In 2015, Nepal was hit by a catastrophic 7.9 earthquake that devastated the city of Bhaktapur. Even more heartbreaking than the physical destruction were the children, begging for rice and water in the streets.
Joanna Contat, Kevin Mumford, and Chris Love were among the volunteers dedicated to bringing stability back to the Bhaktapur area. The three took special interest in the children from the slums in Bheklukel. As they got to know these children they quickly recognized they were not living the life of children at all; instead of playing or going to school, they were bearing the weight of providing for their families; simply surviving. The volunteers decided they wanted to give these children something more sustainable than a charity, they wanted to give them a future.
Thus, Happy Kids Center was born.
Initially, Happy Kids Center was a simple, semi permanent structure designed as a fun filled, safe environment for children to escape the devastation just outside. In the last two years, the mission of Happy Kids Center has shifted as it expanded and turned over to a new team of leaders, Nicole Heker, Joyce Rafii and Ellen Carney.
The center is now a permanent, solar powered, weatherproof structure that is covered floor to ceiling in murals painted by traveling artists. Today, Happy Kids Center is an officially registered Nepali NGO, and works with 80 children who range in age from 3 to 16 years old. About half of our children are currently in school while the other half work in the streets, begging or collecting recyclables to sell to the government. We are working toward changing that! The center is no longer HKC's only project and through our new programs we are empowering our Happy Kids break the cycle of poverty that they were raised within.