“It is better to travel well than to arrive.”
During my stay at Hopeful Home I befriended the oldest boy, a seventeen year old who will be leaving the home after his exams are finished in a month. His story could be told as a success story, a young boy from a poor village who is now on his way to becoming a doctor. But there is another point of view, his point of view, which doesn’t often get taken into account.
I asked him if he could go back in time and make the decision for his five year old self, to stay in his village or to be sent here to Kathmandu, what would he choose? He said he would have stayed in his village. Even if it meant not having enough to eat or not receiving a proper education, he says he would have had family and care, something he thinks is more important than where he ends up at school. Coming from one of the top students in Kathmandu, a boy who has dedicated the last twelve years of his life solely to school, he does realize the huge benefits of the education he has received, benefits which will last him a lifetime. But there are drawbacks. Though Hopeful Home is better than many organizations, it isn’t perfect either. The children don’t really get to go out, in fact, he told me that the girls aren’t even allowed to leave except for to and from school. They are being fed, clothed, and given an education but there is one thing that is lacking, a deal breaker he says. Care.
He described how hard it was for him as a young child living here because no one paid attention to him. He was only five but was expected to do his own laundry and dishes, and worst of all, felt neglected. As there is only one adult really living there, there just isn’t enough attention spent with each child, especially the younger ones who need it most.
Most of the children seem quite content. They run, laugh, and fight like children everywhere. Most of them are not yet old enough to look in retrospect as this mature seventeen year old has done, but I would be interested to hear, in another ten years once this group has grown up and moved on, which path they would have chosen for their younger selves.