My name is Joshua Bingham, a 23 year old resident of Washington State and graduate of Evergreen State College. Up until the age of 21, I was certain that I was destined to become an actor; it was all I had dreamed of since the age of 15. This feeling was heightened when I participated in a month long acting workshop in Italy where young directors and actors had the chance to, and legal ability to run through the streets of Florence shooting movies until the sun came up. I was certain this was to be my future. That sentiment all changed when I decided to volunteer in an orphanage for 5 months in Nepal. The $4,000 price tag, including airfare, was raised through doing odd jobs at $15/hour for local residents within my community. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, and about to embark on my first ever oversees volunteer experience, I was ready to change the world. Nepal needed help, and here Joshua Bingham was coming to the rescue.
You would never imagine volunteering that the party most affected and changed is you.
My placement was at The Nestling Home located in Pokhara, an 8 hour bus ride north of Kathmandu, the home of 8 children + 1 house mother + her two children. The children and I’s ice breaking activities were to take walks around the area, traversing steep hills , exploring the forests, climbing trees, and making Macgyver-esque tools out of sticks and leaves found along the way. We would also spend the days working on homework, washing the never ending amount of dirty clothes, trips to the local supermarket for ice cream, or nights spent in candlelight due to the power being out, telling stories and singing traditional village songs. These were some of the best days of my life and wouldn’t trade them for anything.
As the children and I developed a stronger bond, I also began to learn about their painful past and the emotional, sometimes physical scars they carry from years earlier. Some were physical abused by a father who drank too much, abandoned in a hotel room till days later when they were found, forced to work in a restaurant at the age of 5, some dealing with the pain of the murder of their father by Maoist forces and mother unable to financially support them. I learned about their fears of some of them being from a lower caste and the social stigmas that come with that, the fear that they might not get good jobs or ever make it to where they want to be in life, simply because of the caste they were born into. The girls talked about arranged marriages and the fear that they might not be able to grow up and marry who they want, but instead be forced into marriage. They looked at the house mother as an example, who had been forced to marry at age 17, and by her own admission, forced to give birth to two children. Learning about all of their individual stories certainly made me appreciate the smiles and laughs they had for me, which masked a painful past.
A particular day I will not soon forget is the day we went for our weekly visit to Fewa Lake Park where the children would attempt to catch fish in the stream, or play on the swing set. Upon arriving, I saw the two boys I had seen last time we visited, and the time before that. Their skin blackened and charred from prolonged exposure to the deadly sun and heat, feet dirty and mangled from the lack of shoes, eyes yellowed and showing signs of Jaundice. With the help of my local Nepali friend, I was able to ask them why they were always there, and about their stories.
Brothers, and with parents who were both crippled from a massive motorcycle incident, they were both forced to survive on their own. One of the brothers unwrapped a piece of paper from his pocket, the piece of paper contained two pictures of an older man and woman, presumably their mother and father, a government seal, and some writing. They explained they were given this piece of paper to aid their begging efforts, that locals would be certain that they were truly in need and to give them that extra piece of bread or rice. They also called the Fewa Lake Park their home. That day, the boys received a new pair of shoes, a haircut, a meal and the name and number of someone who could help them. It was all I could give at the moment to the two boys.
I left Nepal promising myself I would be back with greater means to help children like the Few Lake Park boys.
Nana’s House was born from this promise I made, a nonprofit organization looking to help at-risk and underprivileged children in Nepal. Named after my grandmother, and the warmth, safety and immense amount of love I feel each and every time I visit her house, and continue to this day.
Where we are at now: We have found some potential land for the creation of a Children’s Home in the Bhalam area of Pokhara. We have partnered with a local organization called Hope Nepal which gives us the legal ability to carry out this project. We hope to buy this land, along with the creation of a guest house and Children’s House, with the guest house supporting the latter of the two.
We are very grateful for your support, and would like you to know that every dollar donated goes to this project. A simple “share”, “like” or comment certainly goes a long way in showing your support. We are always looking to network with people who have the same goals or aspirations similar to ours.
Nana’s House is my love letter to the country that has made me the better human being that I am today. I hope to one day return the favor to the country that has changed my life for the better.
Director of Nana’s House
A Children’s Home should never be the first option for children, should they have remaining family as they can give love and support in ways that a Children’s Home cannot. Nana’s House initial first step is to get these children off the street, get them fed, give them security, get them checked out medically. For the interim, make sure they are taken care of. If there is any way for a healthy re-integration back to a loving family, Nana’s House will make any and all efforts to make this possible. It is never a “win” in anyone’s book when a child is placed in a Children’s Home, but if we are able to take a child off the street, get them fed, clothed and taken care of medically, that’s a win in our book.