The Center : Day to Day at HKC
If you want to fully understand the basis for any of our programs, you have to start at the very beginning, with the story of the founding of The Happy Kids Center.
In April 2015 a massive earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 shook the very foundations of the city of Bhaktapur. At that time, a flood of NGOs and volunteers rushed to provide aid to this city, and to cities and rural villages all over Nepal. Among them came Joanna Contat, Kevin Mumford, and Chris Love.
Like so many others they spent much time clearing rubble and distributing food and blankets. However, they recognized a different kind of need after meeting a group street children from the slums of Bhelukel.
These children were operating as usual, begging tourists for rice, collecting plastic in the street. Its not as though they were unfazed by the earthquake, but they had been desperately in need of aid long before the earth cracked beneath them.
They first became involved after donating rice to a young girl who had recently lost her father, but abruptly felt backlasch as the rest of the children began harassing them, “Why did you give rice to Laxmi and not to me?”
At this point they had two essential realizations:
- They could not give everyone rice, and even if they could do it once, it certainly wasn’t a sustainable way to help this community.
- The complaints they were hearing from the children were rooted more deeply than simple jealousy over to whom they gave rice. These were children desperately working to ensure their family’s survival in a time of utter chaos. They had the weight of the world on their shoulders.
So they stopped giving rice; they stopped giving chocolate and biscuits; They stopped giving spare rupees. Instead they gave these children something far more meaningful, and sustainable. They gave these children the gift of a childhood.
They built what they described as a “Peter Pan Land,” where “a child’s imagination is endless!” Happy Kid’s Center opened its doors later that year, in October 2015.
Now, years later, Happy Kids Center is still operating. It has since been rebuilt and much about the physical space has changed, but the magic feeling and playful energy has, and always will remain the same!
- Happy Kids Center is open to any child from any caste or community who wants to come and play.
- Our Happy Kids range in age from 3-16 years old
- The children who frequent Happy Kids Center most often live in Bhelukel, Bhaktapur
- Majority of our Happy Kids are a part of the Dyola community and children of migrants from the border of Northern India
- Many of the children who come to HKC spend their days working in the street.
- Even the children who go to school have far more responsibility than children in Western cultures, being responsible for the care of their younger siblings
- Happy Kids Center is the place where their only responsibility is to just be kids.
- Some days there are focused activities, but most days we facilitate creative free play
- At the center we have a library, art materials, puzzles, educational games, physical games, music and learning based games, building blocks and legos, and much more.
- More than 90% of HKC’s materials have been donated by past volunteers and members of the community.
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