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Lessons from Ama Ghar

Mar 17, 2009
by Liz Daube, '05

Alumna McKenzie Lamborne volunteers in a Nepalese orphanage

McKenzie Lamborne, ’02, quickly found that life at a Nepalese orphanage requires some adjustments. She ate with her hands, stomped on her clothes to simulate the spin cycle of a washing machine and wore a surgical mask in the street to reduce the smell of garbage and sewage. She rode an elephant, watched demonstrations by Tibetan monks and waited through a transportation strike.

Lamborne said she considers these details just a small part of her experience at Ama Ghar, a children’s home on the outskirts of Kathmandu whose name translates to “Motherly Home.” She also did research for her graduate studies at American University – in peace and conflict resolution – while learning more about herself.

“What I used to consider necessities in life, I’ve realized are not as important as I once thought they were,” she said. “I’ve been able to see first-hand what I had previously only read about for my graduate classes.

“Children are the most resilient creatures on earth … Human rights, and specifically children’s rights, interest me because I am able to make a difference – even if it’s just one child at a time.”

Lamborne hopes to work as a child protection agent for UNICEF one day. She came to her current career goals from a background in business administration, where she worked for five years but felt a lack of fulfillment. She tried teaching and working as a nanny before pursuing her new line of work.

“I realized that working with underprivileged children would give me the satisfaction I was looking for,” she said.
Human trafficking is one of the main issues Lamborne hopes to address in the future.

“It’s one of the top three crimes in the world and is only gaining momentum,” she said. “I do not believe there is a universal solution … [but] issues regarding children in developing countries can be understood within the context of each individual culture.”

When she returns to the United States this year to finish her degree, Lamborne will miss the children she’s met at Ama Ghar. She said the value of her time there will continue to benefit her, both personally and professionally.

“Living with them and learning about their backgrounds, both first-hand and through the staff at Ama Ghar, has given me unique and great insight … The memory that will forever linger is being a part of this amazing family.”
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