Friday, November 22, 2013

Darpan Inani, Chess Excellence & Inspiration

I flew to Baroda, India for a brief visit with my Indian Exchange student brother Sanjeev Shah and his family. We first met when I lived with his family during my Rotary Exchange program in 1974-75! While in Baroda we arranged to visit a 19 year-old man named Darpan Inani.  Darpan is BVI (Blind/Visually-Impaired) and he is well-known in his country after winning the bronze medal in the world blind chess championships in Belgrade, Serbia.  He was also recently featured in the Indian-produced documentary, “Algorithms” which won the best of festival award here in Kathmandu at the South Asia Film Festival!  TRIFC, in cooperation with the Kathmandu Rotary E-Club and the Nepal Assoc. for the Welfare of the Blind (NAWB) arranged for 81 BVI to attend this screening.

Here’s a link to the movie website:

It was a moving experience to meet Darpan and his dedicated mother.  I’ve uploaded a video interview which Darpan gave in both English and Hindi.  He speaks quite quickly, but I hope you will also be inspired and informed as to the capabilities of someone with a disability.  He is currently studying Chartered Accountancy, interning at a local accounting firm.

TRIFC has also been providing chess sets for the BVI as well as for Deaf/Hearing-Impaired students in a number of schools.   We believe that chess is the perfect avenue to improving math and strategy skills while playing a fun game.  As Darpan said in the interview, Playing chess helps a person to develop “life skills!”


Friday, November 15, 2013

Braille Embosser Provides Graphics and Pictures for the Blind/Visually-Impaired

"Tiger" Braille Embosser/Printer

Thanks to the participation of eight different Rotary Clubs, district 5020 and additional funding from The Rose International Fund for Children (TRIFC), a special Braille printer has been purchased and handed-over to the Nepal Association for the Welfare of the Blind (NAWB) in Kathmandu, Nepal. 

'hand-over' ceremony at NAWB

Plaque is in Braille too!

 Representatives from the Nepal Rotary District 3292 as well as the host partner Rotary club of Kasthamandap, NAWB and TRIFC were in attendance at the ceremony.  The participating clubs include:  Rotary Club of Lakewood, RC Bellevue, RC Lake Union, RC Kasthamandap, RC Seattle International District, RC Maple Valley, RC Federal Way, RC Quarry Bay, Hong-Kong.

Kasthamandap Rotarian Rajan Raut

RC Kasthamandap President, Upendra Poudyal
What will this special printer mean for BVI students in Nepal?  Think about it...what if your own school textbooks or your kids’ textbooks didn’t have a single graphic or picture?  How would they visualize concepts like the human cell, basic anatomy, what different animals look like or any graphical representations?  With this special embossing printer, graphics and pictures and can actually be printed and felt in a tactile way via Braille dots.  This embosser is the first one of its kind in Nepal and NAWB prints virtually all of the textbooks for the BVI throughout the country!

This project will make a tangible difference in the lives of all of the BVI students across the country.  Once again, Rotary comes through to provide the light of knowledge and empowerment to those in need.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hope Burns Brightly via TRIFC/Rotary Candle-Making Program

One of TRIFC’s newest pilot projects is one in which mother’s of children with disability are receiving training in candle-making!  Now, the typical non-Nepali person may well be asking, “why would you do training for candle-making, isn’t that more of a hobby than a job???”  Here’s why:  a fact of life here in Nepal is that electricity is not a 24-hour proposition.  In fact, many months of the year, the reality is that you may only have electricity 4-8 hours per day, and even that might come while you are sleeping!  So, what’s a person to do for light, especially in rural, village areas where you can’t afford solar power or rechargeable flashlight?  You need to buy candles, of course!

Our Group Receives Training 
Six women and one man with disability have received this training.  We are working in cooperation with the Center for Independent Living (CIL) and the Rotary Club of Pokhara-Fishtail, who helped arrange the training, purchase of materials and all  logistics.  Particularly critical to our program has been Rotarian Binod Sharma and Hem Gurung from CIL.
Rotarian Binod Translates
Beautiful Work!

Our TRIFC team consisting of myself, Sita Gyawali, Balram Dongol, Rose Stevens and Jamuna Subedi met with our pilot group at the CIL in Pokhara.  They had many samples to show us with the different candle designs.  We were happy to note that in addition to the standard candle used during power outages they were also producing beautifully designed candles in different shapes and sizes for use during the various Nepali holidays and festivals!

After introductions and preliminary discussions, we got down to the important part- How is this program working for the group and how is it impacting their lives?  We told them that we wanted honest, candid feedback.  Woman after woman (and man!) told their personal stories and, so far, this simple program has had great impact for them.  One of the women was so passionate while speaking about how much she was enjoying this program and how she was able to include her son with cerebral palsy in the candle-making process.  She is a true entrepreneur/salesperson and told the group how she was selling the candles and shared her excellent sales techniques!   Another one of the six women had had some difficulties getting started with the program and initially made the wrong size and type of candles (there are different ‘molds’ for different types/styles of candles) so she had used up much of her supply of candle wax.  Upon hearing her troubles, the rest of the group offered to help her out.  It was so heartening to hear that kind of kindness cooperation develop within the group.

