I was introduced to him as Jovial Disaster.
Dan met him by responding to a hand-posted ad on a street about an orphanage needing "your help." Dan works for Google and was in Kathmandu before trekking to Mount Everest. Something about the ad caught Dan's attention, and so he called.
Jovial Disaster (oddly, not his real name, but what his friends call him) was a sweet, handsome young man who decided to start an orphanage with his retired military father in their family home on the outskirts of Kathmandu. He told us his story in the lobby of our hotel, where he came to meet us. It involved possibly being drugged and hallucinating and coming to a strong sense of reality, being called to help all these kids with nowhere to go. His English was impressive, his story compelling. And so a group of us negotiated cab rides, which took us down broken streets with no paving (as if there was once a plan to build a street that began but never finished), to an area of town (term used loosely) where a few houses stood in the midst of basically nothing. One of them was Jovial's.
About 20 children greeted us at the door. My cynical New York soul alarms were ringning. This was all part of the plan. These kids know what they're doing. They'll melt your heart so you'll give them money. Or maybe take them home. I let it go, and let these incredible kids win me over. There was something about them. A coolness - not cool as in having cold, hard souls. Cool, as in Miles Davis. Cool as in they seemed to be enjoying life despite living 8 to a room and sharing plates of basic nourishment. Cool as in knowing how to wear their clothes and hold their bodies.
I caught this moment after we all ate pizza together and Dan handed out these free sunglasses from a sponsor of his. They were stoked to get free glasses, wore them like the little rockstars they are. It occurred to me as I watched them grab the free swag with excited eyes, that I've seen Americans act the same way in the "VIP area" at music events.
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