Nepal has gone through many changes over the past two decades, with the ten year insurgency changing the face of Nepal forever. Children are the biggest victims of the civil war and the thousands of children living on the streets or in children’s homes and orphanages are the constant reminders of the price of Nepal’s struggle.
Northern Irish born writer and teacher, Viva Bell, was living in Kathmandu through it all. She saw the country that she loved so much torn apart and could not help but witness the thousands of conflict displaced children arriving in the capital every month.
Viva felt helpless and frustrated by the events that were surrounding her, but unlike so many others Viva could not turn her back on the country that she loved. She started to take action and address the problems that were now on her doorstep.
Viva’s course was set in motion when she met a street child suffering from a simple throat infection. With no one to care for him this throat infection had developed to such a stage that the boy was severely dehydrated. Viva brought the boy to hospital and helped nurse him back to health. After he was fit and healthy Viva placed him in the care of one of Kathmandu’s many children’s homes.
With the help of her friends in Ireland, Dave Cutler and Harry Coogan, Viva supported the home financially and the trio renovated the home and helped improve the living conditions for all the children there. However it wasn’t long until they realised that their money was not reaching the children but was being kept by the homes directors. They soon saw more of the abusive behaviour in the home. It felt like their hands were ties, this was an all too common problem in Kathmandu’s children’s homes. The answer was to take control of the matter themselves.
The Birth of Umbrella: 2005
In 2005 Viva Bell and Dave Cutler founded The Umbrella Foundation and set up a children’s home of the highest standard that they were determined to uphold. With the help of the Nepali Social Welfare Board, The Umbrella Foundation closed down that orphanage and rescued all 48 malnourished and uneducated children, and placed them in their newly founded home, where they continue to live today. These healthy, happy and well-adjusted children have been given a new lease on life, and for the first time, a dream of a better future for themselves and their country.