As a way of showing his limited Western audience what his immediate network is in need of, Chaitanyashree introduces us to Divyanatra as the orphanage he sponsors. We would later learn that this side-project philanthropy—separate from his main-project philanthropy—is not only an orphanage for 9 but a school for 42. And he doesn’t just sponsor it, he funds the entire thing.
“After paying rent for office and home,” he explains on the twisty micro van off-roading ride towards the outskirts of the city, “all business earnings we make directly support this children’s school and orphanage, Divyanatra.”
We’re told the word divyanatra means third eye. It’s a language I still can’t reverse Google translate. It’s a beautiful thing: to raise these children to know what love, compassion, and happiness really are.
We park at a slope leading up to a shack-like house on the hill and we pile out of the car, stretching our backs in the chilling air. As I attach the microphone to my camera and stare off into the dusky horizon, I notice that in the sweeping valleys and hills where we’ve landed an unmistakable industry exists: towers of brick smoking into the atmosphere litter the landscape, little ant-sized people with heavy loads on their crooked backs limp along the service roads, and trucks line up to receive the big-cubed packages.
“Capture this!” Chaitanyashree orders me cheerfully with a sweep of his arm overlaying the surrounding view, beginning his long-winded explanation of the situation of the 42 students that attend Divyanatra in the day for school.
Comprised mainly of migrant workers, there is no government funding for any sort of education in this municipality. Children of the extended community end up in these outskirts of the nation’s capital for 6 months each year to watch their parents produce mud-clay bricks every day. Without Divyanatra, these children would otherwise be playing around in the mud or hurting themselves trying to help their families.
We’re greeted silently and somewhat morosely by the 9 boys, and plop the big sack of rice, vegetables and boxes of biscuits onto the table. As the Nepalese do, they don’t thank us with anything more than a smile and slight eyeball acknowledgement of seeing the delivery of what would be their food for the next two weeks. On Chaitanyashree’s prodding, the kids show us around their home, which is nothing but a beaten down old building with no electricity, cockroach-ridden floors, and a cold and damp atmosphere that did not breed the happiest of thoughts.
They sleep three to a bed to keep warm since they have no blankets or jackets. They meditate twice per day to help keep their hunger at bay while keeping their hearts full and happy. There is currently no gas nor funds for gas in the tank, so they cook their rice over a small fire. There is a run-down swing-set on the roof of the house that looks as melancholy as the boy I watch stare off into the dim lights of Kathmandu valley.
Standing in a group like an audience, the sound healer sits with them and forces them one by one to speak to us in English—which actually isn’t all that bad. We learn their names, their ages, and what they say are their passions and career desires. When asked what they require, they say they don’t need anything. Chaitanyashree extracts it out of them with prompts of his own: “you need jackets, right? Socks! You need a scarf. Blankets for sleep. You have no football? You have no football! You need a football then, isn’t it? Oh, and you also need a new guitar, this one is broken! See, only two strings!” He proceeds to play a song on the 2-string guitar, and the boys sing along.
On our way home, swimming in my own personal silence of privelege-pondering, I hear Chaitanyashree’s refreshing laugh in response to the Kundalini family’s dinner plans: “Of course we have enough food! We are not like Divyanatra, ha! No, we are in abundance.” His carefree way of stating the blunt truth that we so often want to deny to keep ourselves content with the state of our own lives makes me smile.
There was something bittersweet about bringing a whole bunch of food to the boys that night. They had no gas left for the stove so they had to make a fire. They had no electricity so they couldn’t see much to make that fire without the flashlight, whose use had to be prioritized between kids studying, cleaning needing to do, and whatever else required light in that naturally-dark household. Chaitanyashree asked the kids their ambitions and it sure sounded like they had more than the average orphan–but what would I know anyway? This was the first orphanage I’d ever been to.
I learned a little more about what PRCPTION Travel is that night. Chaitanyashree’s only way of receiving support from those with the resources and generosity to offer it was to directly communicate with those right in front of him. If we could offer his face, his vision, his love to the world via an Internet video, perhaps he could extend that network and love.
And he did! We helped Chaitanyashree setup a GoFundMe campaign with the two videos and they have raised almost $1000US in only one month. How exciting!