Today is Beth's birthday. A day for celebration and joy, yet marred this year with an unmitigated natural disaster that tore apart - and continues to do so, days after the first tremor - families and friends.
Amid a sea of well wishes and prayers, there was just one post that stood out above the rest. It wasn't from a family member - at least not biological - and it wasn't from a long lost friend. No, this was a special post that Beth was tagged in and that was so easy to get lost among the dozens of other birthday wishes.
Happy Birthday, Aunt Beth. I posted it elsewhere too, and I said a few kind words about how much good your organization does and how proud I am of you, but my words will never compare to those above...nor should they. There is not one person who can question how much you inspire these kids, these families, to help others and to be incredible humans, incredible global citizens.
To be honest, I don't think you really need another 'happy birthday' today. I've seen your Facebook - you've got plenty. And you might not need these next words, but you certainly deserve them - Thank You. Thank you for doing what so few others do, thank you for being who you are, thank you for not giving up on one single person.
I have no doubt in my mind that there are plenty of others who would say the same thing the man above said - one of her dubbed 'boys,' as she so lovingly refers to them - and that knowledge alone makes me, and every other member of our family, member of our lives, proud.
So thank you. I hope you never stop giving others the courage to do good things. And I know you'll never stop inspiring others to be selfless.
"Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen."
Update 3, April 28
9:51 A.M. Beth Brewster: Our boys are making us proud again. Bishal and Raj volunteered at Teaching Hospital in the thankless job of removing corpses from incoming vehicles (I use this term because bodies were coming in trucks, buses, ambulances, anything available) to the morgue. This was very difficult emotional work, because most of the victims were women and children. Also want to thank Rajeev who was seen bringing in a carload of injured.
9:33 A.M. Parus: Small steps makes a big differences-
8:49 P.M. Beth Brewster: Now that I have spent my first night at home (on the kitchen floor near the door) I want to give a huge thanks to the boys at Drive Adventure Tour Services. It was their parking lot that the neighborhood stayed for three nights. They kept us dry and safe for 4 days & 3 nights. But most importantly was how calming and generous they were that first day. Can't thank you enough - literally lifesavers.
Update 2, April 27
1:58 A.M. Beth Brewster: OK after 6.7 after shock. Know 35 kids okay check in go. Rest
11:03 A.M. Beth Brewster: Right now we are all safe, but all our Tinpiple families have been displaced. Poured last night they got soaked under their tarp. Looking for tent(s) for short term. So much damage there, not sure we can find housing in that same area.
11:06 A.M. Beth Brewster: Oh and NTC my telephone network has been down this whole time!
11:20 A.M. Beth Brewster: Brought books to our "parking lot/campsite" to help kids pass time or as they say here " time pass"
3:36 P.M. Beth Brewster: Good News Jurgen arriving from Belgium Tuesday with tents for our Tinpiple families! Temporary solution, but it is a start. Next working on food. As many of our families cannot afford to buy in bulk they can
1) Not stock up on common items i.e. rice & dal
2) Afford the high prices that are sure to come.
We have identified families at risk and have some ideas, hope to start to implement tomorrow.
Update 1, April 26, 6AM
6 A.M. - Beth Brewster: Hi all we are safe and staying in the parking lot down the road. Everyone has been great. They moved cars around to give us shelter from the rain.
Congratulations to Karuna, Manisha and Indira on passing their School Leaving Certificate exams. All three passed in first division and are now enrolled in plus 2 colleges. Also our TB patient has had her meds reduced for the remaining course of her treatment.
Kanti Children’s Hospital
I spent most of March and April in Kanti Children’s Hospital with one of our students. She was admitted with severe abdominal pain and fever. We initially though appendicitis, but blood test and ultra sounds ruled that out. TB was suspected and IV antibiotics administered, 5 days later after no improvement they were changed to stronger doses administered 3x a day for 6 hours, she was also being fed intravenously. The poor child was hooked up all day except when going to the bathroom. Once she could keep something down they started the TB meds which were 3 horse pills given at 6 am before food. She often threw them up and we had to try and get her to retake them within a half hour. Her first stay was 16 days out for 10, back in for 3, out for 2, back in for 18!
Unlike western hospitals all the care is given by the family and someone has to stay with the patient day and night. Nurses only administer drugs and write the prescriptions on scraps of paper to be brought to the local pharmacy. (Only once did we have to have a doctor’s signature and that was for post-op meds from the police hospital pharmacy). A complication of the TB was abdominal sepsis and the development of a large cyst in the stomach area. The hope was that the TB meds would shrink the cyst, but this did not happen she was later admitted to have the cyst removed.
