De Stichting Paraplu Nepal
The History of Paraplu
Coming from such difficult backgrounds, many of our children have developed social, emotional and behavioural problems and struggle with attachment and abandonment issues. This all comes as a result of the isolation felt in being separated from their family and the trauma experienced during their time in abusive ‘orphanages’. It has been clear since day one that their needs were greater than shelter, food and education. It was important to take a holistic approach to their care including social, emotional and psychological support. In the early years, Umbrella dealt with any underlying problems through part-time counsellors, visits to psychologists and staff training but it was evident that a full-time, formal programme should be in place. In 2009, two Dutch volunteers, Inger Van Nes and Irene Huyts, founded Umbrella’s counselling centre – De Paraplu (Dutch for Umbrella).
The two started by doing research: reading about therapy programmes in Nepal and visiting organisations which dealt with child neglect, abuse and child trafficking. They started to raise funds for the project and, with the help of friends and family in Holland, were able to cover the start-up costs in less than one week! With this overwhelming support the girls and Umbrella management started looking for a good location for the counselling centre and placed ads in the Kathmandu newspapers to recruit a counsellor. Finally, a suitable building was found with four rooms and located in the middle of the Umbrella community. The volunteers spent weeks cleaning, painting, putting down carpet, furniture and decorations.
After a few job interviews with potential candidates a qualified female clinical psychologist with experience in child counselling was found. Hired in July 2009, she began working full-time for Umbrella – meeting daily with the children and providing training to staff on basic psychology and communication skills. A part time male counsellor was also hired to help the older boys with the challenges they face growing up and set up the Youth Chautari which is still active today! This youth committee, comprised of boys and girls from each home, is responsible for organising various events and programmes within Umbrella, publishing a monthly newsletter, representing the children’s interests in meetings with management and discussing any issues with their peers.
De Paraplu in 2013
De Paraplu now contains one counselling room, two offices and an official meeting room for Umbrella. Nowadays, we have a Child Protection Team, including trained counsellors, who meet with the children regularly in the dedicated counselling office, De Paraplu, to discuss any problems and provide advice. De Paraplu is also the workplace of Umbrella’s Reintegration Team, who counsel families and monitor reunited children in their homes. At Umbrella, we do our utmost to repair the wounds, rebuild the broken bonds and reintegrate the children with their families in their home communities where feasible.
Who are we?
When Irene and Inger returned to Holland, they decided to remain involved with Umbrella, in particular to support De Paraplu. In 2009, De Stichting Paraplu Nepal (SPN) was established as the official branch of The Umbrella Foundation Holland. The members of SPN work to spread awareness and fundraise for Umbrella to finance the much-needed psychological support team and facilities for the children and young adults of Umbrella.
I’m Inger van Nes and I live in Amsterdam. Besides clinical psychology, I also studied theology. When I decided to take a year off from university, my friend suggested that if I wanted to do some volunteer work in Asia, I should check the website of the Umbrella Foundation. The information that I found there and that I received through email sounded really good, so I decided to go. I really enjoyed my time at Umbrella – it felt so good to work for these fantastic children with this amazing team of enthusiastic volunteers and staff. I learned a lot about Nepal and its children: they deserve a better future and I think Umbrella is doing everything they can to give it to them.
I’m Irene Huyts and have a Masters in clinical psychology in Amsterdam. Years ago I worked in a very bad Nepalese orphanage, where the children starved and were being beaten. I got in contact with Viva, who later founded the Umbrella Foundation. Having finished my Bachelor’s, I decided to help the Umbrella Foundation, which surprisingly had grown into an organisation with more than 300 children. I had a wonderful time there. Inger and I were a two-headed monster, working 12 hours a day to solve what had to be solved. And we managed, which still makes me very proud. I hope that the children will learn to deal with their traumas and grow up happily.
If you’re interested in supporting De Paraplu or if you’re thinking about volunteering or fundraising for Umbrella, you can contact us at: [email protected] or visit De Stichting Paraplu Nepal’s website.