Our hope is to have this project work as a micro-credit enterprise.  The women are already contributing a portion of their earnings right back into the project to help defray the training and start up costs.  In that way our program can go on training and empowering more women who have children with disabilities!

-Rob Rose

Monday, November 11, 2013

Inspiration Inside - Children with Cerebral Palsy

Our intrepid group of volunteers recently traveled to Pokhara to visit an organization named, ‘Sathi Sansar’.  Sathi Sansar is an organization based in Pokhara, Nepal helping children with Learning and Developmental Disabilities with a special emphasis on those with Cerebral Palsy.  We have been providing funding for Sathi Sansar through local Washington donors and recently developed a new pilot program to give vocational training to mothers of these children.

From L-R, Rose, Sita, Balram and Jamuna
FYI...Cerebral Palsy is a neurological disorder caused by brain damage around the time of birth and marked by lack of muscle control, especially in the limbs.

We had a thorough tour of the organization.  We met all of the children and dedicated teachers who come here daily to help the students learn skills and provide education to whatever level they are able to achieve.  Many of these children have bodies that don’t cooperate or brains that don’t communicate the proper message to their limbs.  But many also have excellent, sharp minds that are waiting for knowledge and understanding!

As you can see from the photographs, all of the children are very warm and engaging.  Just like with anybody, it takes time to get to know someone and when you spend a little time with these children, you soon discover their unique personality traits. The warmth that can be locked tight inside comes out and brings joy and light to those who take the time to get to know these wonderful kids!

I am happy to be sharing this joy, light and warmth with my readers.

Sathi Sansar’s Facebook page:


Monday, November 4, 2013

TRIFC Deaf Women’s Empowerment Group Training- Sanitary Protection Kits

TRIFC Board Member, Rose Stevens recently gave training to our women’s group in sewing and assembling a sanitary protection kit which we intend to pilot with 100 students in the various schools we provide assistance to.

 The kit, originally designed by ‘Days for Girls’ ( in Lynden, Washington provides a hygienic, culturally appropriate and green method of managing young womens’ monthly menstruation cycle.  Without a proper sanitary pad solution, this sensitive issue can keep girls home from school for a week each month, or they may find it too difficult to manage and abandon school altogether.

 While it may seem like a simple solution to purchase sanitary pads at the local store, in many cases that is not possible, plus it can be too costly to manage for many students (or TRIFC).  In addition, in most cases there is no garbage pick-up available so the discarded pads are a huge sanitation problem.

The kits we are making contain a panty liner with a moisture barrier sewn-in, many washable pads made with colorful flannel fabric (when hung out to dry after washing, they don’t ‘look’ like a sanitary pad), soap and zip lock bags to wash them in (requiring minimal water to wash) and picture instructions.

Under Rose’s superb instruction our women’s group was immediately up and running.   Scissors and smiles flying, patterns being drawn out on the fabric, lot’s of Nepali sign-language ‘chatter’!  It was so gratifying to see these women work together in such a dedicated way on such a high-impact project. 

 We are excited to see how well these kits are received by our pilot group of young women users.  If successful, we hope to provide many more of these kits to young women students in all of our schools and perhaps beyond to other schools and other young women students in need!


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Tihar, Festival of Lights / Day Two- Dog Tika Day

We have a saying, “Every dog has his day” meaning everyone will have a chance at good fortune and success if they wait and are patient.

Well, here in Nepal that day was today, if you are a dog!  Today was the day in the Nepali festival of Tihar where the dogs are worshiped, given special treats and also a red, tika mark on their foreheads for good fortune.  Many are also wearing a beautiful garland of marigolds called a malla!

I found a four-legged friend as we arrived to have momo (Nepali dumpling) lunch with our friend Jamuna along with her husband, brother and cousin.  This decked-out pooch didn’t behave as I had expected....he seemed sleepy at first and I thought he’d just lay there while I photographed him.  However, upon seeing me with my camera he quickly arose and ambled up to me, wanting attention.  He stood on his hind legs and then rested his front paws on my arm.  He was a nice pooch!  He licked my legs a few times, then posed nicely for his portrait on this day, his special day in Nepal!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

TRIFC Trekking Group Visits Deaf Women’s Empowerment Group

Our TRIFC Volunteer Trekking Group
Our 2013 TRIFC trekking group had two half-days of sightseeing and two half-days of volunteer projects. After a morning trip to the historic city of Bhaktapur, we visited the Kavre-Banepa School for the Deaf.  Principal Krishna gave our volunteers a comprehensive tour of the school, visiting all of the classrooms and introducing the kids.

Rose Stevens With Her Embroidery Team
The students were very excited to have us there and all remembered our donation of a table tennis (ping pong) table last year.  In previous years TRIFC has donated computers, kitchen equipment, balls, games and educational supplies.

Rose With Team Leaders - Bondana (L) and Rose (R)
After the tour and a tasty boxed lunch our Deaf Women’s Empowerment Group introduced their greeting card embroidery project to our group of volunteers.  Our volunteer group had learned a bit of Nepali sign language so they each introduced themselves via sign language!

I think everyone bonded quite nicely as you can see in the final photo with our group signing with a heart-sign as they prepared to leave.

Reporting from Kavre-Banepa
-Rob Rose