Swindon-based charity supporting orphans hits milestone birthday

By Claire Dukes - 22 February 2019

  • Angel's Orphanage 2018

    Angel's Orphanage 2018

Since its inception in 2009, Swindon-based charity Friends of Angel’s Orphanage has been supporting 21 Nepalese children who have lost, or have been abandoned by, their families.

Tasty meals and a good diet keeps them healthy and well

Founders and trustees of Friends of Angel’s Orphanage, Rosa and Dr Ian Matheson, initially set out to Nepal as part of Health Partnership Nepal in May 2009 to provide healthcare across the rural villages.

During a visit to Kathmandu the couple were approached by Angel, formerly Amrit Bikram Shahi, who asked if they could provide healthcare to sick children housed in his orphanage. Since their visit the couple founded the charity Friends of Angel’s Orphanage.

To celebrate 10 years of partnership with Angel’s Orphanage, the charity will be hosting a family fun day as part of a birthday fundraiser on Sunday 19 May at Root & Branch, Westmill Farm. All the money raised will go to Friends of Angel’s Orphanage.

Since 2009 Friends of Angel’s Orphanage have been fundraising to provide medical supplies, food and shelter to 21 children who were found abandoned on the streets of Kathmandu by Angel. The charity aims to keep the children housed together as a family, protecting them from further trauma. Since its inception the charity have also been able to help provide clothing, educational facilities and leisure activities for the children.

One of the charity’s biggest landmark achievements is raising enough funds to rehouse the children to a new home with fresh bedding, running water and electricity. Dr Ian Matheson said: “In some ways the dreadful house in the slum area behind Durbar Square in Kathmandu, where we first met the children, is a distant memory but whenever I see this old photo of the boy's bedroom, it reminds me of the distance we all come, Aishworya, the children, our supporters, Rosa, Brian and myself, in the ensuing 10 years but also remind me of how easily it could all reverse.

“We are maybe two thirds of the way to true independence for this remarkable family but cannot afford to drop the ball now. There are many wonderful things to celebrate in this tenth year not least the aspirations of our children, but the reality is these aspirations present a real challenge to our education fund in the near future if we are to fulfil our commitment to them.

“2019 is off to a fine start with two very successful fund-raising events in the first three weeks and we need to keep up this momentum so any ideas and involvement would be welcomed.”

Angel’s Orphanage had to vacate its second premises due to poor drainage, and the house itself suffered unstable infrastructure caused by the earthquake which hit Nepal in 2015.

Rosa said: “We needed to move for many reasons including the appalling drains, but primarily because of the instability after the earthquake of the electric pylon in the garden. It was rather threatening.

“Our house now is a very, very fine house and was the cheapest we could find, as after the earthquake houses still standing were very desirable and expensive. Now our rent is an eye watering 90,000 (now roughly 135 Nrps + £1).”

“Unfortunately, we will not be able to stay in the house [orphanage] forever. We will need to renegotiate our lease this year. The rent will increase at each negotiation and become too much for us.

“We may need to revisit the idea of building a small forever house for them. We had had a Plan B but that has hit local government problems, so we are starting to look elsewhere. We definitely need to start a Plan C. Unfortunately, despite what mindfulness gurus tell us, we cannot just ‘live in the moment’ - we always have to think about these children's security and future.”

As well as supporting Angel’s Orphanage the Matheson’s trips to Nepal have become a mission to help rebuild the lives of those affected by the earthquake - the need for medical supplies, homes, schools, electricity, food and clothing has since been imperative.

Despite the charity’s achievements, Nepal is still recovering from the earthquake, as well as severe flooding which hit Sauraha Chitwas in 2017. The impact of the flood saw more than 40,000 houses destroyed, leaving 100,000 people displaced. The money raised by the charity also goes towards providing urgent relief to those affected by the natural disasters, and to transport medical supplies across Nepal where much of the terrain has become turbulent and dangerous.

For further information about Friends of Angel’s Orphanage visit www.secure.thebiggive.org.uk/charity/view/9712/friends-of-angels-orphanage

For further information about the charity’s Fun Day see the poster attached.

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