Friday Dec 9, 2022
Friday Dec 9, 2022

Nepal Bal Mandir: From Sorry to Sanctuary again?

The Nepal Bal Mandir looks to rebuild itself to its former noble self

2022 Feb 09, 17:01,

“We recently rescued a child in a rather deplorable state. The baby was abandoned in a forest by her parents, a few wild animals got to the baby and started eating it’s face, luckily the child was rescued and was sent to us. The child now requires extensive treatment and a plastic surgery job and our organisation is trying to raise the massive amounts of money that is required to give this child back the life that was taken from her.” says Bidhya Neupane the director of the Nepal Children’s Organisation or the ‘Bal Mandir’. “This poor child’s story is one of many that we cater to, we have over a hundred children that live with us in our Orphanage in Kathmandu alone; we have a network that spans out to the entire 77 districts. We are here to help these children.”

The Nepal Children’s Organisation(NCO) established under the National guidance Act 1962 AD was officially established as the one and only Organisation working for the welfare of the youth of our nation in 1964 AD. It still remains the one and only wing that caters to the rights and life of the children of the country.

The Organisation has its reach in all 7 provinces, 77 districts where it works actively for the welfare of the children. The organisation currently operates a Children’s home at Naxal and many more Children welfare branches. Once a reputed, respected organisation directly under the Royal Family’s umbrella, more specifically, run by the Queen herself as the President; this noble organization's name has taken a hit. Since the advent of Democracy and the changing of regimes and new staff the standards of the organisation were dreadful.

“The first thing that we must get out of the way is the biggest misconception, the crux of why this organisation had its name smeared in mud, is addressing the selling of children from our organisation. During the reign of the previous administration, such cases were prevalent and they were rightly brought to justice. There were people in this organisation that had priorities that ended up in their pockets lined up with money rather than the development of the precious children.” Neupane discloses.

 “However one thing that I would like to make clear is that we do not involve yourself is such gruesome acts, The selling of children from our organisation is impossible, we keep records of every child registered with us and we only give children up for adoption to international sponsors, hence foreign embassies get involved too, so the entire process is completely above board and airtight when it comes to the legality of the matter, we’ve(referring to the new administration) ensured that it is so!”

In conversation with NepalNews, Neupane tells us that when she took over the organisation and the orphanage from the previous regime the organisation was on the brink of collapse. “It’s completely down to severe mismanagement, infrastructurally, economically, ethically this place was falling apart on itself.” exclaims Neupane. “Our organisation is structured in such a way, the resources we have are available in such ways that if run properly, the organisation is capable to not only self-sustain but provide surplus amounts to other organizations as well!”

“But today due to self-interest and corruption in the past, we find ourselves in severe debt, our lands and resources being assets misused and the trust that international donors and sponsors had is eroded. We are in a financial pinch, The budget allotted to our institution was 40 Lakhs for the fiscal year. We have a running cost of 1 lakh every day across all our offices in the country, this includes food, clothing, medicine and operation of the orphanages as well. To say we’re low on funds is an understatement. We’ve recently been screening all our donors and have removed many of them. There are many donors who have ulterior motives or expect something from us, hence we’ve removed all such donors.” says Neupane about the condition of the organisation.

Speaking of the deplorable state of the organisation further she adds, “The orphanage had no security, no guards, no surveillance and through previous management their basic fundamental rights seem to have been violated too! One example is how one of our 4-5 year old refused to celebrate Dashain, when asked why she did so she told us she was Christian and the she couldn’t put on tika, we were shell shocked how does a 5 year old growing up in a religion neutral area know of religion and let alone converting it. There were a lot of atrocious things happening here and we are here to correct it. To take this organisation back to what it once stood for.”

The organisation undeniably has lost the trust it once garnered from the public all over for being the place where any child could seek sanctuary. “We Nepalese consider children to be equivalent to gods, hence since we provide shelter and a safe haven to these deities we are also named the Bal mandir. The ‘Bal Mandir’ is supposed to be a sanctuary where these children can forget about their past and seek to make something of themselves, to develop their personality and skills vital for their independent survival when the time comes.” she adds.

The orphanage at the Bal Mandir provides sanctuary to at-risk and orphan kids. Any child born out of sexual assault, in jail, abandoned or having any neurological disorder is brought to the care of the ‘mothers’ at the Bal Mandir who raise them as their own. “The children have to be treated differently according to their needs, obviously it’s challenging, more so with those who require special needs. But the work is rewarding on its own, I don't even know when the day goes by, laughing, playing, looking after these angels it fills your heart; Also when you see the more older children of 16-18 helping take care of their young siblings it makes us incredibly proud and happy that we’ve been able to give them a family, a large one at that!” beams Rita Poudel Adhikari one of the caretakers at the Orphan Home at Bal Mandir.

If one were to ever suspect that a child is being mistreated, abused or is at risk, it is one's duty to report such an incident to the police. The police upon conducting thorough investigation shall then decide if the child is truly at risk or not. Once put up as an at risk child, upon request of the district office or the police themselves these children are taken under the wing of the NCO in the orphan home. “When it comes to abandoned children, once they come to us, we put out an announcement to claim the child in the Gorkhapatra, we put out another one after a month if no one claims the child. Ever after the month if no one shows up we start the legal process to begin raising the child under our umbrella. The day the child is found or brought to us, we consider it as its new birthday up until the day s/he is adopted.”

We have been and in the near future too, plan to get back all the assets that our organisation once had and was unlawfully and illegally captured from us. We've already won our first claim in the Supreme Court against one such case and many more will come. Once we have control of our assets we will use them to generate income to sustainably run the orphanage and make sure that the children are provided with the best care that they need and deserve. We also have many plans to bring back this organisation to its former glory, this was an organisation that once had its own Montessori and gave Montessori training bringing professionals in from different countries like Bhutan and look at the state of it now. Our plan is to open up Planetarium and Science Cities across the country, a place where the youth of our nation can engage themselves more practically. For this there are a few land and fund hitches but after those are resolved we shall move ahead with it. We also are working with the India Embassy to build a Neurological Special Care Hospital for those children with severe neurological disorders.

“I’ve been involved with the NCO for all my life, from winning competitions organized by it to being specially honored to now becoming its director. I've no greed that I want to fulfil from this organisation, my family is settled, however my other family, the NCO and the children aren't. I want to make this organisation good again. We all must do so. Until the people and the government don’t just speak out but actually start taking seriously the fact that these very children are the future of this nation and that there must be such a sanctuary for the future of this country there will be no progress.” concludes Neupane.


Bal Mandir Nepal Children’s Organisation Bidhya Neupane Re-Building fundamental rights
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