Child Haven home damaged in Nepal quake

Sultan Jessa

CORNWALL, Ontario – The Maxville-based headquarters of Child Haven International has been inundated with calls since a devastating earthquake hit Nepal where the organization has a home.

The massive earthquake has killed more than 5,000 people and the death toll keeps rising rapidly.

Government officials say the death toll could rise to 10,000 when reports from rural areas are received.

Child Haven’s home is located in Aur Bari, a suburb of the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu.

“We hope the damage is only minor,” said Bonnie Cappuccino, who with her husband Fred and others, founded the international organization more than 30 years ago. “Many of the children are quite scared but they are being well cared for.”

Child Haven initially looked after the children in Bhaktapur; an area seriously affected by the massive earthquake, in 1992 and then built its own home in 2001.

I visited the home several years ago during a visit to Nepal.

“This was a terrible disaster,” Bonnie told me in an interview, adding they are grateful everyone was spared.

 The respected organization, inspired by the ideals and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, the founder of modern day India, is a registered charity founded in 1985.

It assists children and women in developing countries who need food, education, health care, shelter, clothing as well as emotional and moral support.

Child Haven has five homes in India, one in Nepal, one in Tibet and one in Bangladesh.

The home in Kathmandu, which I visited several years ago, has 200 children and a staff of 20.

All the children and staff were in the yard when the earthquake hit.

The staircase at the Kathmandu home has been damaged.

“We had no water or electricity,” soon after the earthquake struck said Bonnie. “The water and electricity is now back…this is a great help.”

Child Haven built the Green Tara School near the home.

Some of the first children had been living in a Nepali jail with their mothers who had been sentenced to long prison terms.

The program provided frequent visits to the jails to stay in touch with their mothers.

 “By and large it appears that both buildings seem to have made through the worst of the earthquake,” Robin Cappuccino, a son of the founding couple, said. “We don’t know if the buildings are safe.”

The children will not be entering the buildings until they are thoroughly checked for damage and stability, said the junior Cappuccino.

“We are thankful to the engineers and architects who were so careful to design our buildings to be earthquake resistant.”

He will accompany his mother Bonnie to visit all their homes starting May 6 including the Kathmandu home later in the month.

Dan Fredinburg, an ardent supporter of the project, was killed in the avalanche on Mount Everest during the earthquake. He was a U.S. citizen.

He and Michele Batteli visited the project a couple of years ago.

The deceased and Battelli were back to attempt Everest again this month and had intended to go specifically on their way back to see the new kitchen and renovations on the third floor.

Batteli was injured but is okay.

Tanya Pinto, a big supporter and a donor, said they are raising funds in honour of Fredinburg  for Child Haven.

“I would like it to go specifically to repair damage to the home and for any other critical needs of children in the area,” said Pinto.

More than 2,500 people have been helped by Child Haven.

At present, 1100 children live under Child Haven roofs.

Bonnie and her husband Fred, a Unitarian minister, have adopted 19 children.

The couple has been married for 62 years.

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