No matter where in the world you are reading this, your life has, in some way, been impacted by Covid19. The same is true for us here in Nepal.
Unfortunately, right now in Nepal, there is only one center where people can be tested for COVID19, so while there is “only one confirmed case” in Nepal, it has likely already spread rapidly throughout the country.
With this in mind, on March 20, 2020 Happy Kids Center, for the first time since our founding in April 2015, closed our physical doors. This is only a temporary action but given the current circumstances, we are uncertain of when we will be able to reopen normally.
However, we are determined to continue to support our Happy Kids and their families amidst this very, very scary time. Today, we hosted a parent meeting where we provided plans for our new procedures, advise on how best to social distance and provided information on the signs and symptoms of Covid19.
Here’s how we will continue to support our community:
Happy Kids Center provides our Happy Kids with much of their nutrition through daily school lunch programs, after school snacks, and weekly community meals. Parents rely on Happy Kids Center to provide these meals as without the income that their children traditionally brought in through child labor, they struggle to make ends meet and are often unable to put food on the table. For this reason, providing ample food to our community is our utmost priority.
Initialy we had planned to have our team make and distribute food to the families most in need, but after a lock down was instated in the Kathmandu Valley in early April, it became evident this plan would no longer work. The Nepali Government has come down hard and the Kathmandu Valley has been militarized by the Army and local police forces to ensure no one leaves their homes. In response, our team worked with local vendors to purchase bulk stocks of nonperishable goods for all of the families in our community including rice, root vegetables, lentils, beans, cooking oil, soya and more. We will continue to distribute food on a bi-weekly basis to ensure no one goes hungry.
Fortunately, we have a partnership with Siddhi Memorial Women and Children’s Hospital in Bhaktapur. However, as is the case around the world, hospitals are understaffed and overworked and at this time we cannot expect the special treatment we typically receive from Siddhi Memorial.
When we launched this partnership we felt that we no longer needed to fundraise for our health program to the same degree we had in the past. However, now more than ever, we need to bolster our health fund. We are anticipating that we may need to support many hospitalized children and parents. With the severe pollution in the city and many families living in homes infested with mold, respiratory issues are extremely common, putting our community at even greater risk.
Our local team at Happy Kids Center is the heart and soul of the organization. Yesterday, I spoke with Chadani Dyola (HKC In-Country Manager) on the phone and asked her if she and her family would be able to continue to cook meals and lead the community in this time of turmoil. Unsurprisingly, she and her family were way ahead of me and had already begun preparing for the worst and developing plans for how they could continue to support our Happy Kids.
As of now Chadani and her family have moved all of HKC’s operations into their own home. They will be feeding the entire community from their own doors; braving the dangers of shopping in public to ensure everyone has enough to eat. This is representative of our team’s dedication to our mission and the love they have for our Happy Kids.
All of our paid employees are local to the community that we serve. They come from the same backgrounds as our Happy Kids and HKC is their primary source of income. It is of the utmost importance to us that we are able to continue to support our team through these scary times.
While for companies around the United States this goal is becoming less and less tenable, salaries in Nepal are low as is the cost of living. We pay less than $500 in salaries out to our employees across all of our programs each month. A donation of any size can help us continue to support those who are constantly supporting their entire community.