Category Archives: protecting children

Visit with the children 

24th February


This morning we began our day by having another lovely (large) breakfast at the Penguin Boutique Hotel. We said goodbye to the very kind staff and made our way to our new hotel, Kantipur Temple House. What a beautifully designed hotel it is! It feels like we are in another world, and as I write this, I am sitting out in the courtyard surrounded by beautiful wooden carvings and a luscious garden. I could stay here for a long time, but tomorrow, we head off to Pokhara, and we will be back here in four days time. 

After we settled into our new room, we went for a wander around Thamel, and of course, did some more shopping. We were stopped by a lovely man who asked if we were from Australia, and usually, I would have said yes briefly then walked on, however for some reason I stopped to have a chat. He introduced himself as “Um” (pronounced Om), and that just made me feel as though it was even more significant a meeting. We ended up going inside to sit down and talk more inside his shop, and had a lengthy discussion about life, spirituality, and what it means to be on this path we call life. He was not at all surprised to find out the work that I do, as he said he felt the energy from my heart as we were walking down the street, and that’s why he felt drawn to talk to me. Once again, I had met someone who held the same values as my own, and we could have talked for hours, and he taught me a Nepali term that sums up my feelings: “Shanti Shanti”, which means ‘peace peace’. We exchanged Facebook details and off we went up the street to the Garden of Dreams.  

The Garden of Dreams is situated on a very busy intersection in Thamel, and you wouldn’t imagine there being such a beautiful, peaceful place just inside the walls that surrounded it. Upon entering, I felt immediately relaxed, and the luscious gardens and sights of people laying on the grass reading books, or spending time with loved ones, was very welcoming.  

 We were then met by Rabi, who is the beautiful man who runs the Big Umbrella House in Kathmandu. He takes in children who are on the street (for various reasons- domestic violence, alcoholic parents etc) and he took us to the house where they’re living. The children were just arriving home from school, and they were so excited to meet us; one little boy grabbing my hand to take me on a tour of the house. After we had a look around, all of the children sat down to do their homework. It warmed my heart to see just how eager the children were to do their homework; some were drawing, some writing, and some reading. Their English was extremely good and we told them so (which of course, they were very proud of)!  

 These children are just so appreciative of small things; for example, I took out a scrapbook and started to draw, and they were all so excited to receive one sheet of paper each to draw on. “Look, Ma’m”, they were saying over and over again. It was lovely, and no matter how many times we said it was ok to call us by our first names, they still used the term ‘Ma’m’.

In a group of thirteen boys, there is also one girl staying there, and what a fiery, excitable little lady she was! She had found a bunch of rubber bands tied together and was bouncing the rubber bands on a book up and down, so I grabbed a book as well and asked her to throw it to me. We ended up playing makeshift ‘tennis’ with two books and a bunch of rubber bands for ages. One of the older boys wanted a turn and so we took it in turns to see how many times we could bounce the ‘ball’ on the book before dropping it. Such simple games, but at the same time, so very beneficial, and it reminded me of working in childcare again.  

 Just before we were due to go home, we gave the children a notebook each, some new pencils and pens, some drawing paper, and other items that Mum had brought over for them. There was also a book on Australia and Victoria, and they were fascinated by the different things they were seeing in these books. It was especially amusing to hear them try to pronounce ‘Uluru’. I wrote a little message in a couple of the children’s books, and it made me so happy to see them copying out and reading the words that I had written amongst one another. I do hope that these words stay with them for a long time. 

I wrote: “Always be yourself” 

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Something needs to change 

Ever since I heard the news of yet another precious child being found dead, I can’t seem to get her off my mind; another innocent young soul’s life taken away too soon at the hands of another. Why is this happening so often, and why are these children not being protected from such cruelty?

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I wrote a status just the other day, venting about what I’d seen on a news report about this child’s death. When I read the report of what had happened with this child, it saddened me and made me angry, as I’m sure it made many people feel. But as I scrolled down and read some of the comments people had made, I became frustrated at the ignorance of some of the words I was reading. People coming to their own conclusions about what had happened, making disgusting comments about her parents, and all this was before anyone had any idea who was responsible.

Of course, now it has been found that the stepfather was responsible for her death, however, it doesn’t change the fact that these people were being so careless with their words. The first people that I thought of when reading these comments were this little angel’s family. Nowadays nearly everyone has Facebook, including children. I couldn’t help but think of those poor family members (aunties, grandparents, her sisters etc)  who likely saw everything that was posted. I wish people would consider the feelings of those that love these lost children before commenting so irresponsibly. This is not the first time it has happened either- every single time a child has lost their life, people are very quick to jump on social media and accuse people or put their two cents in, long before any details have been confirmed.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that so many people are very much for the death penalty in these instances. While I appreciate that society is angry about these children losing their lives, I wholeheartedly disagree with these people who say “bring back the death penalty”, and simply because I feel that being put to death would be the easy way out. These people need to be held accountable for their actions and be forced to spend the rest of their lives in prison, living with what they’ve done. This is just my opinion, however. Obviously, locking them away wouldn’t make the pain any more bearable, and it won’t bring back the child the families have lost, but neither would the death penalty.

Far too often nowadays, we are seeing innocent children being abused and worse still, murdered, and it seems to be happening more and more lately. It’s heartbreaking and leaves most of us confused as to how someone could possibly harm a child. Particularly for those of us who are parents ourselves, it really does hit a nerve and personally, makes me sick to the stomach. Any crime against a child is just incomprehensible and gut wrenching, to say the least.

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I can’t help but wonder however whether this is a sign to awaken humanity to what the real underlying problem may be. In my opinion, not enough is being done about these children that are in environments that are potentially life threatening; not to mention the emotional, physical and mental damage that so many children are at risk of. While I appreciate that child protection do investigate most reports (I have experience dealing with them, both professionally through my work in early childhood education, and personally), unfortunately regulations and funding limit what can be done in these situations.

The government needs to step it up and provide more support for those working in the field to allow them to do their jobs properly, which is what they’re there for: protecting children from harm. The other side of this is from the families’ perspective. Where is the support and intervention if necessary; not only for the children, but for the parents/extended family? Why do these situations continue to go unnoticed until something tragic happens?

Reports to child protection need to be taken seriously and action taken if a child is at risk of harm- whether it be physical, emotional, sexual or neglect. If people in their living environment have a history of domestic violence or drug use, the family should be monitored closely, and in particular, are current drug users, something more needs to be done.

In addition to this, there needs to be way more direct support for these families; in rehabilitation, in parenting and respite, and in how to deal with challenges such as drug use, violence, and mental health issues. It’s not good enough to just have ‘support services available’ for these families. In most instances, they aren’t going to go out of their way to reach out and get help, because of their state of mind and mental health. Where children are involved, intervention is required, and other family members need assistance too, in order to properly monitor and support them. If our children are going to be kept safe and these senseless deaths of children stopped, this is my ‘two cents’ on what needs to happen.

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