Her mom is in the women’s prison in Kathmandu (this is why I am not giving her name) and had to come to the hospital to give her permission (thumb prints because she is illiterate) for the surgery. We arranged for this to take place in an office far removed from the ward so that the other patients and their parents would not know. She was accompanied by 8 police personnel and was not allowed to stay while the surgery was performed. Once they opened her up they discovered the sepsis had woven a tight tissue web around the cyst and they were unable to remove it and they just closed her backup. The surgeon’s recommendation was to just keep taking the TB meds and comeback in 6 months and try again.
I was leaving in 2 weeks and this was unacceptable to me. The TB doctors gave me the name of a gastrointestinal surgeon at another hospital, but told me not to tell them he sent me as the patient is a child and the hospital only treated those 15 and older. We met with the surgeons and they also said they did not want to operate, but would drain it if there were any problems and assured me it was safe for me to go home.
There were many nightmares associated with getting proper care and medicine for this child. Once she was cleared to return to school she was going to have to go to a TB clinc everyday to get her meds. We went the Nepali way and found someone who knew someone at a clinic and were able to get 10 day supplies.
I did the day shifts and many of the surgical nightshifts, our boys who work with our partner Art for Education and Bishal did most of the night shifts. They had to sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor on a ½” mattress and then go to work in the morning. It was a group effort to manage her care. There were some wonderful nurses and doctors and parents who also helped us along the way. My thanks to all.
The boys give back
I first met Sita in 1999 while she was working in a children’s home. Since that time she has been a care giver to many of our children both inside and outside of children’s homes. I had an emergency situation where I needed to find housing for two boys for three months while their father went into rehab. Sita took them in even though she already had another brother and sister living with her and her two sons.
Recently Sita bought a small mo-mo shop that needed a “makeover”. The boys did the "makeover". They cleaned, scraped, painted, refurbished furniture and rearranged the kitchen area. This was a nice opportunity for them to give back.
Thank you to all our friends and supporters for a great Fall Fundraiser! There are so many people who make this event happen. I would like to give a special thanks to Bernadette Keyes for once again putting on a wonderful fun filled event. Thank you also for the many items donated for our silent auction, one of the most popular being a “Taste of Vermont” donated by Bob & Jane Farrell, a new and exciting addition was a gift basket from Shoreline Vine of Madison, CT, perennial favorites, White House Florist of Guilford, CT and In the Apron of Madison, CT. Thank you to all of our helpers, who made it all happen. Mary Lally, John, Kate, Megan and Brian Smith, Stanley Novak, Francesca Antoni, Jennifer and Grace Shyer, Maryblaise Larson, Katie and Carol Dowd our raffle caller Willi Wilson and others behind the scenes.
8th Annual Fall Fundraiser
Saturday September 28th 2013
5 pm to 8 pm
42 Oak Ave Madison, CT
Highlights of 2012-2013
This February we were able to enroll the daughter of one of the first children I met back in 1999 into kindergarten. Sarita has had a hard life, besides witnessing her father beat her mother to death; she also is a young widow with a 6 year old daughter Payal. Despite her own background Sarita is a loving mother trying to give her daughter a better life.
We shifted our library to a new location in the neighborhood. It is very important to have a landlord who shares your vision of providing a welcoming, clean, safe home for both our library and our visitors. With support from the employees of TE Connectivity we were able to purchase new carpeting, cushions, books, games etc. for the new location.
Reconnected with two girls whom I never thought I would see again and contacted by a few others whom I had lost touch with. One moved back to the village when her father was released from prison and I had not seen in over seven years. I was on my way to Dental Camp with 40 kids cutting through Bhoudhanath Stuppa and I hear “Beth Miss!” and saw Shrijana who just happened to be visiting her married sister who lived nearby. The other was one of my original students from Missionaries of Charities Non-formal Educational School. I had not seen Sweata in over ten years and it turns out she is working just down the street from me in a hair salon that I had my hair cut in. Those of you who know me know the chances of me even going into a salon are slim to none. I only went there because someone brought me. A couple of other girls who used to live in a girls home I worked with in the past, also contacted me. For various reasons they were no longer living at the home and requested some support for education. We are helping as much as we can to keep these girl's dreams of education, independence and happy futures alive.
interesting in india
Giving Asha has added India to the list of countries in which it works. For the last few years we have been supporting AZAD India with educational materials and teacher training for their Girls Centers. This year they expanded their project from 20 to 50 Centers and have opened a “Girls” only Computer Training Center.
In Nepal, we are shifting away from traditional scholarships for class 1- SLC (School Leaving Certificate, which is roughly the equivalent of our High School diploma) and moving toward scholarships for training courses and plus 2 higher secondary level education. We want to transition students into jobs and independent living. We are also putting small libraries in government schools and training the teachers on how to include the library to augment their curriculum. We hope to establish at least one new library a year and to expand ones already in place. Libraries are living growing entities and need continual support.
Beth Brewster is the Executive Director of Giving Asha.