Giving or receiving hope is a journey that starts with a decision. That decision – whether it is to make the most of a given opportunity or, to give up an opportunity for the greater good – can often make a world of difference.
Ramesh Pandey, a full-time house parent and Head of Dean for Asian Aid partners 3 Angels International Mission School (3AIMS), has given up a good opportunity to dedicate his time and livelihood in service to disadvantaged Nepali children.
Raised in far West Nepal, Ramesh knew from a young age that he wanted to work in education. After completing his initial studies, Ramesh began working at a small school in a neighbouring village. It was there that he met Basanti, a beautiful and bright young woman who later became his wife. While working at the school from 10am-3pm, Ramesh would travel 2.5 hours each day to attend evening classes at a government college to further his studies.
Soon after his 24th birthday, a close friend who had been serving in the US Army in Afghanistan approached Ramesh with a potential job offer, which he accepted. The role would involve working under an open contract in supply distribution for the US Army base. Ramesh’s wife, Basanti, was against the job from the beginning. “The area was constantly in a state of warfare. We would hear news of explosions, violence, and people being killed. None of my family wanted me to go,” says Ramesh.
But Ramesh accepted the posting, and began working for the US army in Afghanistan on a wage of nearly $7,000USD a month. He remembers a strong sense of camaraderie in the army. “Troops and army personnel tended to cooperate with each other. There were 37-38 different nationalities of people in the area I was stationed.”
After six years in the army Ramesh received a new job offer. 3 Angels Nepal had successfully locked in approval for the construction of the 3AIMS mission school, and were faced with the issue of finding quality staff for such a young establishment. Pastor Rajendra Gautam, director of 3 Angels Nepal, offered Ramesh a position at the school. “I knew of the mission of 3 Angels Nepal, and had heard the work was beginning to expand. I decided I wanted to serve a higher purpose, rather than simply the prospect of money,” says Ramesh when talking about the role he accepted with 3AN, while forgetting to mention the humble income of $200AUD a month.
Ramesh and Basanti are proud and committed house parents of 14 children – including two boys of their own. And when Ramesh gave up an opportunity to become financially prosperous, Bindu, one of Ramesh and Basanti’s twelve ‘daughters’, gained an opportunity to find hope and happiness.
Bindu’s journey started at a remote village in theTanahu district. After losing both her parents as a toddler, Bindu was forced to shelter in a run-down shed on the outskirts of a nearby village and eat what little a generous Hindu priest could get for her. It was at this distressing time in her young life that the local government was alerted of Bindu’s situation, and brought her in contact with Ramesh, Basanti and the larger 3AN family.
“Bindu is forever dancing,” says Ramesh. “And when there is activity in the kitchen, you will find Bindu, ready to help cook.” Bindu’s favourite animal? A rabbit! “It is this gentle spirit that makes us love having her as part of our family,” says Ramesh.
Two journeys – one sacrificial and the other inspirational – interconnect to give and receive hope. There are no opportunities lost here. Just hope gained.
Currently there are twelve Children’s Homes in Nepal which provide orphaned and disadvantaged children with a secure family-focused environment in which to develop academically, socially, and spiritually. The Homes help break the cycle of poverty by equipping sponsored children with valuable life skills. Asian Aid Australia and 3 Angels Nepal are humbled by the responsibility to help give hope and a promising future to children like Bindu. But we need your support. The greatest need for the Children’s Homes currently is further training for the caretakers and house parents – training in discipline, nutrition and advanced first aid.