Batri the Kathmandu Rickshaw Wallah – the beginnings of Kechara Soup Kitchen in Nepal

9 May 2009 - 4:49am Comments Off

One evening in Kathmandu, Rinpoche went to Vijashwari Vajrayogini Temple, and on the way back to Thamel, Rinpoche took a rickshaw with a driver called Batri. Rinpoche bought Batri a large bag of rice and some vegetables. During the following weeks we also met Batri on the street a few times and used his rickshaw service, Batri was always pleasant and helpful, and never greedy; in fact he is always looking out for Rinpoche on street because he is grateful and likes Rinpoche a lot.

Recently Monlam (another of Rinpoche’s assistants, formerly of Gaden Shartse) and I met Batri again in Thamel, and Rinpoche asked us to go to Batri’s house to check out his living condition. Batri’s house is 5 minutes away from Thamel on the top floor of a house, like the attic. The room is extremely small and has a very low ceiling of four-feet. An adult cannot stand upright inside room. Batri, his wife Sunitha, their two sons and two daughters, have all lived in this small room for seven years. Cooking is also done here.

Batri is 42 years old, and has been driving rickshaw for five years; before this he was selling bangles etc. at Durbar square, where he learned some basic English from the tourists.

On average, Batri earns 1500RP (RM68) per month, sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on seasons. His monthly expenses including room rental, rickshaw rental, school fees and food total 5550 RP (RM250 per month).

It is really difficult for the family to make ends meet. Batri has not been paying school fees for two of his four children for a year because he cannot afford the school fees of RM12/month per child. And since the room is so small, Batri’s 16 year-old son ends up loitering on the streets, which is worrisome because he may be influenced by bad street gangs.

After finding out Batri’s situation and speaking to Paul, Wan, BK, Monlam and myself, Rinpoche decided to sponsor Batri to move to a bigger place to stay, preferably with two rooms that can be split between sleeping and cooking. We will monitor his progress and give more material assistance as time goes by. It was also suggested that our Nepalese friend master-tailor Rajkumar gets involved to help.

After the discussion, Rinpoche did some prayers and announced the beginnings of Kechara Soup Kitchen’s Nepal Chapter. Batri’s case will be the first case, and although it is only one person, we will generate the cause and merits to help more and more people in the future.

In the evening, Rinpoche asked Monlam and me to go grocery shopping with Batri. We bought 10kg rice, some dhal, beans, tea, soaps, cooking oil, sugar, salt, toothbrush, toothpaste and blankets, totalling about RM 250, which we then delivered to his house. Batri and his wife were extremely moved and his wife could not hold back her tears, saying that they had given up any hope of receiving help from anyone, and that today’s offerings were like gifts from god.

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