Staff and Volunteers
Saroj Khanal is the director of Nepal Peace Home's children's center. He has dedicated his life to serve and love others with his whole heart. Saroj grew up in Sarlahi, Nepal, and has a special relationship with his birthplace. A social worker by profession, he has always felt called to address the great needs of his hometown. What started with the purchase of Sarlahi's first ambulance has turned into a vocation for Saroj. His first big fundraising project began after Saroj saw a woman die during childbirth. On "Banda" (holy day), no vehicles but ambulances are allowed to drive, but the neighboring town of Barathawa did not even have an ambulance. Saroj raised enough money to purchase the village's first ambulance, and he didn't stop there. Saroj Sir is a true visionary. He can inspire entire villages to fundraise, rally, orchestrate a parade campaign for education, teach the illiterate, and more. He has helped create over ten libraries and women's literacy classes in the Sarlahi District, employing local teachers and librarians. At the children's center, he is known as "Uncle." When he is home, all of the children flock to him, especially little Saraswati, whom Saroj Sir has given his last name. With his wife, Jintu, Saroj has two children of his own who attend high school in Kathmandu, but has raised many other Nepali children in need of guidance, shelter, and love.
Namaste! My name is Hanna Morrison and I volunteered at Nepal Peace Home from October 2012 - May 2013. I returned this summer (2014) as well to visit. The 7 months I lived at the center were some of the best months of my entire life thus far. Going into this experience, I had no idea what to expect. I'd never been to this region and knew very little about Nepali culture. As soon as I arrived, I was completely embraced by everyone I met. I quickly learned that nothing excited Nepali people more than hosting, meeting new people, sharing their culture, and feeding you more spicy foods than you can begin to digest. At the Center I created a curriculum to teach Creative Arts - involving drama, storytelling, painting, drawing, singing, dance, and everything in between (whatever I could think of without many materials!). Even though I was teaching them to express themselves in creative ways, they taught me more than I could have ever expected. I have been deeply moved by the way the children care for each other. I saw how they treated each other like real brothers and sisters, despite the loss and hardship they've been through. I saw how positive and optimistic they are, despite the lack of material comforts we are used to in the developed world. I truly feel like these kids are a part of my family. They've earned a very special place in my heart and I plan on making Nepal a frequent travel destination. My experience living in Nepal, being of service to others, has changed my outlook on my own life and constantly reminds me of what really matters.
Namaste! My name is Sarah Manus and I volunteered at Nepal Peace Home for two months in the winter of 2013-2014 with my husband, Tom. I first became interested in Nepal while working at an ESL learning center in Seattle. There, I tutored a Nepali gentleman who had emigrated to America to make a living wage, with hopes to eventually move his family as well. He disclosed heartbreaking stories of corrupt government, civil war, poverty, and the injustice of Nepal's long-standing caste system, while also sharing the love he had for his culture, his family, and the strength and community of the Nepali people. I fell in love with my Nepali friend's country and was determined to find a way to get there. Three years later, I met Hanna (above). She shared her experience at Nepal Peace Home (along with loads of adorable videos and photos), I shared it with Tom, and we excitedly agreed to a two-month stint at the children's center. Although Tom and I had backpacked throughout Southeast Asia two months prior to arriving in Nepal, our assumed cultural savvy was quickly dismantled by the conditions of Sarlahi. The land is barren and trash fills the streets. We often forget that Nepal is one of the twenty poorest countries in the world. But, just as my Nepali friend had promised, Nepal came through for us. Amidst the sadness, the people we met there changed our lives forever; we were shown the truest examples of resilience and unity, not from adults, but from tiny children who had lost close to everything. They greeted us with flower wreaths, shared their hopes and joys, grief and struggles; the girls braided my hair, taught me dance, and yes, gave me lice, just as true sisters do. We continued Hanna's tradition of the Creative Arts class, took the children on outings and to the doctor, and taught an English class. The children and staff at Nepal Peace Home became our family, forever joined by the shared vision of reconciliation and love for a country torn apart. Tom and I can't wait to return to Nepal as soon as possible, and we hope you will join us!
Namaste! My name is Tom McKay and I live in Seattle with my wife, Sarah (pictured above in traditional Nepali garb). Together, Sarah and I followed in Hanna's footsteps and travelled to the remote village of Sarlahi where we would live and work for two months. I can confidently say I have never been more out of my element than I was in those first days at the children's home. I came as an only child, with absolutely no experience with child-care, and a longstanding appreciation of "alone time." For me, this was the very definition of sink-or-swim. From the moment we stepped out of the Sumo (the jeeps used to travel to and from Kathmandu) and into the half-lit courtyard of the center, we became Brother and Sister to almost 40 bright-eyed, curious, excitable children. Never had a conversation with a nine-year-old, you say? Here are 38 kids, ages 3-18, some speak more English than others. Go. It was over-whelming to say the least, but it would go on to be the most challenging, most rewarding experience of my life thus far. The children of Nepal taught me true sorrow, struggle, joy, and - most importantly - hope. They also taught me how to eat raw sugar-cane without breaking any teeth, play soccer barefoot, and that I suck at badminton. The little window of life that I was able to be part of on a daily basis was a continual education on the human spirit. It was inspiration to continue to help these kids pursue their dreams, and I hope it's an inspiration to others as well, so that they can receive the education and opportunity every person deserves.