Mary Averill’s Ama Ghar Story

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Another entry in our series #MyAmaGharStory – this time from long-time Ama Ghar supporter and brand new Ama Foundation board member Mary Averill – enjoy!

Mary and her daughters join a group of Ama Ghar girls for an outing in 2008.

“Ama Ghar has made an important contribution to my life and the lives of my children and their father. I tell our Ama Ghar story over and over because it was such an important turning point in our lives. The long-lasting impact of our first and subsequent visits will forever hold a special place in our hearts.

In 2008, my girls were 12 and 14 years old, the beginning of challenging parenting years. My eldest, now an active political junkie fighting the good fight, was sharpening her skills at home. One day, like many, she arrived home from school asking for an IPod touch. ‘Everyone had one and I was a mean parent for denying her’ I was told. Tensions had been building. In fact, since she was 2, life was a constant litany of negotiation. Adolescence was shaping up in fine form. The IPod touch discussion put me over the top. I was silent but seething at her entitled attitude. After tucking them into bed that night I began to scheme.

As a world traveller who had seen and experienced how others lived without IPod touches. I decided it was time for my children to see how other children in other cultures lived. Discouraged by websites offering 2 week eco-adventures for families with children over the age of 16 (liability is an issue I guess) for the price of one’s life savings and knowing that I could not wait another 7 years I began to think creatively. After a short scan through my contacts I came across the name of a young woman who had been a babysitter and was now doing some work in Kathmandu. I emailed her asking if she had been in contact with any orphanages or children’s home that she could vouch for and that she thought I could contact for a visit with my girls. A day or two later the response came…’yes, I was just visiting this amazing children’s home in Godavari. I was just tagging along with one of the board members but I was so impressed with the place. Bonnie Ellison, the director is an amazing woman. She has a vision and you should email her and ask her if you could bring the girls for a visit’.

Mary’s daughters leading an uphill charge while hiking with Ama Ghar kids.

An email went off to Bonnie with a plea about how I needed to get my girls out of here (the spoiled culture of “me”), expose to them to some more real world experiences that would widen their view of life outside of the US. Not even a day later Bonnie replied ‘I commend you for wanting to educate your daughters in this manner. This is a wonderful life lesson. I have 37 wonderfully loving and creative children that can certainly add to their experience. It is a win, win situation for all of the children.’ And that is how it all began.

One daughter refused to go, the eldest was eager but sensed that this was one of mom’s crazy ideas. We went, tears and all.

Mary helping with Christmas cookie decorating in 2008.

There is so much to say about our 2008 visit and it brings tears to my eyes to recount that first visit to Ama Ghar. The care and love, structure, attention to culture and family that Bonnie had created for the Ama Ghar family was solid and beautiful. The gift of that experience for my girls has had a profound and lasting impact on their lives, has woven threads into their lives that have influenced them on their journey in ways that are detectable, some more subtle.

Selfies with Manju 2008!

When we departed in January 2009, after several weeks visiting, I knew that I would be back. My heart was touched in a way that is hard to describe. For me the emotion is a confluence of connection, hope, possibilities across the arc of humanity as well as the gratitude that Ama Ghar was open to sharing this with my family.

Helping with decorations for the Christmas Tree.

Kate and Claire are now fine adults making their way in life. They are strong women with kind hearts and thoughtful minds. I have been back to Ama Ghar four times now and am planning another trip for Fall of 2018.” – Mary Averill


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