The generosity of one Gold Coast man and his family is changing the lives of many more poor, disadvantaged, or at-risk children in Nepal.
It was 1986, and twenty-two year-old Peter Sandy had only just finished university and started full-time work when he decided he already wanted to share what he had. A nuclear medicine technologist, he donated any money he earned on Sabbath shifts to Asian Aid, and signed up to sponsor a child from Nepal.
His decision came partly from a sense of responsibility for “the least of these”, partly from his interest in Nepal, and partly from his family’s history with Asian Aid. As he was growing up, Peter’s family had sponsored several children from Vietnam, and, as a child himself, he had worked on weekends to help earn the sponsorship money.
When he received the profile of eight-year-old orphan Rajendra Gautam, he had no idea how many lives that little boy would grow up to change.
Peter, Fiona, and their two children Josh, 17, and Nicole, 14, were welcomed into Rajendra’s own family. “I went away from Australia with a wife, a son and a daughter, and I came back with three daughters-in-law, a granddaughter, two sons-in-law and a grandfather, you know?”
Now in his thirties and with a doctorate in theology, a masters in sociology, and a degree in business administration, Rajendra is the director of his own aid organisation, 3 Angels Nepal (3AN). 3AN runs three children’s homes, an anti-trafficking program, a Safe Haven for girls at risk, a brand new school, and a radio program to share health and spiritual messages – and they’re just getting started.
To deepen the family ties, Rajendra baptised Nicole in the local river with a group of girls from the Safe Haven. Nicole plans to keep her membership with the little church in Pokhara, Nepal.
In February 2011, twenty-five years after his first sponsorship payment, Peter took his wife and family to Nepal to meet Rajendra for the first time.
Rajendra Gautam has worked through communism, death threats, and personal tragedies to keep changing lives, and he has a fiery passion for helping those in need.
“The first few hours after we met were just emotionally overwhelming,” Peter said. He and Rajendra have been in close contact through letters and emails for fifteen years, and Rajendra has been calling him ‘dad’ and his wife Fiona ‘mum’ for some time. To finally meet was a “dream come true” for both of them.
“As we met, I couldn’t help but think of what it will be like to see Jesus face-to-face after having known him though the Bible,” said Peter.
Peter says they are planning on returning to Nepal as soon as they can. The bond between Peter and Rajendra is understandably strong. “I think his own passion for helping orphans helped us to connect,” Peter said.
The Sandy family will continue to support Rajendra in his work with 3AN, and are currently sponsoring a young boy at one of 3AN’s children’s homes. “It’ll be great to see what the future holds for him,” says Peter. “He can offer hope and change other lives too.”