditation that I developed to help youth in the U.S. with testing anxiety succeed in passing their high school exams, and I left a copy of my “Deep Relaxation” CD at Ama Ghar so they could keep practicing the relaxation.
Next, I led them through a fun teambuilding icebreaker exercise, which they said they would teach to the younger children. They then asked me to act out a piece from my Sri Lanka play (which they knew I had performed for high school students in Kathmandu). And then, they asked me to sing them a song! I said I would only sing if they would sing with me, so I taught them “Make new friends (but keep the old)” and we sang it as a round. I was super impressed by their English language skills. To top it all off, we were blessed with a clear night sky AND a lunar eclipse. All in all, a dream fulfilled far beyond my expectations – thank you Ama Ghar family for such a wonderful experience!