One boy’s journey


The photos represent but 15 days in the life of a young man who came to Nepal Orphans Home in late 2005. Hikmat had been taken from his village by the Maoists and sent to a training camp to become a child soldier. He and a few others escaped one night and made their way back to their village. His village, along with the town where his uncle lived, were facing many problems with the Maoists; each family was required to give one child to become a member of the “People’s Army” and his uncle, who was the principal, lost his job when the Maoists closed the government school.  Hikmat’s uncles gathered all their children and one night left for Kathmandu looking for a safe haven. When Hikmat arrived, the eldest child with four cousins in tow, I was struck by his mildness and sensitivities. The story of his conscription and escape was incongruous with the frail boy before me with very earnest eyes and a nervous hopeful smile.

In each photo you will see that he is smiling; he does so because he loves so much and he wants those around him to always feel his own hope, his friendship and his appreciation for life. Hikmat has over the years allowed his quiet hope to become confidence, as he became certain early on that he had a home and a family, and nothing would interfere again with his dreams. As Hikmat shed his shell he began entertaining us with song, humorous dance, and polished performances in plays he had co-authored.

The odds were long against Hikmat ever achieving his intellectual potential, with his village education inconsistent and then interrupted at such a young age. But Hikmat persevered and set a course that determined he would rise above any obstacles in his path and he has. Hikmat is one of three of our children to enter class ten last year and only one of two to sit for the difficult School Level Certificate Exam. Hikmat passed the exam in the first division, an admirable accomplishment in an exam that had a national passing rate this year of 54%.

Just as for all of our children, we would have insured that Hikmat attend the local college of his choice; however, thanks to the wonderful initiative of his friend Alecia Westphalen posting a cause on FaceBook to help raise funds for Hikmat, his first year of college has been financially nearly met.  Alecia’s posting was something she did on her own, born from her growing affection for Hikmat over the years, and NOH appreciates it very much.

On Wednesday, July 27th, all the children and staff of Nepal Orphans Home rose while Dhapasi was still deep asleep, slipped on rain ponchos and stepped out into the drumming rain, forming a 130 member procession to the Boys’ House gate in order to walk Hikmat to college for his first day. College begins at 6:00 here and Hikmat’s college is a 30 minute walk for a robust teen.

The staff members each offered Hikmat a tika and a few words of encouragement; some gave praise for his hard work, others letting him know that wherever he goes, we travel with him always, this morning literally.

Due to the consumption of time thus spent, and our little Bumikha’s difficulty in achieving distance greater than the Skylark school, it was decided that the boys alone, along with Pratap, his wife Devika, Vinod and Alecia would walk him all the way to school. We began together and at crossroads to individual homes bid farewell to the big brother, little brother, and son we all love.

At the arrival to the gates of Southwestern College, the assembled mass brought the attention of the security guards and faculty alike who came to see what should muster such a crowd. On Government College campuses crowds always mean protests which are very common, so certainly the administration present on this first day feared the worst. But those fears were quickly dismissed when they saw the quiet smiling family before them. They asked with curious good nature, “What is this all about?” and Hikmat spoke up and said, “Sir, these are my brothers who have walked me to school today.”

And with that and firm handshakes from all, Hikmat entered the gates alone and began his slow walk towards adulthood.

*Written by Papa (Michael Hess, Founder of Nepal Orphans Home)

About the JOY Coach

Minling Chuang

Minling is the founder of {the JOY depot} and is on a mission to help new entrepreneurs start their dream business. She spent many years working on branding strategies for top brands like Lean Cuisine & Nestle Toll House and launching multimillion dollar products. Now Minling's passion is to help people create profitable businesses they love! She is also a Kundalini Yoga teacher in Venice, CA. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. And if you want to start your own business, book a clarity session with Minling.

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