Padma Nepal fundraiser will help children in Kathmandu
Park City High School graduate Luke Hanley founded the Padma Organization seven years ago after he graduated from the University of Utah and traveled to Nepal to further his studies in Buddhism.
While there, Hanley befriended many of the city’s street children and wanted to do something to help them, said his mother Heidi Hanley.
"He met with a social worker out there and they became a team," Heidi Hanley told The Park Record. "They collaborated on setting up the organization and found a home they could buy and set up as a shelter for these children."
The social worker then selected a group of kids that would benefit from the charity.
"He chose children from homes where parents were addicted to drugs or were alcoholics, but who still wanted a better life for them," Hanley said. "The kids started living in the house about five years ago. The children are provided with food, shelter and clothing and are sent to school, which will help with their future."
Throughout the past few years, the organization has welcomed children whose parents are HIV positive, she said.
"We have 11 girls and five boys living here now," Hanley said.
On Friday, Dec. 7, the Padma Organization will hold its seventh annual "Helping the Impovershed People of Nepal" fundraiser at Fuego Bistro and Pizzeria, 2001 Sidewinder Dr., at 7 p.m.
The fundraiser will feature a pizza dinner, an auction, an opportunity drawing and an update on the Padma-Nepal home, Hanley said.
"The auction will include some Himalayan goods, and some jewelry from a woman who has a factory in India that helps and employs oppressed women," Hanley said. "These women makes these pieces of jewelry that are distributed all around the world."
Other auction items are spa sessions, haircuts and recreation activities, from various local donors, she said.
"The two opportunity-drawing highlights will be prizes from All Seasons Resorts and Resorts West," Hanley said.
The money will be put in a bank account here and will be sent to the organization via moneygram as requested to the board in Nepal.
"They will designate the money to whatever need is required," Hanley explained.
This year, the Padma-Nepal update will be about the changes that have surrounded the home.
"There has been a change in the organization’s administration and they have a new board of directors," Hanley said. "The kids have also moved to a new home, and it’s in a better location and is not so much in the downtown part of the city.
"The original house was basically falling down and was infested with black mold," he said. "It just wasn’t safe for the kids."
The children, which includes 11 girls and five boys, stay at the home during the school year, and then go back to their own homes and villages during the break.
"That was a mandate from the Nepali government so these children would be allowed to maintain a connection with their families," Hanley said. "But once the break is over, they come back."
After their schooling is completed, the goal is to plan a safe future for the children.
"That includes either going on to college, learning a trade, staying in the home to help or helping in their own villages," Hanley said.
The cost of keeping the children in the home is approximately $1,500 a month.
"That’s not per child," Hanley said. "The money pays for food, shelter, clothing and education for all 16 children."
The interesting thing about the children is they don’t have birth certificates, which makes it impossible to determine their true ages.
"We believe they all range between the ages of six or seven to 12 and 14," Hanley said. "There were 11 girls who were between the ages of five and seven who lived in the house when it was first established. and seven of them are growing up and starting to look at their future."
While the Padma Organization, which is called Padma Nepal overseas, has grown over the past seven years, it hasn’t been easy for Hanley or her son.
"In Nepal, all of the things that are done by Padma Nepal need to be carried by the Nepali, because the government demanded it," Hanley said. "So Luke has had to run the organization in a hands-off way, but continue to watch it with a keen eye."
Still, its has been interesting for Hanley to see the organization expand.
"It went from a two-man show that would hit up friends and family for money or a moneygram to an organization that now has a formal board of directors that is working on further development and growth," she said. "It’s been quite rewarding to know that the children are getting the help they need for their futures."
Padma Nepal, the local branch of the Padman Organization, will hold a fundraiser at Fuego Bistro and Pizzeria 2001 Sidewinder Dr., on Friday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m. Cost is $15 at the door. Children will be admitted for half price. The money will be used to help impoverished street children of Nepal. For more information, call Heidi Hanley at (435) 640-4452 or visit http://www.padmanepal.org.
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