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We had the opportunity to go to an orphanage outside of Kathmandu and hear the amazing story of Til Bahadur Karki.
Til Bahadur Karki was born with a disability that hindered his ability to walk and function normally. As a result his parents abandoned him on the streets. He became a homeless orphan and forced to beg. He soon felt he couldn’t continue to live under these circumstances and as a young child he attempted suicide. Over the next few years he attempted six more times. Years later, he had a dream that he was a father to many children. This dream inspired him to help children who were facing similar circumstances he was placed in as a child.
He spent the next 25 years continuing to beg on the streets but with a new mission. Instead of using the money to support himself, he saved until he had enough money to open an orphanage. He found a plot of land, signed a 25 year lease and used his life’s savings to pay for the construction of the orphanage. Over the last 10 years he has taken in 42 children, never refusing a child. Some of the children have disabilities just like Til. His orphanage has three rooms with only 12 beds. Each bed sleeps at least two children and the rest sleep on the floor. He doesn’t have enough money to complete a functioning bathroom or kitchen. The bathroom is a hole in the ground with a tarp strung over bamboo for privacy. The kitchen is made of corrugated tin with a dirt floor. He started to expand the facility but progress has been halted due to insufficient funds. When we asked him how much it would cost to finish construction we were told that a mere $5,000 — the average cost of a used car in the U.S., would be more than enough.
It was evident in the way that he talks about the children how much joy they bring to his life. His room at the orphanage has all of the children’s’ medals and awards from school and various activities hung on the wall. His interactions with the children are ones of love and compassion. He is constantly smiling. His biggest concern is making sure that his children have a good education. He hopes that one day he can build a school close to the orphanage. We were surprised to see that many of the children we work with in the village live at the orphanage and have to walk an hour each day to get to the school.
Thirteen years later he was able to find his parents and show them what he has done with his life. Til spent the first part of his life feeling abandoned and worthless. He could have spent his entire life this way, but instead chose to overcome his trials and help uplift others. In finding his own worth he has given worth to 42 children.