Supporting the orphans of Nepal
December 14, 2007
Park City High School graduate Luke Hanley has made several journeys to Nepal and Thailand the last three years, and said he has seen many disturbing things.
"In 2005, I was living in a monastery and I saw these little kids just running around in Katmandu, sleeping in the jungle and making huts," Hanley said. "In Nepal, men leave their wives all the time. These women have no education and cannot take care of their children."
Hanley said many deserted women in Nepal resort to prostitution or weave carpets 12 to 18 hours a day to make ends meet. Many children live in the streets on their own, he said, some as young as two years old. Hanley said in a country that is so impoverished, it is difficult to know how to help.
But he is determined to make a difference.
When Hanley returned to America, he started contacting businesses and people that would be willing to donate money in the hopes of raising at least $900 a month, the amount of money required to run an orphanage he recently opened in Nepal.
Hanley’s Nepalese friend, Anjit Bista, helped him start the Padma Organization.
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Bista was initially working in a non-profit hospital in Nepal when he met Hanley and told him he was tired of seeing the suffering families that would come in daily.
Bista and Hanley partnered up and started an orphanage together on the top two floors of a four-story building in Nepal. Their orphanage has four full-time staff members and houses, feeds and provides education for 15 Nepalese orphans. Hanley is responsible for sending $900 to Nepal each month to pay for rent and to support the children.
Hanley said Americans would be surprised to see how far the American dollar goes in Nepal, one of the 10 poorest counties in the world. He said he would eventually like to raise at least $50,000 to expand the orphanage, apply for government grants and to provide a more solid education for the children, especially when they grow up and have the opportunity to go to college.
"If we raise enough money, we can build our own school. We can design a unique education program to train these kids to aid in the societal development of their country," Hanley said. "They live fine and eat fine, but when they’re 18, they need to go to college."
Sunday, Dec. 16, from 6 to 8 p.m., Hanley, some of his friends and fellow PCHS graduates, including Blaire Hayes, Adam Hart and local Duane Medina, are hosting a fundraiser for the Padma Organization, Hanley’s charity, at Fuego Bistro and Pizzeria at 2001 Prospector Square. Fuego owner Jason Crobarger will be providing the food. There will also be music, a silent auction featuring handmade Himalayan rugs, a Himalayan art sale and a raffle drawing with various prizes donated by businesses in town. The cover charge for the event is $5.
Hanley will also be presenting a special slideshow presentation covering his experiences in Nepal and Thailand and the establishment of his foundation, the Padma Organization.
In order to reach his goal to fund the orphanage month-to-month, Hanley is looking for local donors or businesses that would be interested in setting up automatic withdrawal accounts to donate a certain amount of money to the organization each month.
Hanley said it can be difficult to find the money to fund his orphanage.
"It’s been a struggle, everything got pushed forward for awhile," Hanley said. "It’s been difficult to get $900 a month."
Hayes, who helped organize the fundraiser this Sunday, encourages everyone in town to participate or at least donate money to the organization. She said the group will accept gift donations up until the night of the event at Fuego.
"We are looking for more gift donations, and we can pick them up Saturday or Sunday," Hayes said. "We have services from massage therapists, clairvoyant readers and other [gift certificates] from businesses in town."
Tickets for the raffle drawing cost $10 per ticket. The Himalayan rugs that will be auctioned off are made by one of Hanley’s close friends, Pasang Tsering, a Tibetan refugee artist.
"He’s a really cool guy," Hanley says. "He uses 50-to 100-year-old fabrics imported from all over Tibet and weaves them into Tibetan iconography."
For more information about this event, visit padmaorganization.org, or call Blaire Hayes at 801-808-2758 or Luke Hanley at 659-6870. Donations can be made by visiting the Optimistic Children and Youth Home of Nepal at http://www.ocayhn.org or by mailing a check to "Padma Organization," at 2881 Hackney Court, Park City, Utah 84060, c/o Luke Hanley. Questions can be answered by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.