Thursday, November 6, 2008

The India and Nepal Edition: Mendies Haven and Shyam's Place

We live in a big world with big problems.  Living in one of those problem places, I often find myself discouraged by the, "I'm just one person, what can I do?" line of thinking.  But when I remember the Gandhis, Mother Teresas, William Wilberforces, and Greg Mortensons of the world, I have renewed hope in the individual's ability to make positive (and sometimes history altering) change.

Elizabeth "Mummy" Mendies was called the Mother Teresa of Nepal.  A Canandian woman who had moved to the little known kingdom of Nepal with her husband in the 1960's, Elizabeth saw an enormous need to help the many abandoned and poor children wandering the streets of Kathmandu.  Her desire to create a place of safety for children developed into an orphanage called Mendies Haven.  Since it's beginning in the sixties, Mendies Haven has housed countless children.  It's amazing to see the difference that love and care makes in a child's life.  And in the center of all this love and care was this woman, Mummy, who everyone speaks of with huge smiles and admiration.  She was one of those individuals that made a very big difference.  Although Mummy died last August, seeing the smiling faces of 30+ children was an incredible testimony of her ministry to the overlooked of Kathmandu.  And it is clear that Mendies Haven will continue to live on.

Shyam grew up at Mendies Haven.  After going to Pensacola College in Florida and marrying a woman from Washington, he returned to Nepal to open another orphanage, knowing the impact that being taken in and cared for had on his life.  While Mendies Haven feels like an established operation, Shyam's Place feels like a large family home.  Between the boys and girls rooms is a family room where house parents live.  Shyam's ministry includes a Nepali place of worship, a religious school, and the orphanage.  When he speaks, his Hope is evident and his dreams for the future of Nepal seem almost tangible.  As someone who has come from impossible circumstances, it's inspiring to see him provide what Mendies Haven gave him to future generations.

From MH and Shyams

From MH and Shyams

As part of a group of people committed to praying for Nepal, Nikki and her crew pray specifically for five "brothers" that grew up at Mendies Haven.  Two of the brothers, Digamber and Bobby, acted as our friends and guides during our time in Nepal.  One of the highlights of the trip was seeing these young men spend time with their younger brothers and sisters at Mendies and Shyams.  We had planned an afternoon VBS for both orphanages.  And while I struggled to channel my inner Kathy Pandiani and lead the games, Bobby took the reins and had all the kids running back and forth across the field playing "Ship to Shore" and freeze tag.  The kids loved having their big brother playing with them.  It was great seeing this family of siblings love on each other.

Through the work of Elizabeth Mendies and Shyam, I am reminded that normal people and people from the humblest beginnings can make a huge difference.  Although the world may not recognize their names, these people have changed the world they live in.  I am inspired and challenged to seek out ways that I can change the world.

(I'll post more pictures when I get them).

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