A brighter future for orphans in Nepal

Helping others has untold benefits. Michaela Jost from the congregation of Giessen in Germany has made this experience. For her it is a key to happiness. She works with needy children in Nepal.

“It all began about twenty years ago with a book about climbing Mount Everest, at more than 8,800 metres the highest mountain on earth.” The wish developed in Michaela to travel to the Himalaya region one day and see for herself. “This is how my first trip to Nepal came about in the year 2000. On a trekking tour, I even managed to reach the base camp of Mt Everest, situated at an altitude of 5,400 metres.” She left part of her heart behind in this lovely country with its warm and hospitable people, she says.

A clear idea about social commitment

Since then she has been in Nepal nine times. As an honorary member of the board of a registered association that collects donations to help fund projects in Nepal (Freundeskreis Nepalhilfe e.V. “Friends Helping Nepal”), she has clear ideas about her social commitment: “Over the years, I increasingly felt I had to do something for poor and vulnerable children. I started to look for an organisation that would actually channel the donations to the people they are intended for.” Besides, Jost says, I did not only want to make a financial contribution. I wanted to get involved—preferably in Nepal. This is how she came across Friends Helping Nepal.

Friends Helping Nepal

The association based in Gladenbach in central Germany supports poor and orphaned children in Nepal—irrespective of gender, caste, or religion. The association provides shelter, care and support, and not least an education. Close to Pokhara, the second largest city in Nepal, the association runs its own children’s village. Eighty children between the ages of three and sixteen live there. A primary school was built and recently opened in which the teaching staff can address the specific needs of severely traumatised children. Older children live in a youth hostel in Kathmandu until they are finished with school. Once they have completed their schooling, they are given financial support to help them train for a job.

Projects that benefit the general population

In addition to this core task, the association supports further projects. Founded 22 years ago, the association has in the meantime established an extensive network in Nepal, which allows it to use the donations in an effective and targeted fashion. Following the horrific earthquake three years ago, the association provided extensive emergency aid in the most seriously affected areas. In addition to this, the initiative supports a wide range of other projects in various fields: from construction of schools and medical centres to improving water and electrical services in rural areas. According to their statutes, the Association Friends Helping Nepal “understands itself as an active partner in development co-operation and contributes to creating understanding between nations”. Especially the close collaboration with its Nepalese partner association, Forum for the Welfare of Himalayan Children (FWHC), has resulted in many children finding a home and receiving a good education in the last 22 years.

Divine services are a must

While in Nepal, Michaela Jost regularly goes to church in Kathmandu. “When in Nepal I attend the services in one of our congregations in Kathmandu. It is always very exciting and beautiful,” she says. “No one in the congregations, except the young people, speak English.” And Michaela only knows a smattering of Nepalese so that communication is a bit of an adventure. A young brother in the congregation shows her in a Bible app what the officiant is talking about in the sermon. “So far, I have not met any other foreigners, but the reason for that may be that I am usually in very small congregations which I can easily reach.” She is in touch with the local Bishop Shrestha, who tells her when services take place.

New Apostolic congregations in the Himalayas

Responsible for the New Apostolic Christians in this part of the world is the District Church Canada. The year 1990 is considered the birth hour of the New Apostolic Church in Nepal. There are of thirteen congregations with a total of nearly one thousand members.

Over the last few years, Nepal has repeatedly needed aid, particularly in 2015, when a 7.2 earthquake struck—followed by innumerable aftershocks—claiming 9,000 lives. At the time, Christy Eckhardt, project co-ordinator for aid projects and charitable giving at the New Apostolic Church Canada, described the difficulties in getting to Sipapokhare. Despite the critical situation at the time, divine services continued to be held in our damaged church in Kathmandu or in the house of a Priest in Sipaghat (Dharkhola), where our church was destroyed.

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Peter Johanning
Nepal, Social commitment, Congregational life