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June 5-7 Sindhupalchok Visit

Earlier this month, I went for another short visit to Raithane School in Thangpalkot village, Sindhupalchok, the school for which I am running a fundraising campaign.

Here’s a short video shot during the visit.

On June 5, from the time I woke up to when I arrived at the small lodge in Mane Kharka, 12 hours had passed! Originally I had planned to take a bus all the way to the village, which would have cut down on travel time. However recent rains and an accident meant that a bus ride on the mountain roads of Sindhupalchok would have been not only imprudent but maybe not even possible.

The journey started with a bus ride as far as the road allowed, just about half an hour past Melamchi. A section of the road there had completely eroded making it impossible for vehicles to pass. After the 3.5 hour bus ride, the rest of the trip on foot took another 5.5 hours or so. I made sure to stop by the tea shop owned and run by the ambitious little girl Aashmita‘s mom. She is still as shy as last year! I left determined to get her to talk to me on my next visit. I am thinking of taking along a bribe…in the form of a science book!

I spent the 6th meeting with community leaders, teachers and students at Rithane School. I even took time to take a few classes!! Because it was rice planting season, only half of the students were present. The rest had gone to the fields. So the normally 50+ student classroom had only 30 students!! It turns out that employing other people in the fields is not only difficult to begin with–because there just isn’t enough of them–but also quite expensive. And as such, every hand in the house, even the small ones, was required and put to work. In addition to infrastructure, resources, teacher training and fees, getting children in rural Nepal to attend school regularly is another challenge.

On the 7th, with the only bus between the eroded section of the road and the rest of the district to the north lost to an accident, I got a lift on a motorcycle as far as it could take me. (Yes, it was a little hairy!) I then walked the rest of the distance to Melamchi, and after a quick lunch, boarded a bus for Kathmandu.

On this leg of the journey, I made a short stop at the site of the recent June 1 accident. The bus had veered off the road and tumbled down about 70 meters! A bus with a seating capacity of about 32, it had carried over 50 passengers–some on the roof! Fourteen of those passengers had died on the spot and two more in the hospital the following few days. Thirty-five had been seriously injured. Sadly, a few were from the village of Thangpalkot, where Raithane School is. According to the villagers, that was the first such accident. The kind of treatment the injured villagers received, both medical and personal, is another story entirely.

For you see, the district of Sindhupalchok is one of the poorest of the 75 districts of Nepal. Apparently, it has the dubious distinction of being the district where trafficking of young Nepalese girls first began (see pages 15-16). Though it’s no longer the number one anymore, this social problem remains. Education of girls in Sindhupalchok, therefore, is imperative.

Even using the recently published School Leaving Certificate examination results as evidence of the level of education of the Raithane School children, the urgency in the need for higher quality education there is acute. Twenty-seven students from the school took the examination held last March. Only 9 passed, out of which only 2 with first division (scoring between 60% to 79.99%), and the other 5 with second (45% to 59.99%) or third division (32% to 44.99%).

My hope is that by improving the infrastructure, resources, quality of teaching and establishing a Social Business venture (a fishery) for sustainability, Raithane School children, especially the girls, will receive higher quality education and thus have the freedom to choose their own destiny and live their dream!

Here’s a short video about my current fundraising campaign to improve the quality of education in Sindhupalchok.

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About me..in short

I am a Tibetan-Buddhist, one-time International Chemistry/Science teacher with a Jesuit education in a Hindu country (Nepal), an international education in a catholic country (Italy), a liberal arts education in the bastion of freedom and democracy (the US), with teacher-training down under (Australia), but whose choice of musical instrument is Australian (the Didjeridoo), choice of sports is American (Ultimate Frisbee), choice of dance genre is Latin American (Merengue and Salsa), and yet, still has faith in the permanence and power of change!

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CONTACT: Email Dorje Gurung